MAC Programme Launches

Northern Ireland's largest arts centre opens in April with shows from LS Lowry and Owen McCafferty 

The MAC, Belfast’s brand new arts venue, launched its opening programme this month at an event hosted by broadcaster and journalist, Mariella Frostrup. The launch included a series of panel discussions with various artists, video support from Ciarán Hinds and others, and music from Duke Special.

First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also spoke at the event, and welcomed the opening of the MAC on April 20, 2012. Located in the heart of Belfast's Cathedral Quarter, the MAC features two world-class gallery spaces, two theatres, dance studios, a children's den area, a restaurant and more.

The MAC was built at a cost of £17million, and is the new incarnation of what was the Old Museum Arts Centre (OMAC). At the programme launch, Anne McReynolds, chief executive of the MAC said: 'We are counting down the days to our official opening, and today is a major milestone in our journey.

'This project has been ten years in the making, and with the launch of the opening programme, the opening of our ‘pop-up’ ticket shop on Rosemary Street, the progress with the building and the new website all launching today, it makes the project very real. We are confident that the MAC will help put this region on the worldwide stage.'

Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, the Department of Social Development and Belfast City Council – and partly funded by private donations – the MAC's inaugural programme will begin with Belfast playwright, Owen McCafferty's hotly anticipated new verbatim play, Titanic (Scenes from the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry, 1912).

Gillian Mitchell, director of programmes at the MAC, described McCafferty's play as 'a riveting courtroom drama which seeks the truth behind the tragedy, uncovering the human stories of the ship’s survivors in their own words.'. The play will be the very first show in the MAC’s 350 seat theatre, opening April 22.

'We are extremely dedicated to promoting and supporting the work of local theatre companies and emerging artists from Northern Ireland, alongside bringing international work to the MAC,' Mitchell added.

'In our galleries we are exhibiting LS Lowry alongside local artist William Conor, a huge installation by LA-based artist Robert Therrien, on tour from the Tate, and a video installation by Belfast-based artist Nicholas Keogh.'

The MAC has teamed up with popular Belfast-based Bruiser Theatre Company – with which it has enjoyed a long-running creative relationship – to bring Broadway smash-hit Sweet Charity to Belfast. The first Christmas show is a Cahoots NI production of children's author and artist Oliver Jeffers' The Incredible Book Eating Boy.

The MAC will open to the public on April 20. Tickets for all events are on sale now from or from the MAC’s pop up shop at 33 Rosemary Street in Belfast.