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'Business club' a viable idea for Ulster Orchestra

I DON'T think the Belfast Telegraph did the Ulster Orchestra any favours by publishing letters from CDC Armstrong (Writeback, Nov 25) and Harold Wilkin (Writeback Nov 26).

The Arts Minister is on record as saying that without a viable rescue package of proposals by December 15 the orchestra will be in "serious difficulties". She went on to say that if "the orchestra identifies a new sustainable operating model, I will give it serious consideration". Neither gentleman offers "a new sustainable operating model".

There's nothing wrong with developing a global brand and with charging an appropriate price. I think business people would support the Ulster Orchestra, firstly, if it announced its intention to join the ranks of the 10 best orchestras in the world as a global brand located in NI and, secondly, if that "support" were framed in a business-friendly manner. As I stated previously, the orchestra can raise £5m per year from playing 75 performances at the 2,223-seat Waterfront Hall with a ticket price of only £30. If it split those 75 performances into three tranches then it would require a total of 6,669 business people to purchase 25 £30 tickets each for £750.

If this process were reconfigured so that business people instead joined a business club at £750 per annum that in turn donates the proceeds to the orchestra then it could still claim "gift aid", it would allow the business people to claim membership as a business expense, and as a benefit receive 25 tickets to see the orchestra along with other business people.

You might think it impossible to get almost 7,000 business people to sign up, but I'd expect all 108 MLAs to sign up as well as leading civil servants.

BERNARD J MULHOLLAND

Belfast

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