Ulster Orchestra boss strikes optimistic note over future

The Ulster Orchestra will need �855,000 per annum from DCAL to survive, said special executive Trevor Green
The Ulster Orchestra will need �855,000 per annum from DCAL to survive, said special executive Trevor Green

One of the Ulster Orchestra’s executives is optimistic that 2015 will see a deal reached to save it – but there is no sign yet of what it may be.

Trevor Green, who has managed 13 orchestras during his career, arrived in November on a six-month contract to aid in its quest for survival.

The special executive said they are still in discussions with the Culture Minister and her advisors over funding.

“I’m very optimistic,” he told the News Letter.

“I might have to eat my words – but I hope not.”

The recent agreement at Stormont, including a sizeable increase in the Executive’s spending power, might have taken “a bit of pressure off the situation”, freeing up some potential cash.

His personal target for reaching some agreement is January 22, when the orchestra’s board will next meet, but he acknowledged discussions may go on beyond this date.

“This week, next week, the week after, we need to get really moving,” he added.

The orchestra receives publicly-supported funding via the Arts Council, Belfast City Council, and via contracts with the BBC.

But the total it receives has dropped by about a third in recent years, putting it in dire financial straits.

As part of its efforts to stay afloat, the orchestra had asked for use of the Ulster Hall for free for five years.

It currently gets charged £169,000 for use of the hall, but this is offset by a grant it receives from the council each year of about £150,000.

It also wants free use of the Waterfront Hall for five years, but Mr Green said this request is “more complicated”.

He said the orchestra will need about £855,000 per annum from DCAL to continue.

He said: “Everybody is trying to help, I must say. Everybody is trying to find a solution. But as we speak today, we have no solution at the moment. But the doors are still open and we’re still talking.”