2010: That Was The Year That Was

2010 was a corker for the arts in all their forms - we look back at some of our cultural highlights

It’s been a momentous year for the arts in Northern Ireland, and as always we’ve been proud to promote the arts in all their forms and help those who work in the sector to promote themselves online with our ongoing Digital Skills Training Programme.

In 2010, following consultation with our users, we redesigned our website to bring it bang up to date, and relaunched the new look CultureNorthernIreland with iPhone App.

Our new weekly e-newsletter has been a roaring success, beaming the latest news and reviews direct to our subscribers and helping them to plan their cultural diaries on a more frequent basis; whilst our sister sites BelfastMusic.org and BelfastGalleries.com have kept users abreast of everything from Belfast Music Week to the ongoing Late Night Art gallery tours.

Working closely with artists, arts organizations and venues, we went out and about earlier in the year to film specialist Insider Arts Guides, Culture Tours and Online Exhibitions in towns across the country, which you can access via our Interactive Map, and recorded a whole series of expert Audio Essays on subjects as broad as the history of sport in Northern Ireland and the rise of Irish language and Ulster-Scots culture in recent years.

Looking back, there have been some outstanding cultural highlights. On that fateful day in July it seemed like the whole country was tuned in to The One Show as Derry-Londonderry was finally crowned UK City of Culture 2013.

Although the Ulster Museum reopened in October 2009, 2010 was the year that it came alive, and also the year that Derry-Londonderry joined Belfast – and a whole host of cities across Europe – to bring the arts to the masses for free on Culture Night 2010.

Festivals like the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, the 2D Comic Festival and the Foyle Film Festival, amongst many others, attracted the biggest and brightest to Northern Ireland throughout the year – as if we expected anything less.

And our own artists haven’t done too badly either, with bands like Two Door Cinema Club breaking into the mainstream, literary heavyweights Seamus Heaney and Ciaran Carson publishing new works to universal acclaim, and Northern Irish plays like Owen McCafferty’s The Absence of Women bringing audiences to their feet at home and abroad.

This year we have worked closely with the I Value The Arts campaign, and started a stream of articles entitled Why The Arts Matter in an attempt to do our bit for the sector as a whole. It’s true that 2011 is set to be a difficult year for the arts in Northern Ireland; we are all crossing our fingers that the draft budget consultation goes well.

Yet there is much to look forward to. And at this time of year perhaps we might forget about arts cuts, for a time at least, raise a glass and toast all that has gone before. The hundreds of thousands of tourists who took great pleasure in experiencing Northern Irish arts this year would surely say we deserve it.

Check out our cultural highlights of 2010 – and some of the articles that our users were most interested in – below. From the CNI team, have yourselves a merry little Christmas, and a happy new year!

FEATURES:

Derry-Londonderry wins UK City of Culture 2013: Cultural and civic figures give their reactions the city's historic win

The Royal Ulster Academy Return to the Ulster Museum: RUA President Julian Freers talks about the works on show

Out To Lunch with William Crawley Welcomes Ian Paisley: Listen to the full podcast recording as the former first minister bows out of politics but still pulls in a crowd

2D Comics Festival Gets Derry-Londonderry Doodling: Watch video interviews with some of the star names, including 2000AD founder Pat Mills

Culture Night Belfast and Culture Night Derry-Londonderry 2010: Watch video highlights and find out what the public thought

Postcards from Dumbworld: Listen to a podcast featuring music from Brian Irvine's celebrated opera with a difference

REVIEWS:

THEATRE REVIEW: The Absence of Women: 'A perfectly formed, mini-masterpiece' by Owen McCafferty

FILM REVIEW: Of Gods and Men: Mike Catto's film of 2010 is a sad tale of intolerance and fortitude

VISUAL ARTS REVIEW: University of Ulster Retrospective: 'Dizzying in it's reach and scope', the Faculty of Art and Design provide a fast-track lesson in art history

MUSIC REVIEW: Oxegen 2010: Northern Irish acts like Panama Kings, Joe Echo and Two Door Cinema Club represent

CLASSICAL REVIEW: Ulster Orchestra do Bond: 'Not a Walther PPK in site, but the musicians have a license to thrill'

LITERATURE REVIEW: Human Chain: Seamus Heaney's latest collection 'is gorgeously understated'