Strangford Alliance Candidate Kieran McCarthy said: “The arts sector has a very positive impact on our community and it brings money into our economy from tourism and film and TV opportunities.
“We can not allow this sector to be seen as an easy target for cuts. It should, just like all sectors have to look to make efficiency savings, but we need to protect the massive creative talent we have here. We need to ensure funding for arts projects is put on a long term basis. We need to move away from the year on year allocation system to enable more strategic planning and reduce the administrative burden on both funders and recipients.
“We must make sure that there is enough money invested at grass roots level to ensure that the next Liam Neeson or James Nesbitt is discovered. We have also seen the benefits of films and TV shows being recorded here. High returns are possible for regions that work hard to attract the film industry. In the past four years films such as City of Ember, Closing the Ring and Your Highness have been filmed here, and more recently the HBO series Game of Thrones chose Northern Ireland as a location. Government must give serious consideration to providing a tax credit for TV companies similar to that used to attract the film industry.
“It is also very important that we promote our unique cultural heritage by having an integrated strategy for cultural tourism. We have beautiful countryside, amazing architecture and a vibrant arts and cultural scene. We need a strong, coherent and integrated strategy to ensure that we can reach our tourism potential.
“We have a brilliant arts sector and we must help it to grow by being radical and displaying vision. We need to support the arts to help grow our economy and continue to attract large numbers of tourists to Northern Ireland.”