Culture, arts and heritage recovery taskforce

The Department for Communities will establish a Culture, Arts & Heritage Recovery Taskforce in response to COVID-19, to consider measures to support reopening and recovery of the sector in the short-term, paving the way for a longer term strategy for culture, the arts and heritage. It is expected that the taskforce will deliver its report and recommendations to the Communities Minister in phases with all completed by August 2021.

Role and purpose of the group

The Culture, Arts & Heritage Recovery Taskforce will be commissioned to propose measures:

  • to support the reopening of heritage sites, theatres, performance venues and relevant public gathering places in line with the Executive’s Pathway Out of Restrictions;
  • to stimulate culture, arts and heritage activity, re-start the cultural economy and enable he sector to play a central role in rebuilding social and economic life here;
  • to explore outdoor performance/activity, including at youth, amateur and community level across the summer, autumn and into the longer term, as a means of encouraging participation and building audience confidence as the opening of indoor and outdoor facilities and activities rolls out;
  • to advise on any  short-term actions to support skills retention and to provide opportunity for potential new-entrants embarking on a career in the sectors; and;
  • to identify medium to long term actions which might be considered in the development of a new Culture, Arts and Heritage Strategy.

Scope and priorities

The taskforce will be asked to propose practical and achievable measures to support the recovery of the sector and recommendations to a long term Culture, Arts & Heritage Strategy. The measures should, where possible start immediately and be deliverable within the short to medium term (up to 18 months), taking account of financial implications. Both the proposals and their delivery will be exercises in co-design.

The taskforce work programme will be agreed with DfC immediately following its appointment and kept under review for the duration of its work.

Membership and appointments

The taskforce will be made up of 26 people including an externally appointed Chair. Membership will include:  public officials with representation from Department of Education, Finance and Economy; Arts Council NI; National Lottery Heritage Fund; as well as a range of sectoral representatives covering the wide footprint of the cultural sector here in NI.

Members will be required to participate in discussions, provide bi-weekly updates to the Department and deliver on a phased report approach.

Taskforce membership

Rotha Johnston (Chair) - Northern Ireland Screen
Roisin McDonough - Arts Council of NI (Chief Executive)
Paul Mullan - National Lottery Heritage Fund (NI Director)
John Anderson - Ulster Architectural Heritage
Lynne Best - The Fourth Pillar
Martin Bradley - Millennium Theatre/ Chair, Arts & Business NI
Damien Coyle - University of Atypical 
Ian Crozier - Ulster Scots Agency
Michele Devlin - Belfast Film Festival
Charlotte Dryden - Oh Yeah Music Centre
Jimmy Fay - Lyric Theatre
Niamh Flanagan - Theatre & Dance NI
Kevin Gamble - Féile an Phobail
James Kerr - The Verbal
Brendan McAleer - Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCE)
Craig McGuicken - NI Environment Link
Paul Moore - Future Screens NI
Diane Ruddock - National Trust
Conor Shields - Community Arts Partnership
Nisha Tandon - ArtsEkta
Richard Wakely - Belfast International Arts Festival
Declan Legge - Freelancer
Representative - SOLACE
Representative - Department of Finance
Representative - Department of the Economy
Representative - Department of Education

Conduct and confidentiality

Group members will be asked to declare any conflicts of interest, and must adhere to the Seven Principles of Public Life and GDPR obligations.

Group members may be given access to information not yet in the public domain or which is policy under development. This information must not be shared outside the group, including in the press or on social media, without prior written permission from DfC. This applies both during and after the group’s term of appointment.

Membership of the group may be revoked by DfC if a member is found to have disclosed information inappropriately or failed to uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life.

Terms of reference

The measures proposed should be practical and achievable, where possible starting immediately, deliverable within the short to medium term (up to 18 months) and take account of financial implications. Both the proposals and their delivery should be exercises in co-design.

Secretariat support

The taskforce will have the support of the Department’s Culture Division and when required the Department’s Press Office. Secretariat support will include arranging meetings, minute taking, maintaining records in accordance with legislative requirements (GDPR) and general administrative support.

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