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Derry City & Strabane

Details of Exciting Illuminating Walled City Festival Outlined to Members

Details of an exciting event entitled Illuminating the Walled City Festival was unveiled to elected members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Business and Culture Committee today.

Members were informed that funding for the festival was secured from Tourism Northern Ireland through its Market Led Development Programme for Local Authorities. The fund is part of the Embrace A Giant Spirit which is a pledge to create authentic and innovative experiences that will provide more reasons to travel to  and within Northern Ireland and to enhance and animate the experience for visitors from NI and ROI.

Aeidin McCarter, Head of Culture with Derry City and Strabane District Council explained to members of the committee that the success of Lumiere,  as part of the City of Culture 2013 and the continued growth of Halloween, highlights the need to use ambitious and curated animation to further develop and grow our evening economy, which are vital if we are to achieve our targets of doubling visitor spend and growing jobs in the sector.

She said Council had been successful in securing over £450k from Tourism NI to deliver a two-week long Festival of Light entitled “Illuminating the Walled City” planned for February next year.

It is anticipated the festival will attract over 90k additional visitors, generate 70% bed occupancy and involve over 70 local businesses and 40 local artists and venues.

She explained that while the programme is still being developed it is currently proposed that it will take place from 14-27 February from 5-10pm daily and consist of three main elements – An Illuminated Trail of Light, an Intimate Music Programme and a series of Live Illumination Experiences.

The Illuminated Trail of Light will feature  installations and performances at multiple sites across the Walled City; while the  Intimate Music Programme will embrace  the theme of light with intimate gigs of well-known local artists in unique locations. The Live illumination Experience that will include a trail of live illumination experiences that will transform some iconic buildings into spectacular pieces of art.

Members were advised that with possible restrictions still in place, the primary focus when planning for this event will be to have a crowd friendly circuit of the city that can accommodate the numbers of people expected to attend, taking into account social distancing and crowd management, whilst allowing people to enjoy the experience safely.

A further paper outlining final details of the programme will come before a future meeting of the committee.

The Chairperson of the Business and Culture Committee Cllr Conor Heaney welcoming the project said it was hugely exciting and he looked forward to hearing details of the full programme.

He said: “This is very positive news and I am delighted that our teams are working together to deliver another fantastic event to showcase our city and region. This festival will be an opportunity for us to celebrate after a difficult and challenging 18 months. I look forward to finding out more about the festival programme and to welcoming visitors and tourists from across the island of Ireland to our city to experience our unique heritage and culture.”

Derry City & Strabane

Return of St Patrick’s Parade Plans Welcomed by Councillors

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Business and Culture Committee approved plans for the return of the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade, after a two year break due to the pandemic.

The proposals for the on street celebration, which will go ahead subject to Covid guidance, were brought before the committee at the Guildhall, and were warmly welcomed by members.

Council’s Head of Culture, Aeidin McCarter, told members it was the next stage in the phasing in of public events and that measures will be in place to ensure the safe delivery of the programme. It follows the successful delivery of the City’s annual Halloween celebrations, which were redesigned this year with a major focus on public safety.

The Committee heard that Council’s Festival and Events team would now progress plans in partnership with the North West Carnival Initiative as part of their Service Level Agreement with Council. The parade event will involve 500 participants from throughout the city’s neighbourhood areas, with an open call and targeted engagement programmes aimed at supporting local communities.

The Parade will happen in tandem with a major outdoor event already confirmed for the City taking place over a week in mid-March. About Us, which is created by 59 Productions Collective as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, will be a large-scale public event that takes audiences on a journey through 13.8 billion years of history from the Big Bang to the present day. The live show will transform the area in and around the city centre into a vast canvas featuring bespoke animations, cutting-edge projection mapping live shows and multimedia installations with animation, poetry, original music and live performance. More information can be found by visiting www.aboutus.earth

Welcoming the plans, Chair of the Business and Culture Committee, Councillor Conor Heaney, said it would be a major boost for local businesses. “If we look back at 2019, St Patrick’s was the first major event to be postponed due to the pandemic and I think people then began to realise the seriousness of the situation. The tragic events as they were unfolding around the world had reached our shores, and local businesses and Council responded swiftly to protect the public, with the postponement of the Spring Carnival and the closure of local venues. Looking back no one could have imagined that we would still be impacted by Covid19 as we near the end of 2021.

“Those same businesses will be delighted to see the return of our annual events programme, and to see two major events running in tandem throughout the week of St Patrick’s is an additional bonus and very positive news for the local economy. I am confident following the successful delivery of our Halloween celebrations last weekend that safety will be prioritised and that this event can be delivered safely and responsibly in an outdoor setting. I look more to hearing more about the programme as the details are finalised in the coming weeks and months.”

The Committee were reassured that About Us would complement the Spring Carnival events, and would not affect the main parade route through the City Centre. Members approved the allocation of £106,000 for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations, £30,000 of which will go towards festivities in Strabane.

Later in the meeting the Committee also approved the wider Festival and Events programme for 2022, which features several milestone events, including the Illuminating the Walled City project in February, the innovative Our Place in Space trail in April designed by Oliver Jeffers as part of UNBOXED, the City of Derry Jazz Festival in May, Summer Jamm in June and the Foyle Maritime Festival in July.

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Derry City & Strabane

Kickstart IT Course to Give Students the Edge in the Software Industry

Local IT companies are partnering with Council and the North West Regional College to boost employment opportunities within the software industry through a special fast track course beginning in the New Year.

The Kickstart IT course, which is funded by the Department for the Economy, is a 16 week, industry led course aimed at students at HNC/D level and above. Participants will benefit from specialist training to enable them to successfully apply for IT software roles.

The full time course will begin on January 10th, and offers students a placement of at least four weeks with a local software company and a guaranteed job interview at the end with participating companies.

Head of Business with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Kevin O’Connor, said the course would offer students the chance to get the competitive edge in the local job market.

“We are delighted to be working with the North West Regional College and local IT companies to provide a specially tailored course which will that will help address a shortage of computer programmers in our region.

“The course has employability sessions integrated into it which aim to enhance the candidates’ personal development to give the best possible chance during the job application process.

“These include assistance with completing the application form, advice on improving interview skills, mock interview feedback and help with delivering presentations. These are skills that participants can use regardless of whether or not they choose to pursue a career in IT at the end of the course.”

Candidates must be fully available for the entire duration of the training schedule which will delivered through a blended approach of classroom and online learning. Successful students will gain qualifications in ISTQB Foundation Certificate in Software Testing, a City and Guilds Diploma for Software Developers and a City and Guilds Certificate of Unit Credit in relation to SQL module.

Lecturer in Computing at North West Regional College, Kevin McLaughlin, revealed that, despite the short nature of the course, students will learn a wide range of programming functions.

“This software fundamentals course will allow students with no background in IT to quickly learn a range of skills and programming languages that they can put into practise in the workplace,” he said.

“It includes Java, SQL and UX Fundamentals modules as well as software testing and design.

“The local software industry is a growing one, particularly in the current climate, and the successful completion of this course can leave candidates strongly equipped to successfully gain employment and thrive in it.”

For an application packs Contact Eileen McGrinder on  07595216249 or by email skills@derrystrabane.com  Applications must be submitted by November 19th.

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