Belfast is set to become a hiving global focus for lesbian, gay, bi and transgender arts, with the launch today of The Barracks, the only dedicated queer arts development and showcase space in the UK or Ireland.
Nestled down Exchange Place laneway, one of Belfast’s oldest entries in the Cathedral Quarter, The Barracks is launching in tandem with a new five-year plan from Outburst Queer Arts Festival, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.
The cutting edge, intimate new venue will be available for open hire, in addition to housing TheatreofplucK, NI’s only publicly funded queer theatre company (Trouble, The Trouble With Harry, D.R.A.G)
Both launches come hot off the back of a prestigious Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards nomination for Belfast native Stacey Gregg. Her transgender-themed play, Scorch, was developed last year for Outburst, making Belfast an unlikely new centre of excellence for queer arts in these Islands.
Outburst’s Creative Director, Ruth McCarthy commented;
"Despite the legal inequalities we still have here, Belfast has moved on massively in terms of our LGBT community and our aspirations. Our festival is developing and showcasing some of the best work, not just here but worldwide. We present work by Theatreof pluck and other world-class local producers, and it’s time to celebrate what have in terms of diversity here. We are a globally recognised festival now and we have an amazing creative community here in Belfast, yet our legal and political leaders are lagging behind in showing off this wonderful asset."
TheatreofplucK Director Niall Rea added;
"We are hugely excited about this new venture at The Barracks. We wanted to offer an affordable, exciting space to both established and upcoming performance makers. We hope that within five
years, the name of The Barracks will be synonymous with the very best and most exciting cutting edge art coming out of these islands."
In her introduction to Outburst’s plan, Arts Council of Northern Ireland Chief Executive, Roisin McDonough, says;
"We need risk takers like Outburst to champion the arts and strengthen the voice of the LGBTQ community in Northern Ireland. They help enlighten minds to the possibility of, indeed the imperative for true respect and equality for all."
The launch takes place Wednesday 10th February, 5.30pm-7pm at The Barracks, Exchange Place, BT1 2NA