Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Caral Ni Chuilin, answered questions on funding for marching bands, Exploris, libraries and the proposed new Ulster Scots Academy, among others, during today’s Question Time.
Jonathan Craig took his opportunity during topical questions to press the Minister on the possibility of extra funding for the band movement in Northern Ireland, citing the expense of band uniforms and musical instruments as prohibitive. Ms Ni Chuilin revealed that there are currently no plans to increase the current £200,000 worth of funding stating that the Arts Council and Ulster Scots Agency are doing an excellent job in this regard.
When questioned on the fate of sea life centre, Exploris, the Minister sympathised with the disappointment around the decision for closure but refused to commit to funding saying similar reputable and much-loved facilities would soon be forming an orderly queue. Ms Ni Chuilin also encouraged there to be more detail on the impact that the closure would have in order to help inform any future decisions.
During the scheduled oral questions the Minister gave an update on the future of libraries in the next five years. Confirming that her department views libraries as a priority, the Minister highlighted the £34.5m budget allocated to this area for 2014-15. Many members were keen to express concern for the future of rural libraries in their own constituencies and the Minister reassured each of the importance placed on these institutions pointing out her visit to Draperstown library where she witnessed the many activities that took place there, making it a hub for the local community.