Tourist chiefs have recognised the vital contribution of the arts to the tourist industry by bestowing the award for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism to the Lyric Theatre Belfast.
The coveted award was presented at the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards on Monday night and is given to an organisation, person, or initiative that has made an outstanding contribution to the tourism and hospitality industry in Northern Ireland. Since the £18.1m theatre opened on 1 May last year, it has welcomed 128,000 people through its doors and won a string of awards for both architecture and the theatre.
Ciarán McAuley, Lyric Chief Executive said it was great to win an award that recognises the people working in the theatre.
“Belfast has received much press recently for its impressive regeneration as a city with many excellent new venues, so to win this award in such an exciting year is fantastic for the Lyric,” he said. “We wanted the new building to be a landmark destination to attract tourists and locals alike and this award recognises the hard work of the staff and creatives, our Board, construction team and the wider Lyric family who have worked so hard to put this theatre on the map.”
The Lyric's Chairman, Mark Carruthers, added: “We are delighted that the Lyric has been recognised for its contribution to cultural tourism in the first year in its new award-winning building. It’s been a huge team effort all round and everyone in the Lyric family can now share in the success of winning such a prestigious tourism award. On behalf of the Lyric I want to thank everyone who’s been involved in the project - no matter how big or how small that involvement has been - for helping to make the theatre such a great success.”
Noírín McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council, sent congratulations to the Lyric: “It’s fantastic to see that just a year after the new theatre opened, the Lyric has carved out a name for itself as one ofNorthern Ireland’s top tourist attractions. This award is recognition of the role the arts play in bringing tourists here and a fitting tribute to the Lyric staff whose hard work and dedication make it the venue it is today.”
The Lyric Theatre was also commended in two categories of the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards – Visitor Inspired venue and Best Visitor Experience.
Just last week the Lyric Theatre won a hat-trick of awards, including the Liam McCormick “Building of the Year” title at the Royal Society of Ulster Architects 2012 Design Awards. Over the past 12 months, the Lyric has won a prestigious Civic Trust Award; at The Brick Awards (Supreme Winner Award,BestPublicBuildingand Specialist Brickwork Contractor of the Year); and Irish Concrete Society Awards (Overall Winner Award and Building Category Award).
The opening production on the Northern Bank Stage, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, won two Irish Times Theatre Awards at a gala event inDublin in February. Conall Morrison won Best Director while Aoife Duffin won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Abigail Williams.
There is still time to see the first original new play on Northern Bank Stage, the comedy-thriller The Civilisation Game, written and directed by Tim Loane (Channel 4 Teachers) which completes its run this Saturday, 26 May. This is followed by the classic comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde which runs from 3 June to 7 July.