Support for Ballina theatre needed

A number of national and international artists will be visiting Ballina this weekend to support the campaign for a new theatre for the town. Part funding of €4.3 million was allocated for the new theatre from the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism; Mayo County Council; and Ballina Town Council at the end of last year. However, in order to secure this funding, a further €500,000 must be raised in the local community by July 2009. A fundraising committee was set up earlier in the year to build on the good work already done by previous interest groups and a number of fundraising events have already taken place.

Support for the project will be boosted this coming weekend when nationally and internationally renowned artists will visit the town for the next two fundraisers — an art sale and a choral concert. Today, April 24, Ballina’s own Moy Singers will be joined by the Garda Choir for an evening of music and song at the Downhill House Hotel and, over the weekend, there will be a sale of art donated by renowned artists such as Dorothy Cross, Ger Sweeney, Dermot Seymour, Veronica Bolay, and Jackie Nickerson at the Ice House Hotel — viewing from April 24 to 26.

While fundraising events like these are invaluable in raising money towards the project, if the long awaited theatre is truly to become a reality, it will need more immediate funding by the July deadline. The committee is therefore appealing to local individuals and businesses for their help and has come up with a number of options for local people to support the project. These include buying a seat at €500, becoming a corporate sponsor, or taking naming rights on some of the performance or exhibition spaces. The committee is also looking for a number of individuals who would be willing to donate €1,000 each towards the project. Donors will receive extensive permanent acknowledgement as well as a long-lasting hospitality package in return for their support.

Ballina has long had a reputation as a haven for artists, writers, musicians, and performers. Your donation will provide the town with the opportunity to take its rightful place in the National Arts Arena, creating a venue which will nourish and support the local arts scene while adding a further attraction to the tourist industry which is so vital to the local economy.

The plans for the venue include a modern, state of the art 240-seat theatre and performance space, along with two exhibition spaces, a coffee shop, dance studio and a rehearsal space. Located beside the recently completed pedestrian bridge in Barrett Street and designed to the highest standards, the new theatre building will be an eye-catching addition to the redevelopment of the Barrett Street area of Ballina and will provide a focal point for the area. The plans can be viewed at the Arts Centre in Barrett Street, at Ballina Town Council Offices (on request ), and on the website at www.ballinartscentre.com

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