From punk icons to photo festivals: The winners of the Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards

The Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards took place on January 16 at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

The winners on the night demonstrated how mutually beneficial partnerships between arts organisations and businesses can be, as well as their capacity to truly enrich communities. The following is a flavour of some of the winners and what they achieved together.

A&L Goodbody

Business of the Year winner

In 2018, A&L Goodbody became title sponsor of the Lyric Theatre production ‘Good Vibrations’, a stage musical charting the life of Belfast punk impresario Terri Hooley. This allowed the law firm to engage the wider business community in the Lyric’s work through a networking event, reinforced the firm’s commitment to the community and made its brand more relevant.

A&L Goodbody also partnered with contemporary photography organisation Belfast Exposed to support the work of seven emerging artists, enhancing its newly refurbished offices with spectacular photographic images and work on other collaborative projects.

"From title sponsorship of the Lyric Theatre production of ‘Good Vibrations’, to exhibiting the work of seven emerging Belfast Exposed artists in its offices, to hosting art classes for staff as part of Mental Health & Wellbeing Week 2019, A&L Goodbody values the real impact that these partnerships have in terms of creative staff and client engagement whilst supporting the wider arts community in Northern Ireland."
Maeve McKervey, Head of Business, Arts & Business NI

BookTrust NI

Arts Organisation of the Year winner

BookTrust Northern Ireland (NI) is dedicated to getting children engaged with books, resources and support to help develop a love of reading. To date, Book Trust NI has enjoyed successful partnerships with Belfast Harbour, System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) and Belfast International Airport. These have allowed BookTrust NI to reach the most disadvantaged areas of Northern Ireland through their book gifting and author projects.

BookTrust NI conducted a school author project with the support of Belfast International Airport. Celebrated children’s illustrator and author Nick Sharratt spent a full day with children in Maine Integrated Primary and Nursery School in Randalstown, Co Antrim.

During three interactive sessions he read from his books Shark in the Park and The Cat and the King and showed pupils how to draw some of his characters step by step. He also shared creative writing tips with older groups. This led to further author projects with Dan Freedman and Marta Altés.

"BookTrust NI’s drive, commitment and inspirational programmes and initiatives reach so many primary and secondary school students, to tap into their imagination and desire to read, which ultimately benefits their educational journey. Education is a key component of Belfast International Airport’s Corporate Responsibility Strategy and we are delighted to have teamed up with BookTrust NI to get more children reading."
Jaclyn Coulter, Human Resources Manager, Belfast International Airport

Barry Desmond

Business Individual of the Year winner

As sales and marketing director of Alexander Boyd Displays (ABD), Barry Desmond is responsible for driving the company’s partnership with Belfast Photo Festival, which is now in its third year.

Barry Desmond

Barry Desmond

This rich partnership has delivered so much more than branding opportunities. Highlights have included a piece of work by local up-and-coming artist Megan Doherty commissioned by ABD in 2017, the Capture Conference in 2018 – which was designed to enhance collaborative efforts and skill-sharing among Northern Ireland’s creative industries – and a Q&A event in 2019 with Oliviero Toscani, one of the world’s top photographers and creatives.

"Barry is incredibly proud of the company’s partnership with Belfast Photo Festival and realises the valuable commercial benefits – namely providing a unique opportunity to showcase Alexander Boyd Displays’ capabilities in relation to large-scale outdoor print. Barry is passionate about working in true partnership with Belfast Photo Festival."
Maeve McKervey, Head of Business, Arts & Business NI

Allianz Arts & Business NI Cultural Branding Award 2020

Alexander Boyd Displays also won the Allianz Arts & Business NI Cultural Branding Award 2020 for its partnership with Belfast Photo Festival. By sharing resources and expertise, both parties have reached a new and broader audience, increased awareness of their brands and offerings and developed a culture within their organisations of learning, experimentation and innovation around creative print production.

"As Belfast Photo Festival expands its outdoor presence, the partnership with Alexander Boyd Displays has become one of friendship, with both companies continuously seeking ways to support one another as they grow, develop and evolve. It has provided both companies with the opportunity to use the city as a showroom, not only for the finest photography, but also the specialist printing and services offered by Alexander Boyd Displays."
Michael Weir, Director, Belfast Photo Festival

Susan Picken

Arts Innovator of the Year winner

Susan Picken became director of Cathedral Quarter Trust in 2017. As part of this role, she oversees year-round strategic planning and fundraising for Culture Night Belfast as well as managing existing partnerships. Before joining Cathedral Quarter Trust, Picken was director of the Queens Film Theatre for nearly 10 years.

Susan Picken

Susan Picken

In 2018, Picken collaborated with first-time sponsor Bank of Ireland to host a Culture Night Belfast event where the Guinness World Record for the ‘largest tap dance lesson’ was broken. Inspired by the idea of a simple ‘tap’ for contactless payments, it presented financial services in a fresh and original way.

The partnerships with Power NI and Translink over the past two years have also led to outstanding creativity as part of Culture Night Belfast. In 2019, together with Translink, Picken and her team created the Metro Cabaret Bus, an alternative family-friendly mini cabaret on a double-decker bus. They programmed a two-day event with Power NI in Cathedral Gardens encouraging families to spend the day in the city centre. The partnership with Power NI won the Allianz Arts & Business NI New Sponsor Award 2020.

"Under Susan Picken’s direction, Culture Night Belfast has developed a group of loyal supporters such as Belfast Harbour, which has been involved for eight years, and brought in a slew of new sponsors who are ready to throw themselves into this incredible event. Thanks to Susan’s vision, Culture Night Belfast evolved in 2019 to include Culture Day, another free, inclusive, accessible family-friendly programme. This gave Culture Night the opportunity to engage with even more partners."
Brona Whittaker, Head of Arts, Arts & Business NI

Big Telly Theatre Company and Enniskillen BID

Creative Community Engagement winners

Enniskillen Business Improvement District (BID) teamed up with one of Northern Ireland's longest-established theatre companies, Big Telly, to bring a range of arts events and performances to the town over a six-week period with its pop-up 'Creative Shops' project. Big Telly first came up with the ‘Creative Shops’ idea over four years ago, with the aim of bringing creativity to high streets all across Northern Ireland. The company was founded in 1986 by Zoe Seaton.

Big Telly's first project with Enniskillen BID was its interactive touring production, 'Operation Elsewhere', which ran on in August 2018. The event was described as a “cross between an extreme treasure hunt and an extraordinary adventure” at locations across Enniskillen town centre.

This led to the delivery of the first Creative Shop in Enniskillen, which ran from 25 February to 6 April 2019 on Townhall Street. Some of the artists involved were dancer Janie Doherty, visual artist Julie Sharkey and drama facilitator Holly Conlan, who ran drama classes for children and co-ordinated the shop. A second Creative Shop ran later in the year.

"The partnership with Big Telly offers us a creative and innovative approach. The Creative Shop encouraged high levels of participation and interaction from the business community, local community groups, drama groups and the general public. This interaction was very positive and encouraged many people to enquire about BID and our activities."
Noelle McAloon, Manager, Enniskillen BID

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