Monday 25th June
Christians Against Poverty Event in Long Gallery
Constituency Work – writing letters, making phone calls
Late sitting of Assembly
Tuesday 26th June
Party whips meet with The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (CLRAE)
All Party Group International Development
DARD – The Welfare of Animals (Docking of Working Dogs’ Tails and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012
DCAL Committee – Committee heard from Colin Watson, director of sport and stadiums from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL); Shaun Ogle from Sport NI; and Ciaran Mee, head of the sports branch at DCAL on the Boxing Strategy.
The Committee also received a progress report from Ms Shona McCarthy (Culture Company 2013 Ltd) in relation to the City of Culture 2013.
Mr Swann: Thank you for your presentation. What has been very evident through any presentation that we have is the possibility of a funding shortfall. How is that being hampered by the security threats that you mentioned? There are ongoing attacks within the city, even in your own premises; are you finding that that affects feedback when you go out to raise further sponsorship?
Ms S McCarthy: It is not something that has been raised as an obstacle directly in that way by anyone at all. We have really noticed in the past month that corporates have come to us and said that they are ready to commit. That has absolutely without a doubt been unlocked by the £12·6 million investment from the Executive. I genuinely believe that a lot of the organisations and companies we have been working with over the past eight or nine months thought that they were interested in the concept, but the public sector investment has given them the confidence that this is now a viable project. It is no longer an aspiration, it is a reality. That has undoubtedly unlocked other support for us. It is no coincidence that the Arts Council of England made its commitment last week. The BBC was also there last week, and really outlined the benefits. It is sort of an in-kind backing that it is giving is over the year. If you tried to put an estimate on the value of that, it would go into the tens of millions. I again thank the Northern Ireland Executive, because that support has really helped to unlock other backing.
Mr Swann: During the presentation last week, the £4·6 million from the Department for Social Development for a temporary facility was mentioned. Is that the best use of that money, or could it have been used for a better development, possibly in another location in the city, to leave a further legacy?
Ms S McCarthy: All options were considered. The reality is that the city does not have an indoor venue that can cater for more than 1,000 at the moment. Our biggest venue is the Millennium Forum, and, as fabulous as that is, the new facility was actually a commitment that was made in the bid, and it was a condition upon which the city was given the title. There needed to be a bigger venue that would cater for larger-scale international-style events. The required capacity was identified at 4,500 standing and 2,500 seated. We already have 45 substantive events programmed for that venue, which stands to generate a large percentage of the income that we are hoping to get through ticket sales. So, it will be value for money. We also costed what it would take to start with a new venue from scratch — you would be talking about £30 million or £40 million.
The city has not yet proved, in its regular lifetime, the need for a venue of that scale and size to be permanent. This is a fabulous one-off opportunity for a year-long programme to really demonstrate that the city could actually cater, in the longer term, for a permanent facility. That is the ambition behind it.
Late sitting of Assembly
Wednesday 27th June
Queen’s visit to Stormont
Thursday 28th June
Briefing on Post Offices
DCAL committee – Assembly Research and Information Services briefing updating on the economic performance of the creative industries and Inquiry on Maximising the Potential of the Creative Industries.
Friday 29th June
Meal with former Patron of Young Farmer’s Club at Baronscourt Estate
Meeting with local constituents in office re numerous issues
Meeting Libraries NI in Kells
Ballykeel street Art project at Ballykeel youth club
Saturday 30th June
Charity fishing competition at Kilgad Fishery
Giant’s Causeway Visiter Centre Trial Day
Official Opening of Ballymaconnelly’s new Orange Hall