A four-month celebration of Ballymena’s creativity has received an endorsement of superstar proportions.
Liam Neeson has confirmed he’s very ‘taken’ with the extensive ‘Creative Citizens’ programme, which will run throughout the borough from March to June, having been sent a draft copy to peruse.
In a foreword to the programme he says: “Ballymena and the borough have always had a deep creative ‘pool’ in all the arts. It’s wonderful and, personally, exciting for me that this pool is being tapped into and explored by this wonderful creative alliance. I’m very proud of you all!”
A joint initiative between Ballymena Borough Council and Voluntary Arts Ireland, the programme will have a special Launch Day on Saturday, March 22, when a Big Big Sing will take place on Bridge Street with choirs from across the borough serenading passers-by.
The artistic action will, however, get underway with a brand new Festival of Modern Dance from March 10-15 and will run until the end of June, featuring a range of 150 events from Festivals to Shows, On Line Arts Campaigns to Street Parties.
The Braid Arts Centre will host many of the events but a full range of community arts events will also take place all over the Borough such as the Gatherin’ of the Isles Festival and a World War I re-enactment in Broughshane.
Bringing details to a Council committee last week, Arts & Events Development Officer, Rosalind Lowry said ‘Creative Citizens’ is a pilot programme, intended for use as a model for other Council areas to adopt.
“We are hoping to inspire other towns and we have branded ourselves - ‘Ballymena The Creative Borough,” said Rosalind who added that a huge marketing campaign, including the delivery of 30,000 programmes through local letterboxes, was working alongside the programme.
Cllr Monica Digney responded: “Well done! It’s very very impressive and I would expect no less. It’s a magnificent achievement with such a small staff as we have got here. It’s very appropriate that Liam Neeson has given it his stamp of approval.”
Ballymena Council was chosen as the pilot authority through the work, awards and reputation of Ballymena Arts Partnership and the already thriving arts community and local Arts & Events Service.
Kevin Murphy, Voluntary Arts Ireland Chief Officer said: “We know that Ballymena has many talented artists and groups. The Creative Citizens programme will provide a perfect platform for this creativity to thrive and grow.”