27th Aug 2020 in Arts

Culture Night Belfast is set to go ahead with an online celebration of the arts that will include a rich mix of music, film, performance and much more on September 18.

Following an announcement in May that there would be no return this year to having the city streets packed with performers and the public due to concerns around Covid 19, the team behind Culture Night Belfast is determined to show resilience in the sector, despite the trying times.

Susan Picken, Director of Cathedral Quarter Trust, the charity behind Culture Night Belfast, promised that the 2020 programme will see a spectacular online display with the launch of CNB TV.

“Although this year’s programme will not be happening live on Culture Night we will be broadcasting over six hours of core programming free across a number of channels online.

“As every year this year’s core programming will promote arts and culture, diversity, inclusivity and accessibility for all.

“CNB TV will broadcast cultural diversity across a range of art forms including music, film, visual arts and arts for young people.”

Susan said everyone involved is determined to show that they are ready to rise to the challenge.

The arts sector has been really badly impacted by this pandemic, but I think on the whole it has shown how determined people are to keep going,” she explained. “Resilience is a bit of the theme this year, almost like defiance when we are up against it.

“People have plugged away for years, and they’re not going to let something they’ve built be destroyed. People are creative and will always find a way to make things happen.”

With funding dramatically cut Susan says the backing of Belfast City Council and the Arts Council NI has been vital to make sure that they can take Culture Night on to the internet.

The full programme is set to be announced shortly, but it promises to be a packed series of events. Both the Oh Yeah Centre and the Black Box will be curating their own online events, Stephen Beggs is set to provide some children’s cabaret and the Graduate Show, delivered virtually by The Mac will once again provide a platform for students from Ulster University.

Whilst it will be a massive shift this year, requiring a lot of effort, Susan is determined that the core principles will remain.

“To me Culture Night is about celebrating the city and celebrating creativity in the city,” she said. “I love when you walk round the corner and there’s some weird performance or there’s something projected on a wall. It’s those types of things that I’d love to continue to bring forward to the future, but the online event will retain that at its core.”

With uncertainty remaining over when performances can return to venues and the streets of Belfast Susan hopes that they can deliver something in 2021.

“We’re still hoping to do something next September but it depends on a lot of things.

“Ultimately I’d like it to be an event where the creativity all comes together and shows the city at its best.”

Artists can still apply to get involved to share their ideas.

“Although our core programme is now complete we’ll still be able to give other artists and creators a platform to promote their work in the run up and over the Culture Night weekend.

“We’ll be launching a call for submissions for our online listings and promotional activity in the coming week and we look forward to doing whatever we can to support the wider arts sector during this turbulent time.

“We want to use this as an opportunity for people to fundraise for arts and culture. Maybe people won’t be out buying pints but hopefully they’ll donate what they would have spent to Culture Night and the artists and creators entertaining them.”

For more information go to culturenightbelfast.com or follow #CNB20.

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