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Statement from The Arts Collaboration Network

The Arts Collaboration Network has called on the NI Executive and the Public Health Agency to engage with the arts and culture sector on a plan to re-open live venues and allow in-person participatory arts activity on a safe and sustainable basis.

The Arts Collaboration Network has called on the NI Executive and the Public Health Agency to engage with the arts and culture sector on a plan to re-open live venues and allow in-person participatory arts activity on a safe and sustainable basis. 

Following yesterday’s Executive meeting a detailed announcement was made on future restrictions which will apply in Northern Ireland from 11 December. We are disappointed that there was no reference to galleries or museums and there is still no clarity on when live theatre, music or other cultural spaces can recommence in-person activity. Theatres, live music and other venues have been closed in Northern Ireland since mid-March and as yet there has been no indication of when these places can re-open.

Arts and cultural venues and organisations have appropriate plans in place to safely welcome back the public who we know from research are missing the live, shared experience and the opportunities to take part in arts and cultural activity. 

The longer large parts of the sector remain closed the harder the road back to economic sustainability becomes but more importantly the NI public is missing out on the health and wellbeing benefits of the arts at a time when these are vital for social and individual recovery.

We recognise the massive challenge in balancing public health alongside the need to get NI back up and running and we would ask that the Executive and the Public Health Agency work with the sector to agree a planned re-opening for this vital part of our economy.  Discussions about the longer term requirements of the sector also need to continue across the Executive.   

The Arts Collaboration Network is an informal network of the main cultural sector resource organisations and creative hubs across Northern Ireland.