Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Questions over future of Belfast Festival at Queen's amid cash cuts

Crimea Square was voted the hit of the 2013 Belfast Festival by those attending the event
Crimea Square was voted the hit of the 2013 Belfast Festival by those attending the event
Flamenco dancer Israel Galvan, one of the main attractions at this year's Belfast Festival at Queen's
Flamenco dancer Israel Galvan, one of the main attractions at this year's Belfast Festival at Queen's

Does Belfast still need an international arts festival?

And if so, should it still be called the Belfast Festival at Queen's?

Those are among the questions in a review of the 53-year-old event being conducted by the Arts Council and the university, following a significant drop in the level of Ulster Bank funding for the festival.

The Stormont arts and culture committee also heard that the landmark annual event had been hit by a fall in European money as well.

Roisín McDonough, the council's chief executive, was asked by Sinn Fein's Rosaleen McCorley about the impact of Ulster Bank withdrawing some funding.

There have been reports that the bank's backing – which amounted to £300,000 last year – could fall by as much as two-thirds to £100,000.

Ms McDonough said: "The festival is happening this year, and we are pleased about that – but terms of reference have been agreed for a strategic review in conjunction with Queen's.

"Not only has there been a diminution in the resources coming from the Ulster Bank, but European funding, which the festival was successful in getting under the previous cultural programme, has ended. It got that funding for three years. Both of those issues have had to be addressed.

"But more than funding is that, after 50 years, I think you have to reflect on a lot of issues there: is it more town than gown, or is it the other way round? How can it develop other partnerships?

"Should it continue to be located in Belfast and be called the Belfast Festival at Queen's? There are a lot of issues. Is there still a need for an international festival in, in this instance, Belfast?

"So, there are a lot of areas to be thought through and looked at. Is the current model the best one? Could it be located elsewhere and operate in partnership with others, making it much more rooted across all parts of the city? Those are all big questions that we hope the review will deal with."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest Entertainment News

Latest Music News

Latest Film & TV News

Latest Eating Out News

Horoscopes

Your Horoscopes by Russell Grant

Leo:

Trust your intuition about a domestic matter. If you think it's time to get a new place, start looking for one. You could find a home that cultivates tranquillity and relaxation. Escaping the fray will be a relief. Although you enjoy socialising, you also crave private time. Being able to watch movies, read books and listen to music replenishes your batteries. A needy relative could request help. This would be a good time to establish some healthy boundaries. Stop dropping everything for this relative's benefit.More