4 Corners Festival: Dreaming of a better Belfast...

4 Corners Festival co-founders the Rev Steve Stockman and Fr Martin Magill. The festival returns this month
4 Corners Festival co-founders the Rev Steve Stockman and Fr Martin Magill. The festival returns this month

NOW firmly established as an annual event, the 4 Corners Festival returns for its 11th outing at the end of this month, running from January 29 to February 5.

Originally the brainchild of Presbyterian minister the Rev Steve Stockman and Catholic priest Fr Martin Magill, the festival aims to connect the 'four corners' of Belfast - a city where, despite its compact size, it all too often feels there is still a great distance between its different districts.

From the start, the 4 Corners team has sought to hold events in parts of Belfast that many of the attendees may never have been to before, challenging people to get out of their own 'corners'.

This year's programme continues this proud tradition. For example, a discussion about the Catholic Church's forthcoming synod will be held in the heart of east Belfast on January 29, at the Skainos Centre on the Newtownards Road.

That event - 'Dreaming God's Dream - Walking the Path Together' - will be addressed by Julieann Moran, general secretary of the Irish Catholic Church's Synodal Pathway.

Clonard Monastery will host a discussion about the role of women in peacebuilding on Tuesday January 31, with a panel including Inspector Róísín Brown from the PSNI, Dr Maria-Adriana Deiana from Queen's University, Eileen Weir from Shankill Women's Centre and campaigner Emma DeSouza.

Throughout the week, 'Present Future', an immersive video and audio installation which explores themes of dreams, aspirations and leadership from the perspective of children and young people in Protestant, unionist and loyalist communities, will run at the Telegraph Buildings on Library Street in the city centre.

Underpinning the festival this year is the theme of 'Dreams... Visions for Belfast'.

"In 2023 it will be 60 years since Rev Dr Martin Luther King's astonishing 'I Have A Dream' speech in Washington DC when he articulated a vision for a better, more just, America," explained Rev Stockman and Fr Magill, adding that "2023 will also see us in Northern Ireland celebrate 25 years since the referendum when 71 per cent of us in the north endorsed the Good Friday Agreement and dreamed of a better future for us all".

The festival will "be an opportunity for us to listen to our dreams", they said: "From Church leaders, to women in leadership to young loyalists to the homeless to artists we will hear the dreams and visions for a better Belfast."

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