So, now we know - the budget at least. The unknowing of what actually propelled the budget to be arrived at this way may have to remain a mystery, like why more people watched Mrs Brown at Xmas than anything else and why Norn Iron is better at golf than anyone else!!
Depending on what you read, there was a huge level of responses made to the draft budget by arts supporters of the ACNI 13p campaign. As Roisin McDonough of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland alluded to, if 20,200 responses gained a fantastically welcome extra resource of £64 Million to primary and post-primary education, what might the 15,000 responses in support of the arts get?? The answer: a cut in excess of 10%.
And while some gloat about receiving Christmas presents of monies they never even asked for, others in the sector hang on tenterhooks until they learn their fate.
The arts infrastructure has received a real body blow despite all the rhetoric of championing and securing extra, the arts now know how little they count in the grand scheme of N Ireland PLC. With funding already at an all time low, we now have slipped further. In relation to our neighbours, we are approaching half the level of funding support. Does that mean we are half as creative, half as dedicated or half as entertaining or rather does it more accurately reflect the outlook of policy-makers' interest in the arts? Another mystery perhaps?
Whatever the reasons; the inequalities, the rhetoric and the hubris, the arts are now in a far more precarious position than they have been for decades. But its not just the arts that lose. Our whole society loses out because of it. And indeed as a direct result, the most marginalised, those least able to respond to cuts bear the brunt, yet again.
I suppose we do have brilliant golf courses. I still don't understand the other mysteries mind you