Rescue package for flagship arts bodies in NI

Ulster Orchestra and MAC get £600k boost

Two of Northern Ireland's flagship arts organisations have been given an emergency cash lifeline.

Belfast's Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) is to receive £275,000 and the Ulster Orchestra gets £350,000 in extra funding from the Department for Communities.

The department said the cash was being handed out following a successful Arts Council bid on behalf of the two organisations.

In a statement, the department said it was conscious that all publicly funded organisations were facing significant budget constraints. "Officials carefully considered these two bids in this context and concluded that short-term additional funding should be provided to the Arts Council to allow them to help both organisations with their funding requirements for the remainder of the current financial year," it added.

But it also warned the financial situation was tightening - and that the two must learn to live within their means.

"It will therefore be essential that these two organisations, working in collaboration with the Arts Council, draw up plans to ensure they can operate within the limits of the financial resources available to them."

A spokesman for the MAC last night welcomed the £275,000 emergency grant.

"We have been working with the Arts Council, the Department for Communities and other important stakeholders to address a long-standing funding gap," he said. "This work involved the submission of a detailed business case.

It's understood that the additional funding for both recipients must be spent in the current financial year. The Arts Council said: "This necessary investment will enable both the MAC and the Ulster Orchestra to continue as a going concern and maintain their programming commitments to the high standards expected from the public."

Both organisations have received emergency bail-outs before. The MAC received £40,000 in emergency funds from Belfast City Council in October 2017 and the Ulster Orchestra had to be rescued by a £400,000 funding injection in 2015.


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