By Andrea Clarke
BELFAST financial management company, CRN, have stepped in to save an Old Museum Arts Centre fundraising event after a tragic bereavement left them a sponsor short.
The firm will take over sponsorship of the music at the lavish Â£500-a-ticket dinner at the Harbour Commissioners Office on Saturday night, attended by Hollywood legend Meryl Streep.
The dinner is part of the Old Museum Arts Centreâ€™s campaign to raise funds for their new purpose-built facility, The MAC, in the trendy Cathedral Quarter.
Graeme Neill, Director of CRN Financial Group said: â€œWe are delighted to be supporting this prestigious fundraising dinner in Belfast. At CRN we pride ourselves on being involved with a wide range of local charities and are thrilled to be teaming up once more, with Peter to support the Old Museum Arts Centre.
â€œItâ€™s really fantastic Meryl Streep is teaming up with a Belfast based arts organisation. Known all over the world she will raise The MACâ€™s profile and reinforce Belfast as a credible contender in the arts worldâ€.
While the previous sponsor refused to shirk their commitment a source close to the Arts Centre revealed: â€œThey are still working with the company who initially generously offered to sponsor the entertainment for this incredible event, however they felt it only fair to give the individuals who have been bereaved time to dedicate to their family.
â€œThe centre will continue to work with this company in the future and are grateful CRN were able to step inâ€.
Bangor singer Peter Corry will be providing the music for the event and Oscar winner Streep has promised to join him on stage to sing for the audience.
The actress has supported many social and artistic causes during her career and was delighted to be involved in such a worthy project.
She said: â€œI am proud to come to Belfast to celebrate this cityâ€™s commitment to OMAC and its great good work.
â€œSometimes it is easy to despair in the face of world events, it can feel like divisiveness and the urge to destroy has won the day. Thatâ€™s why the OMAC project is a cause for celebration and a template for hopeâ€.
The new Metropolitan Arts Centre will include 1,000 square meters of art galleries, two theatres, workshop and education rooms, dance studio and a cafÃ©.
The organisation has to raise a final Â£1.5 million for the ambitious project, costing Â£16.5 million in total, and with the support of A-list heavyweights like Meryl Streep, the OMAC is confident theyâ€™ll reach their target.
OMAC project director Anne McReynolds added: â€œOMAC has been a successful operation for some 18 years now and our growth strategy looks set to multiply this when we move to our new centre in Cathedral Quarter.
â€œBut we badly needed to raise our visibility and profile beyond the arts lovers and theatre goers to help us close the funding gap. Meryl Streep has been able to leverage this publicity for us and we intend to capitalise on this while she is in Belfast and afterwards by raising the Â£1.5m necessaryâ€.
The Devil Wears Prada star will also take part in A Conversation with Meryl Streep, chaired by broadcaster Wendy Austen on Saturday at 2.30pm at the OMAC.