Northern Ireland news

Northern Ireland is facing 'a cultural Armageddon' because of Covid-19

The Mac in Belfast went from generating over £400,000 of ticket sales to nothing. Picture by Hugh Russell

Northern Ireland is facing "a cultural Armageddon" due to the effects of Covid-19, the arts sector has warned.

Head of the MAC theatre, Anne McReynolds told the Communities Committee "every part of our sector is facing obliteration" as she appealed for an urgent financial package.

The delegation from the Arts Collaboration Network outlined the dire outlook on Wednesday, with Ms McReynold's saying "no part of the arts and entertainment sector in Northern Ireland... is unaffected".

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She said the Belfast theatre had just experienced its most successful trading year since opening when it was forced to close due to lockdown.

"Our self-generating activities fell off a cliff. We went from last year generating over £400,000 of ticket sales to nothing," she said.

"That means that every month that the MAC stays closed, we lose more than £100,000 in self-generating income, and that is going to total well over £1.3 million for 2020-21 alone," she added.

"... Consider the scale of this replicated across Northern Ireland."

The committee heard audiences are telling theatres they are not confident about returning to venues any time soon, potentially leading to "even further economic disaster".

"Northern Ireland is facing cultural Armageddon and we need our executive to respond quickly and proportionately to prevent Northern Ireland becoming a creative and cultural wasteland," Ms McReynolds said.

"The arts sector in Northern Ireland and the thousands of workers who make it a shining success are facing devastation and we need your help."

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