Cutting of the Laganside Events Fund – Serious Blow to Cathedral Quarter
Some of the best events Belfast has to offer including: Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Festival of Fools, Black Box Events, Open House Festival, Belfast Children’s Festival, Out to Lunch Festival, Summer Sundays and Culture Night could be under serious threat following the sudden closure of the Laganside Events Fund. The cutting of the Laganside Events Fund by the Department for Social Development will have serious implications for the continued viability of these highly popular events in Cathedral Quarter.
“There is a real sense of shock and massive disappointment that the Events Fund has been completely cut” Paul Mc Erlean, Chairman of the Cathedral Quarter Steering Group said. “I’ve been in touch with a number of arts groups who have received letters without any prior consultation or indication that the funding would go. This cut will seriously undermine many of the great events that have given Cathedral Quarter and Belfast such an improved image and helped to make the Quarter a shared space in the city centre for the people of Belfast and its visitors. We call on the Minister, Nelson McCausland to reinstate the Fund as soon as possible,” Paul McErlean said.
Support for the impact the fund has made:
“Festivals and events are the very essence of the Cathedral Quarter. When you think of the importance of tourism and the hospitality sector to the city, and the number of people employed, you have to appreciate that festivals like the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and events like Culture Night and Summer Sundays inject thousands of people into the city centre. Not only that, but unlike other popular night spots in Belfast, the Cathedral Quarter, at least in part because of the diversity of the people that these very popular events attract, is also a very safe and welcoming place to socialise.”
Bill Wolsey, Managing Director of the Beannchor Group which owns The Merchant Hotel
‘The withdrawal of Laganside funding by the DSD is a devastating blow to the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and the Out to Lunch Festival as this investment enabled us to reduce ticket prices and host free events. It helped ensure both festivals could be accessible and affordable to all the people of the city and beyond.’
Sean Kelly, Director, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival
‘It is disappointing to learn that the Laganside Events Fund is to be abolished. This fund has been a small, yet significant, opportunity for promoting tourism and creative industries in the Cathedral Quarter and the Minister’s action is all the more surprising given that these are priority areas in the NI Executive’s Draft Programme for Government.’
Joe Kelly, Director, Craft Northern Ireland
‘The Laganside Events Fund has been crucial to the development of the Black Box and many of its partners. The removal of the fund will hurt the Cathedral Quarter in many ways, including the financial implications of the loss of activity to generate cultural tourism and loss of business to pubs, restaurants, cafes and other businesses in the area. If the Cathedral Quarter is to be known as a hub for the arts, this decision can only be seen as a slap in the face to the many organisations who have been working hard to develop the Quarter and the greater Laganside area. The lateness of this decision has compounded its impact, with arts organisations being left little or no time to seek alternative avenues of funding.’
Neil Jacques, Venue Manager, Black Box Belfast
“The Laganside Events Fund is a cornerstone of regeneration and development of our cultural quarter in the city centre. Public funding for events is key to sustaining the vision of a revitalised Belfast and the massive amounts of voluntary work that we have carried out over the last number of years, with professional support from DSD, could be wasted if the funding doesn’t exist to bring the events that animate the Quarter so well,” concluded Paul McErlean.
Patricia Freedman – 07501469009/02890242111
Paul McErlean – 07771 732882