RSUA President, Joan McCoy, responds to loss of PLACE funding

10 April 2019

RSUA President, Joan McCoy, responds to news that PLACE is losing its funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

It was with great sadness that I learned of the news that PLACE would no longer be funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; over 15 years it had become established as Northern Ireland’s leading architecture and urban design charity delivering a unique mix of activities which connected people to place.

Whilst we all understand the challenging context in which public funding for the arts exists, this news came as a shock to architects and those working in the field of the built environment.  PLACE have a long track record of successfully delivering a wide range of flagship events, such as Open House Belfast, the Urban Design Academy and a podcast series which explores urban life in Belfast and beyond.  Sadly, these are all now in jeopardy thanks to this decision, which I believe should be urgently reviewed.

PLACE’s contribution to life in Northern Ireland is felt far beyond its staff, board, freelancers and volunteers – it is valued by the thousands of people who participate in these projects and activities.  Their record of working across communities and with the widest range of stakeholders speaks to the universality of their approach.  In a society where division is often all too present, their unifying themes of inclusivity, engagement and democratic participation are hugely important.

Whilst the next chapter is now clearly uncertain for PLACE, we must remember the need to educate people about their built environment.  A publicly funded programme of tours, talks, exhibitions, festivals, and visits is sorely needed in Northern Ireland.  It is my sincere hope that we can find a firm and stable footing for PLACE, and their work, in Northern Ireland.  Our citizens and our society deserve nothing less.