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Bangor businesses set to draw more customers through Open House Festival scheme

Friday 3rd August 2018 at 10am 0 Comments Visual Arts

Pictured (L-R) are Ken Sharp, owner of the Salty Dog, artist Steph Hanlon from Boom! Studios, and Festival organiser Alison Gilmore. Image: Pictured (L-R) are Ken Sharp, owner of the Salty Dog, artist Steph Hanlon from Boom! Studios, and Festival organiser Alison Gilmore.

Coffee houses, bars, butchers and boutiques are embracing the festival spirit and getting creative at this year’s Open House Festival Bangor (1st August-31st August).

One hundred-plus local businesses have pledged their support as Festival Friends, offering deals and discounts for ticket holders, with dozens also opening their doors to host events.

The start of the Festival sees a focus on visual art, with three exhibitions opening this week, beginning with the launch of the artists-in-residence scheme at the Salty Dog, followed by Boom! Studios’ Anarchy Art Exhibition, and the launch of A Chorus of Georgeousses – an exhibition of new figure drawings and grotesqueries by Sam Finnegan at Hell Yeah Custom Tattoo Shop.

Five local collectives have put forward participants for the artists-in-residence scheme including social enterprise Boom! Studios, Angie’s Art Studio, North Down and Bangor Camera Club, Bangor Art Club and Seacourt Print Workshop. More than 40 local artists are exhibiting original work in town centre businesses from bars to banks, including Bangor Train Station and the Spectator newspaper offices. A vinyl cutting created by more than a dozen artists that will grace the windows of retail businesses on Bangor Main Street. The Salty Dog Hotel launch event will include more than 30 pieces by local artists ranging from photography and printmaking to painting and papercutting.

Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery funding, this year’s programme will include 144 events in around 40 venues.

Festival Director Kieran Gilmore, says:

“Creativity isn’t exclusive to the arts – it extends to many other businesses, including food, retail and technology.  We’re committed to transforming Bangor into a creative town and a vibrant seaside destination, and we are delighted that more than 100 businesses have signed up this year to bring us closer to achieving that vision.

“We know that the Festival has a really positive impact on the local economy. In 2017 we welcomed more than 40,000 visitors to Bangor and this year we’re expecting at least 50,000. The economic impact of the festival on the town in 2017 was £1.7m for the month of August alone, and this year we’re hoping to hit the £2m. ”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The visual art initiatives are a fantastic addition to the programme, creating public galleries across the town for all to enjoy. Festival-fever has really gripped Bangor this year and it is wonderful to hear that so many businesses are getting involved and recognising the important role that the arts play in economic regeneration. ”

The 2018 Open House Festival programme features musicians, actors, authors, exhibitions and much more. Highlights still to come include outdoor concerts on Bangor seafront by the Waterboys, John Grant, Public Image Limited and the Undertones, plus interviews with Martin Bell and Helen Pankhurst.

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