: I understand that North Down Borough Council’s decision to permit only acts that can be broadcast on mainstream media relates to Ward Park and not to other areas of Bangor. The decision, however, is a matter for the council. My Department does not directly fund events at Ward Park. Funding in support of the arts is disbursed through the Arts Council, and administration of community festivals’ funding is devolved to councils. Both operate competitive schemes, and applications are determined on the basis of merit.
: I thank the Minister for her response. The council’s proposed policy goes further by targeting acts aimed at those aged over 25, in order to — in its words — avoid antisocial behaviour. Does the Minister agree that it is important that we include our young people in cultural events, in particular? Our youth often has little voice or input to society. For a council proactively to prohibit young people from engaging in events that it puts on is counter to a lot of the work that her Department is trying to do.
: Absolutely. Aontaím go hiomlán. I totally agree with you. You are a member of the council. Councils have a section 75 responsibility, which includes children and young people. All being well, children and young people will become ratepayers and taxpayers. Even forbye that, they are entitled to services. The community festivals fund is administered by councils. They have to try their best to make sure that all the citizens of each borough get a service. If the Member wishes, he should ask for the Arts Council to meet the council to see how that is not the case. I support the Member’s sentiments that children and young people are entitled to facilities in North Down just as they are anywhere else.
: Last year’s performance by Eminem in Bangor brought great benefits to the local economy. Under the new decision, such acts will not be able to perform in North Down. Is the Minister concerned about the impact that the decision could have on the potential to grow the local economy?
: I confess that I had to think who Eminem is. I am showing my age. I was thinking that it was M&Ms — chocolate or peanut M&Ms — but I know who he is.
Part of the issue is that young people spend money when they go to events. They spend money in the amenities. Why it did not have Eminem back is a matter for the council. It sounds like a missed opportunity. I have children who are young enough to travel into other areas, and I have gone to North Down for concerts. It seems as though there is a bit of censorship going on in the North Down Borough Council area. It is up to the Members from that area to sort that out.