Festival leaves legacy of friendship
2 February 2006
The Friendship Festival has been brought to a rousing finale with the Friendship Gala - a cross-cultural showcase of music and dance - at Belfast City Hall. However, the end of the festivities signals just the beginning for many projects born out of the Festival as its spirit of friendship lives on.
Presented by Celebrate Belfast, the Friendship Festival has proven an enormous success. It has been the highlight of Belfast`s participation in the United Kingdom-wide Friendship Project, which has been celebrating and exploring the meaning of friendship in cities across the UK.
The great variety of events that have taken place all over Belfast have showcased the richness and diversity of culture and arts activity in the city, as people of Belfast have enjoyed sharing their enjoyment of the events taking place with others and making new friends.
One of the Friendship Festival`s many highlights has been the tour of the Friend Ship across Belfast. This interactive vehicle has been visiting local primary schools and public venues across the city, offering a special interpretation of the meaning and value of friendship, as seen through the eyes of children and communities from all of the participating Friendship cities.
The `Art for Arterial Routes` project will deliver long-lasting positive impacts for the city in terms of both their outputs and the partnerships they have helped to establish. Schools and community groups all over Belfast have been working with local artists to create attractive new public art landmarks along the city’s arterial routes.
A giant grass friendship mural called `Green Peace` is set to become north Belfast`s latest landmark. Green Peace will be made up of more than 300 life-sized multi-coloured figures, symbolising diversity, linking hands across the green spaces of the New Lodge.
The spirit of the Friendship Festival also lives on in the Friendship Exhibition, which continues at the Square Space Gallery in Shaftesbury Square until February 24. The exhibition is comprised entirely of friendship messages from Belfast people, who have been putting into words and poetry what friendship means to them.
The `Respect Project` was launched outside Belfast City Hall on the last day of the Festival earlier this week. This exciting photographic project for children and young people will encourage them to explore the theme of respect through creative writing and photography. Developed by the Wheelworks Youth Arts organisation, the exhibition will later embark on a city-wide tour.
Councillor Bernie Kelly, Chairman of Belfast City Council`s Arts Sub-Committee, said: “The Friendship Festival will leave behind many lasting legacies, not least the strong bonds of friendship that have been created right across the city. Many of the events have been highly innovative and completely new to Belfast.”
The Friendship Festival was supported by Citybeat 96.7FM. Station Director, Richard Collett, commented: “The Festival has shown how much we can achieve as a city in the name of Friendship and we have greatly enjoyed our association with this unique initiative.”
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