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Appointment of Chair, Vice-Chair and Members to the Board of the Arts Council NI

Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 9am 0 Comments

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has appointed Mr Liam Hannaway as Chair and Mr William Leathem as Vice-Chair of the Arts Council NI Board.

She has also appointed the following individuals as Board Members:

  • Mr Paul Boyle
  • Mr Paul Brolly
  • Mr Joe Dougan
  • Mrs Laura McCorry
  • Dr Gearoid Trimble


The appointments are effective from 1 February 2021 until 31 January 2025. Mr Hannaway previously served as an Arts Council NI Board Member from 1 July 2020 to 31 January 2021.

Commenting on the appointments Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,

“I am delighted to welcome our new Board members, in particular, sitting Board member Liam Hannaway, now Chair of the Arts Council.

On behalf of my executive team and staff I want to congratulate all on their good news and I look forward to getting to know them. They each bring strengths to the table and I am delighted to see a valuable set of skills from diverse backgrounds; from local government to creative media and leisure, through to the live entertainments industry and local tourism."

The Arts Council has a key role to play in developing and improving the knowledge, appreciation and practice of the arts, and increasing public access to and participation in the arts. It is also responsible for the distribution of Lottery grants. Its statutory functions are set out in The Arts Council (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.


Biographical details:

Mr Liam Hannaway – Chair: Mr Hannaway is a former Chief Executive and Chief Accounting Office of Newry Mourne and Down and Banbridge District Council, with experience of establishing governance arrangements, committee structures, setting direction/strategy, through the establishment of corporate plans and managing budgets. He was responsible for the publication of the council community plan using leadership and negotiating skills, as well as stakeholder engagement to obtain agreement for the plan from public sector officials, politicians and community representatives. He has a long history of interest and involvement in the Arts: in a voluntary capacity as an actor and director with Lislea Dramatic Players and as a former Chair of the Ulster Region of the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland ; in local government, he was instrumental in the development of the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Sculpture Park. He has had no political activity during the last five years.

Mr William Leathem – Vice Chair: Mr Leathem is a former elected member of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, where he served as Chair of both the Development Committee and Governance & Audit Committee. He is presently the Chair of USEL (Ulster Supported Employment Limited). This has a time commitment of 11 meetings per year with a remuneration of £270 per meeting. He was a former member of the District Policing Partnership and a former Board Member of both the Ulster-Scots Agency and Libraries NI. Mr Leathem has varied audit and governance experience, project management experience and financial management skills, which he will bring to this role. In the last five years he has undertaken political activity for the Democratic Unionist Party.

Mr Paul Boyle – Member: Mr Boyle is currently a Director for Active Belfast Limited, which is the Board responsible for overseeing the provision of leisure services within Belfast and the implementation of Belfast City Council’s £105m Leisure Transformation Programme. He is also the Head of Sport at Belfast Metropolitan College and has managed a number of significant capital and community outreach projects. He has been involved in education for over 25 years and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He has extensive experience in strategic and business planning, performance review and risk management. He does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Mr Paul Brolly – Member: Mr Brolly is Chair of the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, a publicly funded contemporary art gallery and member of the Plus Tate network. In this role he has responsibility for overseeing the gallery’s governance, strategic direction and growth plans. He is also Chair of the Board of Greenisland Primary School and a member of the Antrim and Newtownabbey Council Arts and Cultural Advisory Panel. He is Head of Creative for BBC Northern Ireland, with over 20 years media experience working across high profile BBC output within the areas of television and radio broadcasting, digital platforms, communications and marketing. He does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Mr Joe Dougan – Member: Mr Dougan’s background is primarily in the live music industry. He has been a key senior organiser of the Belsonic and Custom House Square outdoor music events in Belfast for over 12 years. During this period these events have grown from attracting 5,000 attendees annually to attendances in excess of 150,000 patrons p/a, and have hosted some of the world’s largest names in entertainment. He oversees venues such as The Limelight, The Telegraph Building in Belfast and The Academy in Dublin, as well as internationally established electronic music brand Shine. He is responsible for an annual programme of live music and entertainment across Northern Ireland encompassing upwards of 300 events p/a, ranging from grassroots venues to large outdoor spaces. He personally promotes events for many internationally successful Northern Irish musical acts through long standing relationships and has prioritised developing new musical talent from across Northern Ireland for over 15 years. He also manages comedy and media talent, and produces live comedy events up to arena level. These varied roles have given him an oversight of, and responsibility for, financial, audit and governance matters as well as procurement processing and budgeting. He does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Mrs Laura McCorry – Member: Mrs McCorry is Head of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens where she leads an expert term in the conservation, development and management of the historic visitor attraction, whilst also ensuring the Castle fulfils its role as Northern Ireland’s Official Royal Residence and home for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.  Prior to this, she held a variety of strategic and leadership roles locally and internationally. Her previous positions include Public Engagement Director at National Museums Northern Ireland where she led and managed the visitor facing services across the group. Her remit involved the development and co-ordination of public programming, learning and outreach as well as marketing and communications. She was also a Director at Tourism NI for nine years and worked previously in the United States in business and economic development. She is currently a member of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce, a group set up by the Minister for the Economy to support the post Covid Tourism recovery effort.  She does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Dr Gearoid Trimble – Member: Dr Trimble is a senior public servant and currently works with Foras na Gaeilge, the North-South implementation body for the promotion of the Irish language. With over 20 years’ experience working with the Community and Voluntary sectors, both as a practitioner and as a policy-maker, he has extensive experience in grant administration, corporate governance and budgetary management and he has overseen the implementation of national policies and island-wide funding schemes. He holds a PhD in Irish Literature and is also a published author. He does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

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