Get some Culture!

10310666_758597294196421_2115308567263194340_nHave you got your tickets for Culture night yet? NO?!

Can you get them on Test Drive? …Um, no….

Which would be awkward… If you needed any!

Culture Night is upon us. Tomorrow evening, the streets of Belfast will be transformed into the magical annual gathering of thousands that is often hailed as one of the greatest nights of the year!

For those of you who don’t know, Culture Night is a family friendly event with a range of activities that people of all ages can enjoy. Most events will happen between 4pm and 10pm and will be absolutely free to anyone who pops in. (All events for children, however, will promptly finish at 9pm…)

Get on to for more information about the programme, which includes singers, dancers, bikers, sculptors, skaters, flashmobs, jazz, opera, brass, t-shirt making, circus performers, comedians, and- of course- lots and lots of food…

Polo will be there. Get a photo with him and tell him what you are up to! But most of all, get out and GET SOME CULTURE!

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Take the test car round Enniskillen?

Polo wants to pick you up! Test Drive the Arts NI are looking for new recruits to sign up for free tickets to arts events and performances in Fermanagh.

Local venue the Ardhowen Theatre already takes part in Test Drive the Arts NI by allocating unsold tickets to get people reengaged with their local arts scene.  The Audiences NI iniative has already allocated over 20,000 free tickets to theatre, dance, comedy and music events throughout Northern Ireland.

Manager of the Ardhowen, Jackie Owens, said: “We are delighted to work with Audience Northern Ireland’s Test Drive the Arts project as it has proven to be an effective way of introducing theatre to people who would never usually attend.

Test Drive is the perfect opportunity to either try something new or rediscover something you used to really enjoy – like a night at the theatre. It’s the perfect way to make a night out that little bit more affordable.”

Test Drive the Arts NI introduces people to the arts for the first time, or gets people re-engaging with their local venue by offering guest tickEnniskillenets from spare or unsold capacity. An empty seat becomes worthless as soon as a show begins, but Test Drive allows it to become a valuable tool in increasing and developing audiences and ticket revenue in the future.

Polo’s boss Margaret, Chief Executive of Audiences NI, said “Test Drive the Arts NI is a unique project to give people who have never attended arts events the chance to have a go and try something new – for free.  With over 100 organisations participating across NI, there really is something for everyone.”

To find out more information on how you can Test Drive the Arts in Fermanagh and apply for free tickets to upcoming shows, visit our website, follow us on Twitter @TestDriveArtsNI or find us on Facebook.

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Need to relax?

Getting the kids back to school and getting back into the routine of September can be a difficult task… particularly when the weather decides to replay the best moments of summer. So here are some relaxing pieces of music to get through the week, or the drive the school, or whatever else it is causing you tension!

Number one, a song you’ll probably know- courtesy of the Electric Light Orchestra, it’s Mr. Blue Sky. This great little tune will always succeed in making you smile on the even the most overcast day!

Number two, maybe a little less known- it’s Pachelbel’s Canon in D. A favourite for wedding ceremonies, this piece even comes with a video of relaxing images to sooth your eyes. Don’t watch whilst driving.

Number three, let’s go for something that you won’t know. The great new hit from Damien Rice, My Favourite Faded Fantasy will have you seeking out the nearest place to sit down and just have a good old think about life. Cafe Nero recommended.

Finally,to round off the message, let’s have Relax, by Mika. Says it all.

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Dancing on thin ice…

A while ago we looked at the advantages of singing. Polo is adamant, however, that he hasn’t “a note in his head”. While Annie doesn’t believe this, she isn’t going to force him to sing. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t let his creative juices flow; Annie has signed the two of them up for a dance class in the Crescent Arts Centre! You can imagine how thrilled Polo was, but he has no excuse now, the classes are paid for!

Dancing, it turns out, is just as good for you as singing is. Polo did a little bit of research and found the following:

  • Dancing helps keep the body and brain active, improving strength and flexibility and forcing you to think and concentrate about how you walk and move
  • Going to a dance class and taking up a new hobby can help you meet new people and develop new friendships
  • Dancing is a fun form of exercise, and can help you to shift those extra pounds of penguin blubber!
  • Taking time out to do something you enjoy will relieve stress and lighten your mood, especially a physical activity like dancing, which releases endorphins. Even in penguins.

So he’s going to give it a go with an open mind. Will you be joining him? We all remember that great movie from 14 years ago, Billy Elliot, about the young boy who discovered a passion for ballet whilst skiving from boxing lessons. He later went on to be a principle dancer for the Royal Ballet. Where could you end up?!

Get the dust brushed off of those dancing shoes and take yourself along to a class!

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Feeling Crafty?


August Craft Month is an annual celebration of contemporary craft in Northern Ireland. Creativity can be expressed in many different ways, but one of the core ways to express creativity is to actually create things! Craft NI host this incredible Craft month to allow you to engage with this, either by making things yourself, honing your budding craft skills or by seeing what other people are doing and making!

In 2014, hundreds of people have been able to explore over 100 craft events including talks, exhibitions, workshops and demonstrations at over 40 locations throughout Northern Ireland. CrafAugustCraftMonth_230-230x230t month is always a fantastic way to experience Northern Ireland through the best of contemporary craft by seeing, making or buying it! The month long event is delivered by a partnership of craft-related organisations across Northern Ireland and is supported by Arts Council NI and Invest NI. There are still a few days left of the month, so get onto their website to see if there is anything that you can make, and get along! If not, there’s always next year. But don’t for a second think that the craft sector only operates in August- I’m sure Craft NI would love to hear from you if you wanted more information on practitioners, events and more!

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R-Space turns 3!


I don’t know about you, but here in the Audiences NI offices we find it hard to remember birthdays. Polo is especially terrible: in all the time he’s known Annie, people have to remind him about every major event and celebration before he puts his flipper in it!

So it came as quite a surprise to all of us when he reminded us yesterday afternoon about the party happening in Lisburn, for the R-Space gallery! Don’t tell Annie, but I hope this doesn’t reflect his priorities…

So off we trundled to Lisburn and got parked, then made our way round to the gallery. The gallery are hosting a display called ‘Double Flipside’. According to the website, it’s a collaborative visual journey with Dr Sarah McAleer & Eddie J Doherty. Known independently for their successful contemporary jewellery pieces and high-end commission work constructed in precious materials, like platinum, gold, diamonds, sapphires and pearls, McAleer & Doherty’s exhibition aims to give you a glimpse of their ‘alternative’ sides. Sharing many complementary ideals, design styles and construction techniques, McAleer & Doherty will investigate how they traditionally convert inspirations and concepts into 3-dimensions.

We were welcomed to the gallery by Robert Martin before Deirdre Robb from the arts council gave a speech highlighting the rich contribution that R-Space has made to the arts in its three year history. Anthea McWilliams then entertained us with some poetry, cupcakes and bubbles! All in all, a fantastic day. Huge congratulations to R-Space for what they’ve done so far, and here’s to celebrating many more birthdays in the future!

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Sing a song of sixpence…

Have you ever considered yourself a singer? No? Do you sing in the shower or while you’re cleaning the dishes? Like humming little tunes to yourself that you heard on TV last week? Find yourself dueting with the songs on the radio in the car?

Choir 2There’s a bit of a singer in everybody and, no matter what you say, the number of people in society who are truly tone deaf is vanishingly small. Singing has many benefits for those who take part, physically, emotionally and socially. Studies have shown that physically, singing can help improve our sleep, decrease muscle tension, improve our breathing and circulatory systems, as well as release pain-relieving endorphins. Emotionally, singing helps increase self-esteem and confidence, enhances mood, encourages creativity and empathy and can help with disorders like depression and anxiety. Socially, singing with people lets us to meet more people, gives us a chance to give and receive positive feedback and helps create new communities.

Why not give singing a go? Join a local choir… after Gareth Malone’s initiatives on TV, there has been an explosion in local choirs so you should have no trouble finding one to suit your style, and every choir is always keen to see people interested in joining. Why not look at for some help?Choir 1

For the more adventurous amongst you, if you can’t find a choir… why not start one?

Good luck, and get singing!

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