Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival Programme Launch

Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival Programme Launch

Cara Gibney • Photos: Michael Barbour

Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival is 18 today! It’s old enough to get a tattoo, vote, sue or be sued, and open a bank account in its own name.

At today’s launch of the 2017 CQAF programme in the Duke Of York, Director Sean Kelly reckoned it was ‘surreal’ to be celebrating 18 years of the festival. Truth is though, it has become a fundamental part of Belfast’s arts calendar – you know spring isn’t an empty promise when CQAF is announced.

That said, they’ve curated ten days of music, theatre, comedy, family events, sound & vision , words & ideas, visual arts, and special events  that prove the festival’s skill in finding the best talent and bringing here to our doorstep. You can choose from international blues legends like Robert Cray, to the raw poetical talent of Artist In Residence Rosie Carney. The chance to join a walking tour about home-grown heroine Mary Ann McCracken (Henry Joy’s sister, but truly a legend in her own right), or opt for stand-up “Not suitable for misogynists, anti-feminists, bigots or bozos” by Sofie Hagen. We have to ask – is this the best year yet?

They haven’t done it on their own though. There has been the long term support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (Roisín McDonough was at the launch to cheer the festival on), and Belfast City Council (Alderman Brian Kingston The Lord Mayor of Belfast was showing his love), as well as Tourism NI, British Council, Northern Ireland Executive, and Arts & Business Northern Ireland. It’s been a tough few years all round, the arts have suffered, those who have done their bit to keep the festival going deserve their dues.

And if you enjoy visiting Cathedral Quarter to take in the oddness and the history and buildings and the escape from the mainstream, think about how it would feel if a large part of the area was levelled and replaced by the same, generic, standard, planning that can be found anywhere.  Want to find out more? Visit Save CQ and see what you can do to help.

The Save CQ site tell us, ”Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter is facing enormous change. A huge swathe of land encompassing Rosemary Street, North Street, the historic Assembly Buildings, and Donegall Street, including North Street Arcade and Writers’ Square, was purchased by the England-based investment company Castlebrooke.

Despite this area’s historical importance, distinct character, and its current prominence as the beating heart of Northern Ireland’s arts and cultural scene, the proposals are for widespread demolition, replacing independent businesses and arts organisations with generic retail & offices.”

For Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival tickets and info click  CQAF HERE


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