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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Sugden: ‘Riverside theatre must be financially supported’
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East Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden has said Coleraine’s Riverside Theatre must be financially supported in order to maintain the important community arts space.

Funding from Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has not been confirmed for this year after the university withdrew its request and Stormont’s Department for Communities has not committed to meeting any shortfall.

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Ms Sugden said: “Arts spaces like the Riverside Theatre are an integral part of the lifeblood of a community.

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“The facility we have in Coleraine is excellent. It must be maintained to encourage the artistic talent that exists here, keep alive theatre, music and performance art, and provide another form of entertainment for an area that has a large tourist industry.

“We are incredibly lucky to have a resource like Riverside Theatre here, the closest theatre of its kind would be the Millennium Forum, which is no substitute because of its location. We need to keep the arts thriving in this area and to do so we need to maintain our theatres.

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“The pandemic has had a significant impact on the arts, and although emergency funding was provided last year, facilities like this need ongoing support to get back on their feet and prosper in future.

“I would urge both the Executive and local government to commit to preserving our community arts facilities. This must happen as soon as possible.”

Ms Sugden has questioned the Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey about the provision of community theatre spaces in East Londonderry, and on the financial support provided by her department.

The MLA continued: “The minister was unable to provide me with the available facilities for community theatre in the constituency.

“Her suggestion that theatres such as the Millennium Forum and the Playhouse were viable alternatives to venues in this area will also come as little comfort to those involved in local arts.

“We must ensure that the vital resources that already exist in East Londonderry are protected and supported in the future. Losing the Riverside Theatre would be an incredible loss for the whole community.”

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