Friday, March 10, 2006

Press Release Regarding New Arts Centre Issued by Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, 6th March 2006

6 March 2006

OVER £9 MILLION TO ADVANCE BELFAST’S ARTS RENAISSANCE

The Old Museum Arts Centre is to benefit from over £9 million public funding investment for new purpose built premises.

The new Arts Centre will be situated in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and will house a 350-seat theatre plus a smaller 150-seat studio as well as increased exhibition, rehearsal and workshop space.

Making the announcement Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister David Hanson said: “The development of a new Arts Centre in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter underpins the cultural renaissance that is taking place in Belfast. It also emphasises Government’s strategy to encourage arts and culture to lead the way in Belfast’s social and economic regeneration.

“This momentous announcement will build on the Old Museum Arts Centre’s wonderful track record and move them on to a new level. It is the biggest addition to the cultural heart of Belfast since the Odyssey opened in 2001.”

The Minister pointed out that funding for the new premises, which will cost over £9.2 million, had come from a number of sources. The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has committed £4 million, the Arts Council has committed £4.25 million and Laganside the value of the site. The Old Museum Arts Centre has set itself the challenge of raising £1million through fundraising over the next four years.

“I am committed to delivering improvements to the arts and cultural infrastructure in Belfast. This is the fourth project I have announced in the past 10 months in a programme of investment in the regeneration of Belfast’s arts infrastructure.

“In May 2005 I cut the sod on the Grand Opera House development that is now nearing completion to which my department contributed £4 million. In June of last year I announced Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure support of up to £6 million towards the rebuilding of the new Lyric Theatre and on 20 September a capital investment of up to £2.5 million towards the refurbishment of the Crescent Arts Centre.”

The Minister continued: “This new facility will improve the cultural provision throughout the city and will greatly enhance the quality of life for the people of Belfast. It is a wonderful opportunity for the Old Museum Arts Centre to grow and develop and I believe it will provide confidence for the private sector to invest in the area thereby securing the long-term and economic benefits,” he said.

Paying tribute to the work and staff of the Centre the Minister said: “The Old Museum Arts Centre is widely recognised as Northern Ireland’s leading contemporary arts centre, with an ethos of celebrating and promoting local and international work not previously performed in Northern Ireland. I would like to place on record my appreciation of their contribution to the arts and cultural life of Belfast and beyond.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Media enquiries to Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure Press Office, tel: 028 9025 8901 or email press.office@dcalni.gov.uk

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