Details of three ambitious new large-scale cross-community citywide arts projects have been unveiled.
The three projects are being supported through the £900,000 Creative and Cultural Fund for Belfast, set-up by Belfast City Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2014 to bring three years of exciting arts and heritage projects to the city of Belfast.
Altogether, seven projects, inspired by Belfast’s rich culture and heritage, will bring together some of the city’s best arts practitioners with community groups all across the city and use a wide variety of arts and media to tell their stories.
The three new ‘Creative Belfast’ projects are:
• Belfast Carnival Village – Beat Carnival will create a festive carnival village in Ormeau Park, which will be home to reproductions of famous Belfast landmarks, such as the Albert Clock and Harland and Wolff’s Samson and Goliath cranes, brought to life with a programme of samba, circus, drumming and other carnival arts.
• ‘Linenopolis: The Belfast Opera Project’ – Belfast Buildings Trust and NI Opera are developing Belfast’s first chamber opera themed around the city’s industrial heritage, with several performances across the city planned for summer 2016; and
• ‘The Tempest’ – coinciding with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, next spring Terra Nova theatre company will use drama, music and magic to re-imagine The Bard’s last play, spanning more than 100 years of history, from the city’s 19th century shipping greatness through to modern time, exploring the influence of people from around the world who make up Belfast’s newest citizens.
Four of the projects are already well underway in terms of planning. They are:
• ‘Draw Down The Walls’ – taking the theme of ‘nothing about us without us is us’, and aiming to provoke debate about ‘barriers in our society’, this project builds on previous award-winning projects from the Golden Thread Gallery and will end in October with a programme of art films, mainstream movies and community-authored publications in new and surprising locations across north Belfast.;
• ‘Baby Day’ – created by Replay Theatre Company for Belfast’s youngest citizens, this new one-day festival on September 27 is the first of its kind in the world, placing art at the heart from the very start and making babies all over the city the stars of this unique celebration;
• ‘Nine Nights’ – a theatre experience taking place on October 24, which will see centuries-old Hindu folklore re-imagined as a mammoth contemporary outdoor spectacle with music, dance and pyrotechnics, brought to the city by multi-cultural arts organisation, ArtsEkta; and
• Farset Béal Feirste – a partnership between the Spectrum Centre on the Shankill and Cultúrlann on the Falls, which will use arts to celebrate the history of the river that gave Belfast its name, and explore the centrality of the river to the development of the city socially, economically and physically, discovering the origins of place names, traditions, language and industrial heritage and revive forgotten crafts, ending with a special ‘dawn’to-dusk’ festival next May.
John McGrillen, Director of Belfast City Council’s Development Department, commented:
“I am delighted that thousands of people, right across the city, of all ages and walks of life, have the chance to be involved in and be inspired by these flagship projects.
“Creative Belfast is the first initiative of its kind. It is the largest amount of project funding ever awarded by Belfast City Council and underlines the Council’s strong, ongoing commitment to the cultural life of this city and to promoting community engagement and challenging social exclusion by engaging Belfast’s diverse people and communities in culture and arts”
Roísín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, underlined the twin objectives of the fund – quality and inclusion – which will provide everyone in the city with the opportunity to take part in the best Belfast has to offer.
“We want to encourage people who possibly haven’t engaged with the arts to do so, to explore their creative side and be part of something truly magnificent. The projects are all unique, innovative and spectacular in scale and the final artworks will be unlike anything seen in Belfast before. Once again, arts and culture are at the fore; the key agents enabling this city to realise its creative ambition and make Belfast a great place to live in and visit.”
To find out more about the ‘Creative Belfast’ projects and how to become involved, log on to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/creativebelfast. You can also keep up to date by visiting www.artscouncil-ni.org/creativebelfast or connect with projects online at facebook.com/creativebelfast and via Twitter @Cre8tiveBelfast and #CreativeBelfast.