The Ulster Unionist Party’s Culture & Arts spokesperson Leslie Cree MLA has defended the Arts Council following criticism from Finance Minister Simon Hamilton.
Mr Cree said:
“In the Budget debate at Stormont on Tuesday I was rather surprised to hear the Finance Minister Simon Hamilton describe as ‘disgraceful’ the Arts Council’s decision to spend some of its communications budget on campaigning for more money for the Arts and in the process opposing the Executive’s budget.
“I have to say I was rather surprised because I didn’t think Simon was as sensitive as that. I think it’s maybe grossly unfair to say to the Arts Council that they have no right to complain if arts budgets are being cut. I think that the Arts Council were merely doing their job in arguing the case. The fact is that the arts is important to all of us and therefore it is perfectly logical that the Arts Council should argue the case that there should be no cuts to arts funding.
“I think Simon Hamilton is overreacting. He’s turning into the minister for tetchiness and I don’t think that’s a good thing. We had a situation before Christmas where he fell out with PwC, early in the New Year it was the turn of Danske Bank chief economist Angela McGowan and now it’s the Arts Council. It will probably be me next but that’s the way it goes.”