Letters to the Editor

Outrage over Arts Council's withdrawal of PLACE funding

PLACE, the Architecture and Built Environment centre, was established in 2004 to provide a facility which enabled the public to engage with those subjects and thereby generate a knowledge and understanding of their importance to the wellbeing of everyone.

Over the past 15 years PLACE has most effectively delivered that objective through outreaching to literally thousands through the organisation of: exhibitions; study-tours; seminars; talks ; participating-events ; architecture and urban visits and much more.

All of this has been delivered by a small number of skilled and dedicated employed personnel aided by a considerable number of equally dedicated and impassioned volunteers.

It is therefore outrageous that the Arts Council, who have been a prime supporter of PLACE over those 15 years should summarily announce the withdrawal of funding and do so with very little notice and without any forewarning, or good reason.

Indeed, if any reasons did exist which spurred this rash decision then the Arts Council surely should have addressed those with PLACE’s staff and board of trustees with a view to keeping PLACE going.

Both the Arts Council and the Department for Communities have architecture and built environment policies within which PLACE is quoted as being a key player.

What is more, the Arts Council have in writing stated: “The Arts Council recognises architecture as an art form and has had a formal remit for the promotion of high quality architecture and design for the build environment since 1995”

After August 31, when PLACE closes, there will be no such promotional undertakings.

It therefore looks as if those policies and statements are simply a lot of bluster which appears to be commonplace nowadays.

Architecture and the built environment is most certainly an art form and one capable of influencing the extent of each and everyone’s wellbeing.

We all live, work and play in our buildings and urban places.

Unlike most other art forms this is one which is inescapable and therefore deserved of appreciation and quality monitoring, especially by those who occupy it most – i.e.
the public.

BARRIE TODD
Architect, Belfast

 

‘Union’ that unites UK is in danger of breaking up

It is obvious to anyone by now who takes an interest in the politics of Northern Ireland, that the government of the Irish Republic are more interested in achieving a united Ireland rather than a customs free border as exists at the moment.

An article (August 3) under the heading of ‘Lack of action on reunification vote’ states that Senator Mark Daly of Fianna Fáil, who sits in the Irish Senate, has accused Leo Varadkar of not making necessary preparations for the possible reunification of Ireland.

Unionists in Northern Ireland and within the Conservative Party need to take heed of the fact that the ‘union’ that unites the United Kingdom is in danger of breaking up if we make a mess of Brexit. There are still those in the main political parties at Westminster who do not take Northern Ireland’s position with in UK seriously and would prefer to see a united Ireland.

Members of the Northern Ireland Conservatives in particular need to do more to highlight the problems of Northern Ireland within the Conservative Party nationally and stress the wish of a majority of its people to stay within the UK.
Unionists as well as the NI Conservatives need to do more to persuade pro-union Catholics to vote unionist or Conservative rather than waste their vote on the Alliance Party who continue to sit on the fence when it comes to the border and Northern Ireland’s position within the UK.

JAMES ANNETT
London N7

 

Funding the arts

PLAYWRIGHT Martin Lynch may well know that government  funding of the arts in Northern Ireland is almost half what it is in the worst part of mainland UK. 
BBC’s Countryfile programme, no less, back in July, screened figures showing ‘poor old Northern Ireland’ spend at £5 a head.

Arts Council spreads its ‘support’ far and wide which includes summer schools that award bursaries providing a week’s accommodation and fees to a full arts menu. These bursaries go to individuals on the basis that they would be denied attendance without them.

Having attended several of these over the years, I wonder as to the efficacy of this spending since the criteria applied is so weak as to encourage anyone to enjoy creative endeavouring at the expense of funding diverted from the real and worthier. Not to say that those with a ticklish feeling to be creative shouldn’t be encouraged but not at the cost of what Green Shoot and the like are striving to do.

The rash of community festivals that have appeared in recent years is wonderful. Yet, how much has this caused the hurt to Green Shoots, the Linen Hall Library, the Grand Opera House, to name a few?

When we leave the EU I do not expect the situation will improve.

NORMAN MEHARRY
Belfast BT4

 

Wholehearted support for ‘staple diet’

Brenda Coyle in her letter, ‘Bring back the staples’ (August 5) bewails the loss of staples in recent issues of The Irish News, asking if their absence is due to austerity measures. I don’t know how this affects her overall enjoyment of the paper, but most other daily newspapers do not have the pages stapled together.

I also enjoy many articles and features in The Irish News, but I find the staples irksome and quite difficult to remove safely if I choose to keep a pertinent article before consigning it to the recycling bin, without ripping it out in a messy fashion rather than just pulling put the entire double page and folding it neatly for reference.

When I noticed the missing staples I was overjoyed and hoped it wasn’t just a temporary measure. I wholeheartedly support the new ‘staple diet’ and it must help the environment too. It certainly helps me from trying to use sharp pointed objects to tease open and remove these tiny fasteners often risking injury with a sudden wrong move.

It would be a wrong move to reinstate the staples.

COLIN NEVIN
Bangor, Co Down

 

Expression of thanks

Street Soccer NI would like to sincerely thank the general public of Belfast for their generous donations to the charity’s street collection which took place in Belfast city centre on Sunday June 21. In total a fantastic £93.99 was raised.
Many thanks for your help.

LIANNE MULHOLLAND
Fundraising Officer

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