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Wanted: a 21st century art gallery for Belfast

This summer the Welsh government recognised the economic benefits of cultural institutions with its new National Museum of Arts in Cardiff.

That a city of Belfast's stature cannot similarly claim an art museum of international standing is, as one social commentator recently put it, "more than a bit embarrassing".

The importance of renowned institutions to the life and development of successful cities is recognised worldwide.

Flagship art galleries such as the Guggenheim in Bilbao and Tate Modern in London have been catalysts for massive social and economic regeneration.

These galleries herald a process of sustainable urban renewal, acting as positive beacons for business and inward investment, giving regions the edge in the increasingly competitive tourism market.

A permanent art gallery of national and international importance in Belfast would enable the country to capitalise on the renaissance of arts and culture.

The Arts Council has a long-standing commitment to the need to establish a 21st century gallery of international stature, to build on what we have in Belfast. The new gallery would celebrate the achievements of our creative citizens.

It would also enhance Belfast's growing image as a vibrant and competitive European capital city through its arts and culture.

ROISIN McDONOUGH

Chief executive, Arts Council

of Northern Ireland

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