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Belfast Bid Plan For Leading European Art Festival

16 April 2010

Belfast’s burgeoning cultural and creative community is coming together in a bid to host Europe’s largest contemporary art festival.

A high-powered European delegation will be in the city next week to meet artists and creatives as well as cultural and civic leaders in what is the first stage in creating a proposal to bring the  Manifesta European  Biennial of Contemporary Art to the city in 2014.

Held every two years, Manifesta is Europe’s largest contemporary art festival, and has never been held in the UK or Ireland.

Every Manifesta event series last for three months, and each Biennale has brought over 100,000 people from Europe and beyond into the cities and regions which have hosted it, giving a major boost to the cultural tourism sector and a massive stimulus to the arts and cultural environment.

Led by Manifesta CEO Hedwig Fijen, the delegation will meet representatives of the University of Ulster, the Arts Council, Belfast City Council, MAC, Ulster Museum and many more during their two day visit to assess the suitability of Belfast as a venue for the Biennial.

They will be escorted by Dr Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, Head of the Research Graduate School of the University of Ulster’s School of Art and Design in Belfast (pictured):  “The response from the arts community to the idea of hosting Manifesta in Belfast has been magnificent,” she said.

“We have a great story to tell, with our newly reopened Ulster Museum, with the MAC development and the enlarged campus at the University of Ulster, with the Crescent Arts centre and many other art  spaces  in the city.

“Bringing Manifesta to Belfast would offer an enormous showcase for international art in the city, as well as creating opportunities to bring to the attention of an international audience the quality of artistry and  innovation found in Northern Ireland’s creative sector.”

“Artists from the University of Ulster have taken part in many Manifesta events over the years, and we’re confident that the networks and links we have built up in the international art world , along with the support of the arts community in Northern Ireland will enable the construction of a really strong bid for Manifesta 2014.”

Notes for editors

1. Dr Lerm Hayes and Manifesta CEO Hedwig Fijen are available for interview. Contact them via the University of Ulster Press Office on 07808 911 343

2. Manifesta is a biennial visual art event that began as a Dutch initiative to create a pan-European platform for the contemporary visual arts.

Unlike most biennials, Manifesta is held in a different location each time it is held, and the concept of a travelling event first took shape in Rotterdam in 1996, in consultation with a specially appointed International Advisory Board (the forerunner of the present International Foundation), and the support of various national governmental arts organisations and ministries of culture in Europe.

Manifesta developed into a fast growing network for young professionals in Europe and one of the most innovative biennial exhibition programme to be held anywhere.

Manifesta offers a platform for emerging artists, on the basis of a networking organisation, which is able to respond flexibly to new artistic, technological and cultural developments.

The most obvious aspects of Manifesta's inbuilt flexibility is the fact that a new, pan-European theme or concept is developed on each occasion by a team of outside curators, working in close consultation with representatives of all kind of cultural, social, academic institutions in the host city.

Each event aims to establish a close dialogue between a specific cultural and artistic situation and the broader context of European visual contemporary art.

Manifesta 1 was held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in 1996 in 16 different museums and 36 public spaces. A team of five curators, from Barcelona, Budapest, London, Moscow, and Paris/Zurich, selected 72 artists from 30 different European countries and five from elsewhere. Since then it has been held in Luxembourg (1998), Ljubljana (2000), Frankfurt (2002) and San Sebastian (Spain) in 2004.

The event was due to be held in the ethnically-divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus, in 2006 but was cancelled at the last moment. In 2008 Manifesta 7 is took place in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy with Manifesta 8, confirmed for Murcia, Spain, in October 2010

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