Arts Council of Northern Ireland Foreword

The theme of the 2021 EastSide Arts Festival couldn’t be more apt. ‘Connection’ has been at the heart of the arts this year, as artists and organisations have sought new ways to engage with audiences during lockdown. For a sector which thrives on live, in-person interaction, lockdown has been particularly challenging. Their response has, however, been inspired. They have done what artists do: they have innovated, adapted and evolved. Embracing the potential offered by online platforms, many are now reaching out further than ever before, connecting with wider local audiences, sometimes even globally, and to the point where we have become quite accustomed to alternative ways of producing and consuming art.

With this year’s exciting hybrid festival programme, EastSide Arts offers us the best of both worlds, as it begins to welcome back live audiences where it can. There is the opportunity here to introduce yet more arts and culture to the people of east Belfast, and to share and showcase the abundant talent which springs from this place with audiences from much further afield.

As Principal Funder through our National Lottery funds and through the Emergency Funding made available this year through the Department for Communities, the Arts Council is delighted to see the EastSide Arts putting on such a strong festival, this year of all years. Lockdown has, if anything, sharpened the public’s appetite for the arts, and I’m confident that this programme will really connect with audiences and give everyone the creative lift we all need to see us through these uncertain times.

Roisín McDonough

Chief Executive

Arts Council of Northern Ireland