Northern Ireland news

Belfast theatre company 'deeply disappointed' by funding cut

Bruiser Theatre Company said it has been left "deeply disappointed" after crucial funding was cut
Marie Louise McConville

A theatre company has said it has been left "deeply disappointed" by a loss of funding and hit out at cuts in government support for the arts.

Bruiser Theatre Company, which was set up in Belfast in 1997, said it was "surprised" to find out it had not been included in the Arts Council's 2018/19 funding programme.

It said over the past four years "arts funding in Northern Ireland has been slashed to a bare minimum".

"While we do not feel that the Arts Council made the correct decision regarding Bruiser's funding, we acknowledge that the agency has a limited and ever decreasing budget, some of which is newly ring-fenced," it said.

"It is, in fact, the repeated paring down of government support for the arts that has rendered Bruiser a casualty.

"At a time when Northern Ireland is perceived externally as a hot bed of creative potential, and high-profile productions are bringing inward investment and increased potential for national and international tourism, it beggars belief that support for the arts is continually deprioritised."

The company appealed for support to lobby "MLAs and MPs to look again at both the fundamental value of the arts to society, and the economic impact of Northern Ireland's thriving arts, culture and heritage sector".

The Arts Council said it was with "great reluctance" that Bruiser's application was declined.

"They have made a significant contribution to establishing and developing physical theatre over the last 20 years."

It added that the company has been offered a "soft landing" of funding to meet its commitments over the next three months, but government cuts to the overall arts budget meant "difficult strategic funding decisions" had to be made.

"The Arts Council removed six organisations from the annual funding programme and we did this unwillingly; these organisations have proven track records and we would, under any other circumstances, continue to support them."

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