An award-winning children’s art centre in Newry has been given a ray of council hope for survival following an emergency motion on Monday night.
The Sticky Fingers arts organisation has been forced to shut down its popular ‘Imaginarium’ centre due to a lack of funding, after five years in its magical city centre location.
It is understood that the facility would require a £200,000 budget to run a full programme of events for all ages, however there has been no public money provided to the group.
Newry SDLP councillor, Doire Finn bringing forward the motion, said: “The council notes with sadness the recent closure of the Imaginarium at Sticky Fingers, which provided a facility for countless families and young people across the district.
“The council commits to work with the Department for Communities, the Executive office, and relevant council officers to protect for its provision across the district.”
She added: “I am really, really concerned about the loss of the facilities that are provided by the Imaginarium.
“I know countless families and young people and parents who have found sanctuary there, including my own nieces and nephews who absolutely love visiting.
“I have seen first hand the facilities that provided a home for theatrical performances, not least Newpoint Youths’ performance of ‘Orphans’, which was facilitated there just last week.
“Newry has a rich and vibrant arts offering and the loss of the Imaginarium will no doubt be felt by numerous households across the entire district.
“It is incredibly important as a council we recognise the contribution that all our arts organisations make.
“I would also take the opportunity to welcome the appointment of a new arts officer within the council, who I have no doubt will work with myself and other councillors with the spirit of this motion to ensure that our arts and cultural offerings and services are enhanced and decimated no further.”
An amendment by Sinn Fein rep Geraldine Kearns was carried to met with the Arts Council NI to address why funding was not provided and to look in to further options.