Bill Wolsey on his idea to turn Belfast city centre into a living museum for Belfast? And the role of awkward individuals in making change happen! #imaginebelfast

Bill Wolsey outlines his idea for Belfast city centre to be a living museum with museum artefacts displayed in shop windows, bring the museum to the people. His idea hasn’t had much traction with the Ulster Museum,but he’s pitched it again as part of Imagine! Festival’s Build Belfast Back Better initiative. He also explains the role of awkward individuals in making progress happen.

To 2031 and beyond … Neil Hegarty’s vision of this island in ten years’ time #imaginebelfast

Talking to writer and novelist Neil Hegarty about the talk ‘2031’ he will deliver at next week’s Imagine! festival, imagining what this island might look like in a decade and asking whether we’re prepared for the political, societal, environmental changes that will surely have a huge impact on the way life is going to play out?

How Britain Ends: Gavin Esler in conversation … coming up on Saturday 27 March at #imaginebelfast

Chatting to Gavin Esler ahead of his appearance on Saturday 27 at this year’s Imagine! Festival. He’s enthusiastic to be back talking about his book How Britain Ends, though is disappointed not to have the excuse to meet up with old friends and walk the streets he knows so well from living and working in the city.

The State of Us … Previewing the seventh annual Imagine! Festival of Ideas and Politics (22-28 March)

A quick rummage through the Imagine! Belfast programme coming up between 22–28 March. Under the strapline of The State of Us, there’ll be exhibitions, workshops, lectures, film, comedy, music, spoken word, lectures, theatre and quizzes. Voices from at home and abroad. The festival isn’t afraid to challenge. It doesn’t expect participants to agree with everything that is said. It’s about making people think. Widening their horizons. Broadening their understanding. Developing their empathy. Helping them figure out why – and if – they truly believe the hunches and biases they may have been living with for a lifetime.

Watch: Sam McBride on the RHI Inquiry Report #ImagineBelfast

Watch back my interview with Sam McBride – author of Burned – to candidly discuss his impressions of the Renewable Heat Incentive inquiry’s report – the final part of this year’s unexpectedly free and online Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics. Everything that has been broadcast over the last three days is available to watch back on the Imagine! website.

Day three of #ImagineBelfast’s virtual festival of ideas and politics – finishing at 8pm with an interview with Burned author Sam McBride

Having sold out two nights of Sam McBride in conversation with William Crawley at the close of the planned week of face-to-face events, the virtual Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics broadcast will finish at 8pm this evening with the author of Burned talking about his impressions of the published RHI Inquiry Report. Before that, from 1pm you can watch talks about economic growth and community banking, a reprise of Lord Patten of Barnes’ recent speech in Belfast when he reminisced about his time in Northern Ireland and his reflections on the Patten report into police reform, thoughts on how COVID-19 has challenged the arts sector and may change political culture, as well as comedy from Stand Up, Speak Out and the Democracy Inspector.

Tune into day two of #ImagineBelfast’s online festival between 1pm and 9pm for democracy, fact-checking, commemoration, abomination, music and more

Day two of the virtual Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics will be streaming talks and interviews between 1pm and 9pm. Expect discussion about democracy, a talk by Prof John Barry, an interview with the maker of a behind-the-scenes documentary about Abomination: A DUP Opera, as well as a dip into last year’s festival archive for a session on the ethical commemoration of the Troubles and why fact-checking matters. There are also locally-made short films in the regular Film Devour Showcase slots, and musical entertainment to brighten up the evening from Emer Maguire.  And if you missed the latest episode of Slugger TV yesterday, it’s available to watch again on the Imagine! Belfast website.

Singing the (Good Friday) Agreement: peace in 4/4 time … only at the Imagine! Belfast Festival (POSTPONED)

SLUGGER EVENT. We’ve implemented it, ignored it and extended it, but never before in Northern Ireland has it been sung! But on the opening night of Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics, you can settle down in Accidental Theatre to hear singers from Spark Opera perform the local première of a choral setting of the Declaration of Support at the start of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement text, written by former NIO official Clare Salters. But don’t worry, we know that “singing the d’Hondt formula would just be weird”! Alongside the music will be a politician discussing what it was like to be inside the talks in Castle Buildings and as well as a journalist who anchored hours and hours of the rolling late-night TV coverage that accompanied the negotiations. An evening of nostalgia and reflection.

Engage with the Power of Reason

Peter O’Neill is the director and founder of the Imagine Festival of Politics and Ideas. Politics in Northern Ireland has had a tough year. With no Executive since January 2017, an election that changed little just over a year ago and the prospect of our departure from the EU firmly on the horizon, you could be forgiven for thinking that ideas on how to overcome these challenges are in short supply. One of the victims of the political impasse has …

Read more…

‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life … Rethinking the Public University (Prof John Brewer) #ImagineBelfast15

The public university is dead … a slow and lingering death, … and its corpse lies lifeless in every senior managers’ meeting, in every classroom and every tutorial venue … in every boarded up common room and every closed bookshop. QUB’s Prof John Brewer argued over lunchtime that neo-liberalisation and a marketisation of higher education – as much a Thatcher and Blair process as a ConDem coalition one – has destroyed universities. Surprisingly, those responsible for the patient’s care were …

Read more…

The Role of History & Historians in Dealing with the Past after the Stormont House Agreement #ImagineBelfast15

Today’s lunchtime debate in the UU’s Belfast campus was the best attended of the week – so far – and also the most fractious. Grainne Kelly chaired a panel of Adrian Grant (historian), Cillian McGrattan (politics) and Susan McKay (journalist and writer) who discussed the Role of History and Historians in Dealing with the Past after the Stormont House Agreement. Adrian Grant started by looking at definitions of history (objective truth? or an artform based on narratives of the past?) …

Read more…

Who Cares about Gender and Dealing with the Past? #ImagineBelfast15 (updated with audio)

Carmel Roulston and (a rather hoarse) Fidelma Ashe presented a lunchtime seminar entitled Who Cases about Gender and Dealing with the Past. Part of the Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics, the lunchtime sessions at UU and QUB are intended to be accessible to the general public and not too academic. Carmel and Fidelma’s material looked at why gender has tended to be left out of many processes that are looking at the past, and contrasted them with the Haass/O’Sullivan …

Read more…

Big Politics Pub Quiz – anagram round!

Ten days to go until the return of the Great Big Politics Quiz – a night to find the champions of all-things-balloty, this year as part of the all-new Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics. So, if you’re a politician, press officer, policy wonk, journalist, lobbyist, psephologist, academic, student, blogger, tweeter, House of Cards binge-viewer or just a West Wing wannabe… it’s almost time to prove yourself. Just so there can be no lingering arguments over hanging chads, no …

Read more…

The Alternative Manifesto: what policies would you like to see included? #ImagineBelfast15

In the run up to the general election we want to hear from people about what they would like to see changed. As political parties polish their election manifestos and get ready to bombard us with inducements to vote for their representatives, we think it’s an opportune time to think about what we would change if we were in charge. As part of the Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics, we would like to kick off a conversation on …

Read more…