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Ulster Orchestra cash could fund 37 arts organisations

CDC Armstrong opines (November 17) on the appalling pay scale and working conditions faced by the Ulster Orchestra's players. However, as I observed in my previous correspondence, the evidence indicates that funding for the Ulster Orchestra was circa £3m 10 years ago and during a period of the lowest inflation on record this has increased by some 50% to £4.5m, and today they're back asking for more.

It is readily apparent that the Ulster Orchestra could raise £5m annual running costs from 75 performances at the Waterfront Hall (seating capacity 2,223) with average ticket prices of £30; or from 167 performances at the Ulster Hall (seating capacity 1,000) at the same price; or from a combination of the two.

We also know that the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure faces cuts of some £10m, and as a result the Arts Council of Northern Ireland asked 37 arts organisations on September 10 to budget for cuts of 5%.

Public funding siphoned off by the Ulster Orchestra could instead go to support the 37 arts organisation currently facing real cuts.

And lastly, while CDC Armstrong blindly supports the "pampered poodles" of the Ulster Orchestra, I make no apology for questioning the efficacy of its board and management or for choosing instead to support the 37 arts organisations and the other 33,000 people employed by the creative industries in NI.

BERNARD J MULHOLLAND

Belfast

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