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4th Jul 2019 in Arts

In 2018, Young at Art (YAA) and Destination CQ BID (Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District) entered into a new partnership to deliver synergy between 450+ business members in the Cathedral Quarter area and YAA’s annual Belfast Children’s Festival. Match funding was secured through the Arts & Business NI Investment Programme, leveraging in total £14,000 to support the 2019 Belfast Children’s Festival.

The Belfast Children’s Festival is the premiere annual arts event for young people and their families in Northern Ireland. While Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter is a recognised location for evening entertainment, the CQ BID members’ aim is to “Create, Celebrate, Invite and Inspire” to promote the area as a hub of creativity and culture, with a strong daytime and family-friendly offering.

Family Fun Day

The 2019 Belfast Children’s Festival ran from March 8 to March 13, with a new “inSPIREd” family programme delivered throughout Cathedral Quarter. This flagship event was a day-long Family Fun Day on Saturday 9 March 2019, which was named with reference to the venue, Belfast Cathedral. Key activities on the day included: a one-off special “Baby Rave”, free children’s art workshops, DJ workshops with Bounce Culture, digital animation workshops with Can Do Academy, augmented reality workshops with Art Cart, and theatre workshops with Northern Ireland Opera. The programme was supported by a creative marketing campaign across print, radio, social media and digital, encouraging audiences to explore the area’s venues and highlighting family-friendly food offerings.

  • 167 artists participated in the 2019 Belfast Children’s Festival.

  • 240 schoolchildren attended as part of the School Engagement Programme

  • Over 4,868 visitors were attracted to Cathedral Quarter for the Family Fun Day (measured by box office ticketing data and beam-breaking footfall counters at “inSPIREd events”).

However, the actual number of visitors attracted by scheduled activity to the Cathedral Quarter on the Family Fun Day is likely to be much higher. In addition, age-specific itineraries were developed to encourage families to extend their visit by exploring other venues.

Face Painting at the family Fun Day

After the Family Fun Day, a selection of attendees completed a survey. Of those who responded:

  • 52% said they had visited other businesses in the Cathedral Quarter area

  • Of the named businesses, The MAC was the most prominent, followed by Established Coffee, Pizza Express and Coppi.

Respondents were also asked what would improve their experience in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter as a family/visitor:

  • 28% replied family events

  • 17% replied parks and play space

  • 16% replied parking

  • 16% replied “What’s On” information; and

  • 8% replied public transport

When asked what they would be doing if not at the Belfast Children’s Festival:

  • 47% stated they would be at home

  • 39% doing another leisure activity (e.g. park, day-out, cinema)

  • 3% would be at work; and

  • 5% would be shopping

This shows the power of the Festival in getting people out of their homes, engaging them with top quality arts and culture, and bringing them into venues and public spaces across Belfast, not to mention the additional spend that accompanies a day out. These responses are valuable for Destination CQ BID in shaping the future of the area.

Baby Rave in the Nave

School Engagement

Young at Art’s mission is to ensure that every child in Northern Ireland can access the best arts and culture available, no matter their circumstances. The children that are engaged in access programmes are from some of the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland (according to the NI Multiple Deprivation Measures 2017 data). This presented valuable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) opportunities for Destination CQ BID.

The collaborative partnership supported eight Belfast primary schools from areas of high deprivation to visit the Cathedral Quarter and enjoy a world-class live performance at The MAC. For some, this was their first time visiting a theatre. By attending a high-quality live performance, hand-picked specifically for them, we ensured that their first cultural experience in the Cathedral Quarter was an unforgettable one. Feedback from school-teachers included:

“The children got to visit a theatre and experience a ‘live’ show, which they probably never would have been taken to or seen without this opportunity.”

“We loved that the children were seated on the same level as the performance. Being seated in the boat felt like we were actually in the boat for real.”

Branding and PR

The official PR launch was held in Belfast Cathedral on 9 January. Destination CQ BID received prominent recognition and branding placement, with YAA arranging for a PR photo alongside the Lord Mayor of Belfast. This was picked up by the local press in the week after the launch.

Through an on-going media partnership with NI4Kids, Young at Art offered Destination CQ BID prominent placement in a 4-page Belfast Children’s Festival takeover of NI4Kids in the February 2019 edition (75k circulation, 160k readership). The cover featured iconic Cathedral Quarter landmarks, such as St. Anne’s Cathedral, the Albert Clock and The MAC. The back cover introduced the new partnership, with a map of Cathedral Quarter highlighting the Festival venues, as well as the location of public transport stops. Through this prominent placement, the new ‘CQ Belfast’ brand was introduced in a fun and engaging manner.

Through a media partnership with Q Radio, presenter Eoghan Quigg and the Q Crew were invited to the “inSPIREd” Family Fun Day for a special outdoor broadcast from Belfast Cathedral. The broadcast was pre-promoted on Q Radio (10 spots on Friday, 8th and Saturday morning, 9th March). As part of the promotional activity, YAA set up an interview slot with Destination CQ BID Manager, Gareth Neill.

CQ BID Manager, Gareth Neill

Destination CQ BID and CQ Belfast branding prominently appeared on 15k programmes, Travel Activity Packs (75k NI4kids Feb 19 magazine, 160k readership), 2k “inSPIREd” schedules, BCF19 launch video, BCF19 festival highlights video, Mailchimp email newsletters (7.5k subscribers), on an official website (25,807 users, totalling 105,863 page views Apr 18-Mar19) and via a range of social media channels (YAA Facebook – 6945 followers, Twitter – 4894 followers and Instagram – 669 followers).

The 2019 Festival campaign received 75 national and regional features across print, 116 broadcast items on radio and TV, and 77 online articles; the equivalent advertising value for print and commercial broadcast media is £153k (NIMMS).

Gareth Neill, CQ BID Manager, said: “The partnership between Destination CQ BID and Young at Art provides an excellent opportunity for businesses located in the Cathedral Quarter to showcase that they are a prime destination for families. The initiative increased footfall in the area, as well as commercial spend, while the businesses involved helped to support the Arts.

“Creating spaces that are welcoming and appealing to the family market is intrinsic to the rejuvenation and revitalisation of our City Centre. Belfast Children’s Festival reaffirmed this. I hope the relationship that has developed between CQ BID and YAA can continue to flourish in future years into a significant and long-term, mutually beneficial partnership.”

Eibhlin de Barra, Director of Young at Art, added: “This new sponsorship relationship with Destination CQ BID is an important partnership for Young at Art and the Belfast Children’s Festival. It allowed us to animate the cultural heart of the City of Belfast  – the Cathedral Quarter – an area more noted for its night-time offering, with a wide and varied range of events and activities suitable for all of the family, and forming the highlight of our 21st annual Festival.”

Milo’s Hattricks, Cahoots NI, Lyric Theatre Performing at the Festival.

“The 2019 Belfast Children’s Festival was a wonderful mix of theatre, dance, comedy, music, visual arts and interactive events for families. Thanks to additional support from Arts & Business NI, we were able to increase the scale of our events so that almost 5,000 children, young people and their families were able to enjoy all that the Cathedral Quarter has to offer.”

“There is a strong synergy with CQ BID’s vision, and we’re excited to work together on raising awareness of the cultural offering of Cathedral Quarter to families and schools, while helping local businesses deliver on their commercial objectives.”

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