The visit to Ballymena next May by a choir from the borough’s American Sister City of Morehead could provide a much needed shot in the arm for the link between the two areas.
That’s the hope of Councillors who at a Council committee meeting last week expressed concern that the relationship between the borough and the Kentucky city had all but died a death.
Cllr Hubert Nicholl told his colleagues: “I believe that for some time it has been on a life support machine.”
He said it was high time Council was “doing something more” to maintain their Sister City connection and expressed the hope that the planned performance in Ballymena next year by Morehead State University Concert Choir and Chamber Singers could be the springboard for that.
His remarks were echoed by Alderman PJ McAvoy who said: “We had a great relationship with Morehead but very little has happened here in the past six or seven years. It has practially diminished and gone.”
Sister Cities International is a non-profit citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between U.S. and international communities.
Ballymena Borough Council has been linked with the city of Morehead through Sister Cities for some 10 years and has funded a Sister Cities Student Exchange Programme since 2009, helping around 30 local students develop their studies.
At their meeting last week, committee members were informed by a Council officer that as part of a nine-day tour of Ireland next May the Morehead Choir were keen to perform as part of Ballymena Arts Festival at a joint concert with a local group.
This, they were told, would strengthen Arts and Cultural links with Morehead and enhance external affairs links for the Sister Cities programme.
Members were quick to give their approval not only for the performance but also for a request to help cover the £1,225 cost, through the Arts Festival budget, of the visitors’ overnight accommodation.
It was also agreed that a Mayoral reception be held for the Choir and the suggestion was made by a number of councillors that, schedule permitting, the singers should be treated to a tour of the borough.