Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Festival launches new 'Embrace' creative learning programme

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and have introduced a new programme of participatory and creative learning activities to Ireland’s leading international contemporary arts festival for 2014.

Entitled "Embrace", the initiative aims to increase access and participation in the festival through reaching out and engaging with communities, families and groups across the city of Belfast.

There is something for everyone with over 20 different workshops, talks and masterclasses allowing audiences the unique chance to get up close and personal with world class artists.

Whether it’s the chance to write songs with award-winning singer-song writer Lizannne Knott, dance with New York’s Bessie Award winner Camille A Brown, get up close with the world’s most celebrated Flamenco dancer Israel Galván or simply strum the guitar with one of the world’s most versatile female guitarists -the Embrace programme offers something totally different.

In addition, there will be a range of family and schools workshops including a composition session with the Schubert Ensemble, poetry workshops with Poetry Ireland and Safari face painting and puppet making.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council, said: "There’s so much great art on offer during the festival and, as the principal public funder, it’s very important to us that it is available to everyone.

"So we’re delighted to help introduce a brand new strand of the programme to this year’s festival, that for the first time will give audiences opportunities to engage with and discover much more about their favorite artists and performers, for little or no cost. Embrace reflects our ambition to bring great art within the reach of everyone.”

The new programme also features Belfast based dance company, Maiden Voyage, who will premiere their 20th original production, Neither Either, at the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s, in a co-production with Liz Roche Company, Dublin.

The dance workshop, aimed at schools, takes its inspiration from the writings of the great Seamus Heaney and is a free workshop with the aims of promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, removing the barriers to dance activity such as financial cost and opening up dance performances to everyone including those with visual impairments.

Richard Wakely, festival director, said: “This new initiative is representative of what the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s  can achieve. Providing new and unique cultural experiences for audiences whilst also reaching out across the city to engage with schools, families and communities.

"It will deliver the arts to individuals who perhaps have never previously engaged with Festival and hopefully encourage them to get involved, be inspired and experience the joy that the arts bring.  There really is something for everyone so don’t miss out!”

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s presents great and diverse works of art from home and abroad, bringing audiences something very special that they cannot see elsewhere, all combining to deliver one unique festival which runs throughout the city from 16 October – 1 November.

The 2014 festival features 26 premieres, performers from 18 different countries and 110 events covering classical and contemporary music, film, dance, theatre, talks and visual arts.

Queen’s box office is now open at

Further reading:

Hidden artworks up for grabs in Belfast Festival treasure hunt 

Belfast Festival at Queen’s increases access to the arts with community ticket & festival nights schemes 

Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's: Host of local and international talent on show 

Dance stars to help Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's to hit new highs 

Raise those voices loud and proud for a Big Big Sing

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