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Bewitching programme of events for EastSide Arts Festival

By Allan Preston

Published 08/07/2016

The Wicked Witch of the West sneaks up behind an unsuspecting Dorothy at the launch of the EastSide Arts Festival
The Wicked Witch of the West sneaks up behind an unsuspecting Dorothy at the launch of the EastSide Arts Festival
Nick Lowe
Singer Amanda St John

The Wicked Witch of the West is heading east, where she is set to star in a Belfast arts event.

Organisers of the EastSide Arts Festival have promised an inspiring programme of music and more across the east of the city for 11 days next month.

Among the highlights will be the world-renowned Irish choral group Anúna, visual artist Barry Mulholland and a spectacular production of The Wizard Of Oz from the youthful NiStars group.

The play hits the Strand Cinema on Friday, August 12 and Saturday, August 13, and follows NiStars' sellout run of Little Shop Of Horrors last year. The 60-strong cast boasts performers aged from six to 22.

Festival manager Rachel Kennedy said the event was a chance to "showcase the brilliant artistic talent in east Belfast".

"We've had the pleasure of working with artists, venues, businesses and community groups to present this talent in a way that we hope will encourage people to visit EastSide from Belfast and beyond," she added.

"We hope that the festival will inspire people to see EastSide as a community that is full of creativity, colour and, above all, one that is on a journey of renewal."

On Tuesday, August 16 at the Park Avenue Hotel, popular Ulster blues vocalist Amanda St John will perform songs from her new album Grow, as well as a mix of timeless blues and soul classics.

And on Friday, August 19, the haunting vocals of Anúna will fill St Patrick's Church in Ballymacarrett.

Veteran rocker Nick Lowe will play St Patrick's Church, Ballymacarrett, on August 20, the same day that Tim McGarry returns with a new stand-up show at the Park Avenue Hotel.

Lowe's performance promises to be an eclectic experience, with the group's atmospheric costumes and movement, plus candles, adding to the atmosphere.

Roisin McDonough, chief executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, praised the festival's outreach work. "This year the Arts Council confirmed the position of EastSide Arts as one of our core-funded clients," she said. "This is a measure of how much the organisation and its festivals have achieved in a few short years."

"EastSide Arts is helping to expand the provision of excellent and accessible arts across the city, reaching out to people and communities who might not otherwise have such opportunities to engage with the arts."

Ms McDonough also described EastSide as "a key player in the creative, social and economic regeneration and reputation of the area". "It is one of the most popular highlights of a successful development strategy for the arts in east Belfast," she added.

Full listings for the EastSide Arts Festival, which runs from August 10-21, can be found online at www.eastsidearts.net. Bookings can also be made by telephone on 028 9024 6609 or at the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre in Donegall Square North, Belfast, opposite City Hall

Belfast Telegraph

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