Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has established a Culture, Arts & Heritage Recovery Taskforce to consider measures to support re-opening and recovery in the short-term as they emerge from the pandemic and to pave the way for a longer term strategy for the culture, arts and heritage sectors.
Speaking after her first meeting with the Taskforce’s chair, the Minister said: “The Executive made some important decisions last week that will be very much welcomed by those who make their living through culture, arts and heritage; those who volunteer and devote their spare time and energy in community and amateur activity and by the rest of us, whose quality of life is enhanced by the work the others do.
“There are important steps in the pipeline that start to allow cultural activity to restart in person and allow many of our venues to plan for re-opening to the public. And while we must celebrate that, we also have to recognise that there will still need to be restrictions in place that mean support beyond the additional £38m allocated last year will be required to encourage the return to activity and to support those individuals and organisations who will continue to face challenges for some time yet.”
The Minister continued: “The people in these sectors make a substantial contribution to our local economy, quality of life, health and wellbeing, in the shaping of our standing as a place to live, work and visit. They offer the potential to alleviate the isolation and mental health crisis facing us, to help us all interpret and absorb the implications of the pandemic, and to deliver immediate and longer term outcomes for our people, our economy and our future.
“I have established this Taskforce to consider the challenges still to be faced and to make recommendations on practical steps that will provide the support the people working in these areas require and deserve if their endeavour is to survive and thrive as we move through the pandemic.”
Also speaking after the meeting, the Taskforce’s chair Rotha Johnston added: “I was delighted to accept the Minister’s invitation to chair this Taskforce, drawn as it is from the wealth of talent that is found across our culture, arts and heritage sectors. We have a challenging agenda but a shared appreciation of the fundamental importance of the work the people in these sectors do; the contribution they make to so many facets of our lives and the vital need to support them through closure and to encourage a successful process of re-opening and recovery.”
The Taskforce comprises of 25 members.
Issues the Taskforce will consider include:
- to support the re-opening of heritage sites, theatres, performance venues and relevant public gathering places in line with the Executive’s Pathway Out of Restrictions;
- to stimulate culture, arts and heritage activity, re-start the cultural economy and enable the sector to play a central role in rebuilding social and economic life here;
- to explore outdoor performance/activity including at youth, amateur and community level across the summer, autumn and into the longer term, as a means of encouraging participation and building audience confidence as the opening of indoor and outdoor facilities and activities rolls out;
- to advise on any short-term actions to support existing skills retention and provide opportunity for potential new-entrants embarking on a career in the sectors.
The Executive has provided more than £38m in financial support to the culture, arts and heritage sectors to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.