The ensemble has appealed for £500,000 in emergency funding from Belfast City Council


Northern Ireland’s Ulster Orchestra may be forced to close by the end of this year if it cannot raise £500,000 in emergency funding, its chairman Sir George Bain has warned.

The ensemble has issued an appeal to Belfast City Council for the amount, which would go towards avoiding bankruptcy in the short term until restructuring could take place in March next year. The orchestra has also requested free use of Ulster Hall for the next five years – saving £160,000 per annum. It has also been suggested that a name change to the Belfast Symphony or similar might be appropriate should the rescue plan be accepted.

‘The worst case scenario is that we do not get any further financial support to give us breathing space,’ said Sir George. ‘If the council were to support us in a much greater way than in the past, whether the orchestra might change its name is certainly something we are prepared to consider.’

As Northern Ireland’s only full-time professional orchestra, the ensemble currently comprises 63 musicians and generates annual running costs of £4.5m. However, it has claimed that during the past four years it has lost 28 per cent of its public funding – the equivalent of £1m.

Photo: Ulster Orchestra website

Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial. To purchase single issues click here.