Belfast Telegraph

Retailers call for more support of cultural events to boost Ulster economy

Cultural events deserve more backing because of their positive impact on the Northern Ireland economy, a retail group has said.

At the launch of the forthcoming Belfast Culture Night, chief executive of the Independent Retail Trade Association, Glyn Roberts, said that other towns and cities should adopt similar initiatives.

His comments come the week after the popular Belsonic and Open House festivals in Belfast and ahead of the Ulster Bank-supported festival at Queens' University.

Last year's inaugural Culture Night attracted over 15,000 people into Belfast city centre and provided a huge, unprecedented boost for businesses and creative industries in the area.

Culture Nights happen in other cities across Ireland and Europe, including Dublin, Derry, Cork, Reykjavik and Copenhagen.

"With the Derry/Londonderry 2013 bid for UK City of Culture being successful, we need to see more effective partnerships between business and the arts to boost tourism and our economy as a whole," he said.

Culture Night Belfast chair, Patricia Freedman added that the event could demonstrate a working model for business-arts partnerships.

Gerry Lennon, chief executive of Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau, said that cultural tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the industry.

"After a decade of investment, Belfast is now a city of festivals, with a vibrant and eclectic mix of year-round events that inspire and entertain. It is important that support for cultural tourism is maintained with a spread of international and local acts and performances as this energises the social fabric of Belfast."