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Once upon a time…

In a place not far away from here, some people gathered to talk. They talked about their city and their place in the world; they talked about creativity and culture, their dreams and hopes for the future and the things that were closest to their heart. This helped build the new cultural strategy for Belfast 2020 - 2030, A City Imagining, that sets out the proposed priorities for how we support our cultural lives over the next ten years. We want you to have your say on it…

Read more of the Belfast City Council Cultural Strategy here…

The City Imagining Shop on Royal Avenue in Belfast

The City Imagining Shop on Royal Avenue in Belfast

Urban Scale Interventions will be hosting a number of workshops, exhibitions, gigs, drop-in sessions and interactive events with people from all over the city to understand what it means to live in Belfast today and what we want to see in our city in the future. Working closely with residents and businesses, community groups and local artists, the project will facilitate a number of sessions that will grow and develop the exhibition over the 6-week duration. More importantly the shop is open to all from 10am - 6pm Tuesday to Saturday so anyone can come in to understand more about the strategy and have their say in its implementation and priorities which will captured inside.

Drop in or email studio@urbanscaleinterventions to be involved in one of our workshops below:

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A summary of our experience so far…

05 June 2019 Grand opening with the Mayor of Belfast

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After a few late nights and with the paint still drying on the walls, we had our first visit from the new mayor of Belfast, John Finucane. We had a great discussion on the future of culture in Belfast and he was the first to complete the sting wall and Belfast fingerprint. We look forward to welcoming him back at the end of the pop-up to see how much the space has grown and developed!

10 June 2019 Ashton Community Trust


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The workshop consisted of a group of 10 kids and two coordinators. Each individual was asked to think of a creature that first comes to mind, where it came from, where it would live and how it would interact with the people of Belfast. The group then illustrated their ideas on the wall and attached notes beside them. Moreover, some participants left objects in the knick-knack narrative corner. Each object has a sentimental meaning of home and inclusion within the community of Belfast. All narratives will be illustrated on the wall within the next five weeks. Finally, the young people had the opportunity to complete the data string wall and leave their mark on the Belfast fingerprint. The data from the workshop will feed into the development of a lighting strategy for Belfast city centre.

Quotes of the day

My daughter’s memory box. Filled with memories from the first 21 months of her life.
Illustrating on the wall

Illustrating on the wall

 
A Toucan which brings the people of Belfast together while encouraging confidence, artistry, and self-expression.
Knick-knack narratives

Knick-knack narratives

11 June 2019 Playful Cities Workshop with Belfast City Council  

35% of the population of Belfast is under 25 - this makes it one of the youngest cities in Europe. The discussion during the workshop was centered around Belfast becoming a Playful City where the people of Belfast are given an invitation to play and claim back their city. A successful playful city is one that is designed so that the programming of public spaces happens naturally by the citizens.

 
Creating a city that belongs to everyone.
A playful city is one that is colourful, vibrant and full of laughter.

12 June 2019 Accessibility workshop

This workshop was themed around accessibility in the city and how we can be more responsible in terms of disability access constraints, as opposed to saying that a place or venue is not accessible at all. The workshop also concluded that a mind-shift is needed of peoples’ perceptions of disability and always assuming to know what is best instead of asking each individual.   

Out of this workshop, a number of other workshops are now forming around this topic of access and creating cultural activities in the city that are accessible to everyone - stay tuned for these upcoming workshops.  

All we need is people to ask questions.
It hasn’t been the disability, it has been the world that has made me disabled.
During the accessibility discussions

During the accessibility discussions


Kabosh THEATRE Company workshop

A key aspect of the evolving cultural strategy is considering what we as a city can do with regards to lighting and atmosphere. The workshop discussions were focused on the positive aspects and feelings that natural light brings, as well as beginning to set out design principles for a city centre lighting strategy.. The participants thought of principles for artificial lighting that evoke the same thoughts and feelings that natural light brings. The group thought that lighting in Belfast moving forward should suggest a more playful nature, creating colour coordinated zones with a range of lighting that brings vibrancy to the city.       

One key idea from the workshop: Why shouldn’t light be used at least once annually for a lighting show in the heart of Belfast? 

 
Use lighting to highlight the historical buildings in Belfast. Make people look up and see the beauty the city has to offer.
Belfast should create an annual festival like The Burning Man but with lights instead.
 

14 June 2019

We have been welcoming many incredible people with different stories, backgrounds and professions. Today we met illustrators, architects, photographers and more. Our aim is to get as many stories and opinions as possible and consequently grow our database and fill in the wall of illustrations. So don’t be shy and give us a visit!

After drawing on the wall I suddenly felt so much better. It felt like getting all the stress off my chest.

15 June 2019 saturday open door

 
 

While having a go at the string wall, two participants (age 13-17) stated the following:

Culture to me in Belfast is...
I don’t know what any of these mean!
Data string wall

Data string wall

 
Adding lighting strategy ideas

Adding lighting strategy ideas

Participating on the thought wall

Participating on the thought wall


“A city that preserves its history instead of erasing it”.

“Legacy is a burden”.

“I feel safer cycling in London than I do in Belfast”.

“Free street entertainment”.

“Cultural spaces in the centre such as galleries and exhibition spaces”.

“Street entertainment”.

“More pet friendly areas”.

 

17 june 2019 culture information and knowledge

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18 June 2019 DIversity and culture workshop

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Today we had the opportunity to engage with another diverse group of people. The workshop consisted of Indian, Saudi Arabian, Persian and Mexican natives. We began by addressing the knick-knack narrative corner activity. The participants left objects that had a sentimental meaning and unique stories attached to them. Each member of this workshop demonstrated their impressive talent, skill and cultural art forms that have brought them together. After hearing each story we started considering ways in which we can incorporate other traditions, cultures and values into the culture strategy and as a result make people feel more at home in our city. Some suggested that we should start by giving children more opportunities for artistry and self-expression, such as after-school classes. Others mentioned that there is extreme amount of talent from minority groups in Belfast and that we just need room and space to grow.

 
Discussions on the Belfast map table

Discussions on the Belfast map table

Let’s give these lovely women the room and platform to grow!
Discussing Persian heritage

Discussing Persian heritage

We need to learn so much from these communities.
It’s what they want to do instead of being told what to do.

Later on that day…


Visitor participation in activities

19 June 2019 Green Arts Collective

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The workshop welcomed the Green Arts Collective - a group that is focused towards local environmental change and strives towards creating small changes which can have a major impact on our surroundings. The next step for the group is to spread the green art initiative message across businesses and point them in the steps needed to become a more environmentally-friendly workplace. These actions can be as simple as promoting Keep Cups and bringing your own Tupperware. 

Culture Night was also discussed at this workshop and the ways in which it can become more of an event which is about raising awareness and striving towards a greener Belfast.

The workshop was then opened up to the general public for the next few hours. People came by and discussed their opinions on ways in which Belfast culture can become environmentally friendly. The workshop concluded by everyone singing the Green Arts pledge.

If we are going to prove what we are doing, we need evidence.

20 June 2019 open workshop - culture and education

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The open workshop consisted of people from architectural backgrounds and professions. The workshop began by briefly discussing each individual's current interests and the type of projects they are involved in. Some were based around the infrastructural issues that Belfast currently faces and how they impact the city and its people. Later on we participated in an activity where ideas and opinions were discussed. Later on the participants took part in the data string wall. 

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Educational reform is needed!

21 June 2019 School climate change protest

 

We welcomed an extremely intelligent group of young children who were preparing for the Climate change strike. They were all nervous, excited and filled with energy. 

There were many discussions that took place, some of which included several proposals for being more considerate of our environment. Later on, the group had a chance to take part in the data string wall and all other activities that we have available within the shop. We are hoping to welcome more enthusiasm and ambition filled groups like this one in the near future. Thank you Belfast for… our amazing children! 

We need to be more considerate of our environment
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21 june 2019 Our Home - Kelly Morris (Photography and mental health)

 
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The workshop was centred around discussions related to the improvement of the mental health of the people of Belfast. People were suggesting ways in which different forms of art and self-expression can contribute to a better state of mind. Everyone was extremely honest and dedicated to help others. Each individual within the community feels supported and the goal is to continue to offer and spread good. 

The continuity and forever evolving passing down of knowledge
The goal is to make people take personal responsibility.
Ideas and discussions

Ideas and discussions

 
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Compassion should always be the route to everything!

21 june 2019 after school workshop

On Friday we had various parents and kids call into the shop after school. They took part in the activities on the walls and gave us some great feedback and ideas on what they want to see in Belfast in the future. It is always great to see such open minded and forward thinking young people and we have an abundance of them here in Belfast!

21 june 2019 open workshop - Culture, Heritage and Creativity

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In this workshop we looked at how arts and heritage can influence and inform cultural activity in the city. Each person did a quick design task that tackled various challenges and following this, it was an open discussion where the ideas were presented and everyone fed into the conversation.

‘Capture the Belfast stories and archive them, because they are unique to here’

22 June 2019 saturday open door

During the day we engaged with many people from all walks of life. We had drop-in workshops where individuals discussed ideas for the development of the culture strategy. Our visitors had a lot of fun during the day and were able to play table tennis, be creative and express ideas.

23 June 2019 eco warriors pollution workshop

The little warriors joined us during the workshop and each one wrote a letter to big companies in order to try and get their voices heard. We hope to notice a difference in the near future and to gradually improve our environment.

Can you stop using so much plastic, because I love chocolate but it’s wrapped in plastic so I can’t buy it
I would buy a lot more of your products if you used less plastic

24 June 2019 BBC Youth forum

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The Belfast Youth Forum workshop was based around creating narratives and stories within the city and how they can be translated to objects or installations within the city and as part of the cultural strategy. The discussion that then followed was based on ways in which the City can become more playful, colourful and vibrant. Each of the groups got a chance to do the string wall and left their mark on the Belfast fingerprint.

 


Quote of the day

‘This group is a great example of how Belfast can become more fun and vibrant. All of us are from different backgrounds and walks of life but we come together to collaborate to make change happen in the city’

25-26 June 2019 Queens Summer School

 
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The summer school consisted of a round table discussion on everyone’s background and personal research and interests. We considered ways in which peoples ideas can contribute to the evolving cultural strategy.

A few questions started arising during the workshop. These included:

“How can we create more external spaces which work hand in hand with the NI weather and provide conditions for all year-round use?”

“Why aren’t we using the public spaces which already exist, what do they lack?”

“How can we incorporate better links within the city?”

We then went for a walk around the city centre and discussed ways in which the surrounding spaces can potentially be improved.

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Quote of the day

The City = Community + Identity + Space

25 june 2019 Belfast city council central management meeting

This morning we hosted the central management team of Belfast City Council in the cultural hub for a meeting. They also got a tour of the space and participated in the data wall.

 

25 june 2019 Christine O’Toole team workshop and lunch

 

There was one dominant activity that took place during the workshop. There were four teams and each team was given a specific task. Every group was asked to choose a priority for Belfast City: ‘a city where everyone has a say’, ‘a diverse city with vibrant pubic spaces’, ‘a city where creativity pushes boundaries’, or ‘a city connected to the world’. Each group was then allocated a cultural aspect that needs improvement and the task was to come up with a solution for addressing each aspect within a given time frame. We heard many incredible ideas and suggestions and are looking forward to applying them in the future! 

Belfast is a city with hidden gems, which are yet to be discovered.
We can have a more colourful Belfast with more public seating and play spaces in the city.
We need better online systems and more networking opportunities.

Quote of the day

You are making me not want to leave and this is why my heart will always be in Belfast!

26 June 2019 Open Workshop - Culture, Urban Planning and Public Space

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This was an open workshop that coincided with the closing of the Queen's summer school where everyone presented their ideas and vision for Belfast in 2030, and the small steps that are needed for this to happen. The workshop involved an open discussion on public space in Belfast currently and how this space could be better utilised on a day to day basis. The session concluded with a walking tour of the city centre and a look at how smaller pocket interventions could happen around the city changing peoples’ mindset locally on how public space can be used.

‘Why is culture only centred around the bars, clubs and nightlife of Belfast?’
‘If the Cathedral Quarter and/or North Street is demolished Belfast will no longer have a historical or cultural core left’
There are so many incredible spaces which are not being used!
‘Why does everything in central Belfast close at 5 pm?’

26 June 2019 art interventions in public space - Adam Turkington and mirjami schuppert

On Wednesday evening we hosted a workshop facilitated by Mirjami Schuppert and taken by Adam Turkington. It covered the laws around art in public space and what you can / cannot do. Expressing ourselves in public can sometimes be tricky and ambiguous, but it is important to always stay within the law.

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27 June 2019 castle street retailers discussion

On Thursday evening we opened the shop to the retailers of Castle Street, where we are running a pilot project for the lighting strategy. We wanted to get feedback on how we can improve the street for retailers as well as the general public.

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28 June 2019 PHA Active Transport Workshop

This workshop involved people from various organisations in the city that began to think collectively about how we can start to incorporate and promote active travel in Belfast. Each person did a quick design challenge around two themes with one constant and following this, it was an open discussion where the ideas were presented and everyone fed in the conversation.

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‘Capture the Belfast stories and archive them, because they are unique to here’

29 June 2019 Nerve centre belfast saturday take over

Morning workshop

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We had the amazing opportunity to welcome the children of Nerve Centre Belfast and to witness the incredible talent and endless amount of ideas that each individual had. The workshop began by getting each child to create a digital image of a creature which would fill in the streets of Belfast and potentially be included in the lighting strategy that is currently being developed. We then took the group for a tour around Belfast city centre and stopped at the destinations where our lighting installations will be placed and interviewed some children asking them questions related to the strategy. After that the group had the opportunity to print, cut and stick the creatures created by them onto the green wall within the workshop. Everyone that participated in the workshop had a great time and much fun. Thank you Nerve Centre Belfast for bringing this incredible group of young children!

Afternoon workshop

30 June 2019 Sunday Yoga

Facilitated by Anna Laeckey

On Sunday Anna Leckey hosted kids and adults yoga in the workshop space in the shop. It was a free event - something that people wanted to see more of in Belfast, and allowed parents and kids to be active together. Anna hosts a range of yoga classes in the city so make sure to check her out if you want to attend any other yoga sessions.

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01 July 2019 Disability workshop

Morning workshop

Monday morning saw the first public workshop on the theme of Accessibility. Participants had the opportunity to explore the societal attitudes facing disabled people/PWD through drama-based activity and how it could be affecting accessibility in the city.

I didn’t ask for help with the tasks because I wanted to figure it out for
myself.
“The activities took more thought, but I found that I could adapt. Disabled people/PWD need the freedom to be able to do that”
 

The participants observed that the activities presented to them were adaptable but found it difficult to explore this when faced with interruptions from forced help. They were asked to explore stereotypes attached to disabled people/PWD and challenged to think about how those scenarios would play out in reality. Participants also had the opportunity to engage with the pop-up accessibility wall in the USI Space which features an audio installation of things said to disabled people/PWD in Belfast in the last 6 months, to promote a greater understanding of the inequality of treatment facing disabled people/PWD in their home environment.


“It’s tiring, especially if someone interrupts you while you’re trying to figure it out – you’re wasting energy then because someone has jumped in”
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‘Accessibility in the Arts’ workshop

‘Accessibility in the Arts’ workshop

“It was really isolating.”
“It was like they assumed I didn’t have the intellect to figure out how I could
do the task. That was frustrating.”

afternoon workshop

‘Build your dream venue’ workshop

‘Build your dream venue’ workshop



Local venue directors and interested parties gathered on Monday afternoon to take part in a workshop focused on physical and social accessibility within cultural spaces in the city. Participants were challenged to explore many different elements of accessibility and what actions, tools and resources were needed to implement these elements, in order to improve access and inclusivity in culture. They decided to divide their thinking into 4 main categories; Physical, Staff, Programming and Online Info/Communication. They were challenged to dive deep into the smaller details of accessibility across a wide spectrum of Disability, and also to consider access for deaf patrons.

In the second half of the workshop, participants took on a DIY challenge of improving accessibility in spaces using low cost and readily available materials. They were able to take this information and apply it to their own spacesimmediately after the workshop.

“I felt dehumanized and humiliated. It was exhausting.”
 

02 July 2019 Lighting strategy workshop

 
Thought wall discussions

Thought wall discussions

The workshop was based on discussions around the development of the lighting strategy for the city centre of Belfast. The workshop began by a brief introduction on the main idea behind the strategy and the potential issues that may occur. Ideas were exchanged and solutions were presented. After this the group had the opportunity to share ideas and answer questions on the thought wall.

During discussions

During discussions

People could interact with the lighting installations while both having fun and also learning about Belfast’s heritage.

02 july 2019 Belfast City Council Chief Executive Team Meeting

Today we welcomed the chief executive team of Belfast City Council to have a meeting in the culture hub. We gave them a presentation on the public consultation phase of the culture strategy so far and showed them around the hub.

02 july 2019 MOONBASE - creating connections

 

This workshop was based around creating narratives that would inform the culture strategy - in specific a lighting strategy for the city centre. Ideas were recorded and will be discussed in the near future in another workshop.

The theme for this workshop was ‘Creativity informing culture’. We started with the discussion of what home means through sharing items and traditions from the past that hold sentimental value. This was followed by a presentation and discussion of ideas from Tuesday’s workshop and how they have materialised into tangible ideas. The workshop concluded with an open discussion around inclusivity and how music plays a key role in the city’s culture.

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Everyone has the right to go out on a Saturday night.
Taking part gives us confidence and makes us part of something.

02 JULY 2019 robin price & include youth fly workshop

The workshop was ran by Robin Price, and was with Include Youth - a Northern Irish charity that work with care experienced young people. Robin introduced the project to date and showed the young people who had worked on that the flies how their initial stories had been incorporated. He then worked individually with the participants to discuss and record what home meant to them and what a fly on the wall might see in their place, collecting more stories for the next exciting iteration of the project. Meanwhile fellow Vault artist, Siobhan McKinley, worked with the group in a drawing workshop to create cut paper silhouettes of objects that meant home to them which will be used as the basis for the final lighting design.

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02 july 2019 creative lock-in

On Tuesday we hosted over 60 creatives from a variety of backgrounds and organisations in the city to brainstorm and collectively imagine the future of the city. Through a design challenge, groups thought of projects that would target key issues in the city and make use of the assets available. The projects were drawn up onto posters and presented at the end. As well as the design challenge, it proved a great opportunity for open discussion with such a large mix of creative and influential people that wouldn’t normally engage in such a large group.


03 July 2019 Art and diversity workshop

The workshop consisted of participation in the data string wall and several debates and discussions. We began with brief introductions of each individual. We had musicians, dancers and artists around the table. The workshop looked at ways in which Belfast can open up and offer more opportunities for international artists to grow. People were suggesting that there should be more open public spaces for dancing and creativity which are both affordable and convenient.

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Open public space for art.
Education on how to live with diversity.
If you want to see the art you have to enter the drinking culture.
Some amazing things don’t necessarily happen with hard work. It’s sometimes about shifting our focus.

04 July 2019 open Workshop - culture and economy

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The open workshop was a round table discussion on how culture in the city can contribute to the economy. Creating opportunities within the evolving cultural strategy in which the economy can work with and support the cultural sector and vice versa will be key for these bodies in order to cooperate. Space management of the city centres empty and vacant building is another key aspect of how these bodies could work together and benefit from each other's skills on the meanwhile uses of these spaces.

‘Start with what we do well and build from there’
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04 july 2019 Meeting between USI, The Council Culture team and the Innovation Unit

The shop provided the perfect catalyst for a long-time-coming meeting between USI, The Council Culture team and the Innovation Unit at the Department for Finance. After an introduction to the space and the cultural strategy, the three teams shared the various projects they are working on and agreed that there are far too many synergies not to collaborate. From behaviour change, design thinking workshops, re-designing policy, and measuring outcomes, the group have a number of interesting initiatives to follow up on in the near future....Watch this space!

05 July 2019 Moon base feel free workshop

On Friday we welcomed Moose back into the shop for a workshop leading on from that of Tuesday. It started with discussion around sentimental objects and the meaning of home, with an exchange of objects and stories. We then revisited Tuesday’s workshop on narratives for the lighting strategy and looked back at the feedback. Following this we discussed how creativity and music play a key role in culture, and how they can be accessible to everyone. At the end we each came up with grand visions of Belfast for 2030.

06 July 2019 Open Door saturday

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06 july 2019 Belfast busk off

 

On Saturday the city centre was taken over by buskers and filled with music, brightening up the streets and lifting spirits across the city. After the buskers had finished performing it was time for the results, which were presented in the shop. We welcomed over 50 people for an evening of music, food and drink and it was a brilliant atmosphere in the hub. Congratulations to all the talented buskers on a fantastic day!

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09 july 2019 Older forum BCC

This workshop draws to a close our 5 weeks of public consultation in the cultural hub. The grand-people got a tour of the space to begin with and we explained what we have been up to in the past five weeks and how all this information will feed into the cultural strategy for Belfast. We started off the workshop on what home and Belfast means to us by engaging with the knick-knack narrative, and each person spoke about their sentimental belonging with home. This was followed by a round table discussion on how Belfast can become more culturally inclusive to an ageing population. The grand-people then chatted through each of their visions for future Belfast - this was mainly based around a city with no 'walls' and a meeting place in the heart of Belfast that was intergenerationally friendly and easily accessible.

It was a huge honour to host the Older Forum in Cultural Hub and as our final workshop on the evolving strategy.

‘The knick-knack narrative and explaining what home means to each of us has been a great ice breaker’
‘We may fight with each other but the people of Belfast are very welcoming for visitors’

A short summary…

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