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Inter-church arts festival to stream 30 events online


Event: Rev Steve Stockman founded the festival with Fr Martin Magill

Event: Rev Steve Stockman founded the festival with Fr Martin Magill

Event: Rev Steve Stockman founded the festival with Fr Martin Magill

Northern Ireland's first inter-church arts festival is defying Covid-19 by going online.

The Belfast 4 Corners Festival, co-founded by its joint chairs, Presbyterian minister Rev Steve Stockman and Catholic priest Fr Martin Magill, is in its ninth year.

But this will be a very different experience, with all events done virtually. Organisers plan to live stream 30 events from January 30 to February 7.

They had to abandon plans to invite a limited number of people to some events due to the health emergency.

The festival's theme is Breathe and its organisers say they "are trying to breathe hope and creativity into our very difficult situation". They added: "It is still our intention to invite people in Belfast and elsewhere to pause and take the deep breath we all need at this exceptionally trying moment in our history."

The programme includes a keynote speech by United States-based Professor John Paul Lederach, an internationally acclaimed author and expert in conflict resolution, plus contributions from the Jamaica-born singer-songwriter and teacher Raquel McKee, and the poet and theologian, Padraig O Tuama.

There is also an evening in the company of Belfast songwriter and performer Duke Special.

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Big issues coming under the spotlight include domestic violence, which has soared during the pandemic, and racism, following the killing of George Floyd in America.

A panel discussion on domestic violence will include Nicole Jacobs, the UK's first Domestic Abuse Commissioner, and PSNI Detective Supt Lindsay Fisher.

The issue of paramilitary-style "justice" in modern Northern Ireland is depicted in the screening of the short film "Rough", followed by an online panel discussion including its writers Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson.

In a letter to supporters the festival committee said: "We think you'll understand that because of the deteriorating Covid-19 situation we've had to change tack and go for a purely online festival. It's not what we'd have wished but health and safety must be our priority."

The mission of the 4 Corners Festival is "to inspire people from across the city [of Belfast] to transform it for the peace and prosperity of all."

More information is available via 4cornersfestival.com

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