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Lisburn and Castlereagh Councillors show support for Lowry’s arts sector motion

Lisburn and Castlereagh Councillors have supported a motion from Alliance Councillor Sharon Lowry to write to the Communities Minister in support of the allocation of funds to those within the creative and arts sectors who have been most impacted by COVID-19 and to urge the Minister to devise a strategy for the recovery and safe re-opening of the sector.

In addition, the Council will write to the Finance Minister to encourage any further measures that can be taken to support and protect the creative sectors going forward.

Councillor for Castlereagh East Mrs Lowry said: “While I welcome the money from Westminster to support the creative and arts sectors and the £29 million from the Executive, more needs to be done, both financially and in terms of developing a recovery strategy. Over the last number of weeks, I have been engaging with a number of individuals and organisations across the sector to ascertain the impact the pandemic has had on those within the industry. It is a depressing picture to say the least.

“Speaking to those involved in music, theatre, events and entertainment there is grave concern not only for the sectors but also for the mental health of many who do not know how they are going to be able to continue to pay their bills under the current arrangements. Many feel they have been cut adrift since March.

“While it is totally understandable the difficult financial and public issues both local and central government find themselves dealing with, the benefits to live entertainment and music for the public is huge. It brings that sense of positivity, and community spirit, which is much needed right now, not to mention the chance for performers and others to work and earn money for their families for the first time in over half a year.

“In terms of this council’s responsibility, and the duties to perform as a cultural venue with an arts service, it is vital this council works quickly to push for a response to the pandemic that supports cultural recovery both in terms of practical support and through long-term strategic plans to help the sector become more resilient and help them to recover post-COVID. I acknowledge the measures our Council has already put in place to deliver events and cultural experiences under the difficult and changing restrictions.

“Northern Ireland in recent years has become a major attraction for the entertainment sector, and if a proper strategy is not put in place there will be a talent drain and decline, which will take years to come back from.”