Official launch of the MAC

Published Thursday, 19 April 2012
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Belfast's new Metropolitan Arts Centre has been officially launched in the Cathedral Quarter of the city.

Built at the cost of £18million, the centre boasts two theatres, three art galleries, rehearsal space, a dance studio, workshops and a café/bar.

Opening its doors to the public on Friday morning, it is hoped the landmark building will boost tourism and act as a hub of creativity.

Noirin McKinney, of the Arts Council, said: "The MAC is a stunning new building with a world-class range of facilities - fabulous theatres, an international-quality arts gallery and inspiring performance spaces."

"It is a wonderful new home for the arts in the heart of Belfast and its opening programme will be a major attraction to locals, visitors and tourists alike, bringing great art within the reach of all.

"Without doubt, this amazing venue will help drive the night time economy and add value to the cultural tourism offering so important to Belfast at this time."

Early exhibitions will include a focus on the work of Belfast born artist William Conor, plus the Lancashire painter L S Lowry renowned for his images of England's old industrial north.

Len O'Hagan, Chair of The MAC Board of Directors, said the venue could attract international attention.

"A world class venue in the heart of our city which makes visual art, theatre, dance and cultural activities accessible to all, can act as a catalyst for our economic regeneration, tourism and will be a hub to nurture creativity."

The organisers have promised a world class programme ranging from blockbuster events and exhibitions, to challenging, experimental new works, as well as home-grown arts and culture.

Minister for Culture Carál Ní Chuilín will attend the official opening with Minister for Social Development Nelson McCausland and Chairman of the Arts Council Bob Collins.

Minister Ní Chuilín said: "This is an impressive venue and a focal point for the arts in the Cathedral Quarter which stands proud among the north's cultural offering."

She continued: "Investment in the arts is a key economic driver which makes an important contribution to our society and leaves a legacy for generations.

"What we see here in The MAC is a tremendous achievement and a culmination of a lot of hard work. It is another prime example of how the Executive is building a better future for all of us. Congratulations to all concerned."

Minister McCausland added: "This exemplar building for the performing and visual arts will I believe grow into one of the jewels in the Cathedral Quarter."

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He said: "Flagship projects such as The MAC can act as an inspiration and a catalyst to all our people to embrace Cathedral Quarter as a location to reflect the rich and varied cultural diversity of all sections of our community."
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