£18.1m Lyric Theatre unveiled in Belfast
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£18.1m Lyric Theatre unveiled in Belfast

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A gala performance of Arthur Miller's The Crucible has marked the unveiling of the new £18.1m Lyric Theatre in Belfast, Northern Ireland - two years after work commenced.

Dublin-based architects O'Donnell and Tuomey were selected to design the new venue; one of 56 entries into an international competition held in 2003. Built by main contractor Gilbert Ash N.I., the Lyric Theatre is nearly three times larger than its predecessor and boasts a 389-seat main performance area - the Northern Bank Stage.

A second performance studio will be capable of catering for between 110-172 people and is designed to accommodate a wide range of performance styles. Elsewhere, a third space offers a rehearsal room and is the same size as the main auditorium stage. An education suite, dressing rooms and a river terrace are also among the facilities.

Arts Council of Northern Ireland invested £2.4m in the development of the Lyric Theatre, in addition to more than £9.5m from the Northern Ireland Executive. Belfast City Council provided £1.25m from its City Investment Fund, while the remainder was contributed through private gifts, trusts and the corporate sector.

Lyric chair Mark Carruthers said: "When we took the first steps on the journey to rebuild our home almost a decade ago, we could only imagine the day we would unveil our new theatre. "This project has never been about just bricks and mortar. We have always focused on a bigger vision - a new landmark building which would be both functional and handsome."

Architect John Tuomey added: "We set out to design a house for Lyric, specific to the spirit of a producing theatre. Three brick-walled purpose-made spaces for performance are tightly wrapped around a flowing social space." Other firms involved with the Lyric Theatre scheme included project manager EC Harris; Rider Levett Bucknall; Horgan Lynch; IN2 Engineering Design Partnership; and Sound Space Design.

Theatreplan; RPS Consulting Engineers; and Ken Ewart Associates also worked on the project. Image: Dennis Gilbert

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A gala performance of Arthur Miller's The Crucible has marked the unveiling of the new £18.1m Lyric Theatre in Belfast, Northern Ireland - two years after work commenced.
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