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Let's utilise our empty historic buildings for art

I REFER to the letter from Roisin McDonough of the Arts Council (Write Back, September 23) advocating an art gallery for the citizens of Belfast.

The Belfast Civic Trust has lobbied for such a development, along with a Belfast History Museum, for some time.

Most prominent tourist-destination cities have such a facility and Belfast should also have one to add to its tourist attractions and for the benefit of its citizens.

However, there are numerous historic heritage buildings which are empty, or under threat in the city at this time.

For example, the Belfast Technical College, Crumlin Road Courthouse, the Assembly Rooms (former Northern Bank in Donegall Street), Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church and the Ewart Building in Bedford Street are all empty and under threat.

Surely one of these buildings could be used as an art gallery or museum? If the city is to compete with other destinations for investment, it must retain these real cultural icons and reuse them.

Our priority must be to look after the cultural icons we already have. Will the Arts Council support this aim?

DAVID FLINN

Chairperson, Belfast Civic Trust

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