The Big Big Sing – was just one of the 110 events from 18 countries that is filling venues all over the city of Belfast as part of this year’s event. The 2014 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s has opened the doors for an in total 17 day, city-wide celebration of the arts.
With a total of 26 Premières, the Festival officially commenced on the 16th October with the Ulster Orchestra Opening Concert featuring Ukrainian violinist Valeriy Sokolov and the Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor, Jac Van Steen. Artist in Residence Claire Cunningham – who brings her show Guide Gods to Belfast for its Irish Première – will join Europe’s top theatre directors and internationally acclaimed artists from the worlds of dance, film, theatre and music as the 2014 Festival strives to push boundaries, deliver diversity and encourage debate.
As an international Festival accredited with contributing £2million to the local economy and supporting over 300 full-time jobs the impact of the next 17 days is important for the city, Director of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s, Richard Wakely commented, “We look forward to welcoming NI audiences and visitors to the fantastic range of performances we have to offer over the next 17 days. We are delivering internationally acclaimed pieces of work to this city which otherwise would not be available and with 88% of our shows under £15, including 23 free shows, I would encourage audiences to try something new!”
The 2014 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival will welcome two of the world’s leading theatre directors to Belfast – Peter Brook and Thomas Ostermeier – plus a host of leading ladies in Theatre, Dance and Music including four-time Grammy Award winning Jazz Vocalist Dianne Reeves, the legendary Bettye LaVette, celebrated actress, Charlotte Rampling and two-time Princess Grace Award winning choreographer Camille A. Brown – to name a few.
Ellvena Graham, Head of Ulster Bank Northern Ireland, said: “To have a world class event such as the Belfast Festival on our doorstep is a unique opportunity. We’ve been a proud supporter for many years and it continues to develop and flourish. It gives audiences the chance to experience something new and different. As title sponsor we’re very proud to be welcoming these fantastic international acts. In the next 17 days I know we’ll see many people take the opportunity to see some truly exciting and engaging performances.”
This year’s hot tickets include the European Première of Camille A Brown’s theatrical and gutsy African-American dance performance Mr TOL.E.RAncE; the UK and Irish Première of The Night Dances featuring Charlotte Rampling; the Irish Première of the world’s most celebrated Flamenco dancer Israel Galván; prestigious German Theatre Company Schaubühne Berlin presenting the Irish Première of the controversial production An Enemy of the People; the Northern Irish Première of The Suit – a moving story of adultery during apartheid from Director Peter Brook and his company Théâtre Des Bouffes Du Nord and the Northern Irish Première of Hannavas – a free family event which will see the African Savannah come to Belfast city centre.
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, stated, “The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s allows our local audiences to experience arts and culture that would otherwise not be available and it is vital for all our communities to have access to these experiences. We work hard, in partnership with the Festival, to ensure that we open the door to the arts and this year’s programme will definitely bring new experiences within the reach of everyone.” Alongside international artists the Festival will showcase the very best local talent with World Premières from our leading local theatre and dance companies. In addition, one of the key elements of this year’s programme is the new EMBRACE initiative supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland which will bring audiences ‘up close’ to world class artists in a series of masterclasses, workshops and talks.
Alongside international artists the Festival will showcase the very best local talent with World Premieres from our leading local theatre and dance companies. In addition, one of the key elements of this year’s programme is the new EMBRACE initiative supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland which will bring audiences ‘up close’ to world class artists in a series of masterclasses, workshops and talks.
Susie McCullough, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, “This international festival is a vital part of the creative heartbeat of the city and one that positions Belfast and Northern Ireland as a serious cultural hub within a European context. Visitors come from all over the world to enjoy the Belfast Festival and in doing so provide a great boost for our tourism industry.”
The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s would not be possible without the support of sponsors and public sector funders including Title Sponsor, Ulster Bank, Principal Funder, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Queen’s University, Belfast City Council, British Council, O2 International Sim, Belfast Harbour, Arts & Business NI, Visit Belfast and the Department for Social Development, plus, the many venues, performers and partner organisations whose commitment and passion bring the arts to life for all to enjoy.
The 2014 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s runs from 16th October – 1st November in venues all over Belfast, for more information and to book tickets ‘Check In’ to www.belfastfestival.com.