As a member of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure (2011-) undertake a scrutiny, policy development and consultation role with respect to the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.
The department is responsible for arts and creativity, museums, libraries, sport, inland waterways and inland fisheries, linguistic diversity, archives, and for advising on National Lottery distribution.
The committee undertakes a scrutiny, policy development and consultation role with respect to the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and plays a key role in the consideration and development of legislation.
The Ulster Unionist Party have two members on this committee, Michael McGimpsey and Robin Swann.
In the current economic circumstances, the Ulster Unionist Party recognises that other spending priorities must take precedence over the arts, and we wish to see the great majority of public funds devoted to areas with an evidence base of delivering benefit to society: community arts which empower, liberate and create increased cohesion on the ground; the performing arts which can leverage several pounds of spending in the local economy for every public pound invested; and the emerging industries, such as the successful development of the Paint Shop in the Titanic Quarter as a hub for film and television production.
What the Ulster Unionist Party will not do is impose our party political ideology on the arts or any artistic organisation. History is not kind to those parties who walk that road.
We remain committed to supporting local talent; therefore we will continue to promote investment into events such as the Belfast Festival at Queen’s to enable our artists to showcase their talents.
With a series of centenary celebrations in the pipeline, the Ulster Unionist Party believes this is the time to advance international understanding and appreciation of the contribution of those of Ulster Scots (or Scotch-Irish) origin; not just US Presidents, but economists, philosophers, space adventurers, the people who have brought non-conformist, transformational thinking to the free world.
The Ulster Unionist Party acknowledges the significant role that cultural organisations play within the Northern Ireland community and we respect the right of all to celebrate their culture and heritage in a lawful, respectful, non-threatening manner.
The Ulster Unionist Party remain opposed to an Irish Language Act. We regard such an act as unwarranted, costly and overtly divisive.
The current Budget has allocated £138 million to the development of facilities for a selected number of sports. The Ulster Unionist Party accepts the need is pressing, particularly for the national football stadium, but also recognises two other factors: the significant compelling requirements of other services, not least Heath; and the five sports proposals previously promised funding, but since denied.
Northern Ireland could have had a new national stadium in time for our children to feel part of next summer’s London Olympics. The failure is a reminder of missed opportunities.
We wish to see our national teams succeed in well-equipped, modern facilities. But success is most likely to result from long-term strategic thinking. The Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure must refocus on grassroots participation. Just as educational reform requires the input of families and communities, sporting success at the high end of international performance begins with participation by all.