The continuing political impasse and failure to agree a budget at Stormont threatens a £25,700 shortfall in Derry City and Strabane District Council’s community festival budget.
Head of Culture, Aedin McCarter, told members of the council’s Business and Culture Committee that the Department for Communities Art and Creativity boss Paul Moore has written to council warning that while £8,500 in match-funding will be forthcoming in this, the first quarter, of 2017/18, there’s no guarantee monies will be released later in the year. The council contributes £86,000 towards the fund with DfC contributing £34,200. It’s the latter that’s now in doubt. Members were asked to reprioritise funding to allow money to be allocated to impending festivals now regardless of how they scored among 52 events which applied. The hope is that the impasse at Stormont will be resolved and DfC funding will be made available later in the year. Ms. McCarter said the festival shortfall cannot be seen in isolation as there’s a potential £934,591 match-funding deficit from both the DfC and Executive Office budgets. The committee reluctanctly approved the stop-gap reprioritisation of funding.
SDLP Councillor John Boyle said: “I don’t want to get too political but we are at a political impasse at central government level and we have a very good example of the outworkings of that when we see the potential for a £1m hole in the council budgets. I say, potentially, I hope that’s not the case.”