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EACEA National Policies Platform


8. Creativity and Culture

8.3 National strategy on creativity and culture for young people

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 07/12/2020 - 18:39

On this page
  1. Existence of a national strategy
  2. Scope and contents
  3. Responsible authority for the implementation of the strategy
  4. Revisions/updates

Existence of a national strategy

Arts Council NI, which is funded by the Department for Communities to develop the arts, published a draft Youth Arts Strategy 2019-2024. The framework provides an overview of the strategic direction proposed for the five-year period, 2019-2024, on issues such as Brexit, COVID-19 and arts funding. Crucially, it is a framework and not a plan, and was adapted in light of the restoration of power to the Northern Ireland Executive in January 2020. An accompanying business plan will be produced each year, setting out in detail the actions we will take in order to deliver our strategic objectives. The business plans will be linked to the draft Programme for Government and its associated outcomes. 

This draft strategy includes a briefing of COVID-19 policy responses: 

Since drafting this strategic framework for 2019/24 the world has been impacted severely by the COVID-19 pandemic; consequently we are all revising our daily lives under quarantine and finding different ways to work. The fragile and vital arts sector in Northern Ireland has been severely affected. The Arts Council has engaged on an ongoing basis with the sector to hear directly about the challenges faced. In response to the initial impact we were pleased to be able to offer standstill funding under our Annual Funding Programme in 2020/21 and make immediate payments of 50% to assist with cash flow at a time of huge loss of income from box office and other earned income and grants. We introduced an Artists Emergency Programme with a funding pot of £575k from other budget areas which we temporarily suspended; we were delighted when the Department for Communities, through Minister Hargey, made another £1m available towards this fund and an Organisations Emergency Programme. The latter offers grants of up to £25k for loss of income and additional programming. Organisations supported under Lottery Project Funding were also protected where they present year round programmes and are a key part of our arts infrastructure. We continue to work with the Department and Minister Ní Chuilín to make the case to the Executive as the impact increasingly takes its toll on the venues, theatres, arts organisations and creative practitioners who make up our vibrant arts sector. Annually funded organisations informed us that by June 2020 they were facing potential deficits of up to £4 million, though this could increase; the anticipated loss of income in the sector for 2020/21, primarily through box office, is estimated to be £25 million.

The former Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure published a draft Strategy for Culture and Arts 2016-2026 in 2015 for public consultation. The consultation period ended in February 2016 and, following the Northern Ireland Assembly elections and reorganisation of government departments in May 2016, responsibility for the development of the strategy was transferred to the Department for Communities. In June 2016, a digest of consultation responses and an overview of the online responses received. However, at the time of writing, no further developments had been made public.


Scope and contents


5 Year Strategic Framework for Developing the Arts 2019-2024

This strategy aims to improve relationships as a key representative to key stakeholders such as politicians, government departments and public agencies whilst advocating the role of the Arts in society. The strategy recognises the crucial role of the arts in building cohesive communities and making communities safer. 51% of the funding invested by the Arts Council goes to the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland, helping to deliver social change, economic prosperity and build a strong and a shared community. Priorities for the next 5 years are organised under three themes: inspire, lead and connect. The parent department, the Department for Communities, has established its own strategic priorities. These are also important areas for the arts:

  • A more confident people living their lives to the full
  •  More engaged communities
  •  Lower levels of economic inactivity and unemployment
  • Improved communities and better housing

Draft Strategy for Culture and Arts 2016-2026

The draft strategy aims to deliver 'cultural togetherness' for all children and young people by bolstering the provision of arts and culture to help bring about social and economic improvement in society. Current arts and culture activity provision is outlined, clustered around five key themes which contribute to cultural togetherness:

  • equality through the arts - promoting equality for all citizens to enjoy artistic and cultural pathways of choice and helping to tackle poverty and social disadvantage.
  • creativity and skills - building a confident, articulate, modern, highly skilled society that values arts and culture and its contribution to a strong creative economy.
  • valued arts and culture - establishing a society in which everyone will respect and acknowledge the rich and diverse arts and culture sectors, which will be supported by government policy makers and funders.
  • rich cultural expression - creating a more inclusive society which embraces and encourages creative and cultural expression.
  • well-being - building a healthy and fulfilled society, in which individuals enjoy a rich quality of life.

Throughout the consultation period, individuals were asked to comment on the draft document and its five key themes, alongside providing suggestions for improvement and future actions.


Responsible authority for the implementation of the strategy

Draft Strategy for Culture and Arts 2016-2026

The draft strategy is the responsibility of the Department for Communities.



See 5 Year Strategic Framework for Developing the Arts 2019-2024 above.