Thursday 15 October, 7.00pm until 9.00pm, Belfast
Venue: Belfast Exposed Photography, The Exchange Place, 23 Donegall Street, Belfast BT1 2FF
From architecture and planning to arts and cultural policy, education, urban renewal and marketing, there is a palpable ambition to reinvent post-conflict Belfast as a modern, economically viable city. But this effort seems constantly thwarted by the city’s troubled past and its fractured and disconnected character. While the centre is rebranded for visitor experience, retail, leisure and lifestyle consumption, Belfast’s neighbourhoods remain fixated on questions of cultural recognition, conflict management and healing the past.
Why do we seem more concerned with ‘bringing down walls’ and ‘reconnecting communities’ than in dealing with economic problems? Is empowering self appointed ‘community leaders’ a distraction from exercising real political power? Does formalising moribund community relationships prevent us from forging a more progressive politics? And could it be that opportunities to build authentic relationships across the city’s boundaries are being obstrcuted by the very thing supposed to support them- relentless political intervention? As the economic crisis threatens further to downgrade Belfast’s metropolitan ambitions, has the time come for the city to ditch the fixation with its troubled past, and face the future?
architect, The Boyd Partnership Chartered Architects LLP; founder and chairman, Belfast Civic Trust
|Dr Kevin Bean|
lecturer, Irish politics, Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool; author, The New Politics of Sinn Féin
|Dr Dominic Bryan|
senior lecturer, social anthropology and director, Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University, Belfast
architect, ARD Architects; senior lecturer, architecture, University of Ulster; broadcaster
writer and researcher