Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir called for a stepping-up of efforts to build a 21st century art museum between Belfast and Derry.
Speaking during a fact-finding visit to the Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art this week, Mr Ó Muilleoir said: “The excellent Belfast-Derry Capital of Culture 2023 bid would be boosted immeasurably by a European-standard art gallery on the scale of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Tate Liverpool, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston or, indeed, MIMA in Middlesborough.
“Given the enhanced capital budgets available in the north, now is the time to deliver on a proposal which has been kicking around since the 1990s. Fortunately, the Arts Council has already put on the agenda a bold plan to build a major permanent gallery of national and international standing dedicated to the visual arts.
“Fortuitously for the City of Culture bid, the Arts Council plan envisages twin site ‘distinct but complementary’ galleries in Belfast and Derry, which would spread the benefits of the development.”
The capital cost of the twin sites has been estimated at £38m, but Mr Ó Muilleoir said the net economic benefit over 25 year was estimated at £140m.
“It’s my view that a new gallery would not only be a boost to tourism in both Belfast and Derry but also demonstrate our continued commitment to putting the arts right at the centre of our society.”
Mr. Ó Muilleoir said he had written to the Art Advisory panel he established as Finance Minister, asking that they explore how they might lead on the proposal for the new art gallery as part of the European Capital of Culture bid.