Queens Festival fighting for survival

Dizzy Gillespie is one of my strongest memories of the Queens Festival back in the early eighties: check out this excellent radio documentary on his run for the US presidency back in 1964. But it looks like the Belfast Festival at Queens is in serious difficulty! They are gathering a petition to send to Maria Eagle.

  • Tyroneman

    Mr Fealty,

    I wondered whether you intended on producing a folder with the confirmed candidates who will contest the Assembly Elections on March 7th?

    Of specific interest to me is Fermanagh and South Tyrone where I live, I think the Official Unionists had their selection meeting last night, has anyone heard who was selected? Plus have the other Parties confirmed their candidates?

    I think if you could create a folder of all those standing across th various constituencies that it’d be very useful for alot of researchers etc.


  • TWH


    I believe the UUP have selected Tom Elliott and some ‘Mr X’ who they have branded a big name. LMAO
    Although seemingly he has never held office before.
    Well, that’s what a YU contact told me…

    The DUP selection meeting is not until the start of next week, but I am sure you can make an educated guess.

  • Tyroneman

    Thanks for that TWH,

    For the Official Unionists, I think if your information is correct, that could be a wise move. I know down my way people are largely wanting something fresh and new. I just hope that nationalism follows a similar line.

    I’ll be interested to hear who it is and to do a suss on him.

  • Joe

    Is this some sort of strange NI version of Godwin’s Law, that all comments threads on Slugger eventually devolve into a discussion of the internal politics of the unionist parties?

    The Festival question is a vexed one; on the one hand, I’m sure anyone over about 35 has truly incredible memories of the acts the Festival has brought to Belfast – I know I have – but on the other, in recent years the bills have been as dull as ditchwater. Belfast needs a regular arts festival worthy of the name, but I’m not convinced the Belfast Festival is it.

  • Tyroneman


    You make a valid point but I was unaware where else I could pose my initial question to the webmaster? Mr Fealty – I thought he might see it within his most recent posting.

    Hopefully if he gets the chance to respond, a new thread can be created and this will be solely used for the thread intended.

    Apologies, my fault.

  • Yokel

    I can see the problem here regarding the festival in the following words…

    ‘They are gathering a petition to send to Maria Eagle.’

    ….asking someone else for more money when they are in the soup.

  • Alan


    You got it in one. There has been nothing in the past few years that interested me enough to go.


    Yes, Dizzy was an experience – sublime, demotic and transcendant. Probably the best gig I have ever been to.

  • TWH

    Sorry to distract from the topic again…



    I have been told by a YU source that the UUP have selected Kenny Donaldson as their second candidate in Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

    Yes, as outrageous as this may sound, I am told it is true. They have parachuted him in all the way from Crossmaglen. I hope he has a good map and compass to help him find his way! LMAO

    They have some gaul to think that people will simply vote for any old candidate they throw up. It also doesn’t say much for their team of councillors.

  • idunnomeself

    i didn’t go to teh festival this year, there was nothing on i liked the look of, also lots of the acts were just on UK tours at the time and would have come anyway.

    I know that all throught the troubles if it wasn’t for the queens festival nothing would have happened, but times have changed. (also i would have thought that Queens money WAS government money??)

    On the other hand i went to lots of things in other festivals like the cathedral quarter

    If the festival is so good for teh tourist economy then those who make money out of it shoudl step in with sponsorship. the Government is funding far more festivals now, so it’s no surprise their funding has dropped.

    (also I remember reading that tourists are looking for local cultural offerings when they come on holiday, why come here to see a stand up that performs every six months where they live? SO i don’t rate their arguments)

  • childish bribery

    This Festival Story is a joke.

    We are told this has been the biggest box office success ever and it still LOST 150k. Just what sort of business planning is Queen’s allowing to happen in the festival office. How many events/companies plan for their best year ever and still make a massive loss. Perhaps they ought to have cut the outgoings to match income.

    Queen’s should be paying something – it is 200M p.a. turnover organisation and major civic stakeholder that has a significant problematic footprint in the area (holy lands?)

    Big mystery is the absence of substanial funding from Belfast City and private sector. On the one hand this says that the festival staff cannot do there job (in addition to pretty mundane programming) in raising revenues.

    Perhaps so that the Public (who are being asked to write to support this) can decide if it stands merit we should see the accounts for the last few years, where is money coming from – Queen’s is railing against Events Co and Arts Council – both of whom have small budgets and have a NI, not exculsively “Belfast” remit, asking DCAL for a special handout is a joke and insult to all the other events that work hard to raise funds without the benefits of the lobbying of the high arts south belfast intelligensia (if that is not a tautology?).

    How much does it get from City Council? Perhaps they ought to pu the hand in the pocket given it is the “Belfast” festival or is the “Queen’s” connection/connotation a reason for poor funding?

    Turning to private funding – Queen’s has spent a large sum setting up a whole Directorate of Marketing – maybe they ought to use some of these extermley well paid supperanuated marketing professionals to get out and get some sponsorship or is it all that they do is write press releases and get whining non-story aricles published in the bel tel?

  • brendan,belfast

    Belfast needs a trulu inclusive and locally infleunced festival. Festival at Queens isn’t it. (nor is feile so dont even start). the cathedral quarter arts fetsival is the winner by a mile. Sean Kelly and his team deserve support – financial and otherwise. if the Belfast Festival at Queen’s doesn’t cut it – cut it.

  • brendan,belfast

    Incidentally there is a festival on next month,
    http://www.panarts.org.uk/songwriters2007/ about which the organisers appear determined there will be no publicity!

    some fantastic acts in great venues. Hope its a success.

  • Tyroneman


    Thanks for that – would I be right in thinking that you have a grudge against Mr Donaldson from the way you speak?

    I’ve done a suss and I’ve found out that he used to be employed by former MLA for the Constituency, Joan Carson, I also understand that he works within the community sector and has ties certainly in the South Tyrone part of the Constituency.

    At the end of the day, if the guy haas a good political head on him, I dont hold it against him that he comes from Crossmaglen (he hasn’t a big chance there, has he?)

    I logged onto the UUP website and read some of his stuff and coming from a nationalist perspective I have to say, I was impressed but I agree with you, success or failure for him will depend upon how well he gets around the constituency, the mesage he offers etc.

    But from my perspective, I’d have him any day above either Maurice Morow or Arlene Foster.

    I’ll be giving him a preference, wont be my number “1” but it could be my number “2.”

  • daisy

    Queen’s Festival used to be fantastic. The problem now is that all the money is being pumped into the CQAF. All the acts appearing in CQAF would’ve once appeared at the Queen’s Festival.

    Queen’s need to stop whining and get out and sell!

    I’ve heard Jackieque Goody is available.

  • DanDaMan

    Well well, guess who’s back and not posting about Northern Ireland football or Geordie Best for once!

    Interesting the issue of the Belfast Festival was brought up. Though no longer a student at QUB, I have long since maintained an interest in the annual cocophny that is the Festival, but am reminded of the politicism that can surround what is an internationally recognised event. (I seem to remember it listed as ‘the thing to do in this destination we serve’ entry under ‘Belfast’ in an in-flight booklet not so long ago.)

    Four years ago, I was walking out of the union, when approached by someone wielding a clipboard. With neither introduction nor reasoning offered, he said simply, “here, mate, the Israeli government sponsor the Belfast Festival…” and handed me a pen. The presumption that I should be a typically anti-american, anti-israeli, anti-capitalist, left wing, probably Palestine supporting, more than likely national/republican Queen’s student astounded me. Though not half as much as the distinct lack of signatures on his list!

    My response? “Your point?” While tempted to turn on my tail and walk at that very juncture, I decided to stick around to await his response. He actually did not issue one. An awkward ten seconds followed before he was called away.

    Now, to be honest, I have not given much time or consideration to the wider issues of the Palestine/Israeli conflict, but have nothing against the Israeli government. Upon further investigation with friends, I discovered that a number of companies were offering financial sponsorship of the event, which were Jewish and Israeli in origin. Funding they received in order to be operational in the United Kingdom purportedly came courtesy of the Israeli Government, hence the outrage of Mr. Clipboard.