The Taskforce, established by the Minister in May 2021, has made nine recommendations to support reopening and recovery in the short-term and proposals for the focus of a longer term strategy for culture, the arts and heritage.
Minister Hargey has thanked the Taskforce chair Rotha Johnston and the expert panel members and confirmed that work on implementation of the main recommendations has already begun.
The Minister said: “The work undertaken by the Taskforce has been invaluable to the important task of supporting the sectors on the pathway to recovery.
“Since the report was submitted a programme for individuals in the arts and creative sectors has already been introduced – the Creative Individuals’ Recovery Programme has been co-designed by my Department and the Arts Council, with the support of the Taskforce and others in the arts and creative sector. University of Atypical has also provided a programme specifically designed to support the particular requirements of our D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists and a programme open to people in the heritage sector will follow soon.
“Work to develop programmes to support relevant organisations in the arts and heritage sectors is at an advanced stage and I expect to be able to make an announcement on those shortly.”
To support this work, the Minister has secured £13m in Executive funding to support the Covid-19 response in the broad culture and heritage sectors – in addition to the £38 million provided in 2020/21. The Arts Council’s Creative Individuals’ Recovery Programme is the first scheme to be funded through this Executive support package this financial year.
Rotha Johnston, Chair of the Taskforce said: “Northern Ireland’s culture, arts and heritage sectors are intrinsic to many of the values that are held most important in life: a strong sense of place and family roots, tradition, health, happiness, life satisfaction and wellbeing. It is very welcome news that Minister Hargey has accepted all of the recommendations of the Taskforce. We look forward to the implementation of the recommendations in the short term which is vital to assist the sectors so devastated by the pandemic. The Taskforce also welcomes confirmation that the Minister accepts the wide range of proposals that will underpin the focus of a longer term vision and strategy for culture, arts and heritage and notes work will commence on this shortly. My sincere thanks to the Minister for commissioning this report, to all members of the Taskforce, and all those who engaged in the process.”