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Funding For Arts Infrastructure in Northern Ireland

Wednesday 16th January 2002 at 1pm 0 Comments

More than £5 million alone towards the refashioning of city-centre arts provision in Belfast

Up to £3 million has been dedicated to the proposed new arts centre in the city’s Cathedral Quarter, which should include a major venue for visual arts exhibition, up to £2 million to the Grand Opera House and £250,000 to Conway MillUp to £100,000 is available to develop a new proposal for the role of the Belfast city-centre facility.

£9 million (75%) of the £12 million available from the Arts Council Lottery funds over the next three years has been set aside for major capital provision in Belfast.

Also announced was more than £2.2 million in total to Flowerfield Arts CentreLarne Arts Centre and the Nerve Centre in Derry City in the latest in the six-year programme of infrastructural development in the other regions in Northern Ireland.

Outlining the portfolio of decisions, Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council, said: "These funding commitments mean historic change for Belfast, with the Arts Council appropriately taking the lead in shaping the future of arts and culture in the city."

Ms McDonough said that the Council had worked very closely with its partners in Belfast City Council, Laganside Corporation, Belfast Regeneration Office and the Department of Culture Arts & Leisure, to co-ordinate a plan for the cultural infrastructure of the city in the lead up to be European Capital of Culture in 2008.

"We have taken into account the frustration of our clients at a perceived lack of decision making by funding bodies," she said. "We have also borne in mind the critical need for landmark buildings for Belfast’s Capital of Culture bid 2008. The initial bid by March 2002 must show plans to develop the infrastructure."

"We have spent a long time encouraging our clients to respond adequately to the serious opportunities offered by Lottery funding and the obvious need to redress the under-provision of major arts buildings in the city. This has not happened. The most recent of the applications, from the Grand Opera House and the Old Museum arts centre, were independently assessed as being of insufficient business quality to warrant the investment of public funds. Consequently, the Arts Council decided that immediate action was needed and these decisions reflect that pro-active determination."

An application for £2.5 million, from the Crescent Arts Centre, was rejected because of its low strategic priority and inadequate partnership funding.

n 1999, the Arts Council introduced a moratorium on new building applications in order to revise its Lottery capital programme which was re-launched in April 2001. Whilst aiming to streamline the programme to make the process clearer for applicants, the main objective was to enable the Arts Council to prioritise strategically important projects. The Council set aside a budget of £10m in 2001/02 for new build or major refurbishment projects. However, once this has been allocated the total annual budget for new build or major refurbishment projects is unlikely to exceed £1m annually due to the demands from other Lottery schemes. Six applications for Stage 3 funding and one application for Stage 2 funding were considered on December 20th 2001.

Stage 3 applications

Nerve Centre, Derry Award £562,500

Towards the purchase of its building

Grand Opera House Trust, Belfast

Application rejected, but an in-principle grant of up to £2m for capital development agreed.

Conway Mill, Belfast Award £250,000

Refurbishment of building

Larne Borough Council Award £269,976

Refurbishment of and extension to Larne Arts Centre

Crescent Arts Centre

Application rejected on basis of its low strategic priority and inadequate partnership funding.

Coleraine Borough Council Award £1,387,875

New-build multi-functional arts & crafts centre at Flowerfield Arts Centre

Stage 2 application

Old Museum Arts Centre

Application rejected, but an in-principle grant of up to £3m for the capital development of a city centre arts centre agreed.

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