Down Arts Centre in Downpatrick has celebrated its official opening after a £1.4 million refurbishment and extension, funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Down District Council
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council for Northern Ireland is pictured with silversmith Diane Lyness at the official opening of the Down Arts Centre in Downpatrick following a £1.4m refurbishment and extension. Diane recently joined Down Arts Centre as a craft business in residence through Craft Northern Ireland’s ‘Making It’ programme, which is funded through Invest NI and
Councillor Colin McGrath, who Chaired the Steering Committee leading the development project, congratulated the team who worked hard to create the first-class facility in the town centre and added: “As a result of the improvements to the building, Down District Council can anticipate an additional visitor spend in the local economy generated through arts activities of more than £50K per year, and economic activity as a direct consequence of the arts centre will increase from £808k to £1.18 million per year. It is hoped that total visits to the Arts Centre will increase from 32k to 58k over 5 years and an increase in annual earned income from £68k to £145k over five years.”
As principal funder, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland invested £600,510 as part of their commitment to improve the arts infrastructure in Northern Ireland, ensuring that every person is now within 20 miles of a dedicated arts facility, such as Down Arts Centre.
Situated in the old Town Hall building on the corner of Irish Street and Scotch Street in Downpatrick, Down Arts Centre first opened its doors in 1989. The building has long been in need of additional space and some modernisation to meet the growing needs of a busy and ambitious programme of arts events and to ensure the best possible experience for all users of the building.
Rosin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “As principal funder of the capital project at the Down Arts Centre, the Arts Council is thrilled to see the new extension and refurbishment now complete. With an exciting programme planned for the year ahead, people in the surrounding communities will benefit from the opportunities available to participate in and enjoy the arts at the Down Arts Centre. It’s also positive news for the local economy which will benefit from the enhanced cultural tourism offering and all that it brings.”
Mr Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board added: “NITB is delighted to support the Down Arts Centre project through our Tourism Development Scheme. The arts, this building and Downpatrick itself are vital components in our plans for tourism, our commitment to the St Patrick's Signature Project and our support for the local tourism infrastructure.”
Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Dermot Curran, said: “I would like to thank our funders and supporters for their contribution in the successful completion of the project. Down Arts Centre offers a busy programme of live theatre and music performances, exhibitions, workshops and classes across a wide range of art forms. In this 2012 year of celebration, I would encourage everyone to visit the Arts Centre to enjoy the cultural events which are on offer.”