One Belfast Where Hope and History Rhyme

The Imagine Belfast bid for European Capital of Culture 2008

"Belfast has begun a social, economic and cultural transformation that has the potential to reverberate across Europe." Hilary McGrady, Chief Executive of Imagine Belfast The European Union created the concept of 'Capitals of Culture' in 1985. In 2008, it will again be the turn of a city from the United Kingdom. If that city is Belfast, the potential economic, social and cultural benefits will be enormous. Initially, Belfast faced competition from eleven other cities. In October, that will be reduced to a shortlist of between three and six. The winner, to be chosen by European Culture Ministers, will be announced in Spring, 2003.

Imagine Belfast, the independent company responsible for delivering Belfast's bid, realised that the success of the bid depended on the participation of all the people of Belfast. In October, 2001, every home in Belfast received a postcard asking for ideas. Nearly 9,000 responses were received, many based on the themes of unity and peace and creating a better city for our children. These ideas became the core of the Imagine Belfast bid.

The overwhelming desire of the people of Belfast, (the title of our bid) is for an united city "oneBelfast". There are three main themes in the bid, all of which will contribute to that aim:


Amongst many exciting projects enabling the children of Belfast to unlock their creativity and imagination, and adults to see the world anew, will be a living library of storytelling based on myths and legends, a creativity centre for the under-five's and a groundbreaking programme to make each child musically literate by P4. An International Summer School for Young People will bring together young people from cities which have experienced conflict to collaborate, perform and pool their ideas for mutual understanding.

A series of projects will explore the extraordinary industrial and artistic heritage of Belfast, redevelop our new cultural heartland, the Cathedral Quarter and draw on the current pool of talent, creativity, vision and innovation to help renew Belfast's sense of itself as a great international city. Top fashion designers will create and exhibit works made from linen, the fabric synonymous with Belfast, while the richness and diversity of language and music will be celebrated in festivals and specially commissioned work from young writers and internationally acclaimed artists alike.

By re-designing and regenerating our environment, these projects will help tear down the barriers that still divide us. Each area in Belfast, via our exotic street names such as Paris, Sudan, Brussels and Damascus will connect to another culture in the world in a multi-media project. Europe's leading architects and designers will create special pavilions in our parks to link up as arts and community venues. Derelict areas of the city will be transformed and mass picnics will be held in the heart of Belfast. There is so much more. We will be inviting all Northern Irish emigrants and visitors from around the world to come to Belfast, staging artistic collaborations on an unprecedented scale and combining all the existing film festivals and projects in Northern Ireland in a special Month of Film. And that is just a taste of what is planned. A successful bid will create the most remarkable transformation Belfast has ever known. It will attract
hundreds of thousands of overseas visitors and many thousands of new jobs. It will see the city becoming a centre of excellence for the arts and sciences with magnificent new facilities. It will bring dramatic changes to society and the environment. No other city presents such an opportunity for change as Belfast. No other city or people deserve that opportunity more.

Imagine Belfast 2008
109-113 Royal Avenue
BT 1 1FF
T: 028 90 322008
F: 028 90 236558