Arts Council Shut Down 'One-Stop' Culture Website

Arts Council Shut Down 'One-Stop' Culture Website

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has slashed funding to the award-winning Culture NI website putting five jobs at risk.

The Culture NI website has been promoting Northern Ireland’s arts and cultural scenes for the past decade, and is used by hundreds of thousands of people each year.

Benefits of the website include:

  • Promoting arts and culture in Northern Ireland to 400,000+ users each year. 
  • 500+ arts-related articles, reviews and competitions, written by 50 top contributors, each year. 
  • A What’s On listings service, with thousands of events across Northern Ireland, and curated events content. 
  • Culture NI and Culture North West e-newsletters, containing the latest arts news and events, sent to more than 40,000 subscribers each week. 
  • Social networks with more than 50,000 Facebook fans and Twitter followers, generating 20 million page impressions each year. 
  • A proven driver of arts attendance, delivering ticket sales and new audiences with 67% of users having ‘attended an event’ after visiting the website.

The award-winning Culture NI website was re-launched in January this year, with the Arts Council axing its funding without warning last week. News of the cut was a complete shock as the website is viewed as key cultural asset and frontline service for the arts community.

This devastating news means that the Culture NI website and social networks will regrettably be forced to close from April 2015.

David Lewis, director of Culture NI, said: 'Culture NI is the one place where all strands of Northern Ireland’s arts and culture come together.

'For 10 years, Culture NI has been a flagship arts platform, showcasing all that is good about Northern Ireland’s arts. With the increasing importance of digital marketing, the Arts Council’s decision to cut the website is short-sighted and will simply limit further the public’s access to event information.

'This devastating cut means the arts sector will lose a significant resource, which benefits hundreds of arts organisations and artists each year. Arts activities will be less visible, less events will be attended, and less arts products purchased. We will be certainly challenging the Arts Council to justify this decision.'

Five digital content jobs at the Nerve Centre, in Derry~Londonderry, which manages Culture NI, are now under threat.

Hundreds of loyal users of the website have responded to the news of the cuts using the form below, urging the Arts Council to reinstate its support.

'I love the website because it offers a way of discovering new and interesting events taking place in Northern Ireland as well as news on local arts and culture. It is one of only a few outlets which does this and should be saved.' Kathyrn, Carrickfergus

'I find Culture NI the best way to find out about what's going on in the arts in Northern Ireland. I live in a rural community and rely on email newsletters and my Facebook to find out what's going on throughout Northern Ireland. We don't have a lot of money but are prepared to travel to go to events that we think are special. Without Culture NI I simply wouldn't have found out about many events that I have subsequently paid to see. If you cut Culture NI, you're cutting the chance for my hard-earned money to go into the arts.' Deirdre, Downpatrick

'This site encapsulates everything positive about the arts in Northern Ireland it gives insight that could otherwise be missed and encourages you to go seek and discover somethings that you might miss or on first glance pass over. It gives everyone a real opportunity to connect with the arts here and goodness knows it's becoming harder to do this. This is a valuable site that also catalogues and archives NI arts it's also accessible to everyone. Please reconsider this action. Without this valuable hub we risk fading into dark.' Terry, Belfast

'On many occasions I have visited NI as a direct result of reading information and events on Culture NI. It's a fantastic resource, both for locals and tourists and would be a sorry miss. Sarah, Edinburgh

'This website is a fantastic source of information for me. My parents and other family live in NI and I use this website to plan my visits for things to do when I'm over. It shows NI to be a thriving, artistic place with lots going on and lots to offer. Great PR for NI – please don't ditch it.' Brian, Worcestershire

'Culture NI cover a wide variety of arts without being elitist. They remind me of all the good interesting things happening here. Without them it's just people hating other people and politicians doing nothing and disagreeing with each other. We need to highlight the positive and that's what Culture NI do so well, reminding us of the talent in this tiny island on the edge of the world.' Lynette, Portstewart

'I travel to Northern Ireland several times a year from the USA to enjoy the culture, arts, music and generally spend a lot of money! I help support the economy of Northern Ireland. The arts are a very important piece of tourism. Please reconsider funding this fantastic and necessary website.' Coleen, USA

'Culture NI is my one-stop-shop to find out about what arts and culture events are happing in my area, as well as the rest of Northern Ireland and I would attend events after visiting their page… I understand that there are cuts across the whole arts and culture sector, but we should be using resources such as Culture NI to promote and celebrate what still do have, before we have nothing left!' Lauren, Newtownards

Culture NI has launched a campaign to save the website. More details can be found at www.culturenorthernireland.org.

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