Redeveloping the Lyric

New £12 million theatre coming to Belfast

Belfast is to get a new £12 million theatre on the site of the existing Lyric Theatre.

Arts Minister, David Hanson, made the announcement today on a visit to the Lyric Theatre in Ridgeway Street during which he was briefed on plans for development of the riverside site.

The Minister said that this multi-million pound investment would secure the future of the Lyric Theatre as a modern cultural and entertainment venue.

‘This investment is great news for the arts in Belfast and I am very pleased to be able to give the go-ahead for the new larger two-storey theatre which has been designed to seat around 400 people and also house a 150-seater studio facility.

’Since the existing building opened in 1968, the Lyric has been Northern Ireland’s only full-time producing theatre. It has provided opportunities for many wishing to pursue a career in the theatre and I am confident that it will continue to do so for many more years to come.’

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) is providing £6 million for the project, the Arts Council for Northern Ireland £2 million, and trusts and foundations £0.75 million. The remainder will need to be raised by the Lyric.

Mr Hanson pointed out that the investment in larger and better facilities would also allow the theatre to expand its educational programmes through its outreach projects. These would encourage wider community involvement and participation and provide valuable opportunities for young people.

The Minister emphasised that the redevelopment was not just about supporting the arts in Belfast, it was also about contributing to the economic and social regeneration of the city.

‘The arts have a vital role to play in the cultural, social and economic life of the city. I am certain that a brand new Lyric Theatre will encourage more people to visit Belfast and this will mean extra business for the local hospitality industry.

’Over the years, the Lyric Theatre has made a significant contribution to the quality of life in the city and this investment will help it to continue that proud record for many more years to come.’

The Government has earmarked £18 million for the development and refurbishment of arts facilities in Belfast over the next three years, supported by £9.2 million Arts Council money from lottery funding. Further announcements would follow, added the Minister.