31st May 2019 in Arts

Arts and Culture are huge economic, social, and health drivers for Cities, often going unnoticed or unattributed.

When we break down the creative industries, because that’s what we are talking about, these have exploded across Northern Ireland in the last decade.  If it isn’t our film & TV production venues in Titanic Quarter, the BBC, NI Screen, or our huge digital economy taking shape across the City; it’s our world class theatre, art, and dance institutions.

This does not even include the huge array of makers, menders, and artisans who are juggling side hustles alongside their regular 9 to 5 (as demonstrated by our recent CQ Bazaar in St Anne’s Cathedral as part of CQAF).

CQAF CQ Bazaar

We need to recognise this and ensure it is embedded in the City vision for next decade. Investment in infrastructure, education, and technical skills are incredibly important; we witness huge potential in the expansion of the Ulster University right on the doorstep of Cathedral Quarter. Adjacent to that we have the former Bel-Tel becoming the ‘The Sixth’, then Smithfield & Union with the new Building Blocks development, and what may, or may not, be delivered through Tribeca.

All have the potential to mix it up in terms of offer and proposition.  They have the chance to harness our creative talents and allow them to incubate and grow in this incredibly valuable sector.

I’ve harped on about the importance of economics and numbers. What I need to reaffirm is Art and Culture go so much deeper; healing communities, uniting families, engaging partners, opening up untapped potential, and problem solving through the design process.  These all come about through the creative process and need cemented firmly in our Cities’ growth strategy.

The Belfast Agenda, our city’s first community plan, sets a vision for 2035 that imagines a culturally vibrant city.  It is imperative that all of us, not just those working within the cultural sector, participate in the consultation and ensure that the creative industries are appreciated for key role that they play in our city.

Gareth Neill, Cathedral Quarter BID Manager

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The Economic Power of American Arts and Culture

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