Derry shines bright in Arts Review of the Year

Thousands watched the Temple by artist David Best burn to the ground at Bard's Hill back in March. (''Photo Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye')
Thousands watched the Temple by artist David Best burn to the ground at Bard's Hill back in March. (''Photo Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye')

High-profile arts and cultural events in Derry take centre stage in the Arts Council’s Annual Review of the highlights of the last year in the arts in Northern Ireland, published today.

The Review notes that Derry’s artists and arts organisations have continued to build on the momentum and achievements of the UK City of Culture 2013, with the £900,000 Derry Legacy Fund, jointly funded by the Arts Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council, ensuring continued major investment in arts and culture in the area.

Underrepresented groups and communities in particular have been encouraged to become more involved in the city’s arts through a number of major public events staged in 2014-15.

The success of these ventures has helped to establish the Derry Legacy Fund as the model for similar funding partnerships in Belfast and, it is hoped, council areas across Northern Ireland.

Dozens of excellent dance, visual arts, fashion, music and theatre events were supported last year by the Derry Legacy Fund.

Highlights include: The City of Derry International Choral Festival celebrated the best of choral music from home and abroad and established Derry City as a world centre of excellence for choral singing;

Derry playwright Dave Duggan’s much-anticipated courtroom drama, ‘Denizen’, brought a fresh perspective to bear on the impact of violence in our society;

The Verbal Arts Centre developed the influential ‘Reading Rooms’ initiative, a pioneering model of ‘managed shared reading’ for groups and communities that have experienced difficulty accessing the benefits of reading literature;

International artist Luke Jerram’s magical ‘Lullaby’ bicycle procession captivated young children across the city with an illuminated and musical experience;

‘Walking to the Ark’, a new play by one of Northern Ireland’s leading writers, Carlo Gebler, about the Seige of Derry, premiered at the Playhouse;

The Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement delivered an outstanding ten-day programme of local and international dance;

The Centre for Contemporary Art ran Open Book, a week of events focussing on book design for artists and public projects;

The Waterside Theatre started the groundwork on two major children’s arts festivals for the city in early 2016.

For many, the stand out event of 2014, not just for Derry but for the region as a whole, was Artichoke’s ‘Temple’, a peace-making project centred around the construction of a shared temple by artist David Best with the help of local groups, including young people at the Nerve Centre’s Fablab, who created many of the structure’s intricate wooden panels. 60,000 people visited the site, many leaving behind their personal memories in the temple in an act of letting go of the past and looking to the future, and an audience of 15,000 watched the spectacular finale event at which the 72 foot-high structure was ceremonially set ablaze.