The Lyric, Belfast played host to over 250 guests recently for the Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards 2019. These awards recognised the most creative and pioneering partnerships between the worlds of business and the Arts in Northern Ireland. This is the thirteenth year that Allianz has sponsored these prestigious Awards.
Dr Wendy Austin, MBE compered the awards ceremony. There were ten awards presented on the evening. The shortlisted and winning arts-business partnerships highlighted how these creative collaborations are delivering benefits for both sectors. Speakers included Tracy Meharg, Permanent Secretary, Department for Communities and Damian Smyth, Head of Drama & Literature, Arts Council of NI.
Much coveted titles included the Allianz Arts & Business NI Business of the Year Award and the Allianz Arts & Business NI Arts Award. The Allianz Arts & Business NI Business of the Year Award 2019 went to Forestside Shopping Centre for its partnerships with several professional music festivals across NI and its ongoing commitment to supporting emerging young musicians and songwriters in NI. The Allianz Arts & Business NI Arts Award 2019 was won by Belfast Photo Festival for its progressive and creative approach to business partnership. The Arts Award comes with a cheque from Allianz for £3,000.
Rachel Kennedy, Manager of EastSide Arts won the Allianz Arts & Business NI Cultural Fundraiser of the Year Award 2019 for her tenacity, professionalism and creativity in building business relationships and diversifying income.
The Allianz Community Art Award is chosen by Allianz NI staff and funds an arts initiative within a local community. Whitehead Wombles were the 2019 recipients of the Allianz Community Art Award and the associated cheque of £2,000.
The awards pieces presented to the winners on the evening were designed and created by local artist and silversmith Claire Mooney, a recent graduate of the Ulster University.
There was a clear message of support for the Arts from business leaders attending and speaking at the event. Presenting the Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards 2019 Peter Kilcullen, Chief Customer Officer, Allianz, highlighted the importance of the arts sector to society in general and applauded the commitment of local businesses to the sector. He commented:
“Our sincere congratulations go out to all the nominees and winners of this year’s Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards,” he said. "The Arts helps us understand and evolve our national identity amid change – serving as a compass, enabling society to navigate the unknown and renew in a continuously changing world. Whilst this is true and well acknowledged what is perhaps in need of amplification is that the arts sector also contributes significantly to the commercial and financial health of NI.”
In addition to financial support for the Arts business people who are giving their time and advice to support the Arts were also acknowledged. Joe O’Neill, the current CEO of Belfast Harbour, was awarded the Allianz Arts & Business NI Arts Board Member of the Year Award 2019 for his time on the board of the MAC.
Commenting on the Awards, Martin Bradley MBE, Chair of Arts & Business NI said:
“I would like to thank Allianz for its continued support of these Awards over the past 13 years. This important event not only celebrates arts and business partnership but it also showcases how the Arts are essential to the health and vitality of our place, cities and communities. Thank you to the NI businesses for their investment and support for the Arts. Congratulations to the winners and to everyone shortlisted.”
At the Awards ceremony guests were entertained by a vibrant line-up of local artistic talent. This included a rehearsed reading of ‘Rough Girls’, a new commission by the Lyric Theatre written by Tara Lynne O’Neill. The excerpt on the night was directed by Emma Jordan. Belfast composer Conor Mitchell’s, The Belfast Ensemble, performed part of their stunningly original show ‘The Doppler Effect’. Another treat for the audience on the night was a performance from ‘Good Vibrations’, the musical version of the popular movie charting the life of Belfast punk legend Terri Hooley. DJ Kwa Daniels, of Bounce Culture, entertained guests before and after the ceremony.
Other Awards presented on the evening included the Allianz Arts & Business NI Cultural Social Responsibility Award (Winners: Arts Care & Farrans Construction); Allianz Arts & Business NI Cultural Branding Award (Winners: EastSide Arts & Translink); Allianz Arts & Business NI Staff Engagement Award (Winners: c21 Theatre Company & Doyle Shipping Group); Allianz Arts & Business NI New Sponsor Award (Winners: Bounce Culture & Baker Tilly Mooney Moore) and the Allianz Arts & Business NI Long-term Partnership Award (Winners: Replay Theatre Company & Firefly by Leckey).
Arts & Business is generously supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.