Across Northern Ireland from citizens through to local councils and Arts Council Northern Ireland we are engaged in developing a range of arts strategies and cultural policies. Even the lead Department for Communities is using the time without a devolved government sitting to explore what a 'national' strategy might look like. And increasingly there are ways for you to get involved and have your say.

Having hosted and been involved in a range of creative and cultural discussion events with people from different places over the past that make up this vibrant part of Ireland and the UK, it is clear our cultural lives matter to us. We want our government, both local and national, to pay attention and we want to play our part in making the decisions that affect how culture happens in our local areas.

So by way of stimulating further conversation below is a fast plain English 'policy reader' and links to current opportunities to influence those that are making cultural policy

What to Make of Culture in Our Times

On 27th September 2018 and hosted by MLAs Mike Nesbitt, Claire Hannah and Clare Baliey, Voluntary Arts Ireland, working in partnership with Thrive, Mediation NI, Queens University Belfast, International Futures Forum and ArtsEkta convened with fellow citizens in the Parliament Buildings, Stormont to explore with others the broad question of 'What to Make of Culture in Our Times?'

Read the report here

Public Consultation

Arts Council of Northern Ireland Draft 5-year Strategic Framework for Developing the Arts 2019-2024

Find out about local consultation events and respond here

Conversations: Beyond the Box Ticking

Given the value placed on cultural participation by the public and the fact that public subsidy of the arts depends on the money people contribute through taxation ACNI commissioned Thrive, Queens University Belfast and Voluntary Arts Ireland to carry out creative conversations across Northern Ireland to inform its draft 5- year Strategic Framework. 

Download the report here

Towards a better future for the Arts in Northern Ireland

A provocation by Kevin Murphy, Chief Officer of Voluntary Arts Ireland in response to Arts Council Northern Ireland's initial strategic consultation in 2018

Read the article here

New Cultural Strategies as part of community plans.  

Cities and councils across Northern Ireland have or are in the process of developing their own cultural policies and plans connected to local Community Plans. Check with your local authority as to the status of their plans and how you can get involved.

For example currently Belfast City Council is in the process of developing options for a new approach to long-term cultural development in the city.

They say: "We value your voice, and seek contribution from all sectors (art, tourism, business, heritage, sport, hospitality, creative industries and more) to collectively develop an authentic narrative for our city." 

More details at Belfast City Council

Could it be that there is a shift happening amongst Northern Ireland policy makers from a rigid top down culture to one that is more participative and emergent? Certainly the approach to the Programme for Government is suggestive of a more coherent set of shared outcomes that crucially Government sees creative cultural activity playing an important role in achieving. And as the outcomes are shared, we can all contribute and imagine together how to make a transformative change for the common good.