Arts & Business NI hosted a unique Creative Placemaking Showcase event in collaboration with Forestside Shopping Centre, at the popular south Belfast mall on Thursday 18th November. The event attracted attendees from prominent Northern Ireland organisations, spanning the charity, travel, IT and retail sectors. Representatives gathered to hear from a range of speakers and performers, each championing the importance of creative placemaking as a tool to engage customers and staff for business success.
Arts & Business NI (A&BNI) is a membership organisation which facilitates creative opportunities for arts and business organisations within its network. During the COVID-19 pandemic, A&BNI supported several highly successful creative placemaking projects between its members. This showcase event highlighted several of these projects, as a source of inspiration for business attendees, to consider similar approaches to achieve their business goals.
Maeve McKervey, Head of Business at Arts & Business NI commented:
“We were delighted to welcome so many businesses to Forestside Shopping Centre to showcase some of the amazing work which our members have recently delivered in collaboration with their arts partners.
We were particularly thrilled to showcase creative partnerships which continued and flourished throughout the pandemic- a very challenging time for businesses and customers alike. When ‘traditional’ creative spaces such as theatres and galleries were not accessible, these visionary organisations thought outside the box, to make creative spaces within their own organisations.”
Attendees heard from several notable business leaders including: Lee Cutler, Centre Manager of Forestside, Chris Flynn, Centre Manager of The Junction Leisure & Retail Park, Mark Rainey, Centre Manager of Connswater Shopping Centre and Damien Corr, Business Improvement Manager of Destination CQ BID.
The speakers described how they brought creative experiences into their spaces, including drive-in pantomimes, pop-up theatre in empty business units, songwriter competitions and much more. All were united by their commitment to creatively enhancing the experiences of their customers and staff through the arts.
Lee Cutler, Event Partner and Centre Manager of Forestside remarked:
“Partnering with arts organisations and developing creative projects like our Singer Songwriter Competition has proven to be a really effective way to engage Forestside’s shoppers and build our customer base over the past number of years. Arts & Business NI have been a great help in navigating those collaborations, particularly with their Investment Programme which provides matched funding to really amplify our projects.”
In addition to the inspirational stories of the business speakers, attendees enjoyed several pop-up performances as part of the Creative Placemaking showcase, to see first-hand how performance can enliven their organisations.
Tumble Circus took to the stage in the mall, dazzling onlookers with hula hoop and crystal ball performances; Kabosh delivered an excerpt from their highly acclaimed ‘King of East Belfast’ in the underground carpark; Cahoots NI performer Caolan McBride baffled his audiences with mentalist mind-reading in the Artist Studio whilst Michael James performed unplugged renditions of songs from his new EP in the Cookery School.
The event offered an exciting opportunity to look into the future of retail, with creative examples of how the customer experience can be elevated.
Those organisations interested in discovering a creative partnership to boost their own customer engagement are invited to contact the Arts & Business NI team, to take the first step on their own journey.
Arts & Business NI is generously supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.