A new arts partnership between Tourism NI and the Arts Council for Northern Ireland has delivered four unique visitor experiences and engaged a wide range of organisations across the arts and tourism sector.
‘Embrace the Place’ was a pilot initiative developed following an investment by Tourism NI and an open call for the best talent in the arts sector to create new innovative content to animate key tourism sites across Northern Ireland.
The four successful projects developed content to reflect the heritage of some of Northern Ireland’s iconic visitor destinations including Belfast’s Maritime Mile, Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy, Navan Fort in Armagh and the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh.
DumbWorld and Titanic Foundation’s ‘All The Things We Are’, a striking piece of audio-visual contemporary art has been installed at the Riverbox since August and has delivered footfall on the Maritime Mile.
Theatre company, Kabosh created A Bellaghy Tale, a theatrical walking tour which took place across three weekends in September. The tour, which began at Seamus Heaney HomePlace and linked key sites closely related to the life and work of Seamus Heaney in the village of Bellaghy, enabled visitors to connect with the sense of home and belonging, a strong theme of the work of Seamus Heaney.
The Armagh Rhymers and Armagh Pipers Club presented Macha at Navan Fort, a spectacular multi-media performance featuring music by renowned composer, Niall Vallely. Commencing at the Navan Centre, the two evenings in September included a dramatic performance by Armagh Rhymers, musicians from Armagh Pipers Club and audio-visual displays together with a promenade to the Fort itself.
Snow Water created ‘Folk Park Live!’ which takes visitors on a musical journey charting the stories of those who had to leave Ulster over the course of 300 years with a live performance from each musician has filmed at 12 locations across the Ulster American Folk Park. January 2020 will see a new permanent exhibition, a QR code guided tour of the Park, a Folk Park Youtube Channel and Spotify playlist and a piece of vinyl, which will be available at the visitor centre.
Tourism NI Experience Development Manager, Rosemary Lightbody, said: “This project was a pilot initiative based on a recommendation from our culture and heritage framework which highlighted the huge opportunity of animating and deepening the visitor experience through enhanced collaboration with the arts sector.
This complements our new brand – Embrace a Giant Spirit – as we know from our research that visitors want to engage with the authenticity of the destination and its people and the best way to deliver an emotional connection is through the arts. All four projects have achieved this and delivered a whole new layer of emotion to the visitor experience and a deeper connection with the place.
“We have a very vibrant arts sector here and I hope this will be just the start of further collaborations with the Arts Council and organisations across Northern Ireland,” Rosemary added.
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “Live at the Folk Park is the final instalment of the Embrace The Place programme of events, a new initiative for 2019 in which we are proud to partner with Tourism NI. Embrace The Place has breathed new life into some of Northern Ireland’s most scenic locations by re-telling stories of those areas through the arts. Huge congratulations to Snow Water who now present an incredible line up of some of the region’s top musicians to take visitors to The Ulster American Folk Park on an immersive, thrilling musical journey charting the story of Ulster emigration. I would encourage everyone to go along and enjoy.”
Aaron Ward, Head of Audience Development, National Museums NI added: “This partnership project has provided us with a great opportunity to creatively explore new ways of animating and interpreting the stories that lie within Ulster American Folk Park. The artistry from Snow Water combined with the museum expertise from National Museums NI has resulted in a unique music experience that our visitors will greatly enjoy.”