TODAY sees the official opening of the newly-refurbished cinematic arts studio at Ulster University’s Derry~Londonderry campus named after former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the late Mo Mowlam.
Marking 25 years since the signing of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, which Mo Mowlam oversaw as then-Secretary of State, the university’s launch of the studio in her name and unveiling of a new mural is a celebration of Mo Mowlam’s lasting impact and legacy. It’s the first in a programme of events Ulster University is organising for the peace agreement’s anniversary.
Those in attendance at the official opening include Mo’s stepdaughter, director and producer Henrietta Norton; current leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer; current Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Kyle; and former Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Louise Haigh.
Made possible by funds raised by the Labour Party Irish Society, a dedicated space in the Walled City’s much-loved Foyle Arts Centre has been transformed into a fit-for-purpose studio which will enable Ulster University’s Cinematic Arts students to harness their creative talents and develop their skills in a controlled environment, replicating a professional film studio.
Opening the Mo Mowlam Studio, Ulster University Provost Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan said:
“We are delighted to open the doors of the newly-refurbished Mo Mowlam Studio and unveil our new mural, paying homage to the legacy of an inspirational leader who played an instrumental role in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement some 25 years ago.
“Just one in a programme of events we will be announcing shortly and hosting across our three campuses and beyond, today’s launch here in Derry highlights Ulster University’s continued commitment to the North West, the arts and culture of the region, and to our students leveraging the power of film to inspire social change. This truly is an investment in the futures of our young people – the post-Good Friday Agreement generation.”
Speaking at the event, Sir Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the Labour Party, added:
“Mo Mowlam was a true political force with an unwavering dedication to peace. Her political skill, courage and charisma brought people together from all sides, and as part of the last Labour government, she helped pave the way for the Good Friday Agreement.
“Mo loved the people of Northern Ireland, and was passionate about securing better opportunities for the next generation. I’m honoured to see her legacy celebrated with the opening of the Mo Mowlam Studio at Ulster University's campus in Derry today. It will support the University's Cinematic Arts students for years to come, and is an investment in Northern Ireland's creative industries.
“On behalf of the Labour Party, I thank the staff and students at Ulster University, and everyone who has made this brilliant project possible.”
Freddie and Henrietta Norton, Mo Mowlam's stepchildren in attendance at the launch of the Mo Mowlam Studio, commented:
“We are incredibly proud and grateful to see the life and legacy of our wonderful stepmum, Mo Mowlam, celebrated at Ulster University in Derry. Before going into politics, Mo was an academic and teacher. She believed in the power of education to transform people's lives and make the world a better place. And as a politician, she placed great value and importance on ensuring the voices of everyone were heard, especially young people in Northern Ireland.
“The Mo Mowlam Studio is an educational space which brings students together, enables them to find their voice and express themselves, and invests in their futures - there could not be a more fitting tribute.”
The project will serve as a boost to the screen industry in NI - a thriving sector that has emerged in the years since the Good Friday Agreement, and promises to continue to put NI on the world stage as a leader in the creative industries.
The donation has been used to create a space that will enhance the practical learning experience of Ulster University’s cinematic arts students and is testament to Mo’s lasting legacy of investing in young people, long after the signing of the peace agreement. The additional new specialist teaching space reflects a shared commitment to accessing higher education and the opportunity to support creative excellence for students in their chosen subject.
WATCH: A short showreel of recent work from Ulster University students: https://vimeo.com/798394026
If you’re interested in finding out more about Cinematic Arts at Ulster University, visit: https://www.ulster.ac.uk/courses/202324/cinematic-arts-30859