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Wednesday 5th October 2005 at 12pm 0 Comments

The Crescent Arts Centre is to undergo a major £4.8 million facelift, a further boost to Belfast’s Arts Scene.

Making the announcement today, the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, David Hanson MP, said that Government would be contributing up to £2.5m towards the project.

“The Crescent Arts Centre is unique in Belfast with the vast range of organisations that it houses or facilitates,” the Minister said during a visit to the Centre when he was briefed on the refurbishment and plans for an extension.

He continued: “This investment will mean that the Arts Centre will be able to stay in this beautiful Victorian building which is situated in an ideal location. This is more good news for Belfast and puts arts and culture at the heart of city life.”

David Hanson pointed out that the project was yet another major step towards the regeneration of the Arts scene in Belfast with £18 million being allocated over the next three years to improving arts venues.

The Minister said: “I am committed to delivering improvements to the arts and cultural infrastructure in Belfast and this project is in continuation of that important process. Together with the £1.2m Lottery Funds already committed by the Arts Council, and a further £319,000 earmarked by the Heritage Lottery Fund, today’s £2.5m announcement is a huge step towards realising the Crescent’s goal of a refurbished centre. It will, I am sure, give impetus to its fund raising campaign.”

Mr Hanson stressed his wish to see more people using the new facilities and greater involvement of local people, especially people living in the surrounding areas.

He said: “With around 80,000 visitors from all sections of the community last year the Centre is ideally placed to serve the local community and to provide a relaxing and welcoming environment in which everyone can enjoy participating in the arts.

“The diversity of what is on offer at the Centre makes it attractive to a vast range of people. From drama and verbal arts to dance and from Tai Chi to popular and classical guitar, it is all available at the Crescent.”

The Minister emphasised that the investment in the Crescent Arts Centre was not just about supporting the arts in Belfast, it was also about contributing to the economic and social regeneration of the City.

He continued: “Over the past ten years Belfast has reinvented itself as a modern capital city. Taken together with development plans already announced for the Grand Opera House, the Lyric Theatre and the Ulster Museum this announcement gives a further impetus to the cultural renaissance now underway in the city.”

Rosemary Kelly, Chairman of the Arts Council, praised the Crescent’s role as a neutral venue that had succeeded in bringing together increasing numbers of people from the local communities in south Belfast.

She said: “This is a vital arts resource which has been carefully nurtured over the last 20 years. This major investment, in addition to our year-round financial support, will allow the Crescent to develop its important work in a transformed environment that is fit for purpose and fully accessible.”

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