Red Brick Project Unconference – Potential of The Village’s underemployed young men and underused older buildings celebrated in short film

A short film about the rich heritage of the Village, south Belfast, and its powerful role as a vehicle for community-led regeneration and an ‘unconference’ in the Community Arts Partnership’s Arts Resource Centre form the culmination of an innovative project led by Community Arts Partnership, in partnership with Greater Village Regeneration Trust, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Sharing Heritage programme.

The 12 week programme involved 12 young unemployed men and some older women who explored underused built heritage in the area, and the potential for community involvement in its regeneration. The group picked up traditional buildings skills and digital arts skills along the way, and engaged with their own historic buildings, including the empty, listed Rydalmere factory, as well as red brick heritage across the city, including Oldpark Carnegie Library, where they enjoyed a taster of brickwork repair using lime mortar.

Project participant Travis Conville explained how he had “learned about the importance of old buildings and why they should be refurbished and kept. They’re part of our cultural identity and our history. If they were taken away, we wouldn’t have that anymore.” Brett Conville expressed his vision for the vacant historic buildings: ”Hopefully my ideas can bring something to the community and could turn one of the buildings into something that we could use, and use to our advantage.”



The ‘unconference’, which featured contributions from Liverpool based social enterprise, ‘Homebaked’, located in a revived red brick bakery, and Giroscope in Hull, which engages young unemployed men to restore terraces for social housing, prompted debate about the future of heritage in areas of deprivation and how it can become a powerful tool for both individual and community growth.

Sean Keenan from Heritage Lottery Fund said: We were delighted to support this imaginative and hands on project focused on the humble red brick, the building block of Belfast. It’s fantastic to see and hear about the work that the men and women undertook and what they’ve learnt about their local heritage. HLF’s Sharing Heritage programme is a great source of funding to help communities explore the heritage that’s important to them

Conor Shields, Chief Executive of Community Arts Partnership, said:

“Red Brick Belfast demonstrates the eagerness of local communities to seize opportunities to explore and conserve our built environment and get creative. With particular thanks to the project’s principal funder, Heritage Lottery Fund’s Sharing Heritage programme, we have been able to frame the local communities’ work through a really creative range of processes and engagements.”

Melissa Lynas, Community Sustainability Officer from the Greater Village Regeneration Trust, said:

“Greater Village Regeneration Trust was delighted to be asked to be involved with Red Brick Belfast, but we did not envisage just how positive the experience would be. The six young men and six older ladies embarked on a project that would not only providenew skills and opportunities, but would create unlikely friendships. The group worked together so well, we have been able to facilitate another project for the participants. We have been so proud of how everyone has developed individually and in particular the confidence boost the project has provided has been tremendous.

An important positive outcome is the recognition that the area has so much potential; now we need the aspirations displayed in the film footage to be brought to life.”
See details of both screening and the ‘unconference’ attached.

For further details contact:
Rita Harkin
Red Brick Belfast Project Co-ordinator
07789 758080

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New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.