28/03/2011

Church To Become Community Arts Centre

The organistaion that owns a derelict 150-year-old church in Duncairn, has been awarded £1m to help with vital restoration work.

174 Trust were awarded the funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund to transform Duncairn Presbyterian Church into a community arts centre.

Situated on the Antrim Road, the church stands at one of the gateways to the old Crumlin Road Prison and has been derelict for almost 20 years.

The director of 174 Trust - a non-denominational Christian group - Reverend David Shaw, commented: "The congregation numbers were dwindling since the 1960s and the Troubles didn't make it any easier. The decision was taken to combine the congregation with Saint Enoch's. Now that church has been closed as well.
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"We have based the concept on the Culturlann concept on the Falls Road and we devised it about 10 years ago. We want it to be like Culturlann, but even better. It will be a space for local people to visit, a functional arts centre."

North Belfast Sinn Fein Assemblyman Gerry Kelly also commented: "People talk about north Belfast being as a microcosm of the conflict. This place can be a cockpit in the post-conflict era."

Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Northern Ireland, Peter Mullan, said: "The project will maximise the potential of this shared space, creating a range of new facilities to provide enhanced educational opportunities and access to a range of arts, heritage and cultural events for the local community."

(JG/GK)

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