Northern Ireland’s vibrant cultural and creative community is coming together in a bid to host Europe’s largest contemporary art festival. Hedwig Fijen, CEO of the International Manifesta Foundation will visit Belfast and the inaugural 2013 UK City of Culture, Derry/Londonderry next week to meet leading artists as well as cultural and civic leaders.
The visit marks the first stage in the development of a bid to bring the Manifesta European Biennial of Contemporary Art to Northern Ireland in 2014. Held every two years, Manifesta is Europe’s largest contemporary art festival, and has never been held in the UK or Ireland.
Every Manifesta region hosts the event for a period of two years, closing with a three-month long exhibition and series of events. Each Biennale has brought over 100,000 visitors to the cities and regions which have hosted it, giving a major boost to the cultural tourism sector and a massive stimulus to the arts and cultural environment.
Ms Fijen will meet representatives of the University of Ulster, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, MAC, Ulster Museum and other cultural institutions during the three-day visit to assess the suitability of Northern Ireland as a venue for Manifesta.
Dr Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, head of the Research Graduate School at the University of Ulster’s School of Art and Design has been instrumental in organizing the visit: 'The response from the arts community to the idea of hosting Manifesta in Northern Ireland has been magnificent,' she said.
'We have a great story to tell, with our newly reopened Ulster Museum, with the MAC development and the enlarged campus at the University of Ulster and many other art spaces. Bringing Manifesta would offer an enormous showcase for international art here, as well as creating opportunities to bring to the attention of an international audience the quality of art found in Northern Ireland.
'Artists from the University of Ulster have taken part in many Manifesta events over the years, and we’re confident that the networks and links we have built up in the international art world, along with the support of the arts community in Northern Ireland will enable the construction of a really strong bid for Manifesta 2014.'
Manifesta grew out of an early Dutch initiative to create a pioneering, pan-European platform for the contemporary visual arts. The concept of an itinerant Manifesta took shape in The Hague at The Netherlands Office for Fine Arts and later in Rotterdam, in consultation with a specially appointed International Advisory Board and with the support of 30 national governmental arts organisations and ministries of culture in Europe.
For further information about the Manifesta European Biennial of Contemporary Art visit www.manifesta.org.