The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has released data from its 2016/17 Annual Funding Survey.
Top line results reveal another difficult year for the arts sector which has been faced with a decline in income and a shift in employment patterns with more short-term/temporary contracts. Despite difficult financial conditions, arts organisations reported a rise in the number of people engaging in participatory arts activities, as well as a rise in the number of relaxed performances offered to audiences.
Nick Livingston, Director of Strategic Development of Arts Council, commented:
“The data presented today has been gathered from the 107 organisations funded through the Arts Council’s Annual Funding Programme. It is a reflection of their financial position, employment figures, the work they undertake, the services they offer, and their geographic reach. This is the third year that we have gathered and presented the data in this way and can now see clear trends emerging within the sector as pressure on public funding continues to increase.”
Some key findings
- The proportion of artists employed on a contract or freelance basis rose by 5% between 2016/17 and 2017/18 reflecting a shift in employment patterns to more short-term / temporary arrangements. Whilst this can offer greater flexibility, it often doesn’t provide the security a permanent, full-time position would and reflects the need for arts organisations to keep labour costs to a minimum as funding income falls.
- Small arts organisations (those with a total income of less than £200k) drew a far lower proportion of their total income from earned sources and were more dependent on regular funding from ACNI than the overall portfolio.
- Over half of all activities delivered that year were conducted in the 20% most deprived Super Output Areas, with 1 in 10 activities taking place in rural locations. Small organisations delivered the largest proportion of work in rural areas (21%), an increase of 8 percentage points compared to the previous year.
- The number of relaxed performances staged by funded clients has increased significantly compared to previous years. This has enabled more disabled people to access the arts, in particular theatre based work, via modified shows performed in less formal environments.
- Participation remains the single largest form of engagement delivered by annually funded organisations, comprising 85% of activity in 2016/17. This form of activity enables people of all ages to explore personal creativity and work collaboratively with other individuals contributing positively towards broader societal objectives relating to reconciliation, regeneration and social cohesion.
You can read the data in whole here.