The Belfast Film Festival was extremely dismayed by the recent announcement of the unexpected and brutal cuts to the arts sector when DETI (Dept of Enterprise Trade & Investment) announced they would be axing the NITB Tourism Events Fund.

We will now have to reduce our ambitions and considerably amend our plans, which will likely mean a scaled-down BFF, with fewer films and significant guests both film-makers and celebrities. We will of course look for other sources of revenue, including raising ticket prices, but, whilst we are still experiencing a recession it is difficult to find new commercial sponsorship

This fund supported the arts and tourism sectors giving high impact, positive cultural and economic returns on what is, in reality, a small investment. It enabled many organisations to showcase the best that Northern Ireland has to offer.

We pledge our solidarity with the other 64 events who have felt the impact of this cut. We would like you to join us in supporting the #LightsOutNI campaign for the reinstatement of the NI Events Fund.

“No decision is irreversible, even though the Executive minister Arlene Foster has blamed it on the inability to deliver welfare reform. It seems to be that if there’s a change in the atmosphere at Stormont the money could be released. But, as things stand, I have no doubt that many of the 65 events and festivals will not be able to go ahead next year. And that could mean job losses as well as everything else.” Sean Kelly (CQAF)