Belfast's flagship for contemporary arts
The MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre), Belfast, is Northern Ireland's flagship home for contemporary art. The MAC is poised to take its place as one of Europe's most significant centres of culture.
The MAC will attract more than 177,000 visitors annually. The MAC will include two auditoria with capacities of 350-550 and 120 and the programmes for these spaces will include the best national and international touring work. In its capacity as the home for independent Northern Ireland theatre and dance, The MAC will present co-productions or work in association with every major local independent Theatre and Dance Company. Other partnership projects will raise the profile of music on this island locally and internationally. It will work with local, national and international festivals to provide unique access points to the arts and work strategically with other organisations to develop top class year round programme of events.
The MAC will deliver Northern Ireland's flagship contemporary art gallery. Three galleries will include a climate-controlled contemporary gallery space, unique in Northern Ireland.
The MAC will showcase local contemporary arts practice in an international context alongside large-scale international touring work that cannot currently be accommodated in Northern Ireland. The MAC will also develop and build on strong international cultural connections.
The MAC will be in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter and it will be six-storeys high. It will include two theatres, three major visual art galleries, a dance studio, education, workshop and rehearsal spaces, offices for resident arts groups as well as a resident artist and (of course) a cool café and bar.
The MAC will open in early 2012 and will offer a world-class programme ranging from blockbuster events and exhibitions to challenging, experimental new works. Across all its spaces The MAC will celebrate and showcase the very best in home-grown arts and culture as well as bringing the rest of the world to Belfast.
Art is all around us, but we need more access, more diversity and more collaboration. Behind The MAC lies a noble ideology - to place the arts at the heart of contemporary life, housed in a new and modern environment.
The MAC's origins lies in the Old Museum Arts Centre (OMAC) which for over 20 years has provided Belfast with some of the most original, inspiring and often provocative arts events in the UK and Ireland and we are dedicated to continuing to do so in The MAC - Belfast's first arts centre to be built from scratch. The building has been designed by an Integrated Design Team led by Architect, Hackett Hall McKnight and is being constructed by Bowen Mascott JV.
Construction began on the project in November 2009 and is scheduled to finish in November this year. The MAC will be open to the public in early 2012.
At a ceremony in March, marking the laying of the final part of the roof of the building, Chief Executive of The MAC Anne McReynolds said: "The progress on site is very exciting, we can actually see The MAC taking shape and it is clear already that we are looking at a new icon for Belfast. The MAC will help mark Northern Ireland as somewhere which takes the arts seriously and is prepared to invest in the arts as a means of driving economic change. This project has been supported by a range of Departments and it is a positive example of the devolved Government really delivering for local people. Over the next few months our main focus will be putting in place an opening programme which will excite and attract local people and visitors from outside Northern Ireland."
Comprising some 5,500sq m, construction comprises six-storeys plus basement and roof plant level. Ambitious deep beam walls above galleries supporting dance studio and rehearsal space allowing generous natural light into the gallery. The foyer is designed to continue the feel of the Cathedral Quarter laneways.
All public spaces are never more than one door away from the foyer, with the foyer creating a feeling of openness yet intimate at the same time. Both Black Box auditoria are accessed off the foyer. The artist in residence studio is located on the third floor together with the climate controlled gallery. The large warehouse style gallery is located on the fourth floor, while workshop spaces are located on the fifth floor with dance and rehearsal studios perched on top.
The MAC is financially supported by the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department for Social Development. Significant support is also received from Belfast City Council, Ulster Gardens and Villages Trust and The Foundation for Sports and the Arts.