The Lyric Theatre has a lot to offer people from all communities in Northern Ireland, in spite of comments from a DUP Assembly Member.
North Belfast DUP MLA William Humphrey criticised the MAC and the Lyric for having “little to offer” Protestant working class communities in Belfast. The full article was published in the Belfast Telegraph today. In its editorial the Belfast Telegraph said “it is difficult to understand the criticism of the arts” from the Assembly Member and suggested Mr Humphrey “should get out more himself”.
Here is the Lyric’s response in full:
“Firstly we welcome Mr Humphrey’s acknowledgement that ‘investment in the Lyric and the MAC have been of great benefit’. However, we disagree that this investment has not benefited Protestant working-class communities. Our recent Belfast season of plays dealt directly with Protestant culture in Northern Ireland, including the playsLove, Billy; Weddins, Weeins and Wakes by Marie Jones; Can’t Forget About You by David Ireland and Mixed Marriage by St John Ervine.
The Pat & Plain project, funded by the Ulster-Scots Agency, won the Lyric a UK-wide award for Cultural Diversity, in which we did outreach work with primary schools across Northern Ireland.
In terms of attendance at the theatre, 90% of household bookers come from outside the BT9 area, disproving the misconception that only people from south Belfast attend the Lyric (Audiences NI Mosaic survey 2011/12). In fact, nearly 2,000 households in the Belfast North constituency have attended the Lyric since it reopened in 2011.
The Lyric has worked hard to offer a full-range of discounts to make theatre attractive to all. This includes selling more than 3,600 £5 Super Saver tickets over the past two years to community groups; as well as £10 tickets for the unemployed. We have contributed more free tickets to the Test Drive the Arts scheme than any other arts organisation, which has amounted to £100,000 of free tickets in past two years.”