Belfast Telegraph

No council decision on finance for Ulster Orchestra

By Rebecca Black

Belfast City Council has delayed a decision on whether to hand the Ulster Orchestra a financial lifeline.

The orchestra had asked Belfast City Council for a "comfort letter" for £500,000.

This is to cover a forecast deficit of £400,000 for 2014/15 after the ensemble's funding from the Arts Council was cut.

It has also requested that the council provides the Ulster Hall rent free for five years.

Councillors last night expressed concern, saying they had not seen a financial plan from the orchestra.

DUP councillor Gavin Robinson said the Stormont Government needed to "step up".

"I am very loath to see City Council become a funder of last resort," he told councillors.

Sinn Fein councillor Jim McVeigh called on wealthy supporters of the orchestra to help too.

Alliance's Mervyn Jones said they needed to see the orchestra's accounts and a business plan before agreeing to help it. Councillors agreed to defer a decision on the request until it received more information.

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