“That the Ulster Orchestra—of all organisations—is facing a threat to its existence is a clear indication of how sick and dysfunctional politics has become in Northern Ireland,” writes Martin O’Brien in Tuesday’s (10/28) Belfast Telegraph. “Of course, it isn’t just the Ulster Orchestra. The tourist board told us late one Friday afternoon earlier this month that they are closing down their International Tourism Events Fund. As a result, everything from the Belfast Mela, to Culture Night Belfast and the Halloween Carnival in Derry is to have its funding cut…. But the warning from Sir George Bain, its executive chairman, that the Ulster Orchestra may be forced to close by the end of the year takes us into new territory. We were given a deadline. We were told that the jobs of 63 musicians and 17 staff are on the line…. In any normal society, there would be no question mark over the future of an orchestra.… That the future of the orchestra appears to hang by a thread is a symptom of a wider malaise.… To see it as a middle-class concern would be unfair and misses the point.”

Posted October 29, 2014