Local Artists Breathe New Life into Abandoned Bank Building…
Ulster Bank Building, 431 Newtownards Road • Friday 07 April ’17
There’s been much talk about knocking down old buildings in Belfast of late, but this Friday 07 April, one of Belfast’s oldest buildings will be throwing open its doors to showcase how culturally-led regeneration CAN breathe life back into new buildings and urban areas.
Late last year, Adam Turkington from Seedhead Arts, got an email out of the blue, asking if he could make use of an abandoned Ulster Bank Building (and most recently a local Orange Order Headquarters) on 431 Newtownards Road for a year. After thinking about it for about five seconds, he got his contact book out and started to call artists from the East of the city who he thought would be interested in using this opportunity to do something extraordinary.
A few months later and there are now 23 artists have taken over and radically transformed the derelict space, making “The Bank” their temporary home. There’s even an active bee hive on the roof!
This has all been achieved by getting convening a coalition of dedicated and talented creatives who have established a charity to take on the space. Very quickly the advantages of Creative and community led regeneration are being felt as a fantastic building that would otherwise have been lying empty and gathering damp becomes a creative focus for the surrounding community.
Adam, now the chair of the Not for Profit Bankers, said:
“Life is short and development takes a long time. As someone who’s worked the Cathedral Quarter for the last ten years, seeing wonderful buildings lying empty for long periods has been incredibly frustrating. When offered the opportunity then to take on this wonderful building and demonstrate exactly what the creative community can achieve in relatively short turnaround time, I jumped at the chance.
We hope that beyond what we can achieve in this building this year we can show to developers, legislators and NI leaders that the creative community can and should play a central role in regenerating our built heritage and our inner city areas.”
The Bank will be open building wide, this Friday 07 April between 5-7pm with a short opening speech at 7pm followed by a performance by one of The Bank’s residents – the band Blue Whale.