Belfast Festival Funding Lifeline - But More Needed

There's to be a much needed cash injection into the Province's premier arts event - although it is only a temporary reprieve for the annual Belfast Festival at Queen's - as much more corporate cash is still needed too.

It has just been announced that the Festival is to get £300,000 over the next three years from the NI Government.

The Assembly Arts Minister Edwin Poots said it meant the festival could develop "a more sustainable model based on box office receipts and commercial sponsorship".

He said £125,000 would be allocated to the 2008 festival, with £100,000 in 2009 and £75,000 in 2010.

Queen's University said the funding was recognition of "the festival's enormous contribution to the economy".

The cash comes not a minute too soon as the festival organisers have been battling in recent years to secure its long-term future.

Even the university has threatened to cancel the event - because of a cash crisis - but a £150,000 one-off grant from the Department of Culture gave it a lifeline for 2007.

In a statement, Queen's said the festival "puts more than £6.5m a year into Northern Ireland businesses, benefiting a number of sectors including tourism and hospitality".

"The university hopes now that other funding partners who benefit directly from the festival will recognise the substantial opportunities provided by a properly-funded international festival and respond accordingly," it added.

Mr Poots said he had "every hope that the corporate sector will play an increasing role".


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