Connect with us

Belfast City

Culture Night Online 2020 Launches Packed Core Programme

Culture Night’s 2020 core programme has been unveiled with a packed line-up of music, debates, art and thought-provoking films that will all happen online on Friday 18 September.

Like everyone else in Northern Ireland, artists and arts organisations are facing enormous challenges due to Covid-19 and so this year Culture Night Belfast is going totally online. The team at Culture Night Belfast is determined to keep the show on the road in some shape or form.

Streaming across a number of virtual platforms, Culture Night Online 2020 aims to be accessible to those who would attend in-person each year as well as those who have yet to experience the best of Northern Ireland’s arts and culture scene.

Susan Picken, Director of Cathedral Quarter Trust (the charity behind Culture Night Belfast) said that the 2020 programme will be a spectacular online display of talent. Susan urged those logging on on Friday 18 September.

“Please take the opportunity to donate some of what you would have spent on a normal Culture Night,” she said. “You can either donate here and we will send what we raise on to one of our nominated charities, or you can follow the links on individual submissions and donate to the artist, organisation or venue of your choice.

“Please help our arts & culture community to survive this difficult time and ensure a vibrant cultural future for all of us.”

This year’s core programme of commissioned pieces will see venues such as Belfast Cathedral, the Black Box, the Oh Yeah Centre and The MAC act as the backdrop to what is set to be an exciting evening of entertainment.

Susan said: “This year’s programme is very different from what you may be used to but we hope it captures the varied and eclectic mix of arts and culture you have come to know and love in the real-world event,” she said. “There are three main strands for you to log on to, dip in to and enjoy.

“Our three strands are Core, Showcase, and Gallery. Core has a special programme of performances from iconic venues across the Cathedral Quarter which have been carefully chosen and commissioned by the team here at CNB.

Showcase is an opportunity for our other artists and creators to get involved as it features online submissions from local artists, performers, creatives, venues, cultural organisations, businesses and more and demonstrates the wealth of homegrown talent at work across the city.

Gallery is a special open submission visual arts strand introducing the work of a wide variety of artists encompassing painting, photography and much more.” 

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Frank McCoubrey said: “We are delighted to be supporting Culture Night again this year – a year which has been enormously challenging for our cultural sector.

“I have been so encouraged to see how many of our culture and arts organisations have adapted their activities and programmes to continue to develop and showcase the city’s creative talent during the last few months. Culture Night will bring a spotlight to this and promises a wide range of virtual events to immerse yourself in on Friday 18 September.

“Belfast City Hall will also be lit up in pink and blue on the evening of 18 September to symbolise citywide support for cultural organisations and individual artists across the city.”

Among the performers taking part this year in the CNB Online Core Programme are Cherrie On Top, Susie Blue, Sinead O’Donnell, tenx9, Charles Hurts, Becha, Stephen Beggs, Paul Currie, George Quinn, Rachael McCabe, Bounce Culture, The Swing Gals and many more.

Anne McReynolds, Chair of the Cathedral Quarter Trust, said: “2020 has been incredibly challenging for the arts and culture sector and for all our audience and participants.  

“The future of the arts in Northern Ireland remains very uncertain. Nevertheless, artists have never given up without a fight and so our programme for Culture Night Online demonstrates how talented and innovative our arts community here is.  

“Hopefully on Friday 18 September everyone will be reminded just how vital arts and culture is to our city and our wellbeing. Please support our local arts and culture by logging on during Culture Night on 18 September.”

The core programme, which is supported this year by Belfast City Council and Arts Council NI, will also include a specially commissioned piece by filmmaker Will McConnell called We’re Still Here, two documentaries from Trocaire and the premiere of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s film It Seems along with a discussion chaired by NIHRC Chief Commissioner, Les Allamby.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “Despite the enormous challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, Culture Night Belfast is back with an impressive digital programme thoughtfully designed against a backdrop of iconic locations in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and featuring a wealth of Northern Irish talent from across the artistic spectrum.  

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is hugely proud to support Culture Night through the Organisations Emergency Fund, supported by the Department for Communities, and I would encourage everyone to get online on 18th September and show your support for our tremendous arts community.”

 

For more information on this year’s programme go to culturenightbelfast.com or follow #CNB20 #CNBonline on social media.

If you’re a creator and want to submit your event to Culture Night Belfast this year simply fill out the submissions form at culturenightb

Belfast City

Cathedral Quarter BID Celebrates Success Of Street Beat Police Presence In Area

An initiative that saw additional dedicated police officers patrolling Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter has been welcomed as a proven success story by Destination CQ’s manager Damien Corr.

The Ballot for the continuation of the Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) is currently open until September 22. In an independent survey carried out in advance of the ballot, the Street Beat (#streetbeat) programme was seen as one of the key projects that adds value for businesses and organisations in the area, over 90% of respondents prioritised it for inclusion in the Business Plan for the next 5 years.

The StreetBeat officers are paid for by the BID and are additional to the normal policing provided by PSNI. The initiative was a direct response to local business owners’ concerns regarding antisocial activity within the areas. 

BID manager Damien Corr said: “As the businesses are paying for the service, it was essential that they felt in ‘control’, accordingly the officers have a designated phone which our Cathedral Quarter businesses can call direct 07787432635. This ability to bypass the general PSNI Switchboard is key to a more effective localised response.”

The officers patrol the area on foot and in their distinctive CQ street beat branded vehicle, dealing with anti-social behaviour and criminal activity. They also visit premises offering practical security and personnel safety advice and equipment.

StreetBeat PSNI officer Michael Gillies added: “Being given the time and support both by the BID and PSNI management, I have been allowed to focus my work specifically within the Cathedral Quarter and its needs. 

“This has helped to strengthen relationships already made with businesses and also to forge new ones. It’s back to basics Neighbourhood policing, only this time the neighbourhood is my local business community”.

However, the future of the scheme in the Cathedral Quarter relies on a ‘yes’ vote for a new five-year term for the Business Improvement District organisation Destination CQ.

With ballot papers already issued and voting by post closing on September 22, Mr Corr is keen to remind voters of what could be lost without their votes.

“The BID levy payers have told us that they really appreciate the work done by our Street Beat officers who, between them, have provided 2080 extra policing hours targeted patrolling,” he said. 

“They were particularly effective over lockdown when lots of properties were left unattended. Our officers continued to patrol, checking on closed business premises and providing assurance and practical assistance to those who continued to work.

“It is a simple reality, that unless we get a yes vote in the ballot, aloof this additional targeted policing will be lost to Cathedral Quarter.”

Sorcha Woolsy, Operations Director of Beannchor with a number of businesses in the BID area said the BID has carried out a number of projects that have impacted the Beannchor suite of businesses.

“The one that really stands out to me is the provision of the City Centre Beat Officers,” she added.

“It’s a really good example of an initiative that a BID can provide that an individual business could not on their own. 

“For me, it is imperative to vote yes on the re-ballot of the BID. The collective energy and brainpower and money of a group of businesses all pulling in the same direction for the betterment of this area will inevitably gain better results than individual businesses doing little bits and pieces on their own.”

For more information on the work of Destination CQ and Street Beat go to cathedralquarterbelfast.com or contact Damien Corr on 02890 314 011.

Continue Reading

Belfast City

CQ BID Celebrates Five Years Of Being Voice For All In Cathedral Quarter

Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District, Destination CQ, has for five years been the collective voice for every business in the area, lobbying and consulting with local and regional government and government agencies.

Destination CQ Manager, Damien Corr said the ability to go to these organisations and speak for everyone in the Cathedral Quarter, Smithfield and Union, is one that can’t go unnoticed.

“We are involved in most stakeholder groups in the city and that’s something that our levy payers don’t see a lot of,” he explained. 

“It takes up a lot of our time but it’s very worthwhile.

“The ability to lobby for individual businesses, or for the entire area, direct to departments is important, and we work away on issues until we are successful or reach an acceptable compromise.”

The pressures of the pandemic, shop closures and the complete halt to tourism have affected the economy as a whole but it also had a significant effect on the Cathedral Quarter. This inner-city neighbourhood, characterised by arts, culture, restaurants, entertainment and independent shops relies on tourists and visitors to survive.  

Over the past five years, Destination CQ has represented business interests at City Reopening Stakeholder Group, City Centre Anti-Social Behaviour Action Group and the Small Business Forum.

At present there is a ballot to continue the BID’s work for a further five years and voting Yes to the BID means local businesses can present a unified front and have a collective voice when engaging with the various stakeholders, either local government or assembly level.

When asked about the importance of banding together to present a collective voice, Sorcha Wolsey, Operations Director for the Beannchor Group and Destination CQ BID Board member said it was important that businesses come together.

“The collective energy, brainpower and money of a group of businesses all pulling in the same direction for the betterment of this area will inevitably gain better results than individual businesses doing little bits and pieces on their own,” she said.

The business improvement district has been actively championing the area, partnering with promotional activities such as the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme to help restaurants in the area recover from the effects of the pandemic. 

There have been numerous BID led initiatives that greatly benefited businesses in the neighbourhood. Culture Night and Restaurant Week are just some examples of the projects that make CQ a vibrant place to do business. 

Board member and Director of Quigg Golden, Gavin Hendrie said Cathedral Quarter needed a body to explain the issues and promote the area.

“We need a champion for the area,” he explained. “We need the BID to help advertise the CQ as a place to come, to maintain the sense of vibrancy that we’ve known in the past and perhaps lost in the last 18 months.”

Supporting local businesses remains one of the three pillars the Business Improvement District plans to focus on in term two. Collective advocacy is still a priority with creating a strong alliance among stakeholders and ensuring BID members’ voice is heard in key city-wide discussions.

Les Hume, Vice-Chair of CQ BID explained why it is crucial to be represented as a collective:

“By being part of a collective we can present a reasoned, well thought through debate, we can actually bring our concerns and our troubles to the people who make the key decisions,” he said. 

“I think that in the next five years we’re going to have even greater challenges as we try to build Belfast back better.

“To vote yes for this BID process means that your voice can be heard, along with mine hopefully. Together we’ll make Belfast better.

“Individually we will struggle. That’s what I think is good about a Business Improvement District, so please do consider voting yes.”

For more information on how the work of Destination CQ BID can benefit your business go to cathedralquarterbelfast.com or contact Damien Corr on 02890 314 011.

Continue Reading