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Foundation sets £500,000 challenge

Foundation sets £500,000 challenge

The project to rebuild Belfast’s Lyric Theatre has received a boost with the offer of a £500,000 grant from a US-based charitable foundation, on the condition that the theatre raises £800,000.

The Kresge Foundation will hand over the money if the Lyric can raise £800,000 by June next year. Kresge is one of the pioneers of the challenge grant concept and also requires the board of the recipient organisation to make gifts to the project.

The Michigan-based Foundation funds in the areas of Health, Environment, Arts and Culture, Community Development, Education and Human Services. Most of the Foundation’s funding is given to US organisations but it also considers grants from outside the country.

The Lyric’s patron, Liam Neeson, said the offer is an international endorsement of the Lyric’s role. Construction recently started on the Lyric’s new home but it still needs to raise £1.3m for fit-out costs.

The Lyric is now appealing for help from the public and the business community to meet the £800,000 target to complete the fundraising campaign.

The Lyric’s Development Director, Angela McCloskey said: “Those who join our appeal now, with donations of any size, will help us claim the Kresge grant, and make this project a reality.”

“The immense added value this challenge grant brings by leveraging new donors’ gifts is particularly welcome in the current economic climate,” she said.

In June 2007, Martin and Carmel Naughton made a gift of £1 million pounds to Belfast’s Lyric Theatre, the largest personal donation ever made to an arts organisation in Northern Ireland.

Paul Artherton has a BA (Hons) Degree from Queen’s University and a MA Degree in Journalism from Pennsylvania State University. He has worked in PR and fundraising for over 27 years. Previously assistant director for fundraising and public relations at the Simon Community Northern Ireland for seven years, for the last 17 years he has run his own fundraising consultancy business specialising in fundraising, sponsorship, public relations and recruitment. His clients have included charities, private sector and public bodies. Examples include the Ulster Cancer Foundation, Simon Communities of Ireland, NI Hospice, North and West Belfast Health and Social Services Trust, Aiken Promotions, the Industrial Development Board and the Ulster Museum. He has lectured on voluntary sector management at Queens University Belfast Institute for Continuing Education. Since 2010 Paul has been a lay member of the NI Charity Tribunal.

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