City (Re)Searches Hits Belfast

Ongoing research project was created to stimulate debate on the importance of the arts and culture in cities around the world

The Northern Irish public are being invited to express what culture means to them and their communities as part of an international four-day research programme – all taking place in a giant inflatable pop-up building in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.

City (Re)Searches will take place in Writer's Square from Wednesday, February 20 to Saturday, February 23, within the Pop! Culture pop-up building. Supported by the EU Culture Programme, City (Re)Searches is an international partnership between Blue Drum, Kaunas Biennial and Belfast-based Community Arts Partnership.

The four-day event bring award-winning artists and activists from the Netherlands, USA, Brazil, Lithuania, Germany, UK and Ireland into contact with local community leaders, artists, funders and activists.

Organisers hope that participants from across Northern Ireland will consider the question 'what makes culture important and valued?' City (Re)Searches will then culminate in a final public session on Saturday, when local people will be able to share what culture means to them in a range of creaitive activities between 11am and 2pm.

The striking centrepiece venue that will transform Writer's Square was designed by award-winning Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk. Its Belfast debut will also be the first time this space will have been installed anywhere in Europe for an arts participation event. The Pop! Culture space is then going to travel on to other European cities, offering communities, artists and the public the chance to explore culture and creativity.

Conor Shields, director of CAP, said: 'Placing these conversations and activities in a public space is central to the ethos of the project. We want to talk to you and hear your thoughts about access and participation to culture. We want to know what helps, what hinders, who has cultural power and where the value of public culture lies?

'We’re inviting artists and activists and indeed politicians, policy makers and leaders of creative organisations to join us in discussion and debate in the mornings, and for communities to get creative with us in workshop programmes in the afternoon.

'It's about finding facts, having conversations and sharing experiences. It's all free of charge and for community groups or orgnisations, we can help with transport costs as well. We want everybody who cares passionately about their communities and their stake in the future to share their experience and their vision for that future.'

The ongoing City (Re)searches project arrives Belfast after similar comprehensive discussions in Cork. Next stop is Kaunas in Lithuania in June, and Rotterdam in Holland in 2014. Organisers hope the information they collate during its Belfast stopover will contribute valuable evidence to an eventual published document, entitled 20:20 Vision.

For further information on City (Re)searches or to find out how to take part, visit the CAP website.