It’s certainly not every weekend you’ll catch a floating piano performance on the River Foyle. However, in a city famed for both its musical and maritime heritage it was fitting to whet the appetite for the most highly anticipated festival in the north west of Ireland next year.
After the suspension of The Clipper 2019-20 Race last year in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, and plans for Derry~Londonderry to act as a Host Port Partner for the fifth time were put on hold, the award-winning Foyle Maritime Festival will return to the city in July 2022 together with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet.
Passers-by on the quay were treated to a low-key solo performance by French artist Pianocean organised by the Festival and Events team at Derry City and Strabane District Council. Sailor, pianist and songwriter Marieke Huysmans Berthou who has been living in Ireland during the past year, dropped anchor in the city at the weekend.
Two unique musical interludes on deck offered a glimpse of the magical atmosphere anticipated at the week-long Maritime Festival being planned on the banks of the River Foyle next summer.
The internationally acclaimed Foyle Maritime Festival has attracted thousands of visitors since it began in 2012. The arrival of the Clipper Round the World racing yachts is scheduled around an exciting programme of family-friendly attractions and keynote events along the riverfront. A combination of exciting activities both on and off the water guarantees a ‘not to be missed’ event for visitors of all ages while the festival showcase will provide one of the most spectacular landscape performances delivered on the island, featuring aerial and firework displays as well as animated performances, a parade of light on the water and live music.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Alderman Graham Warke, said: “Foyle Maritime Festival is undoubtedly one of the most popular events hosted in the city, attracting visitors from near and far. It is a fantastic opportunity to showcase our vibrant and welcoming city and district as an international visitor destination.
“The Pianocean stop-over in the city for two impromptu solo performances at the weekend was a timely reminder that the Foyle Maritime Festival is set to return in 2022 and visitors can start making plans to join us for next summer’s most highly anticipated festival in the north west.”
Helena Hasson, Event Co-ordinator with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “We were delighted to host Pianocean this weekend. Marieke has sailed to ports around the world with her artistic and maritime led project and it was really uplifting to see passers-by stopping to savour the moment from their vantage point along the quay on Friday and Saturday afternoon.
“Many people have told us how much they missed last year’s large-scale events in the city and district during the pandemic so we are pulling out all the stops to make Foyle Maritime Festival 2022 even more memorable. The whole city comes alive for this event and we can’t wait to re-create that special atmosphere for our festival-goers once again.”
Marieke, of Pianocean, thanked everyone for the warm welcome she received during her visit to the banks of the Foyle. “Each port of call is an inspiration for me and at the end of each sailing season, I record a new album. The songs are inspired by my life onboard, the people I meet and the local culture and stories I hear, so it is like a musical travel diary. I am very much looking forward to writing about everything I encountered in Derry.”
This activity is being organised by Council’s Events Team as part of the Inside Out Business Revitalization Programme which is supported by the Department for Communities.
Strabane BID Receives Successful YES Vote for Second Term
Strabane BID will continue to assist and promote local businesses in the town centre and support the local economy after achieving a second term following a successful yes vote in a ballot of businesses.
The first five-year term of the Strabane Business Improvement District (BID) ends on October 31st, and a renewal ballot was held between August 12th and September 23rd for eligible businesses to vote on a second term.
In line with BID legislation in NI, a turnout of at least 25% was achieved, returning a 69% YES vote.
Prior to the ballot, a new business plan was developed by Strabane BID with a specific focus on Covid recovery, town centre recovery and working a way forward into growth which will provide the backbone of BID’s work moving into the second five-year term.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, said the result was fantastic news for Strabane town at a crucial time.
“I’m absolutely delighted that Strabane BID has successfully achieved a second term and I know it will be a vital tool and resource for so many local businesses as they move forward through the COVID-19 recovery process.
“A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes from the BID board and the Town Centre Manager to achieve a YES vote and that hard work will now continue.
“It has been an unimaginably difficult 18 months for businesses in the town centre and it’s now time to look ahead to what we can do to assist them, to bring more customers into the town, and to support the economic recovery within Strabane.
“We have already seen the benefits of BID through the InStrabane gift card, support for events like the Christmas Fayre and Strajamba, and initiatives like the Flower of Sweet Strabane.
“I know that that great work will continue, so well done to all involved in this fantastic result and let’s keep it going.”
Kieran Kennedy, Chair of Strabane BID, added: “We are extremely pleased to have received the support of our Strabane businesses in moving forward into another five-year term, and we also acknowledge that there is a lot of work ahead.
“It’s vital that we work in partnership to ensure all businesses can benefit from BID and we are committed to delivering on providing a strong, collective voice for the business community.
“We want to ensure that the voices of our individual businesses are heard and that any redevelopment works within Strabane are to the benefit of the town centre – with BID an important stakeholder.
“Thank you to the businesses for their support. We are as determined as ever to drive forward and deliver for you all, and we look forward to taking on this new chapter together.”
Mayor Encourages Local Women to Get Involved in She Shed Programme
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, visited the New2You Centre in Pennyburn this week to launch the She Shed Programme, which provides construction courses for local women.
In partnership with the Housing Executive and funded by their Social Enterprise Strategy, She Shed will include six-week courses in upcycling, joinery, and household electrical maintenance.
The innovative female empowerment programme also involves a link up with local schools, highlighting the construction sector to females as one with future employment opportunities. Some local construction and IT firms will also provide those taking part with information on careers in their respective sectors.
Mayor Warke said that the programme is an excellent opportunity for local women to take that first step in learning more about careers in which females would not typically be strongly represented.
“I’m really impressed with the She Shed initiative. It’s a great chance for females who may be unsure about breaking into trades such as construction to learn more about the skills involved and what jobs are on offer.
“Sometimes making that first step can be the hardest one, but this programme empowers women and massively builds their confidence and their skills base. They can learn alongside like-minded, driven people.
“I’d strongly encourage anyone who sees the courses available and thinks it might be for them to get in touch and get yourself signed up.”
Eddie Doherty, Area Manager of The Housing Executive, said: “The She Shed engages females from Housing Executive communities in creative community upcycling activities and other useful classes. This helps build confidence and connection among women who may otherwise never meet or who may not have considered personal development. For this reason, the Housing Executive is delighted to support this community programme under its Social Enterprise Plus Programme.”
The programme will be overseen by Nuala Griffiths, General Manager of New2You. Nuala has a background in the construction sector and explained that the programme is a way to support and encourage women from all backgrounds and show them there are training and education opportunities open to them.
“With courses in upcycling, joinery and household electrical maintenance we feel there is a great range there that will interest a lot of local women who have perhaps often thought about pursuing a career in these areas.
“At the She Shed programme we have a safe environment where all of our participants can learn more about the skills involved and about the jobs and opportunities that could be available to them down the line.”
To sign up, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 02871360453. Courses cost just £30 for 6 weeks.