The proposed 50% cuts to Northern Ireland Screen’s budget will affect the Nerve Centre, Foyle Film Festival, Belfast Film Festival, Queen's Film Theatre, Cinemagic, Creative Learning Centres and CultureTECH.
A joint campaign by the affected organisations highlighted how the delivery of ground-breaking education programmes around digital literacy, technology, creativity and film would be significantly reduced or stopped altogether, impacting on thousands of young people.
The campaign was backed by Oscar®-winning directors Danny Boyle and Terry George, Hollywood director Paul Greengrass and actor Ray Winstone, as well as leading educationalist Ken Robinson and children’s author Frank Cottrell-Boyce.
The 4,000 responses to the consultation on Northern Ireland’s draft budget 2015-16, which ended on December 29, came from a broad cross-section of society, including teachers, employers in the creative industries, young people and parents.
Last year, almost 7,000 young people and more than 5,000 teachers received training in digital skills including film, music, coding and animation through the Creative Learning Centres; more than 2,800 young people attended after-school Film Clubs at 118 schools; and 141,000 film-goers and young people attended screenings, events and activities delivered by the organisations under threat.
Pearse Moore, chief executive of the Nerve Centre, said: “The overwhelming response to the public consultation shows how valued these programmes and services are. The digital economy is the future for Northern Ireland, but the reality is that without programmes like these in digital creativity, coding, and STEM-based learning, our young people will not have the skills required for a 21st century workforce.
“Together we are urging the Executive to support Northern Ireland’s creative and cultural infrastructure to enable conditions for innovation and growth. We must protect the future of our young people.”
Susan Pickens, Head of Queen's Film Theatre, said: “The recent news that QFT and our other film exhibition and education colleagues are facing potential 50% cuts in core funding from Northern Ireland Screen came as a huge blow.
“We are all obviously still very concerned about the outcome of the DCAL budget consultation and what the future may hold for our sector but we were immensely heartened by the outpouring of support from our friends, colleagues and supporters and want say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who fed in to the consultation or made their voice heard.”
Michele Devlin, Director of the Belfast Film Festival said: “We are delighted with the high level of support from our audiences, in such a short period of time in the run up to Christmas. It is an anxious time for the sector, but we are hopeful the powers that be will re-think this brutal 50% cut to a sector that has brought so much positive activity and been the catalyst for so many good news stories in Northern Ireland”.
The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) has asked Northern Ireland Screen to prepare for cuts to its budget next year from £1.9m to £1m.