Question Time: Culture, Arts and Leisure Tuesday 6 October 2015

Caral Ni Chuilin, Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, gave her assessment of Culture Night Belfast 2015 during today’s Question Time. A variety of culture nights took place across the North on 18 September 2015. Through the Arts Council, DCAL made a funding contribution of £21,600 to the Cathedral Quarter Trust for Culture Night Belfast. While it is too early to make an assessment of Culture Night as a whole due to the lack of detailed information as yet, from initial feedback the event in Belfast was a particular success. Early estimates place attendance at 65,000 providing a “convincing indicator of support for the local cultural scene right across Belfast and of the sector's potential to contribute to the development of a diverse and dynamic culture.” The Minister added that “Culture nights are now an integral part of the wide-ranging cultural offering supported by my Department, such as Belfast Pride in July, the Festival of Fools and the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, all of which continue to attract significant numbers of spectators and participants.”

Alex Maskey then asked for an update on the implementation of the twenty recommendations of the project assessment review report on Casement Park. The Minister intends to implement all twenty recommendations in full. Upon receipt of the report (on 7 August 2015) the Minister immediately set about implementing those recommendations deemed critical. A senior officer responsible for the regional stadia programme has been appointed in the form of Ian Maye and good progress is being made in the appointment of an independent chair of the safety technical group, which is expected to happen later this month or in early November. Ms Ni Chuilin also allayed concerns about the 12 month timeframe recommended by the report for a new planning application saying “I think that they are being very generous in their estimation that it will take up to an additional 12 months. I know that Casement is in the Member's (Alex Maskey) constituency, and I hope that, very soon, the Ulster Council will bring forward its pre-consultation consultation to equip people who will feed into a consultation on a new planning application. I imagine that that will happen very soon.”

During Question Time the Minister also answered questions on the refurbishment of Belfast Central Library, remuneration of Arm’s-length bodies, Together: Building a United Community, and centenary events planned for the First World War. During the period for topical questions the Minister also answered questions on DCAL funding for the Easter Rising centenary, preparing Casement Park for the 2023 Rugby World Cup bid, the Foyle Valley gateway master plan and DCAL bids during June monitoring.

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