Communities across Northern Ireland will be celebrating a year of culture in 2023 thanks to a programme of events organised by Radius Housing, Habinteg Housing and Artsekta. The new ‘Cultural Calendar’ will see a range of events in towns and villages which celebrate the diversity of our local communities, from Polish Constitution Day and Eid, to Dia de los Muertos and Diwali.
The initiative came from work which Radius Housing and Habinteg Housing undertook with their community Joint Advisory group in Portrush and Portstewart in 2021. The group recognised the value in organising cultural programmes which had educational value, as well as being fun for the local community.
The success of the initial events led to the group proposing that a yearlong series of events could be planned to celebrate cultures from around the world. Radius and Habinteg staff took this idea, with the aim of producing a 2023 calendar to share events from 12 of the largest cultures in Northern Ireland. A box of information, recipes, and crafts for each month of the calendar will be shared to encourage greater understanding of these cultures. 12 events have been planned to bring to life some of the diverse cultures in NI that are highlighted in the Cultural calendar and information & activity boxes across six towns.
The Advisory Group is part of the Good Relations plan for shared housing projects in the Portrush and Portstewart areas, and the Cultural calendar is supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s ‘Housing for All’ Shared Housing Programme. The Programme has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society.
The first events of the calendar were spectacular Chinese New Year events in Coleraine, Ballymena, Omagh and Holywood, which were organised with local schools and community groups.
Lisa Mooney of Radius Housing told us “It feels very special to be able to bring such a widespread celebration of Chinese New Year across these towns. We have a mixture of schools’ events where we have brought shared education schools together and community events.”
She highlighted one of the events, “In Ballymena two whole schools came together to celebrate Year of the Rabbit. St Pauls’ and Kirkinriola Primary schools came together with 106 pupils from P1 – P7 in a special event including dance, music, food, sharing culture and tradition and show stopping performances of Chinese Lion, Dragon, and fan dance. The pupils and staff enjoyed it immensely.”
Margaret McLaughlin from Habinteg Housing added “We are delighted to work in collaboration with Radius Housing Association to deliver a culture awareness programme to residents across Northern Ireland.”
Nisha Tandon, Executive Director, ArtsEkta, said of the programme, “As a charity and Social Enterprise supporting Cultural Awareness through the Arts, this is an exciting opportunity to engage ArtsEkta’s talented artists from diverse backgrounds in delivering a colourful showcase of 12 different cultures and their key celebrations through music, dance, arts, and food. We look forward to bringing lots more cultural celebrations to pupils and communities right across Northern Ireland, in partnership with Radius and Habinteg Housing.”
The new homes at the St Patrick’s Barracks site are the latest development by Radius Housing, part of a £29m housing-led regeneration project in the local area. This programme is also funded through Good Relations Plans for Housing for All developments at Laurel Hill Gardens Coleraine, Cappagh Green, Portstewart, Camowen Woods, Omagh and Habinteg Housing developments at Girona, Portrush, and Holywood.
The next events will be on 4th March at Coleraine West with Radius Housing celebrating Holi, whole on the 3rd April a Seville April Fair in Portrushnwill be held for schools. Polish Constitution Day celebrations will take place in May in Coleraine and Ballymena. The programme will also feature Islamic New Year or Eid, Dia de los Muertos and Diwali.