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Belfast International Arts Festival set to include a Moroccan circus and an outdoor ‘spectacular’


A Belfast International Arts Festival Event at the Titanic Paddocks earlier this year (Credit: Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

A Belfast International Arts Festival Event at the Titanic Paddocks earlier this year (Credit: Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

A Belfast International Arts Festival Event at the Titanic Paddocks earlier this year (Credit: Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

A Moroccan circus and an “outdoor theatrical spectacular” — these are some of the events set to be put on as part of the Belfast International Arts Festival later this year.

While the full programme of events is yet to be revealed, Belfast City Council (BCC) briefing documents give a glimpse of what audiences can expect.

Working in partnership with BCC, the Belfast International Arts Festival hopes to hold four events at CS Lewis Square on October 1 and 2 or October 15 and 16, with performance times daily at 1pm and 3pm.

Next week, councillors on BCC's People and Communities Committee will be asked to agree to the plans, as it will require the closure of much of CS Lewis Square, and for the council to provide £20,000 in financial support to Belfast International Arts Festival to hold the events.

A BCC briefing paper prepared for committee members states: “The proposed 2022 events include a mixture of theatrical performances and interactive workshops. Cristal Palace is an outdoor theatrical spectacular featuring a local community cast.

“Taroo — said Mouhssine is a Moroccan circus and movement artist and Roll Model — Simple Cypher fuses hip-hop and circus to create dynamic, uplifting performances. All performances and workshops will be free to the public.

“Consultation by Belfast International Arts Festival will be undertaken with other local stakeholders such as Connswater Community Greenway and Eastside Arts.

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“The Belfast Agenda sets out our joint city vision and long-term ambitions and outcomes as well as outlining priorities for action every four years. The development of a 'Transformational Places' approach across the city offers real opportunity to highlight proximity to key transport links, Connswater cycle path and arterial routes.

“The application will be supported by an event management plan and will be subject to the organisers liaising with Council officers and meeting all statutory, legal and health and safety requirements.”

Established in 1962, Belfast International Arts Festival is the longest running festival of its kind in the city.

The news comes after it emerged that Belfast Culture Night is to be postponed this year, with work ongoing to bring back a revamped version of the event next year.

In a statement, Susan Picken, director of Cathedral Quarter Trust and Culture Night Belfast, said: “The pandemic and the restrictions of the past two years gave us an opportunity to examine Culture Night Belfast in detail and take the time to ask what exactly we wanted the event to grow into.

“One of the questions we had to ask was whether Culture Night Belfast was achieving the outcomes we had originally hoped it would.

“We felt the event had become too big and unwieldy and the original intention of providing a platform for our artistic and cultural communities to connect with a much wider audience had been lost.

“We listened to what our stakeholders, partners and audiences had to say and we believe taking a year out to properly develop plans that put art right back at the heart of what we do is the best way forward.”

The announcement followed a review that was carried out with BCC as part of efforts to develop cultural events in the city.

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