Funding blow to Belfast arts festival

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Ulster Bank pulls out of sponsorship deal


Belfast ‘s arts festival has suffered a major funding blow as sponsor Ulster Bank has announced its withdrawal.

In a statement, the bank said that it would end its ten-year backing of the festival after this year’s event in October. Ulster Bank provided around £100,000 for the festival, and had contributed around £3m in sponsorship in the past.

This is the second major blow to the Belfast International Arts Festival, had to rebranded itself last year following the withdrawal of funding by Queen’s University in 2014. The university had backed the festivalsince its inception more than 50 years ago.

The move leaves Arts Council of Northern Ireland as its sole main sponsor, with £189,000 pledged for 2016-17.

But Festival director Richard Wakeley was upbeat about the news. He said the Ulster Bank had been “a fantastic sponsor” whose support had “created the best foundation for establishing a civic arts event of international stature, that engages all our communities in the joys of creative practice”.He added: “We are enthusiastic about the future of the new festival and we remain steadfast in furthering the shared ambitions of our audiences, artists and funders and the impact the festival will continue to have on our great city.”

Shows already announced for the 2016 festival, which runs from October 11 to 29, include performance artist Taylor Mac’s 24-decade History of Popular Music: The WW1 Years and More, David Grieg’s reworking of Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women in a co-production by the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and Actors’ Touring Company, and the world premiere of Amanda Coogan’s Run to the Rock, featuring deaf performers from Northern Ireland and South Africa.


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