Arts and Sustainability merge at Queen’s for first ever ‘Reach’ Festival…

Queen’s University Belfast, in collaboration with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Ireland, are hosting an inaugural arts and sustainability festival this April.

The ‘Reach 24’ festival aims to examine the climate emergency and sustainable solutions via various art mediums including film screenings, performances, talks and an art exhibition.

The festival, which will take place from 18-20 April, is free of charge and open to the public.

The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s will play host to new work by US artist Ingrid Hess which highlights the challenge microplastics pose for our oceans. Ingrid has teamed up with local social enterprise Bryson Recycling for the exhibition, who are providing 2,000 used plastic bottles for the art piece. A group of local schoolchildren from Holy Rosary Primary School will also be attending a unique event to hear more about the art from Ingrid, and take part in a plastic and environment workshop with Belfast City Council, designed to advance their understanding of the impact plastic waste is having on the world around us.

The festival will also hold inspiring talks from people who are leading the way when it comes to pairing arts and sustainability, including a keynote presentation from Alison Tickell, Director of Julie’s Bicycle, a pioneering not-for-profit that mobilises arts and culture organisations to act on the climate crisis.

Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT) is hosting a special screening of two important environmental documentaries about rising sea levels, followed by a panel discussion.

Attendees are also invited to immerse themselves in sound at the Sonic Laboratory in Queen’s Sonic Arts Research Centre. The Sonic Lab which is often called the ‘cinema for the ear’ is a specialist acoustic space designed to provide a unique listening experience via 48 loudspeakers. A showcase of sounds will be played in the Sonic Lab as part of the festival, including ‘Breathe’, which shows the impact of climate and environmental damage on woodlands by simulating the atmosphere we’re predicted to have in 2050, and ‘Dune’s Song,’ which will allow attendees to hear a sound often heard in deserts, but which is sadly being lost due to climate change.

Professor Michael Alcorn, Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Queen’s, said: “As a global institution, Queen’s has an important role to play in making a positive impact on our environment.

“Our Strategy 2030 sets out how we will embed the UN Sustainable Development Goals across all our activities, and the ‘Reach 24’ arts and sustainability festival is one of the ways we are nurturing a culture of sustainability. In partnership with SDSN we are bringing together leading experts in the art world to explore the climate crisis and to discuss sustainable solutions to help tackle it.”

Aileen Monahan, Assistant Director at Bryson Recycling, said:We all have a role in tackling climate change and we believe using resources sustainably is an important part of this. Plastics have a massive impact on the environment so a key focus for us to ensure they are collected and recycled responsibly. Over 80% of materials we collect are recycled locally, which is better for the environment and reduces carbon emissions too.”

Please visit for more information about the festival and you can book your place here.


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