Putting Belfast Visual Arts Scene in the Spotlight
Belfast Visual Arts Forum, working with Belfast City Council, has launched a campaign to promote the rich, diverse visual arts offering in the city.
Already a top destination for visual arts, the collaborative initiative aims to raise awareness, inspire and entice new audiences to Belfast by highlighting the many upcoming activities and exhibitions, home-grown artists and independent, artist-led galleries in the city.
With its wealth of world-class visual arts talent and venues, Belfast is fast-becoming one of the most popular cities for visual arts in the world. This is supported by a growing local appetite in visual arts with recent research revealing that 76% of Northern Ireland people are ‘interested in’ or ‘warm to’ visual arts. It also found that one in two people have viewed visual arts here over the last three years.
Further research shows that the visitor experience to galleries in the city was very positive, with two thirds of respondents rating their overall experience as excellent. In total, 98% of respondents felt their visit was excellent or good.
Hosting over 800 visual arts activities in 2016 and accounting for 65% of all visual arts activities in Northern Ireland, Belfast is a city where visual arts is being embraced with an agenda packed festivals and exhibitions programme planned this year.
Peter Richards, Chair of the Belfast Visual Arts Forum commented: “Belfast is bursting with stand-out talent which enables it to compete on the international visual arts stage. Our visual arts scene is particularly special due to a higher percentage – over 50% – of galleries in the city being artist-led when compared to the likes of Dublin and London.”
Adding: “Unlike many cities, visitors can immerse themselves in and explore Belfast’s visual arts scene on a budget as almost all exhibitions and galleries in are free to enter making it an exciting proposition for locals and tourists alike.”
From families and those beginning to explore the visual arts scene, Belfast’s exhibitions and events are delivering a source of enjoyment and unique opportunities for a range of audiences. Recent research also reinforced the popularity of visual arts among young people with a quarter of all gallery audiences falling in the 25 – 34 year old category.
Belfast City Council actively supports Belfast’s visual arts through funding and various other initiatives to help the sector continue to grow and expand, reaching residents, tourists and the wider community across the city.
Peter Richards continued: “We are particularly proud of Belfast’s visual arts offering as it continues to thrive and grow in popularity among not only locals and but also tourists visiting the city.
“We hope the packed schedule will help the sector continue to grow and have tried to include something for everyone this year. We always emphasise that you do not have to be an expert to engage with visual arts, everyone can enjoy it in different ways, it is what meaning you take away from it personally. With exhibitions and festivals taking place in many venues all-year round this really is the city of visual art.”
Deputy Lord Mayor Mary Ellen Campbell added, “Belfast City Council fully supports the culture and arts sector through our Cultural Framework which shows our commitment to activities which inspire communities and attracts audiences.
“We grant over £1.7m per year to support the work of 56 cultural organisations and around 60 community festivals and arts and heritage projects. We receive a fantastic return on our investment, approximately £8 for the city for every £1 of our investment. We firmly believe the cultural sector in Belfast makes the city what it is and forms its identity as unique, edgy, adventurous and colourful.”
To get involved in the campaign, tweet using #BelfastVisualArts and to find out more about visual arts in Belfast, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/visualarts.