MAC Chief Executive to leave post

The Trustees of the MAC have announced the departure of founding Chief Executive Anne McReynolds. Anne has headed up the organisation for 27 years during which time she led the transformation from the small Old Museum Arts Centre into the MAC, Northern Ireland’s flagship international arts centre.

Having built the MAC’s reputation as one of the UK and Ireland’s leading arts centres which has welcomed over 2.8 million visitors and artists, Anne will be moving on to pursue her next challenge. Commercial Director, Áine McVerry and Director of Finance and Corporate Services, Paul McIlwaine will also stand down in early 2024.

The Board of the MAC has begun the process of succession planning.

Chairman of the MAC, Ray Hutchinson, paid tribute to the outgoing Senior Leadership Team:

“Anne and the Senior Leadership Team have led the MAC to remarkable success. Under their leadership, the MAC has been multi-award-winning, most recently as a finalist in the prestigious UK-wide Museum of the Year prize, for the second time in the MAC’s short history.  Through what has been a very challenging period for the arts in Northern Ireland, the MAC stands as a shining example of what can be achieved when the business and arts sectors, city and central government and local politicians work together.

“The MAC opened in 2012 and in the eleven years that have followed we have experienced ongoing political upheaval, pandemic-enforced closures, and continuing cuts to arts investment here. Yet throughout that period the MAC has stood as a beacon for the regeneration of the Cathedral Quarter, of Belfast and of Northern Ireland. The MAC has had many champions along the way, but put simply, without Anne McReynolds, there would be no MAC. The founding senior team’s unwavering commitment to delivering an ambitious, award-winning and world-class visitor experience is to be truly commended.

“We sincerely thank Anne, Áine and Paul for their remarkable vision and dedication and wish them enormous success for the next exciting stage of their careers. Meanwhile it is business as usual at the MAC with staff fulfilling a busy Christmas season and a New Year programme.”

Anne McReynolds said:

“After 27 years working in the arts sector in Northern Ireland, I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved in the MAC. Despite the ongoing challenges facing all of us who have devoted our lives to working in the arts here, we have built something truly special.

“Leading the MAC team in pursuit of our shared vision has been enormously professionally fulfilling. I will always believe that the arts have the potential to play a key role in making Northern Ireland a successful place. I am hugely proud of helping create the MAC, an internationally renowned visual and performing arts venue of which people here are justifiably very proud. Of all our accolades it will be the words of our customers that will stay with me the most, including the people who thought the arts weren’t for them - until they walked through our doors. I will always remember the young boy who told me that the MAC show he’d just seen had been “better than X-box”. This is why the MAC was created - for all the people of Northern Ireland.

“It is a matter of great regret that despite the efforts of those of us in the arts sector, investment in the arts here has been cut year after year and has plummeted to the point where only 0.06% of Northern Ireland’s budget in 2021/22 was invested in our people’s creativity. I sincerely hope that will be remedied in the future.

“I’ve always known that the MAC will outlive us all. It’s now simply my time to hand over the baton.”

Anne performed the role of lead client in the £18 million capital build project phase and under her leadership the multi-purpose venue has secured landmark exhibitions from artists including Gilbert & George, David Hockney, Ron Mueck and Andy Warhol. The venue created the MAC International art competition, the biggest contemporary arts prize in Ireland, and was twice shortlisted for the prestigious Museum of the Year Award, in 2015 and 2023.

It has also won several awards for its much-loved family programmes, including its annual family Christmas show which entertains 16,000 people every year, and community-based initiatives involving many thousands of the most disadvantaged people in Northern Ireland. Since opening, the MAC has contributed over £14 million pounds annually to the local economy.