Belfast based events agency, MayWe has been recognised at the annual Conference News Agency Awards in London. Founded by local businesswomen Lois Kennedy and Sarah-Jane Montgomery, MayWe received the prestigious Community Support Award.
Although a young business formed only in 2019, founders Lois and Sarah-Jane are no stranger to the industry. The pair met in 2015 while working in the Waterfront and Ulster Halls, each with a passion for arts and events with a combined 30 years of industry experience.
Founder Sarah-Jane Montgomery comments that, “After years of managing events together we decided it was time to unite and form our own business that placed culture and community at its heart. As a business we specialise in delivering events and programmes which enhance communities and support local people. Our first year of business was a whirlwind but nothing could have prepared us to go into lockdown days after celebrating our first anniversary.”
“Like many of our industry colleagues we battened the hatches and began looking for ways we could offer support to the community in an uncertain time. We began adapting our practices to programme online, offering resources and help where we could. We worked with a local age charity, arts organisations and even delivered wellbeing workshops for frontline NHS staff.”
“However, like many event professionals, seeing the industry on its knees was difficult. We were inspired by the community around us who had continuously been finding ways to support each other and decided it was our turn to do something big for them.”
In June 2020 the duo put their skills to good use to deliver the largest event in Ireland post lockdown in aid of registered charity, Queen’s University Rapid Response Fund which is dedicated to rehabilitating survivors of Covid-19.
The event, a large-scale drive-in cinema delivered in partnership with a Belfast based media company, gained huge support from the public, local businesses and even featured on BBC’s The One Show. Drive in Cinema Belfast welcomed audiences to the Titanic Quarter of Belfast, set underneath the iconic Harland and Wolff cranes. After months of lockdown communities welcomed the opportunity to enjoy an event once again and showed their appreciation for the NHS with flashing headlights and beeping horns.
Following the success of the drive-in event, MayWe went on to develop a drive-in arts festival, Lough Down. The non-profit event, part funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland aimed to support the arts community and featured an impressive line-up of local talent including a headline set from international success, And So I Watch You From Afar and headline comedy from Micky Bartlett and Derry Girls actress Diona Doherty. Other performances included music from Ciaran Lavery, Joshua Burnside, Ronnie Greer and Belfast Operatic, with theatre shows including the critically acclaimed My Left Nut stage show and family theatre mornings.
Lough Down was nominated for Best Drive-In at the Event Production Show Awards, however lost out to Silverstone Racecourse’s Christmas light show.
Importantly, the event gave paid opportunities to 103 local freelance crew, front of house, suppliers and artists during an incredibly challenging time for the industry. Those who go unseen, and all too often have been overlooked this year.
The business lifted the Community Support Award at a ceremony in London last week, nominated against industry leaders such as DPRG, 73 Media and EMC3. The judging panel stated that, “it’s incredible to see how such a young and small company came together in a challenging time. These projects have ignited a passion for community support that looks to continue into a bright future. The knowledge gained from these activities will continue to have an impact on local communities and the events industry alike.”
Sarah-Jane commented, “We feel honoured to be recognised with the award. It has been an incredibly difficult year for the industry and communities alike. We are privileged to have played our part and look forward to bringing more event experiences to communities throughout Northern Ireland.”
To find out more about MayWe visit www.maywe.co.uk