Saint Joseph’s in Sailortown has been a long-haul project in order to get the ex-Catholic Church building, and now community facility, firstly waterproofed and then made into a welcoming place for events.
The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, April 28 to May 8, has a series of events running in the community hub which will continue to enliven the venue with music and laughter and bring life to this building which was once a hive of activity.
As demographics change and spiritual practice shift, there are a number of former church buildings that have experienced new life as cultural venues. Duncairn Arts Centre, the Cultúrlann and Portico are all former Presbyterian churches, with Portico managing to navigate the politics of still having a congregation worshipping in the building while running arts events.
First up on Tuesday 3 May in Saint Joseph’s is Monty Python and the Foley Grail, where you are invited to "grab your coconuts and go on a quest for the foley grail." It’s a screening of the cult comedy classic of Monty Python and the Holy Grail with audience participation. You even receive a package of Foley delights on arrival to help you participate. Think of it as creating your own sound effects to the film with encouragement – coconuts and all.
Comedian Tadhg Hickey's ‘In one eye, out the other' show on Wednesday and Thursday May 4 and 5 promises cathartic humour in a surreal retelling of his own battle with alcoholism. There is plenty of material there.
This Ship Argo: Live Film Soundtrack has been commissioned by CQAF. Aileen McKenna has produced a new composition for this specially-edited film. The work ties into themes of sea and seafaring industries: Friday, May 6.
Malojian: Journey Through the Past – An Afternoon of Neil Young songs is performed on Saturday afternoon, May 7. A huge Neil Young fan, Malojian, who has been heavily influenced by him, will focus on the Harvest and After the Gold Rush albums.
The CQAF missed out of their January Out to Lunch Festival, having to reschedule many acts, but it’s great to see it burst back to life. Winnie Ama is CQAF artist-in-residence and there is a great visual art offering around all the galleries. Who ever thought the Masonic Hall on Rosemary street would be screening a sci-fi film? Oh, how times have changed!
Also back on the streets over the Bank Holiday weekend will be the Festival of Fools, brainchild of the late Will Chamberlain and the Belfast Circus School. With Will's passing, the past couple of years have seen the circus school re-evaluate and the reins have been passed over to the next generation and rebranded as Circusful. But the festival still offers free family fun in St Anne’s Square, Writers' Square, Cathedral Gardens, Cornmarket and, for the first time, St Anne’s Cathedral car park — and keeps many of us city dwellers inside the city on a bank holiday weekend.
We're thrilled to be welcoming back @claire_prouvost to #HTN22! Claire is a French illustrator and visual artist with a colourful, bold and minimal style, and we can't wait to see what she brings to the festival this year!— Seedhead Arts (@SeedheadArts) April 18, 2022
Check out the full line up - https://t.co/W3MHYdJ2UD pic.twitter.com/noTG83kLCn
Hit the North street Art festival will also be running on Sunday, May 1, when Belfast will play home to European artists travelling here to take part in an open art paint jam in Kent Street. Mural art is my least favourite visual art form but if it’s your kind of thing it will be there outside for all to see.
The next Late Night Art, when all of the galleries are open late in the city, is election day, Thursday 5 May. Maybe see you out and about?