In the wake of recent financial cuts across the cultural sector of Northern Ireland, the Ulster Orchestra is the latest institution to face the axe. Since its establishment in 1966 as the country’s only full-time professional symphony orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra has been renowned for its classical concerts, its involvement in a variety of cultural events and its major contribution to music education.
Now a combination of cuts from The Orchestra’s Arts Council, BBC grants and an in-year cut of 4% by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland have left the future of the Ulster Orchestra looking bleak. Alongside other contributors to the cultural scene of Northern Ireland (including Belfast Culture Night and the Belfast Festival at Queen’s), this year the Orchestra faces possible extinction.
However while it seems certain events such as Culture Night may prove impossible to save, within the past two days there has been an online petition to prevent the Orchestra’s demise, and to “guarantee and publicly state a long term, meaningful and financial commitment to funding and promoting The Ulster Orchestra’. This petition has gained over 2,000 signatures in 48 hours and its many comments reveal the deep level of concern that people across Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the UK have for the future of the Orchestra. According to an article by Nuala McAllister Hart, featured on http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/, the founder of the ‘Save the Ulster Orchestra Campaign’, Bee Riddell, is “overwhelmed by the outpouring of goodwill of thousands of local people towards the Orchestra and sees the campaign as ‘a vehicle for influencing change and encouraging others to give recognition to the seriousness of the current situation in the arts in Northern Ireland’”.
If this petition is to succeed it would be a major triumph for all supporters of the arts in Northern Ireland, especially in the wake of the damaging effects of financial cuts to many of its festivals and events.
For anyone who wishes to add their name to the online petition, they can do so by clicking on the following link –
To keep up to date with the latest progress of the petition people can also Like the campaign on Facebook and follow it on Twitter via the following links and using the hashtag #SaveTheUlsterOrchestra –
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