Not The Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Monday, March 27, 2006

A crowd estimated at several, gathered outside the cyberspace occupied by Not The Arts Council to mourn the passing of a misguided attempt to promote the utopian vision of a healthy environment of the arts in Northern Ireland. Earlier in the day, a leak of this news had prompted virtual buckets to be placed under the web address. In an eerie echo of this action, many of the mourners were reported to be weeping buckets - a medical condition described as 'very painful' by Doctor Thebooks. The outgoing Chief Executive, Roisin McDoughnut, announced that "Not The Arts Council has had its day. It was last Tuesday and we all enjoyed it greatly." The former social activist, McDoughnut had tears in her eyes caused by excessive laughter at having got away with it for so long. "I am off to spend more time with my salary" McDoughnut is quoted as saying "It's been fun, but at the end of the fiscal year, we have all had a good look at the books and we can leave the scene secure in the knowledge that the future of the arts in Northern Ireland is non existent thanks to our efforts. Sometimes in virtual life it's best to go when you are universally disappointing. My only regret is that others don't follow our lead."
Tributes can be sent to No flowers please. Donations can be made to the arts in Northern Ireland, but we really don't see the point.

Last week, Not The Arts Council took the unprecedented step of going public in an attempt to save the jobs of arts journalists. Below is a copy of a communication delivered to the BBC's Arts Extra programme. Since the statement was delivered, Not The Arts Council has received no direct response. Rather, we have received the disturbing news that the BBC has begun the eradication of arts programming earlier than expected by shortening Arts Extra by five minutes a day to make room for A Short History of Ireland - another fine example of a forward looking society! In view of the deafening silence, we are asking our readers to take up the challenge issued to Arts Extra. There is a battle to fight for the very existence of the arts. Let people know about it, or wither and die on the vine.
Below is the communication delivered by Not The Arts Council on 23rd March. The programme was subsequantly shortened on 27th March.
Dear Arts Extra,
Your jobs are in danger! We are writing to you as the unspoken voice of the arts in Northern Ireland. All is not rosy in the garden. We all know that the arts in Nothern Ireland are victim of discrimination by Not The Government of the United Kingdom. Per capita spend needs to rise by between 35 and 50% to bring parity with the rest of the UK. As a result, venues are closing (OBG is merely the latest manifestation of this predicament) artists are joining the ranks of the unemployed, or leaving the region, forcing Arts Extra to devote 80% of airtime to arts initiatives which are born outside of Northern Ireland.
The arts are in crisis and nothing is happening - Not The Minister for Arts and Culture hails a renaissance for the arts in Northern Ireland at the same time he imposes year on year cuts to the arts in Northern Ireland. The arts community feels things are bad now, but just wait until things hit the brick wall when the smoke and mirrors practised by Not The Arts Council, vis-a-vis Lottery manipulation, is revealed as the final nail in the coffin.
We call on the entire artistic community to rise up and create. Create the mother of all protests against this blatant discrimination and decimation of the present and future of the arts in Northern Ireland.
We call on Arts Extra to shamelessly pursue the agenda of equitable funding for the arts in Northern Ireland and to hunt down those responsible in Not the Government for financial settlement of the arts and those in Not The Arts Council who remain conspicuous by their silence in the face of relentless cuts in funding (and refuse to come into the studio to defend their inaction)
If you do not take up the cri de couer, then it will only be a matter of years before Arts Extra is replaced by an announcement asking people to retune to Radio 4's Front Row since there will be no more art of significance emerging from Northern Ireland.
We write to you as unelected representatives of the arts in Northern Ireland, but representing the vast majority who are too afraid to speak out for fear of losing their funding. As the only significant media focus on the arts in Northern Ireland, you represent a chance to hear the voice of reason - we ask that you exercise it to galvanise the rampant discontent to bring about a positive result for the arts while it still exists.
Our attempts to raise awareness of what is happening can be found on
Vive La Revolution!!!


Not The Arts Council is delighted to be making a significant contribution to Not The Government's stated aim to reduce frontline services year on year in order to free up resources to invest in administration and additional bureaucracy. Our latest initiative involves recruiting an additional seven members of staff resulting in potential savings of more than £180,00 per year in spending on arts provision. We realise that some people are questioning the wisdom of some of these new posts. So we would like to take the time to explain these positions.
The employment of a permanent Arts Support Officer has raised some eyebrows among those who don't believe that the arts in Northern Ireland will need supporting on a permanent basis on account of the fact that a few more years under Not The Arts Council will ensure that, in a few years time, there will be no arts left in Northern Ireland. What these people don't understand is that the absence of any arts in Northern Ireland will only serve to increase the efficiency of the Arts Support Officer, who will be able to boast 100% satisfaction ratings since there will be no complaints to record.
We are particularly proud of our new post of Troubles Archivist. Here at Not The Arts Council have taken the step of employing an archivist because we know that, with no current activity, the onlt thing left is to look to the past. In addition, we believe that this post will make important discoveries about arts intervention during the Troubles so that Northern Ireland will be fully prepared to roll out suitable programmes should they ever return.
We are delighted that the announcement of the recruitment of a new Human Resources Officer has been universally welcomed in view of the fact that Not The Arts Council now has so many additional staff. The rationale for the post is self evident.
An Assistant Finance Officer will be appointed for the same reason - somebody is needed to make sure we dont spend too much on the arts now that we are increasing our wages bill.
The Capital Projects Officer will be appointed to make sure that things aren't built too quickly.
The appointment of a strategic Planning Officer will ensure that Not The Arts Council can continue to steer a course towards the realisation of a complete overhaul of the arts - replacing it with Not The Arts Council staff.
We are particularly pleased to have come up with a Festivals and Venues officer at the present moment in time. This post respresents the ultimate job, coming, as it does, just weeks after we have almost abolished the portfolio by slashing support to Queen's Festival and completely eliminating support to regional venues. Applicants for this post are advised that they will not be ruled out on the basis of already having a full time job, since the hours for this job will not be too arduous.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Not The Arts Council today welcomed the announcement of our lord and master, Viceroy Hain, that local funding for the arts will be moved across to the new Super Councils. Cynics may have spotted that the Super Councils wont come into being until 2009. If all goes according to Not The Arts Council's 5 year plan, funding to the regions will disappear well ahead of the emergence of Super Councils. The first phase of this plan has already been implemented in the recent ASOP round with the axeing of support for regional theatres. Thanks to our marvellous PR department, this move went virtually unnoticed in the aftermath of the closing of the OBG!
By 2008, all regional funding will have ceased in order to ease any difficult mathematical calculations DCAL needs to make. In other words, when Super Councils pass over their bank details to DCAL, Not The Arts Council can issue the cheque for the full amount - £0.00 - which will then be handed over to the Councils to squander on redundancy notices for anybody foolish enough to still be attempting to make a living from the arts in the regions.
Thanks for this masterstroke goes to our Chief Strategic thinker, Rick Livingdead.
Of course, there are some who may be disappointed at Not The Government's decision to retain Not The Arts Council (not least those members of staff who were quite looking forward to the generous redundancy package) but we would like to reassure everybody that we will continue to champion the arts in Northern Ireland and vigourously oppose any cuts imposed on the arts in just the same way we always have done. Or, to put it another way, don't worry Mr Hain, we'll keep schtumm.
We, at Not The Arts Council, are thrilled that the latest announcement will lead to a huge saving in bureaucracy and personnel by duplicating services across 7 Super Councils and one Quango. We welcome this unprecedented move to increase the number of people concerned with administrating the arts to help ensure that more money goes into administrators and less goes into such frivolities as providing artistic product.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

AN EXPERT REPLIES: Professor M. Monroe responds to yesterday's 'discovery' of a new form of mathematics.

I was horrified to read the erroneous report which incorrectly identified Not The Arts Council's statistical rebuttal as the Principle of Denial. As any good scholar will confirm, the ability to arrive at different decisions after reading applications of equal merit is a clear example of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. What we have witnessed with Not The Arts Council is a near perfect representation of this Principle. When a group of decision makers meets behind closed doors, what is the sound they make? Is it the sound of cheques being issued, or the sound of knives being sharpened? It is this fundamental Principle of Uncertainty, which keeps artists and organisations quiet in case they tip the balance the wrong way.

This leads me to consider another question I am often asked. How is it that in the face of massive discriminatory practices from Not The Arts Council and from Not the Government of Northern Ireland, how is it that there is not a massive outcry throughout the artistic community? The answer I always give is that it is the inevitable result of the Reductive Vortex. What happens is that initial outrage of each artist and organisation is focussed on one issue. This issue forms the outer perimeter of the Vortex. With the gravity (of the situation) the outer perimeter inevitably reduces as individuals focus in on something even more personal and specific. Eventually, the issue is lost in a vacuum at the heart of the vortex. My advice used to be for everybody to look at the big picture. However, since the closure of the Ormeau Baths Gallery, there are no longer any big pictures to look at in Northern Ireland. Perhaps now we should all move to London to look at the big pictures in the Tate Modern.

Today, a spokesperson from Not The Arts Council condemned the action of a group of irresponsible firecrews. "We were devastated to hear that last night an inferno at Clotworthy Arts Centre was extinguished by a bunch of yobbos with hoses. Following our strategic hammering of Local Authority Arts Venues, we were beginning to carefully implement phase 2 of the elimination of the arts in Northern Ireland. The last thing we expected was that the public services in Northern Ireland would have enough money to fritter away on putting out a fire at a regional arts centre. Obviously, we have registered our strongest disapproval to the head of the Fire Service and we will not in future be giving any advance warning of our actions. We should have learnt the lesson from the Ormeau Baths Gallery and not let anyone know our plans ahead of time."
The Fire Service, investigating the source of the blaze, are analysing half burnt, rejected grant application forms close to the heart of the fire.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Not the evil


behind the

invention of a new

form of mathematics

Many of us were privileged to be present at the birth of a new dawn today. Listeners to Evening Extra witnessed the unveiling of an exciting new mathematical Principle - the Principle of Denial. There is still some debate amongst experts in the field, but we will attempt an explanation. It seems that in the world of the arts funder, it is possible to apply the same set of rules and values equally across all clients and yet reach completely different answers each time. Now this may sound as if it defies all logic, but we can reveal how this works. OK - take one art council client and reduce their funding by half because Not The Arts Council has introduced the x factor (where x represents why) The formula for this process is ASOP times 1/2 x = why? And that is what we should all be asking. Now if this seems complicated we can tell you that this situation can be balanced out by the affected organisation (for argument's sake let's call it Queen's Festival) if they apply for Lottery Funding. However the reverse is also true. If you take another arts organisation who are losing Lottery Funding, this shortfall can be made up by giving them more ASOP Funding. Of course the real genius here is that this additional ASOP money is conjured out of thin air, or Regional Theatres as they used to be known. But that's OK because Regional Theatres can also apply for Lottery Funding under the New Works Theory. This Theory states that even though New Works is already oversubscribed it can provide the answer to Regional Theatres' problems without damaging the prospects of all those groups already surviving on these Funds. The New Works Theory has a corollary, known as the New Organisations Paradox. This states that if you are invented by the Arts Council, you can get more than £90,000 from ASOP despite the fact that overall ASOP funds are reduced by 3% this year, which is why you have to cut funding to existing organisations with proven track records.

Now that the maths is clear, we hope that you can all stop your whingeing and get on with enjoying the Renaissance in the Arts heralded by Not Our Arts Minister.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


.............Indeed, a question a lot of you will be asking yourselves these days.
To be serious though, there can be little doubt that, with arts organisations feeling the pinch turn into a squeeze turn into asphyxiation, there a few more sensible ways of spending taxpayer's money than paying bus companies to stick up posters of gorgeous girls pins on the back end of a bus. I certainly know one, or two of the staff here at Not The Arts Council have been patting themselves on the back (and a few other places too) as they gaze at this wonderful 'artwork'.
We are very fortunate at Not The Arts Council to have some real highfliers from the advertising world to advise us on what is going down in 'Da hoodie'. We are assured that young people today will think that a picture of half a naked woman with a tatoo will be so cool and groovy that they will literally be unable to resist doing art once they have seen the posters. Marvellous. Obviously, there wont be any art for them to do because all the money will have gone into the advertising budget, but at least the kids will be down with Not The Arts Council. In fact, if you listen hard enough I think you can hear them chanting 'Down with....'

Consultation Mad
Following last year's successful 'Conversation with ourselves' as part of the RPA, we presented the unanimous voice of Not The Arts Council and passed it off as your views. Thankyou for your silence on that one. This year, we are going one step better and we are going to actually publish the truth. Yes, we are going to ask you to take part in a survey to assess how well we do our job and then put the results onto our website so that all those confused young people who log on after reading the buses will know the truth about Not The Arts Council.
We would really appreciate it if you would spare a few minutes to answer the following questions:
1) Are we? a:Brilliant b: Superb c: Fantastic
2)Should we pay our Chief Executive? a: More b: A Lot More c: An Absolute Fortune

And the results of our consultation show that 105% of the public adore us; a massive 125% of artists think that our Chief Executive is already answer c; and a reassuringly gullible 146% of respondents believe more arts money should be spent on consultations.

Welcome to Not The Arts Council

Definitely Not The
Chief Executive of
Not The Arts Council

Welcome to Not The Arts Council. Just to state the obvious, this is not the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's official website. This has been a momentous week for Not The Arts Council. In keeping with Government Guidelines, we have seen the closure of those bastards at the Ormeau Baths Gallery with a potential saving to the public purse of £300,000 a year. Serves them right for turning down the Talbot Street Arts Centre and sets a great example for the rest of that miserable shower of arts organisations! There are some whingers who think that the role of Not The Arts Council is to advance the arts in Northern Ireland and to fight the corner for the arts. Of course, we all know that is nonsense. If this was the case, we would have been shouting loudly about the ridiculously low level of funding for the arts of Northern Ireland. Instead, we have done a marvellous job of telling the world about what a marvellous job we are doing. Indeed, this week we are proud to launch a very expensive public awareness campaign to promote the Not The Arts Council's work to the Kidz by putting lots of posters of sexy lady legs on buses. Congratulations to all involved in this marvellous campaign to divert money away from the arts and into the Not The Arts Council. This continues the trend we began when our esteemed leaderene took over in 2000. At that time we only had 40 members of staff, but now we are delighted to have 49 members of staff ensuring that maximum resources are devoted to the maintenance and promotion of the splendid Not The Arts Council. Again, we pay credit to our leaderene for setting a great example by removing £75,500 a year from the arts and devoting it to herself. Thanks be to God that we have such a visionary in charge. In line with the policy of reducing the strain on the public purse imposed by the arts, we have been busy looking at the areas we can cut costs. The first thing we did was to comission DeloitteWaterhouseCapita to look at ways to save money. A mere 18 months and £120,000 later their 3 page report was submitted for our approval. They came up with some radical recommendations, which we hope to implement very soon. Watch this space. If you want to contribute articles, observations or images to this blog, please email Roisin McDoughnut at

Friday, March 03, 2006

We've done it again

It is with great pleasure that we can announce our latest stunning masterstroke. Yes, we have continued to hit government targets to eliminate arts activity in Northern Ireland. Just today, we unveil our ability to hits arts provision by dramatically reducing funding to venues across this wee province of ours.
It is well known that local authorities throughout Northern Ireland are awash with money - they can easily afford to take up the slack. If they could only prioritise correctly, they can simply ignore the problem of waste disposal and then spend the money on arts centres instead. In fact if they are creative, they could probably argue that the arts are in fact rubbish and, unless it is a premiere, the presentation of arts is just recycling rubbish. My God, they should be able to get a grant for it! Not from the Arts Council, obviously, but maybe from the Department for the Environment, or even Europe!
We are delighted to announce a radical reduction in support for the Belfast Festival at Queens. Obviously, as Northern Ireland's showcase arts festival, they will understand that to be cut by the Arts Council is a sign that they are worthy of special consideration. We are delighted that the world will now know just how much we value the arts here in good ole Norn Iron.
Some people might think that key organisations and venues being cut might send out a negative signal to the outside world, but we all know that the outside world is so small minded and 'conventional'. They believe that spending money on the arts is a good idea and leads to economic benefits such as tourism, inward investment, employment and that kind of stuff. Well, that may work in fancy foreign parts like London, or Dublin, but we know that kind of left wing crap doesn't wash over here. In Northern Ireland we know better. We know that tourism, employment and inward investment is the result of the Titanic. That is why we are trying our best to ensure that the arts in this part of the world resemble a sinking ship! OK, so we may have accidentally increased funds to a few organisations, but you can rest easy because we have only been able to do that by getting rid of loads of 'clients' from the ASOP list over the last two years. So at the end of the day, you can relax - spending on the arts has been reduced once again and credit must go to the Not The Arts Council for this marvellous piece of financial skullduggery.
Whatever has happened with ASOP, you can relax in the knowledge that, even though spending on the arts has been reduced, spending on the Arts Council will continue to increase.
If you wish to contribute to this blog, please email Roisin at

It has been a great week for Not The Arts Council. With the closure of the Ormeau Baths Gallery, we are getting closer to our aim of zero venues for the city of Belfast by 2007. Of course, this is not going to be easy to achieve and we need your help to make this a reality. If you run a venue in Belfast (and we know this is a very small appeal to start with) can you please make a mistake in your Lottery monitoring so that we can come down on you like a ton of bricks. We are doing our bit to make this easier for you by working to make the monitoring harder for you. Recently we have added the annual monitoring returns just in case you can't be bothered to cock up your Lottery returns.
As stated in our Annual Report, we plan to close the Lyric Theatre in response to their refusal to go down to the Talbot Street arts centre (the entry can be found under the heading Remember the OBG). So far, we have made great strides through the persistent harassment of this organisation, but this has not proved sufficient. We are currently busy devising new monitoring guidelines for producing venues based in Ridgeway Street. These guidelines will be applied fairly and equitably across all venues based in the Ridgeway Street area. Of course any oversights on the part of venues based in this area will be punishable by death, or at the very least immediate closure.
If all goes according to plan, we will see the demise of Belfast venues within 18 months. The result will be the freeing up of more than half a million pounds a year which can be wisely invested in a strategic investment in more staff for Not The Arts Council and a whopping great fee for an eminent consultancy firm to investigate the possible options for opening a new arts centre for Belfast. It is anticipated that it will be at least six years before any arts centre would actually be built and the hope is that the arts in Belfast will have effectively died out with a year on year saving of around £4million, which will be music to the ears of our New Labour Overlords.
Not The Arts Council apologises for any images on this page, which may give the impression that we think that the visual arts has any role to play in our society.
If you would like to submit an article for Not The Arts Council blog, please contact Roisin at