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Lyttle questions Minister Foster on Events Fund

My Assembly Question to the DUP Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster on the removal of the Tourism Events Fund for 2015/16 is detailed below.


Enterprise Minister Assembly Topical Question (Events Fund)


Mr Lyttle: I ask the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment how she can justify her 100% cut to the tourism events fund for 2015-16, which threatens around 65 organisations across Northern Ireland that contribute to important events and festivals that do much for our tourism, society and economy. (AQT 1583/11-15)



Mrs Foster: It is not a question of justifying a 100% cut to the fund. I wanted to give clarity to people in the sector that we were in a position where we could not find the funding to give an events fund for 2015-16. If that changes in the near future — I very much hope that it does — we will put out a call. However, this is a time of the year when applications would not ordinarily be forthcoming and, therefore, I wanted to give them clarity in relation to the issue.

Mr Lyttle: I thank the Minister for her response. However, she will be aware that this threatens organisations, festivals and events that, for every £1 of funding that they receive, return £3 to our local economy. Can the Minister reassure those organisations that she values and understands the importance of that work to our society and economy and say what specific work she is undertaking to ensure a reinstatement of the fund?


Mrs Foster: The budget discussions will be ongoing from now until the end of October, and, if I can count on the support of my colleagues to put in place, as a priority, the reinstatement of the events funding, then the events funding will be reinstated.

This is about priorities and about making sure that we have the right priorities in place. I will be forwarding the priorities for my Department. I have heard some people say that the international funds should basically be robbed to try to assist the events funding. The first thing to say about that is that the international funds have a letter of offer and contractual commitments, and I am not in the business of breaking contractual commitments. The second thing to say about annual sponsorship is that people apply every year. They apply to the fund, and there is no guarantee of receiving funding every year. Everybody has to apply every year and be assessed alongside all the other applications that come in. So it is a competitive process and while people may say that their funds have been cut, they do not have any funds any year until they apply to the fund.

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