Tuesday, 24 March 2015

List of main political parties' policies for arts and culture in Northern Ireland

For what it is worth, here is a list of the main political parties' policies on arts and culture in Northern Ireland. I have not made any attempt to distinguish what may or may not pass as 'culture', I have merely presented the information as I have found it.
If I have made any mistakes or omissions, I welcome corrections and additions.

(from http://allianceparty.org/page/culture-arts-and-leisure)

The Alliance Party appreciates the importance of culture, arts, sport and leisure to a healthy and vibrant civil society. There are also considerable economic and social benefits to society as a whole.

Alliance is also particularly aware of the ability of culture, the arts and language to make a positive contribution to a shared future. Alliance supports the appreciation and expression of our rich and varied cultural identities. We believe that cultural participation and self-expression should be developed in the context of respect and understanding of our own and each other's heritage.

Shared space need not be neutral space; it is not about pursuing some sense of sanitised territory that denies the ability of people to celebrate their culture. Alliance will create a vibrant culture in Northern Ireland by:

Providing adequate and long-term funding for the arts, including better use of lottery funding.
Promote Northern Ireland's culture abroad to help develop our tourism industry.
Introduce a comprehensive language strategy which will support both languages in Northern Ireland, as well as other commonly used languages and sign language too.
Create a coherent museums policy to support Northern Ireland's museums.
Investing in sports and sports infrastructure to promote a more active society and to use sport to build a shared future. This includes supporting a shared stadium for GAA, football and rugby.

(from www.mydup.com/policies/culture)

Whether at Westminster, Stormont or Europe, the DUP is pro-active in developing Northern Ireland’s cultural wealth and encouraging creativity to develop new opportunities in our economy.

Over the next four years a DUP Minister would seek to build on this work in the following ways:

  • Reduce the number of arms-length bodies associated with DCAL
  • Separate the dual responsibilities of Northern Ireland Screen, with the international component coming under Invest NI and educational elements being the responsibility of DCAL
  • Seek to build Northern Ireland’s reputation internationally as a centre for creative industries, and continue supporting the Creative Industries Innovation Fund
  • Promote cultural tourism, enhancing collaboration between DCAL and DETI with a focus on developing facilities, activities and trails
  • Enhance the role of the Public Records Office in promoting genealogical tourism
  • Assist the arts sector to promote the Northern Ireland brand abroad and contribute to our economy
  • Support a new start on parades including abolition of the Parades Commission, working alongside the Loyal Orders to achieve this
  • Promote and support the development of flagship Twelfth events and the Maiden City Festival
  • Maximise the use of the substantial number of new dedicated arts facilities which have been developed over the last few years
  • Support high-quality library provision and extend the mobile library network including internet availability particularly for rural users
  • Display appropriately our cultural assets at the Ulster Museum to promote the Northern Ireland brand
  • Invest £138m in regional stadium development for football, rugby and GAA, and sub-regional facility improvements for football across the Province at all levels
  • Support capital projects through the Community Sports Fund, promoting a shared and better future by ensuring facilities are open to all sports and the entire community
  • Ensure Northern Ireland maximises the benefits from the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and hosting the 2013 World Police and Fire Games
  • Continue to offer high profile entertainment events to showcase the Province nationally and internationally
  • Seek to commission an official history of Northern Ireland to be published for the Province’s centenary

  • Continue to support the Community Festival Fund
  • Further develop our marching bands infrastructure and provide funding to replace instruments

  • Support the work of the Ulster-Scots Academy in developing the culture, heritage and language

Green Party NI
(from their 2014 Local Government Manifesto)

Under Caring for Communities:
For our society to flourish in all respects, lively culture, arts and leisure sectors are vital. The Green Party celebrates the creative talents of all members of our society, and believes everyone should be able to enjoy our rich diversity of cultures. We will work in partnership with organisations already active in this area, in order to foster an open and welcoming sense of shared cultural space.

We will promote opportunities for greater involvement of marginalised groups in the arts, and in sport, promoting both physical and mental health. The arts uniquely open a space where a new conversation can take place, where connections are forged, and where greater empathy and much needed understanding can develop.

Under Goals:
We will continue to support the arts and our creative sector as both a unique cultural resource and a key economic driver. We believe every town and city should be a ‘city of culture’, not just for a year, but for good.

Progressive Unionist Party
The PUP's site, www.pupni.com, was in the process of updating as I was compiling this list, but for general enquiries, they request you e-mail info@pupni.co.uk.

(from www.sdlp.ie/issues/culture-arts-and-leisure/)

Ireland has a rich creative, linguistic an artistic heritage. We are committed to the development of our artistic talents into economic drivers.

As proud supporters of the arts, the SDLP wish to build on the economic success of our creative industries. The talents of our artists had led many large international companies to base projects in Northern Ireland.

We must build on this potential. We must better nurture business entrepeneurship within our arts comminity to develop a sustainable and indigenous creative industry in Northern Ireland which is boosted by, but not dependent on, international investment.

Sinn Féin
(I couldn't find any mention of the arts under www.sinnfein.ie/policies. However, the following is from www.sebelfastsinnfein.com/policies and www.sebelfastsinnfein.com/policy/language.)

Under Irish Language:
The potential for the development of the arts, cultural and leisure sectors in Ireland is immense. Recent political developments, particularly of an all-island nature, could be underpinned by the inclusive and unique scope of Irish arts and culture. Furthermore, a more integrated, imaginative and innovative arts and culture policy could open up markets which generate indigenous business and craft sectors and also serve as a dynamic to reinvigorate Irish culture in general.

Arts Councils, North and South, should work for better co-operation in project co-ordination and strategic development;

Community arts provide individual development and community empowerment and should be given a special designation within arts and culture policy and budgeted accordingly.

Traditional Unionist Voice
Having searched through http://tuv.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/manifesto2014.pdf, there is no mention I could find of any policies concerning arts and culture.

UK Independence Party
(from http://www.ukip.org/policies_for_people)

Under Reducing debts we leave to our grandchildren:
UKIP will abolish the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

Under Culture:
– UKIP recognises and values an overarching, unifying British culture, which is open and inclusive to anyone who wishes to identify with Britain and British values, regardless of their ethnic or religious background.
– Official documents will be published in English and, where appropriate Welsh and Scots Gaelic.
– UKIP will ensure that the law is rigorously enforced in relation  to ‘cultural’ practices which are illegal in Britain, such as forced marriages, FGM and so-called ‘honour killings’
– We will review the BBC Licence Fee with a view to its reduction. Prosecution of non-payments of the Licence Fee would be taken out of the criminal sphere and made a civil offence.
– UKIP will amend the smoking ban to give pubs and clubs the choice to open smoking rooms properly ventilated and separated from non-smoking areas.
– UKIP opposes ‘plain paper packaging’ for tobacco products and minimum pricing of alcohol.

Ulster Unionist Party
(from http://uup.org/our-vision/policies#culture)

The Ulster Unionist Party recognises the value of culture, arts and leisure in encouraging economic growth as well as maximising quality of life for the people of Northern Ireland.

Culture, Arts & Leisure

  1. Development of genealogical tourism
  2. Long term investment in the Creative Industries
  3. Maximise the Legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games
  4. Advancement of Ulster Scots heritage, culture and language
  5. A shift in focus to promote our people as well as places

The Ulster Unionist Party recognises the value of culture, arts and leisure in encouraging economic growth as well as maximising quality of life for the people of Northern Ireland.

Cultural identity is an important aspect of our make-up and in that respect Ulster Scots heritage, culture and language should be advanced and developed beside the significant resources currently being deployed on the Irish language. Unionism has been on the cultural back foot in the past as we have had to defend our heritage, however the Ulster Unionist Party want to change that so we can celebrate our history with a sense of pride.

Our museums, libraries and the arts have a crucial role to play in society and although resources are limited, we believe that public funds must still be dedicated to areas with an evidence base of delivering benefit to society.

Sport continues to be integral for improving health outcomes and facilitating increased sharing and integration between communities. The Olympic and Paralympic Games have been a huge success and the legacy of London 2012 must be used as a springboard for sporting development here. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, especially for our young people, and it is up to sporting administrators and politicians to grasp it.

The Case for Change
The current Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Sinn Fein’s Caral Ni Cuillin, has made no secret of her crusade to promote Irish, often at the expense of other priorities within the Department. This blinkered approach cannot go unchallenged within the carve-up at the heart of government.

The closure of a number of libraries as well as reductions in library opening hours has caused much consternation in the communities affected and this situation needs to be managed carefully, especially among rural communities with limited access to these important resources.

The arts have suffered from cuts at a time of budget reductions across Departments. Whilst efficiency savings are necessary within the context of the current economic climate, clearly adequate facilities and high quality programmes must be maintained.

We believe that the creative industries have so much potential but the Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF) has been slashed and there is no long term financial commitment to this important sector.

As regards sports, large capital projects such as the £138 million stadia project must be matched with sufficient emphasis on participation at grass roots level. We also have to stop the carve-up and inefficiency demonstrated in the allocation of funding which was characterised in the stadia project.

The Way Forward

2012 is the Centenary year of the Ulster Covenant, which was signed by 237,368 men and the parallel Declaration which was signed by 234,046 women, on 28th September 1912. We will continue to affirm the legacy which remains in place today as a result and emphasise the importance of what is a living document which has been digitised on the PRONI website.

The Ulster Unionist Party will continue to promote Ulster Scots as well as British culture in areas such as education, the media and the economy.

There is huge untapped potential within the field of “Genealogy Tourism” and we will push to ensure its development including further promotion of the Public Records Office Northern Ireland (PRONI) as well as the advancement of Ulster Scots culture, heritage and language particularly in Scotland and North America.

We believe that DETI’s long overdue tourism strategy must embrace our heritage of producing exceptional people, as much as it promotes our world class destinations, like the Giant’s Causeway, and our great achievements, like the Titanic. A shift in focus is therefore required to promote the seventeen of the forty three American Presidents of Ulster Ancestry as well as the likes of George Best and Mike Gibson from the sporting world, Philosopher Francis Hutchison and influential writer Samuel Beckett.

We will oppose the implementation of an unnecessary Irish language Act. Irish language legislation would be costly, especially within the context of the current economic climate, and overtly divisive.

The Ulster Unionist Party will always stand firm in our belief that freedom of expression is a fundamental and democratic right in any society. Parading is traditionally an important part of Unionist and Protestant culture and we believe in the right to celebrate culture and heritage in this way.

Parading carried out in a respectful manner presents huge opportunities for tourism. Many of the issues around parading can be attributed to a lack of political leadership in driving forward a shared future agenda. The Office of the First and deputy First Minister (OFMdFM) must address this failing. There must be cross party discussions to bring forward recommendations for a workable alternative to the Parades Commission given the inability of the DUP and Sinn Fein to do so following the Hillsborough Agreement.

Shared facilities are an integral part of ensuring sport makes the maximum contribution to our society. It is clear that much of the sporting infrastructure in Northern Ireland is tied up within the educational estate. As such its use is limited and restricted. By building partnerships with local government the potential exists for schools to reduce the revenue cost of providing such facilities and at the same time reduce the capital costs to local government of meeting local need.

The Ulster Unionist Party proposes that in the short term locally based facility development partnerships are created involving local government, sporting bodies, schools and the private sector where appropriate to identify opportunities for sharing and to maximise the benefits of any potential investment. In the medium term these partnerships should be formalised under the Review of Public Administration process as a community planning mechanism within local government.

We also want to back grass roots level sports clubs through placing an obligation on the main sporting bodies to support these clubs, with a clear emphasis on youth development. There must be firm recognition of the contribution sport provides for the nation’s health and to that extent we would highlight the vital and integral collaborative role which the Department of Health has to play.

Therefore, it is clear that joined up government between DCAL, Education and Health is essential in taking forward an effective sporting policy with aspects of rural and social development also key.

The opportunity also exists to develop and enhance the potential from Motorsports, both two and four wheeled, and the possibility of a professional venue should be considered. To this end we want the Minister to assist in the production of a business case for the development of such a venue.

The Ulster Unionist Party recognises that Northern Ireland has a selection of excellent facilities, but the focus must now be to ensure that these facilities are capable of becoming self-sustaining.
We also need to fully utilise the sites we currently have and the Crumlin Road courthouse is a prime example of a failure to do so. Whilst OFMdFM has spent £62 million to date on preparing six former military and security sites for development by either private companies or government bodies, the courthouse was sold for £1 due to its maintenance costs. This is a missed opportunity to progress a new significant landmark along the lines of the Constitutional Court of South Africa in Johannesburg which is built on the site of the Old Fort Prison Complex.

We will continue to support and further promote facilities such as the Inniskillings Museum in Enniskillen and the Police Museum to be built at PSNI Headquarters in Belfast.

Culture and the arts have a major role in improving mental health and well-being, primarily through participation, and there must be a concentrated approach on youth development and active participation across Northern Ireland.

We also have a large collection of public art and we should look at ways to adequately display and promote these pieces for the national good.

Waterways & Fishing
We have taken a lead to date in the promotion of the angling estate and the protection of our indigenous fish and, following our intensive and detailed engagement, the Ulster Unionist Party are keen to establish the overall responsibility of all sections of our waterways under one body.

The current situation is not working and one authority would simplify administration and allow our waterways to operate to their full potential from an environmental, recreational, tourism and economic perspective. It is also an excellent example of how we are aiming to promote efficient, effective, joined up government.

The Ulster Unionist Party believes there is a need to refocus the importance of the Library within the local community.

To that end we should look to implement a model where libraries are an economic driver and are supporting education, learning and health. Libraries, working in conjunction with schools, should therefore be part of a community hub where, for example, the local community centre, health centre, doctor, chemist or tourist information services could be located. We believe that this would best be served by Libraries being returned to local Council control.

Creative Industries
It is important that we truly value creativity and recognise the worth of our creative industries.
To that end the Ulster Unionist Party wants to establish a Task force with the aim of unlocking the creativity that is within Northern Ireland. The task force would include the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure; Invest NI; Further and Higher education; the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and experts from creative industries with the rationale being to create a long term strategy including skills development and the subsequent launch of an all-encompassing policy.

We also believe in the necessity of long term investment in developing our “screen Industry” given the recent success of the Game of Thrones series as well as the Oscar winning film The Shore.

Under the imminent review of Departments within the Northern Ireland Executive, the Ulster Unionist Party would propose that the Culture, Arts and Leisure department be dissolved. This is due to the fact that currently 80% of its current budget is administered by arm’s length bodies, and the remaining 20% has enhanced synergies with potential to develop in other departments such as the Department of Education and a potential Department of the Economy.

1 comment:

  1. Colin, well done for putting this together. Much food for thought.