Creative Showcase

14 Mar 2018

Creative Showcase

As part of Department for Community’s Creativity Month, we were delighted to welcome 50 of our arts members and business members to celebrate some of the amazing winners from our Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards 2018.

At this showcase event, we celebrated existing creative partnerships between businesses and arts organisations and heard how investing in, and partnering with, the Arts is delivering very real business results.

Our speakers, all award winners from our Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards 2018, talked us through how working in partnership successfully delivers clear and tangible results against their strategic targets. First up was Stephen Patton from George Best Belfast City Airport, winner of Business of the Year. Alongside his arts partner Claire Shaw from Cinemagic, we heard about some of the amazing creative, fun, results driven community engagement projects which they have embarked on to help GBBCA achieve their strategic objectives focused on Community, Education, Environment and People. GBBCA wanted to engage with young people from the disadvantaged areas surrounding their business. Within this geographical area, mental health is a particular concern; Cinemagic and GBBCA staff worked with local children helping and guiding them to produce a film exploring mental health and mindfulness in their age group. Cinemagic and GBBCA’s latest project is a 10 month long ‘Young Leaders Initiative’, aimed at motivating, encouraging and developing young people from Belfast, with the ambition of raising their confidence and achievements and creating a lasting legacy.

We were enthralled that the three Cahoots NI and Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Prime Theatre penguins were able to shuffle between their Belfast Children’s Festival 2018 performances  to perform an enthralling excerpt from ‘Penguins’ for us. This magical dance piece was an engaging story about friendship, fun, identity and the ever-changing meaning of family.

Eibhlin de Barra, Director at Young at Arts and double award winner (Arts Member of the Year; Cultural Branding award with Translink) then took to the stage. Eibhlin described some of her many bespoke projects with business partner Translink, which deliver on fantastic community engagement and outreach and assist the business to successfully transform their brand identity from just a means of mass transit to a warm, creative, cool, considerate and in–touch business.

Winner of our Cultural Fundraiser of the Year Award, Cara McCartney from the Millennium Forum, impressed our audience with her wide reaching creative partnerships with more than twenty businesses. Cara spoke about the fabulous #Write Sight Festival delivered with Specsavers, which allowed the company to connect with all age groups to communicate their core message of the importance of good vision in relation to literacy and learning.

An energetic artistic interlude followed with The Open House Festival Choir getting us all rocking in our seats and singing along to their lively renditions of ‘Fisherman's Blues’ and ‘Emmylou’. Chair of the Open House Festival and winner of our Arts Board Member of the Year Stephen Dunlop was next up. Stephen inspired us with his description of the vital role which arts and culture play in the regeneration of a town/region.

This tied in very nicely with our next speaker: Rachel Kennedy from EastSide Arts, winner of our New Sponsor Award with Connswater. Rachel identified very closely with Stephen’s sentiments, detailing how creative artistic partnerships have helped to regenerate and reenergise East Belfast, a strategic objective shared by both EastSide Arts and Connswater. Rachel detailed how artistic activity very importantly connects people to place; EastSide and Connswater successfully engaged 15k local people at over 100 events during the Connswater Community Festival.

Our final speaker of the day Jenni Barkley from Belfast Harbour, won our Cultural Engagement Award with BookTrust, and was highly commended in the same category for her partnership with Culture Night Belfast. Jenni partners very successfully with a range of art organsiations to deliver on Belfast Harbour's Corporate Responsibility Strategy across four pillars: Young People, Community, Environment and Creative Culture. Jenni shared how working with BookTrust has allowed Belfast Harbour to support local communities in terms of encouraging young people to stay engaged with the education system, increasing the confidence of parents and ultimately impacting future workforce. To date Belfast Harbour have gifted 12,000 books to inspire children to read; children who read for pleasure are likely to do better at school as well as being more socially, culturally and emotionally prepared for life. Jenni also outlined how Belfast Harbour wants Belfast to be vibrant and culturally rich; their partnership with Culture Night Belfast helps them to achieve this. CNB2017 saw more than 1000,000 people enjoy 307 free arts events across the city. Jenni ended her talk with a very important call out to arts organsiations: ‘businesses want to support the arts, help us to help you’. Proposals should detail economic impact of project; how many jobs will be created, how many people will be supported?

Our Creative Showcase came to a fitting finale with an inspired, joyous reading by local author and the first ever Children's Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland Myra Zepf. Myra  read her book ’Rita wants a Robot’, which celebrates creativity and humanness, against the backdrop of stunning original illustrations by Andrew Whitson.  Myra works extensively with BookTrust.  

We would like to thank our speakers, performers and attendees at our Creativity Showcase, and most especially Department for Communities who funded this event as part of their Creativity Month.

We hope that the amazing award winning speakers and artistic performances from local arts organsiations inspired you to step outside of your comfort zone and to try something new. If you would like to find out more please call us on 028 90735150 or email us on


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Arts & Business is generously supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.