Income generating activities by ACNI’s core-funded organisations have failed to offset the loss of Government funding and artists’ costs have been slashed to balance budgets.

Photo of the exterior of the arts centre
The MAC, one of ACNI's regularly funded organisations

Ardfern (Own work) (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Key publicly funded arts organisations in Northern Ireland faced falling incomes in 2015/16, as their efforts to generate more earned and contributed income failed to compensate for significant losses in grant funding.

According to figures published by Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI), 109 regularly funded organisations found their total income from public sources, including NI Government departments, local authorities and other public funding, contracted by £3.4m. This represented a fall of 12.4% compared with the previous year.

Over the same period earned income among this group grew by £495k, and contributed income from fundraising, sponsorship and memberships by £455k, representing revenue growth of just 4.4%.

The cuts have coincided with a period of growth in staff costs, but organisations have saved in other areas to plug the revenue gap. Spending on artists – including artist fees and expenses, commissioning costs and small-scale programming costs – fell by £1.3m. This now represents just 62.1% of all costs, down from 65.7% a year earlier. 
Despite the difficult financial conditions, the number of arts activities presented by ACNI’s regularly funded organisations grew by 3%, although attendance fell by 1% at events where precise measurement of ticket sales was possible. Estimates suggest that attendance at other events, where precise measurement of the size of the audience was not possible, saw a 29% increase.

Liz Hill