posted on May 3rd, 2024

QUB Showcases The Vital Role of Arts in Conflict Resolution

Queen’s University Belfast has brought together world-leading academics and professionals for an arts and conflict resolution showcase in New York City, highlighting the vital role both play in promoting peace.

A one-day symposium reflected on the role played by artists throughout the peace process at the American Irish Historical Society. Speakers looked at those who use theatre, film and testimony to address the complex legacies of conflict that exist in Northern Ireland today.

Professor Anna Bryson from School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast was at the event and said: “A big takeaway from this event is the overlaps, tensions and shared learnings from academics and professional working in different areas. Theatre can amplify law, justice and reconciliation. Innovative theatre techniques can help us reach people about social justice, accessing these difficult concepts in a more authentic way.”

The playwright behind one of Northern Ireland’s most critically acclaimed plays, ‘Agreement’, Owen McCafferty also attended the showcase and said: “I think the arts succeed in telling the story of a society because they make it accessible. Whereas the thing itself that may seem distant, art can make it understandable; it can make it human.”

Queen’s later hosted a special performance of ‘Agreement’ as the Irish Arts Centre, preceded by an In Conversation with Queen’s alumnus and CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan.

Leading the showcase, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Sir Ian Greer, said: “Queen’s has always been a key arena for political debate, providing a safe environment for political leaders to have difficult and challenging conversations post-conflict. There are many learnings to be had, not only from experts in peace and reconciliation but also from those in the arts whose creativity to tell powerful stories can have a lasting impact on communities. It’s important as an academic institution, we look at these connected issues to better understand the complex legacies of conflict that continue to affect our communities and explore ways to share learnings on what is widely regarded as the world’s most successful peace process.”

Agreement Playwright Owen McCafferty, Director Charlie Westenra, Queen’s University President and Vice Chancellor Sir Ian Greer, Executive Director at The American Irish Historical Society Dr Elizabeth Stack and Queen’s University Dr Mark Phelan at the Post Conflict Stage and Screen in Northern Ireland symposium at the American Irish Historical Society.
Queen’s University Belfast Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Ian Greer addresses audience at Irish Arts Center, New York City.

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