A ten-year strategy for the arts in Northern Ireland is being considered under a new consultation launched by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

Photo of a street performance

tatchie (CC BY 2.0)

Plans for a re-think on how arts and culture services are delivered and accessed across Northern Ireland form the basis of a new consultation document that Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín hopes will “lead to the formation of the first overarching and cross-departmental strategy for arts and culture”.

The strategy will be a blueprint for arts and culture over the next ten years, aiming to ensure that “services and benefits are delivered to everyone”. It has been drafted to reflect a vision to “promote, develop and support the crucial role of arts and culture in creating a cohesive community and delivering social change to our society on the basis of equality for everyone”. The Minister told the Assembly that she wanted people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to have the opportunity to participate in and enjoy cultural experiences of their choice. This goal is reflected in the consultation document, which is framed around five core themes: equality through arts and culture; creativity and skills; valued arts and culture; rich cultural expression; and wellbeing.

Particular reference is made to the importance of education, and Ní Chuilín describes the creative sector as a “serious and important career choice for our children” that should be “fully recognised through our education, training and employment systems”. She said: “The creativity and specialism within the creative industries has long supported the wider economy and this sector has been a key driver of sustainable economic regeneration and job creation. I want more people to have access to these benefits and therefore I believe it is imperative that the north of Ireland has a robust strategy that not only supports and strengthens these burgeoning industries but fully acknowledges the value of arts and culture as contributors to the skills, education, confidence and, most importantly, the health and wellbeing of all our people.”

The consultation period runs until 12 February and responses can be made online. A stakeholder engagement programme will take place over the coming months to complement the consultation.

Liz Hill