The MAC has smashed its annual visitor target by over 75% during its first year of business. Figures announced today, on the first anniversary of Belfast’s newest arts venue opening, reveal that in excess of 300,000 people have visited the MAC since it opened last April.
In what has been a multi award-winning first year for the Saint Anne’s Square venue, the MAC has hosted more than 500 live performances, 13 free art exhibitions and hundreds of family workshops and activities, with 21,130 people taking part in schools’ workshops and community events at the city centre venue.
The MAC kicked off its first birthday celebrations earlier this week by extending its world-class offering even further with the launch of ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’, the Broadway smash hit comedy which is making its Northern Ireland debut and will be running at the MAC until Saturday 4th May. Read our review here. Meanwhile, visitors still have the opportunity to catch the first major Andy Warhol art exhibition to come to Northern Ireland, which is on display across the MAC’s three galleries until Sunday 28th April.
Celebrating the first anniversary, Anne McReynolds, Chief Executive of the MAC, said:
“It’s been a hugely successful first year for the MAC and one which we are very proud of. There is no doubt we have more than delivered on our promise of providing a world-class arts venue in the heart of Belfast for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy. We exceeded our monthly visitor target within our first two days of opening and have built on that great start, smashing our annual visitor target of 170,000 by welcoming over 300,000 people from throughout Northern Ireland and across the world.
“From our opening show, ‘Titanic’, to our first Christmas production, ‘The Incredible Book Eating Boy’, to most recently the Andy Warhol exhibition and ‘Spelling Bee’, which opened this week, we have provided a cultural offering which has helped position Northern Ireland at the forefront of the worldwide arts stage. The MAC has proved a major driver for the Northern Ireland economy, as well as creating a legacy of young arts talent which will help grow the local arts and creative sectors for years to come.
“The MAC project was 10 years in the making and I would like to pay special thanks to all our funders, particularly the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, DCAL and DSD. Above all, it is our visitors and artists who have made the MAC such a success – we wholeheartedly thank all of our customers and friends for their support this year and the MAC team look forward to bringing you more exciting, world-class exhibitions, productions and events for many years to come.”
The £18m MAC provides local and international art, theatre, dance and music along with bars and a restaurant, all under one roof in Cathedral Quarter. It has received support from both public and private sector bodies.
Congratulating the MAC on its successful first year, Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:
“As principal funder of the MAC, the Arts Council is delighted that this stunning new state-of-the-art venue has enjoyed such an eventful and memorable opening year. A string of theatre and architectural awards, coupled with impressive visitor numbers and an innovative programme, has ensured the MAC has cemented its place as one of Belfast’s leading hubs to participate in and enjoy the arts.
“With an exciting spring/summer programme ahead, the MAC will undoubtedly build on this success and the Arts Council’s £5.25million investment in the MAC will continue to stimulate the economy here and provide a more attractive cultural tourism offering.”
As well as world-class performances, the MAC was hired for over 400 events during the year, from private dinners to training sessions and conferences. Meanwhile, the MAC’s coffee shop, Canteen, sold no less than 58,398 cups of coffee during the year and was named one of the Top 50 coffee shops in the UK by The Independent earlier this year.
Among the awards won by the MAC during its first year are Best Creative Business at the Belfast Business Awards and Best Belfast Brand at the Aisling Awards, while the building has been shortlisted for a Royal Institute of British Architects award.
The MAC’s first birthday is celebrated this Saturday (20th April) with doors open as usual from 10am. The first 100 visitors on the day will receive a complimentary coffee and Canteen cupcake, with ticket giveaways, goodies and fun throughout the day. For more information, check out themaclive.com