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Belfast City Council to stump up £100k for orchestra

By Rebecca Black

​Belfast City Council has agreed to contribute £100,000 to ensure the survival of the Ulster Orchestra - but only if other bodies stump up the rest of the cash.

The Ulster Orchestra originally asked the council to cover any deficit up to £500,000 that it incurs by March 31, 2015.

It also asked for a rent break for its accommodation at two council-owned venues, the Ulster Hall and Waterfront Hall, for five years.

The orchestra has seen its funding cut from the Arts Council and BBC.

It costs around £4.6m a year to run.

In a letter to the council, orchestra chairman Sir George Bain said funding cuts by the Arts Council and BBC amount to 28% - equating to £817,000 - since March 2011. He said the orchestra was currently forecasting a deficit of about £400,000 for 2014/15.

It has also requested funding from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

Last night Belfast City Council agreed to hand over £100,000, on condition the orchestra gets the rest of the £500,000 from other sources. The council is still considering the rent relief request.

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