Belfast Telegraph

Financial lifeline gives orchestra space to secure its future

Editor's Viewpoint

The good news is that the Ulster Orchestra has been given a financial lifeline from Stormont to continue to the end of its already impressive 2014-15 musical season, but it is not yet out of the woods.

However, continued efforts are being made to ensure its longer-term future, and the outlook is hopeful. It seems inconceivable that an orchestra of this calibre was under threat. A measure of its importance is the fact that its young Principal Conductor Rafael Payare has been invited currently to guest with the Vienna Philharmonic, one of the top orchestras in the world.

The campaign to save the orchestra has been impressive, and under the experienced leadership of its Chairman Professor Sir George Bain, it has garnered support at all levels.

This has ranged from its ultra-loyal core supporters, to people who appreciate what the players have been doing to further musical education among children, and also to contribute to the community in the wider sense. More and more people have come to realise that it is "their" Ulster Orchestra, and the intensity of support at its recent concerts has shown how many of the members of the public really do care about preserving and enhancing this jewel in the local artistic crown.

The survival of the orchestra will not be without a price, and the players have agreed to a reduced income in order to gain long-term stability, and to bring about the necessary reforms.

Many influential people, including those at Stormont and in Belfast City Council, have also played their part in the survival campaign, but the Ulster Orchestra will have to produce a proper working model to help convince its funders that a long-term future is viable.

This is not the time for the rest of the arts community to turn in on itself and to complain about "special treatment" for the orchestra. Rather it is a time to continue the overall campaign to convince the funders of the excellence of our arts organisations and to help as many as possible to safeguard their own futures.

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