This weekend sees the start of a series of Chamber Music concerts at Portico in Portaferry. With Lottery Project Funding support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Portico has been able to programme a range of high quality performers.
This Saturday (22 Jan) pianist Ruth McGinley and mezzo-soprano Carolyn Dobbin join forces to explore songs from the North of Ireland. The programme is drawn from Carolyn’s ‘Northern Songs Project’, which documents and celebrates songs from Ulster not often recorded elsewhere, and includes pieces by Hamilton Harty, Howard Ferguson, Joan Trimble, Dorothy Parke and Charles Wood.
French, Spanish and South American influences arrive in February with classical guitarist Thibaut Garcia and accordion player Félicien Brut. Their programme explores the common histories of the two instruments and the mixed roots of the players in what they describe as a captivating “Vol de Nuit” (Night Flight) including waltzes, tangos and fandangos!
In March, the multi-award winning Sitkovetsky Trio will perform Beethoven’s Trio No. 2 in G major, Perkin’s Freakshow and Schumann’sTrio no 3 in G minor. Violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky, pianist Wu Qian and cellist Isang Enders have toured extensively to enormous critical acclaim: Gramophone noting, “The playing is at once virtuoso and even-handed, textures and counterpoint beautifully clear … a really beautiful performance.”
Piano duets from Amandine Savary and Coraline Cuenot are set to enthrall audiences in May, with a programme including Ravel’s Ma Mere l’Oye, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Debussy’s Petite Suite and a selection of waltzes from Brahms. Amandine has won many prizes including First Prize at the Osaka Chamber Music Competition and the Frankfurt Commerzbank Piano Trio Competition and special Prize of the Vienna Chamber Music Competition. Coraline enjoys innovative and unusual projects such as this concert for piano duets.
To celebrate its new charity partnership with the Children’s Heartbeat Trust, one of Northern Ireland’s leading forest schools, Holistic Kidz, is holding a fun Forest Adventure Camp on Saturday 5th February.
Over 200 babies are born each year in Northern Ireland with congenital heart disease and the Children’s Heartbeat Trust provides practical, emotional and financial support to children, young people and their families affected.
The popular Holistic Kidz Forest Adventure Camp will be held in the great outdoors at Barnett Demesne from 2pm – 5pm, and promises lots of action packed fun and adventure for children aged four to 12 including forest trekking, stream trailing, tepee building, tree swinging, nature assault course and mudslide adventure. The fundraising initiative is being supported by Pizza Co with complimentary lunch for every child. Tickets are £20 per child and every penny raised is being donated to the Children’s Heartbeat Trust.
Colette McCartney, Founder of Holistic Kidz said: “We are excited to launch our new charity partnership with the Children’s Heartbeat Trust and have lots of plans to help raise as much money as possible for this amazing charity to help support the children across Northern Ireland who are born with heart disease to live full and empowered lives. And what better way to begin our fundraising than with one of our famous Forest Adventure Camp to have a day of fun in the great outdoors with our fabulous Holistic Kidz on Saturday 5th February.
I was introduced to the charity by an amazing young lady, Lucy Stewart who is 10 years old from Belfast, who has been supported by the Children’s Heartbeat Trust since she had heart surgery as a baby. Lucy is an incredible girl and started making beautiful handcrafted friendship bracelets over lockdown and we have commissioned her to make a bracelet for all of our Holistic Kidz. Promoting close friendship bonds is an important part of our ethos, so this really is the perfect partnership.”
Lynn Cowan, from Children’s Heartbeat Trust said: “We are absolutely delighted to have the support of Holistic Kidz with their outdoor forest adventure camp in February. This will be a wonderful opportunity for kids to have a fantastic day out whilst raising funds and vital awareness of congenital heart disease (CHD) and its impact on children, young people and their families in Northern Ireland.
Over 200 children are born with CHD in NI every year. We hope the local community will get behind Holistic Kidz in raising as much awareness and funds as possible. As a local charity, we receive no government funding and rely heavily on public donations to fund our support services so all funds raised from the Holistic Kidz event will be greatly appreciated and make a real difference to local heart children and their families.”
Booking is essential and to secure a place for your child at the Holistic Kidz Forest Adventure Campin aid of the Children’s Heartbeat Trust on Saturday 5th February go to www.holistickidz.com
Top recruiter warns businesses they need to invest in the right systems & processes
When it comes to remote working one Northern Ireland recruitment firm says employees need to learn and display new skills to secure work from home roles.
A Global Workplace Analytics report said that since 2009, the number of people who work from home has risen by 159%
Michelle Tyson, director of Tyson Wilson is also warning businesses that they “must invest in the right systems and processes” in order to be able to facilitate a “productive, healthy and happy remote working workforce”.
Michelle said that although the rise in work from home opportunities originally surged as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that she believes it’s a trend that’s here to stay.
She added: “The biggest trend that will continue into 2022 and beyond is the working from home and the hybrid working model.
“Statistics from Upwork say that by 2028, 73% of all departments are expected to have remote workers.
“It is undeniable that many companies are becoming more open to hybrid and work from home after being forced to put systems in place to handle the challenges that come with it during the pandemic.”
According to Michelle what this means is business leaders must now recruit differently for those remote roles.
She explained: “In the call centre industry, for example, companies are looking for a new set of skills for people working from home – they now need to ensure those staff have self motivated, disciplined and proactive traits which whilst beneficial previously were not essential because the working model created an environment in which they had to be productive and were constantly monitored by line managers in person.”
This, in turn, means there can be a more flexible approach to talent acquisition.
Owl Labs reported last year that small companies are twice as likely to hire full-time remote workers than their larger counterparts.
However, whilst the future is bright for hybrid and remote working Michelle said one of the biggest challenges for business leaders has been changing the way in which they communicate with their team.
Research published by Buffer suggested that communication was one of the top three challenges associated with remote work behind “unplugging after work” and “loneliness”.
Michelle explained: “Communication is key. Mutual respect in the team is more vital than ever before – for example, in online meetings everyone has to be given the opportunity to take their turn to speak and leaders and colleagues need to learn how to listen.”
Michelle’s top 6 tips for managers and leaders are:
1. Be available
Michelle said: “Leaders have to ensure they make time available for the staff to be able to check in and ask questions because in an office environment this is very often done off the cuff or on an adhoc basis.”
2. Connection with colleagues
“When working from home there needs to be an onus on the business leader to create a culture where people feel connected to their colleagues” said Michelle.
3. Remove the stigma of struggling
Michelle explained: “It is important that staff understand the importance of speaking up when they feel lonely, disconnected, frustrated or lost as a result of the working from home model.
“This can only be effective if they believe their disclosure of these things won’t have a negative effect on how they are seen and treated by management and colleagues.”
4. Open lines of communication
“One solution that works for many teams is leaving a Zoom or Google Meet call open all day or having a Microsoft Teams, Facebook messenger, WhatsApp or Slack group can help employees keep in contact with each other throughout the day” said Michelle.
5. Morning emails
“Another way I find works really well is to have communication every morning with your team” said Michelle, adding: “An email for example rounding up the achievements from the day before, outlining new developments, recognising outstanding work and outlining the work and priorities for the day can help people feel more focused and ultimately more productive.”
6. End of day reporting
Michelle said: “I’ve also found with many of my clients that having staff email their direct line manager an end of day report helps everyone to keep on top of what other departments and their own teams are doing. An end of week report from all departments to each other is also crucial for larger teams.”
Tyson Wilson currently have a number of remote and hybrid working roles in Bangor, Newry, Belfast, Antrim, Omagh and across Northern Ireland including customer support advisors, customer service operators and customer sales and retentions advisors among many others.
4C UR Future, the social enterprise that aims to empower young people to make more informed education and career choices, has announced its 4C UR Future LIVE events are returning in 2022.
In 2019, the organisation delivered a successful ‘proof of concept’ pilot event, which was supported by over 120 volunteers from over 30 cross-sectoral companies. Almost 1,200 Year 9 pupils participated in 4C UR Future LIVE over two days.
These are not dry and boring information-based events. Instead, young people take part in a range of sector-related skills games and work-based challenges, developed in collaboration with local employers representing every sector, which are designed to draw out and identify their key strengths, attributes, and talents.
Due to the impact of COVID19, the at-scale pilot events due to be held in 2020 and 2021 were postponed. However, with the pressure on our teachers and education system, the need for the business community to step in collectively to help inspire, inform and support young people is even greater now than prior to the pandemic. Therefore, the organisation is delighted to announce the return of 4C UR Future LIVE events, as an at-scale pilot, in 2022.
4C UR Future’s Founder, Rose Mary Stalker, said: “The careers environment has become increasingly complex for our young people to navigate, with new jobs and sectors emerging, and employers are facing significant skills shortages and bottlenecks, inhibiting our businesses from growing.
“4C UR Future LIVE was developed to provide a safe at-scale solution, to involve, inform, and inspire young people before they choose their GCSE subjects, so that they can make more empowered career pathway choices, and boost their opportunities.
“We are delighted to announce that we plan to hold 11 4C UR Future LIVE events this year – one in each Council area. In collaboration with a wide range of local employers, and supported by ten Councils, through our 2022 LIVE events we will engage with almost 7,500 Year 9 pupils from across Northern Ireland.”
The 2022 LIVE event schedule is available to view on the Events section of 4C UR Future’s website, with the registration process for schools to register their interest in attending the at-scale pilot events launching in Q1 2022.
A new art exhibition inspired by the stunning seascapes and coastline of Inishowen has opened at Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady.
Songs of the Sea by internationally acclaimed artist Rikki-Louise van den Berg explores the dialogue between artist, land and coast in the beautiful surroundings of Donegal.
The exhibition spans two galleries, featuring a collection of new works from 2021, with a range of small and large pieces reflecting Rikki’s explorative walks along the shore.
Its official launch will take place via Facebook Live on the Arts Centre’s page at 1pm on Wednesday 12th January with a virtual tour led by the artist.
Originally from Holland, Rikki spent her formative years in Ireland and returned to these shores in 1997 to establish herself as a figurative and abstract painter, embarking on a personal journey in search of identity and place.
Explaining her inspiration, Rikki said: “My work is an inner-response to my outside world, my surroundings, to nature; it’s vulnerable beauty, colours, movement, contrasts, it’s fleeting moments of timelessness.
“I work intuitively, and I welcome the tempestuous, the surprise and unexpected beauty in a stroke, movement or colour.
“To me the essence of painting lies in the process, the learning, mark making, the discovery. It’s about expressing what I feel. During the painting process I can build, destroy, uncover, paint over, wash and scrape, apply layers of paint by knife or hands or even sometimes from a distance. An intriguing conversation between me and the canvas, mirroring perhaps the acts of nature on the landscape.”
Rikki’s work has received both national and international acclaim and is currently represented by several renowned galleries in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
In 2012, she was selected as part of a small group of Irish painters to participate in ‘Irish Wave 3’, Beijing, China, curated by BIGsmall and Fion Gunn. A series of visual art events were held in Beijing and Shanghai in March 2012, continuing into 2013.
In 2016 Rikki received the Tyrone Gurthrie Residency Award for the second time, which followed by being selected for the Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Show in 2017, marking an important point in her career as a landscape artist.
She has recently been nominated for the Hambly & Hambly French Residency Award 2022 under the mentorship of Irish Artist Eamon Colman in collaboration with Centre Culturel Irlandais Paris.
The Songs of the Sea exhibition is free to visit and will remain in place until February 5th.
Details of a series of intimate live music gig, organised as part of Derry’s “Illuminate” festival scheduled to take place over two weekends, 17th -20th and 24th – 27th February, have been unveiled.
Funded by Tourism Northern Ireland, ‘Illuminate’ will bring Derry’s city centre to life with a series outdoor light and live illumination experiences to transform iconic buildings into spectacular pieces of art with light installations and performances across multiple sites, as part of an exciting live illumination experience planned for February.
Among the exciting music acts confirmed to perform as part of the festival are Kila, Neil Cowley, the Henry Girls and Aoife Scott. They will join other local acts such as Glenn Rossborough, ,Roe and John Deery The Heads, Comrade Hat. Clodagh May Music, Kate O’Callaghan, Ciaran Lavery, Maria Kelly and Basork for what promises to showcase the region’s diverse range of talent.
The artists will perform in intimate settings such as the Guildhall, St Augustine’s Church, Echo Echo studio and Contemporary centre of Arts as part of a live illumination trail experience with superb outdoor projections, sound and animation telling original stories through digital animation and innovative design.
Details of the gigs included in the programme are as follows – Thursday 17 February, Comrade Hat and Clodagh May Music from 730pm-9pm at CCA; Friday 18th February, Glenn Rossborough and Kate O’Callaghan, from 730-9pm at St Augustine’s; Saturday 19 February, The Henry Girls (Boswell) and Aoife Scott, from 9-11.30pm at the Guildhall; Thursday 24 February, Roe and John Deery The Heads from 730-9pm at the Echo Echo studios; Saturday 26th February, Neil Cowley, Ciaran Lavery and Maria Kelly from 9-11.30pm at the Guildhall and on Sunday 27 February, Kila and Basork from 9-11.30pm at the Guildhall.
Tickets for the intimate music experiences are currently on sale and are expected to sell out fast as numbers are restricted – for more details on the gigs and how to book tickets visit –www.musiccapital.org.
Funding for this iconic celebration of the Walled City has been secured from Tourism Northern Ireland through its Market-Led Development Programme for Local Authorities. The fund is part of the Embrace A Giant Spirit campaign which pledges to create authentic and innovative experiences that will provide more reasons to travel to and within Northern Ireland and to enhance and animate the experience for visitors from NI and ROI.
Kieran Dunlop from Music Capital who has been appointed by Council to organise the music element of the festival said he is delighted to be part of this hugely exciting showcase of visiting and local talent. He said he is delighted to be hosting a range of music acts that people can look forward to attend in early 2022.
He said: “Illuminate will be an amazing event that will really showcase a wide range of talented musicians and artists and perform in some of the most iconic and intimate settings. We are delighted to be part of this fantastic spectacle and we are delighted to have artists such as Neil Cowley, Kila, Aofie Scott, Ciaran Lavery and Roe performing live in the city and bringing some much needed cheer and positivity after such a difficult time for many people.
Derry City and Strabane District Council is currently working closely with a wide range of statutory bodies in terms of ensuring the event is COVID friendly and in adherence to any possible restrictions that may be in place at that time. The primary focus when planning for this event will be to have a crowd friendly circuit of the city that can accommodate the numbers of people expected to attend, taking into account social distancing and crowd management, whilst allowing people to enjoy the experience safely.
Council is also working with local businesses to get them involved and to maximise the opportunity the festival will bring to grow the city and region’s evening economy and to assist in COVID recovery.
The Mayor concluded: “I am hugely excited about this and delighted that once again our Council is set to deliver another fantastic event to showcase our city and region. This festival will be an opportunity for us to celebrate after a difficult and challenging period.
According to Google 59% of shoppers say they’ll research a product before making an in-store or online purchase.
One of the ways they will conduct research is to check out a company’s website and, in particular, the blog section.
A DemandMetric study revealed 68% of consumers spend time reading about the brands that interest them and in 2019 54% of Fortune 500 companies had a public facing blog.
Belfast based multi-disciplinary marketing and communications agency Excalibur Press’ latest training webinar looks at how business owners can take advantage of this powerful marketing tool.
Delivered by trainer and content strategist Tina Calder, the session How To Supercharge Your Blogging & Content Marketing For 2022 which takes place on Friday January 21, and will take attendees through the secrets of creating blog content for their business.
Speaking ahead of the session Tina Calder said: “It’s unquestionable that the rise of content marketing and blogging cannot be ignored by businesses wanting to increase their digital footprint online.
“However, for many business owners the thought of writing a blog and publishing it can be a daunting experience. From lack of confidence and ideas to not knowing what will resonate with their potential customers the blog and content marketing often gets put to the end of the ‘to do’ list
“In this session we are going to focus on helping people first create a list of content ideas and find out how they can work out what to write about when creating their content. The session will also outline the different types of blogs businesses can create as well as showing examples and run through practical templates for writing a quick and easy blog.”
The 90 minute session will also take attendees through everything from what types of blogging you can do for your business, how to create quick and easy blog posts, what are the key ingredients to a successful blog and how to come up with ideas for your blog.
Tina added: “Throughout this session I will be revealing all the tools we use at Excalibur Press to create good quality content for our clients as well as lift the lid on the secrets other social media professionals don’t want you to know.
“We’ll even cover the structure of a blog, language, rules and tone, where to publish your blog and how to get it seen by others.
“This session will help businesses reduce their stress levels when it comes to creating a blog, create content quickly and give them confidence knowing that they are bringing value to their customers throughout 2022.”
This is the second webinar in a new year series by Excalibur Press with the first being How To Set Up Your Social Media Content Strategy & Plan For 2022 which takes place on Friday January 7, book now at excaliburpress.co.uk/social-webinar-2022.
For more information and booking details for How To Supercharge Your Blogging & Content Marketing For 2022 on Friday January 21, go to excaliburpress.co.uk/blog-webinar
The Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) has shown commitment to its cleaner, greener goals by facilitating key conversations between sustainable businesses and the wider community.
One such business the BID is facilitating conversations with is streetdock, a newly launched infrastructure system of micro-hubs that supports and scales the use of low impact vehicles like e-cargo bikes for logistics, including light commercial and e-commerce cargo.
Streetdock is a zero-emissions delivery service by local entrepreneurs Ian Richardson and David Kane. Damien Corr manager of the Cathedral Quarter BID said he’s delighted to be working with local businesses and streetdock to help achieve an environmentally friendlier city centre for all by 2026.
“Under the Safer, Cleaner, Greener strand of the Cathedral Quarter Business plan for the next five years, the CQ BID has been facilitating activity around the pedestrianisation in this part of the city” said Damien.
“This plan was endorsed by 86% of the ballot in the recent renewal election and the BID will spend the next 5 years working in partnership to deliver it.
“The popular Cathedral Quarter is a conservation area and over the past year, in partnership with Business and Statutory agencies has seen more care taken towards protecting its environment through the pedestrianisation (on a pilot basis) of Union St.
“Over the last year we have facilitated, in partnership with Business and Statutory agencies, the pedestrianisation (on a pilot basis) of Union St which has already led to the creation of new business and a general improvement to the general amenity of the area.
“In the new year we will be working along the same basis to explore how we might reduce traffic in Hill St. and Gordon St” added Damien.
A recent survey looking at the condition of the historic Cathedral Quarter Cobbles pointed to the severe neglect and damage that they have endured over the years.
The BID manager welcomed the introduction of eCargo bikes which would lessen the flow of traffic delivering necessary goods to businesses around the area.
“It is a fair assumption that heavy delivery vehicles will have contributed to the cobble damage so we were very excited to learn about the streetdock project as it is obviously one of the solutions to this issue” he said, adding: “The BID is very happy to liaise between the Company and businesses where needed.
“We are hopeful that the versatility of streetdock will be of interest to Business and that the initiative will act as catalyst for further sustainable development in the Cathedral Quarter and across the city.”
Funding for the new streetdock initiative which launched earlier this month, comes from the Department for Infrastructure’s Sustainable and Active Travel elements of the Department for Communities’ Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme Fund, with Belfast City Council supporting project delivery.
The pilot project, which will operate for one year, offers a sustainable delivery solution for city centre-based business-to-business deliveries.
Ian Richardson co-founder of streetdock said: “Cities are badly impacted by our overuse of fossil fuel vehicles and we need to reverse the dominance of vehicles over people.
“We are passionate about playing a role in helping cities adapt and becoming places that are safe, attractive and economically vibrant and we want to help Belfast thrive by making it a place people want to be in, not drive through.
“Micromobility is being experimented with in many cities around the world and and cycling infrastructure is key and fundamental to safer healthier communities.
“Green infrastructure rather than big engineered solutions are needed to improve resilience and biodiversity, where we work with nature rather than concreting over everything”.
To register your interest in the streetdock initiative go to streetdock.com.
As many business owners work on their 2022 marketing and communications strategies and plans many will struggle to figure out what to do with their social media in the year ahead.
A new training session by Belfast company Excalibur Press is set to help business owners, social media managers and staff responsible for looking after social platforms create an actionable social media content strategy and plan.
Delivered by trainer and content strategist Tina Calder, the session How To Set Up Your Social Media Content Strategy & Plan For 2022, which takes place on Friday January 7, will take attendees through the basics of what they need to know in order to maximise their social media use in the year ahead.
Speaking ahead of the session Tina Calder said: “For many businesses social media can be the headache that just won’t go away. Everything from lack of time, resources and finances to a lack of technical skills and content ideas can turn managing social media into a nightmare for many people.
“As the number of platforms increase in number and audience expectations change it’s not easy to keep on top of your social platforms in a streamlined way that is beneficial for your business.
“In this session we’re going to focus on helping people understand the practical steps they need to take in order to create a basic social media strategy for the year ahead and show attendees how to make a plan, where to get ideas and how to execute good infrastructure social media content creation in bulk.”
The 90 minute session will also take attendees through each of the platforms and the most important features as well as helping develop ways to brainstorm content, get their staff and colleagues involved and how to fit social media into a wider marketing and communications strategy.
Tina added: “Throughout this session I will be revealing all the tools we use at Excalibur Press to create good quality content for our clients as well as lift the lid on the secrets other social media professionals don’t want you to know.
“By demystifying how to optimise your social media content creation and showing attendees how to integrate social content into all aspects of the customer journey I hope that businesses and individuals will be much more confident about creating great social media content throughout 2022.”