• 21 January 2015

4 Corners Festival aims to inspire generosity and imagination

Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon will host the launch of the annual 4 Corners Festival on Friday 23 January at 11.00 am in the Mayor’s Parlour at Belfast City Hall. Now in its third year, the events of this year’s festival focus on the themes of generosity and imagination. The programme is wide–ranging, including art exhibitions and an art tour, music, discussions, storytelling, talks, a prayer breakfast, and a dinner for refugees. 

The festival was conceived by Revd Steve Stockman of Fitzroy Presbyterian and Fr Martin Magill of Sacred Heart parish. It has been organised by a small group of Christians from all four corners of the city. Festival events are deliberately located in all four corners of the city so that people are enticed to travel outside of their normal comfort zones, seeing new places and meeting new people. The organisers welcome people from all faith backgrounds and none to attend the events, most of which are free of charge or ask only for a donation. 

The Lord Mayor said: “I am delighted to host the launch of this year’s festival. In its previous two years, it has helped people to cross boundaries all across the city of Belfast. I look forward to attending events and being inspired to use generosity and imagination to make our city a better place.”

Fr Magill and Rev Stockman got the idea for a festival after reflecting on occasions they had to travel to parts of Belfast with which they were unfamiliar. Astonished by what they saw in these unfamiliar areas, and deeply aware of how segregation continues to divide Belfast’s citizens, they hoped to prompt others to experience new areas of the city through a festival of events.

Revd Stockman said: “To move from our political peace, which at times can be very fragile, to a robust social peace we need to find a generosity of soul that lives out Christian ideas like forgiveness, love of enemy and shalom. For those words to become a reality on our streets we will need to imagine new ways of acting towards one another. For that to happen we need to be exercising the muscle of our imaginations. Please God that this year’s 4 Corners Festival might contribute to that.”

Last year the “Listening to Your Enemies” event provoked a riot outside the Skainos building in East Belfast when a crowd gathered to protest against one of the guest speakers, ex–IRA bomber Pat Magee, who was sharing the stage with Jo Berry, whose father was killed in the Brighton bomb. The festival will return to Skainos this year with an event called “SligheNa Beatha” or “The Path of Life,” a journey through the Psalms with reflections and music provided by Scottish Gaelic Psalm singers (Saturday 7 February at 7.00 pm).

Linda Ervine of Skainos said: “We hope this year’s event will help us examine where we are in Northern Ireland in terms of healing, using the backdrop of the Psalms, which have brought such comfort to people down through the ages.”

A full programme of events can be found online at 4cornersfestival.com