In August 2021 Belfast City Council were given the opportunity from Tourism NI to apply to their COVID Market Led Product Development Programme 2021-22. This coincided with Belfast City Council’s acquisition of the former Tesco Supermarket site at 2 Royal Avenue as well as the development of our newDrafttourism plan –Make Yourself at Home. This also offered an opportunity to deliver on several of the ambitions in BCC’s cultural strategy – A City Imagining.
BCC want to create a space where rather than telling people Belfast’s story, Belfast immerses people in the city’s story. BCC has now taken one of the best known landmarks in the heart of the city centre, synonymous with icons of the 20th century, once a bank and then a supermarket – and is transforming it into a city experiment to create new stories where together people can imagine the future of Belfast’s high streets.
The transformation process from supermarket to meanwhile-use cultural space had a tight turnaround between October and November, however everyone has been delighted with the results and the positive reception the space received when it was opened to the public in early December. Working with local artists and creatives led by Little Fox Events their has been a transformation of this heritage building into a welcoming and calm space with flexible event/performance areas, workshop/ meeting pods, and space to work/sit/contemplate/ take time out. There is a local café – The Pantry – providing wonderful coffee, hot drinks and a range of local treats (with gluten free and vegan options) and it is open 7 days a week.
The focus for December has been on music programming to recognise the recent achievement of becoming an official UNESCO City of Music and member of the global Creative Cities Network. The music programme has been led by Zeppo Arts Management who have been working with Council since August on music programming in the city. BCC has integrated 2 Royal Avenue into this programme where it has been able to provide a range of free music-based events from piano workshops for children during the day to full blown brass band performances.
From January to March 2022 Council will work with city partners to curate a truly unique and creative programme of events for the space including music, food, visual art, performance and multi-disciplinary events, to look at new ways of telling stories, increasing ambition, taking creative risks, experimenting and co-creating with our creative sector and citizensand signposting people/ giving a tasters of what else is happening in the city; all of whichgivesan enhanced experience for visitors toourcity. We are keen that our approach and position right on the hight street will differentiate what’s on offer from that of our partner organisations.
The Council is keen to hear if and how you would like to partner with Council on shaping this space – if you are interested please complete the attached Expression of Interest Form and return to email@example.com
There is already high demand to use the space so the Council will get back to you to discuss your proposal as soon as is practicable. Completing this form does not guarantee a booking in the space. These forms will be used to assess demand and see if and how it is possible to accommodate requests for bookings that complement and work alongside an overall programme for 2 Royal Avenue. The Council welcomes a wide range of proposals from organisations, groups and individuals.
Council is currently scoping options around longer term use the space beyond March 2022 and will be back in touch to update on this in the new year.
This project has been funded through Tourism NI’s Market Led Product Development Programme, working in partnership, to enhance the visitor experience within Belfast and Northern Ireland in support of the Northern Ireland Embrace a Giant Spiritcampaign.
Tourism, Culture, Heritage & Arts Unit
Place & EconomyDepartment|Belfast City Council|No.9 Adelaide Street,Belfast BT2 8DJ
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