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 http://www.gerontius.net/findchoirs.shtml 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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Punk Rock

As previews for Punk Rock get under way in the Lyric in preparation for opening night this Thursday, we catch up with marketing director Greg Fox to get the inside info on this production and other work ongoing at the Lyric theater!

Punk Rock is a new play written by Simon Stephens (Of A curious incident… fame) and directed in this production by Selina Cartmell. The story is set in the library of a grammar school, and follows seven sixth-formers who are preparing for their mock-A Levels and nearing the end of their school lives. There are various sub-plots detailing the various love lines or triangles that emerge through the play.

Greg says: “it’s a fairly new play that was first performed five years ago in the Hammersmith in London. Since then it’s been performed a lot, but this is the first performance on the island of Ireland.  Simon Stephens is a prolific young playwright who has deservedly won a lot of awards, and Punk Rock is quite a dark piece about coming of age and what it means to be a teenager in the 21st century. The punk rock movement was about anarchy and chaos, and this performance encapsulates that, with a punk rock soundtrack accompanying scene changes. It gives an idea of the pressure that we put our kids under these days from really quite young ages. This is a great bunch of young actors, six of the seven making their professional debut, so it’s really exciting to watch them and see the youthful exuberance bring this play to life. It’s going to be a great show!”

The premiere in London received positive reviews with Variety saying that it “confirms Simon Stephens as one of the most important and exciting British playwrights working today”. Punk Rock was nominated at the TMA Awards for Best New Play in 2010, and was also nominated for the Evening Standard Award for Best New Play in 2010. Let’s hope the Belfast premiere lives up to this!

Check back later this month as we chat to Greg about what else is happening at the Lyric and what we can look forward to in the future!punk-rock-thumb

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Polo goes a little blue…

Polo feels stuck in the office

Polo feels stuck in the office

After only coming back from their honeymoon, Polo has to admit that he feels a little stuck in the office. He loves it here, but he had too much time having fun with his friends and family, going fishing with Bob and Slip, building snow penguins with Jemima Puddlepengu and watching Happy Feet with the clan almost every night!

But he’s happy that it’s Friday, and is looking forward to a fun filled weekend. Tonight in St Anne’s Cathedral, he is taking Annie to see the Ulster Youth Choir perform a program called ‘Love’s as warm as tears’. Annie is a huge fan of the UYC and of young people getting involved in singing (it probably comes from her short stint as a blistering soprano at the Met) so it should be a good night, and Polo certainly gains some points!

Then tomorrow night, Polo is going to see NI Opera perform in Glenarm Castle’s Walled Garden. Annie has a night out with the girls, but he’s taking his friends Sam and Ella, and they’re packing a picnic of Smoked Mackrel and Scotch eggs. Sam and Ella are bringing the eggs. Annie is going to the Opera House to see Dirty Dancing, so both are having a fab night.

Make sure you get along to some arts and culture this weekend, it’s the only guaranteed way to have a good time!

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Back to the office!

After an extended honeymoon around the world- visiting New York, Paris, Amsterdam and Krakow before heading down under (the sea… in Antarctica)- Polo and Anne are back in the best place in the world- Northern Ireland!

Anne is having a whale of a time opening all the wedding gifts finally and Polo is loving life as a married man, having a woman about the igloo to keep things ship-shape. After unpacking, sorting through their gifts and checking out the papers and google to see what’s on in town at the minute, they can’t wait to get back onto the arts and culture scene!Back to work Polo

They’ve got two pairs of tickets already, one for the Theatre at the Mill Opera Gala evening this Saturday night, and the other pair for Punk Rock, the new play coming to the Lyric on the 10th August. Polo is looking forward to the Lyric especially, since that’s where they met, and got married, but Anne is more looking forward to the Opera Gala evening… it’s an outdoor event, and she does so love her picnics.

Even better- Anne hasn’t been to the Theatre at the Mill in the last three years, so she was able to Test Drive it! Booked herself two wee tickets through the website and kaboom, they have a free evening in store! Except for the champagne that she is sending Polo to buy…

Before that though, it’s back to the office for this precious pair. Keep an eye out for them at upcoming events, and grab a picture with Polo for your chance to appear in the blog. And if you haven’t been to the Lyric or the Theatre at the Mill recently, get on Test Drive and take a cruise through culture with some free tickets!

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Sing for your lunch

Rosemary Street Presbyterian was once again host to another beautiful soprano today as Polo went along for another taste of Classical singing. This week, Sarah Shine took to the stage with the piano being played by Dearbhla Colins. Polo has always been a team player, and this week loved seeing how a singer and pianist worked together. If you watch carefully, you can see every small look, hear every little change of speed, feel every little pause that comes from a good team working together. Sarah ‘shone’ in all of her pieces, and Dearbhla danced her way through the piano accompaniment. According to Polo, it was “sweet, like”. 

Composing the Penguin movement of the Carnival of the animals

Composing the Penguin movement of the Carnival of the animals

Penguin eloquence aside, Rosemary Street delivered again on a wonderful recital and next week, pianist David Quigley, should be great. 

Polo has always fancied himself a bit of a pianist, so David, if you feel like pulling out… we have your backup right here…

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