Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's cash-strapped MAC needs £300k to keep its doors open

By Angela Rainey

An urgent cash injection of £300,000 is needed to stop a major arts venue in Belfast from closing.

The Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) received £40,000 in emergency funds from Belfast City Council in October, after an initial £75,000 was handed over.

But it needs another £300,000 from the public purse to remain open until March next year with an additional £270,000 to operate in 2018-19.

Core funding is provided by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI), part of the Department for Communities (DfC), which awarded the MAC £950,000 in 2016-17 and £922,500 in 2017-18.

The MAC is seeking an extra £25,000 from the council before the end of the 2017-18 financial year and £275,000 from DfC and ACNI.

In an independent report presented to the City Council, the MAC was described as a "high-performing organisation" which exceeded targets.

The report said the MAC had made cost reductions of £90,000 in 2017-18 and would save £55,000 in 2018-19 by cutting staff and programmes.

MAC spokesperson Claire Murray said that despite a "pressured environment" the venue had been recognised internationally for its projects.

She said: "Since opening in 2012, the MAC has significantly exceeded the target level of visitor numbers set by our funders prior to opening and we have welcomed thousands of visitors from both within and outside Northern Ireland.

"As a result, the MAC has grown its self-generated income year-on-year, generating an economic impact on the local economy of £9.7m per annum.

"However, like many arts organisations we operate in a pressured funding environment.

"We currently face a short-term funding gap and are working closely with our stakeholders to address this issue."

A spokesperson for DfC said: "It remains the position that decisions to announce new policies or programmes or commit to new patterns of expenditure that would take us outside our known budget provision, will be for incoming ministers to consider.

"In the meantime, the department will continue to work within existing policies and funding mechanisms to maintain existing services with the limits of the finance available to us."

Belfast Telegraph


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