Marie-Louise Muir is passionate about the arts and passionate about culture - in all its forms.
“Some people would have you believe the arts are very high brow - that they only have appealf for a certain section of society. And, I suppose, some people prefer it that way - but the truth is we all enjoy the arts in our own way; be it going to plays, reading books, downloading music, watching movies...
“I have admiration for anyone working in the arts - be they people who have achieved international recognition and those homegrown talents who are working hard to put together a body of work in a competitive market. Everyone has a contribution to make.
“I have been privileged to get to know many artists, writers, actors and directors. I have watched them mature and grow in confidence. I know these people, I know how hard they work, how little they are paid and how much they sacrifice for their work, so it is a privilege to be a small part of celebrating them and their work.”
And Marie-Louise hopes to work at recognising that work through the new TV series The Arts Show which starts on BBC Two Northern Ireland this Thursday at 10pm.
Marie-Louise, who has been presenting the Radio Ulster Show Arts Extra for eight years, said the move to TV has been a “dream come true” and she is relishing the new challenge.
Putting together a TV show, she said, is very different to putting together her nightly radio show. She says it allows her to look at things on a more indepth basis - and indeed the first in the series includes an indepth interview with Terry George about his recent Oscar win for The Shore. The show profiles Hans Peter Kuhn’s Flags installation and reflects on the highlights of the 4th annual Culture Night in Belfast. The Futureheads wrap up the first show with an acapella performance.
“As the series progresses I hope to get a look at all aspects of the arts,” Marie Louise said, “including a very close look at what is happening close to home.”
The Arts Show will also be turning its attention to Derry’s year as City of Culture later in the year. And during the year, the show will be based there as Marie-Louise returns to her home city.
“Well getting back to Derry means I get to see more of my mum,” Marie Louise laughed, adding: I’m from Derry, and was in the Guildhall the night the city won the UK City of Culture 2013 title. In fact I cried. This is such an exciting time for Derry - there is such an energy about the place that it is great to see.”
Marie-Louise was a young arts adminstrator during Derry’s last stint in the spotlight, as the Impact 92 festival was held.
“I used to spend my summer holidays hanging around the Field Day Theatre Company offices, putting up posters for their shows and meeting incredible people, from Brian Friel to Stephen Rea. I met all these amazing people off the bus and train and I have many happy memories of our time working out of Bishop Street.”
She has been delighted to have been afforded the chance to travel up to Derry more often. “For the last two-and-a-half years, I have travelled up to the city every week to do the radio arts show from there and am genuinely excited as we go into the final months before 2013 kicks-off.
“Next year feels different to 1992. There seems to be more impetus there.
“There is such a genuine air of excitement about the place - a different energy this time. I just hope that continues beyond next year.”
For now Marie-Louise is looking forward to Thursday night and the debut of her TV show. “From opening nights of new plays to movie premiers and must-watch telly, to DJ sets, dance, billboard art, lunchtime classical concerts and chatting to my hairdresser about Fifty Shades of Grey, art is what you want it to be. I love it.”
The Arts Show, presented by Marie-Louise Muir, starts on BBC Two Northern Ireland on Thursday, September 27 at 10.00pm. Arts Extra is on BBC Radio Ulster week nights at 6.30pm.