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Last Updated: Friday, 3 November 2006, 06:40 GMT
Crisis talks held over festival
Queen's University Belfast
The festival is staged by Queen's University
Crisis talks are taking place to try to secure the future of the Belfast Festival at Queen's.

As the festival draws to an end for this year, Queen's University is threatening to close it down because of continued financial losses.

Queen's said it had "played its part" but its public funders "who benefit from NI's only international festival" needed "to step up to the mark too".

Despite record ticket sales this year, the festival is set to lose 150,000.

The university will pay the bill, but an internal report says is it losing patience with public funders who Queen's believe should be paying more.

Financial burden

The report, seen by BBC NI Arts Correspondent Maggie Taggart, points to the Arts Council and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in particular and says a body whose primary role is to educate cannot continue to shoulder the financial burden.

It says government funding has been cut by a third over the last three years and the festival needs another 500,000 a year to keep it going.

If it does not get more money, it says this could be the last festival.

In a statement, the university said it has invested 2.5m in culture and arts over the past three years.

"Without support from other partners who benefit from the delivery of Northern Ireland's only international festival, the university cannot continue to fund deficits," it added.

The government says all festivals need to work towards supporting themselves and become less reliant on the public purse.

Maggie Taggart reports on the talks

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