SOUND PROGRAMMING OR SINISTER CENSORSHIP?
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 www.nottheartscouncil.blogspot.com
Vive La Revolution!!!