Belfast Telegraph

Public may face £1m bill for art centre Mac's repairs

By Noel McAdam

Repairs to crumbling stonework at Belfast's award-winning Metropolitan Arts Centre (Mac) could cost the public £1m, a Stormont committee has learned.

Opened to great fanfare in 2012, the Mac cost £17m to build and was designed by architects Hackett Hall McKnight

The cost of the venue, which was 10 years in the planning, rose from £9.2m to £17.6m, leading to criticism of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure by the Audit Office for allowing the project to go over budget.

Officials for the DCAL have requested that more than £1m be made available for repairs to the building.

They are seeking the money as part of the June monitoring round in which public funds may be redistributed between Government departments in Northern Ireland.

Mac spokesman Joe O'Neill said: "Based on the original bill costs and, maybe, allowing a little bit extra for inflation and the removal of the existing cladding, a provisional figure of £1m has been speculated."

He told reporters: "Obviously, that's a level of funding we have asked the Executive for some support on.

"The Mac is a publicly-funded organisation, and we don't have the resources to fund that.

"We'd need some co-operation and partnership with our funders.

"This is more significant than we would like to have dealt with, but nothing that can't be resolved and a permanent solution put in place."

It's understood that this request for additional public funds has sparked serious concern among MLAs on Stormont's culture, arts and leisure committee.

Belfast Telegraph


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