By Carál Ní Chuilín MLA Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure
Over the next few weeks my officials will be running a number of public appointment competitions for the boards of some of my Department’s arm’s length bodies. These bodies are responsible for delivering a range of services on behalf of Government across my Department’s area of responsibility, from supporting the arts sector to supporting the development of grass roots sport.
I believe that it is important for the bodies to become more representative of all sections of our community and have board members with a range of skills and experience. I would like to particularly encourage women, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and people with a background in the community/voluntary sector to give their time to this valuable and rewarding public service, as these groups are currently under-represented.
I know from personal experience that there are a lot of people out there with the skills and ability to make a really positive contribution to the work of our boards, but they don’t apply because they feel that these positions are reserved for people from a specific socio-economic group. I am keen to dispel that myth.
I would encourage people not to assume that because, for example, they are working in the voluntary/community sector that they will not have the skills to be an effective board member. The types of skills that are required include: communication, planning and an analytical mind to challenge and debate how best to provide services to the public. Skills and experience developed in the voluntary/community sector could be put to good use on the boards of DCAL’s arm’s length bodies. Formal training will also be provided for any new board members.
Representation from a diverse range of people will be beneficial for the bodies, but will also be very rewarding for the individuals themselves. I know that Rosemary Kelly has found her experience as Chairman of the Arts Council very rewarding. Rosemary recently said
“When my term as Chairman comes to an end later this year, I will look back on my time spent, along with Board colleagues, serving the Arts Sector with some pride. The Board represents a wide range of professions and experience that has made a significant difference to the strategic development of arts and art practice here. We have given a lot during that time but got back even more through the meaningful and rewarding work."
It is good to reflect on the part we played in exciting projects like the redevelopment of the Grand Opera House, the Ulster Hall, the Lyric Theatre, and Cultúrlann in Belfast, as well as The Playhouse and Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin in Derry/Londonderry; and of course we still have the opening of the new Metropolitan Arts Centre to look forward to early next year. These projects will provide venues for a wide range of programmes, including many community based arts projects and outreach activities. They, along with many other projects, will help to shape the Arts and society here for generations to come. I would have no hesitation in encouraging people to give their time in a similar public service role on one of DCAL’s bodies.”
These positions provide an opportunity for individuals to shape how government services are delivered and have an input into important decision making. For example on the Board of NI Screen you could play a key role in helping to attract major TV and film productions such as HBO’s Game of Thrones to set up here. This work boosts our local economy and creates job in this growing sub-sector of the creative industries. As a board member of Sport NI you could play a key role in major projects to provide or improve sporting facilities and to increase opportunities for people to engage in sporting activities. As a board member of the NI Museums Council you could play a leading role in the development and provision of a vibrant independent museums sector. It’s also an exciting time for the Arts Council as the considerable investment in arts infrastructure takes hold.
The competitions for NI Screen, the Arts Council, Sport NI and the NI Museums Council are currently open for applications. Information packs and application forms will be available on DCAL’s website Public Appointments page for each competition.