Blog : The MAC

THE MAC SHINES A SPOTLIGHT ON RUMOUR MILL PR

THE MAC SHINES A SPOTLIGHT ON RUMOUR MILL PR

One of Ireland’s leading arts venues has reaffirmed its partnership with Rumour Mill PR for the support and delivery of their consumer PR plan for 2017/18.

The MAC, Belfast’s multi award-winning arts venue situated in the city’s bustling Cathedral Quarter, has tasked Rumour Mill PR with the support and delivery of their consumer PR campaigns spanning theatre, performing arts and visual arts.

Rumour Mill PR has worked with the MAC for the past two terms – 2015/16 and 2016/17 – successfully delivering visitor-led and theatre-led communications strategies, including two magical Christmas productions; Rumpelstiltskin (2015) and Pinocchio (2016).

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LOCAL CHILDREN’S WISH TO HELP THE HOMELESS IS GRANTED

LOCAL CHILDREN’S WISH TO HELP THE HOMELESS IS GRANTED

Five lucky children from across Northern Ireland are to have their festive wish, an appeal to help the homeless, granted by Phoenix Natural Gas.

Phoenix Natural Gas having called for children who had recently visited the MAC to cast their wish into its Phoenix Wishing Well, pledged to make one come true. Over 1000 wishes were received; some funny, some imaginative and some especially heartfelt. Having reviewed all the entries, it became evermore clear that the one selfless plea from the youngsters was to help the growing number of homeless people on our streets.

The winning wishes were received from Rosie Graham (10) from Ballyclare, Max Holden (6) from Newtownabbey, Rhiana Graham (11) from Armagh and siblings Abigail (9) and Ryan Love (12) from North Belfast, who were at the MAC along with their brother and sisters to present Phoenix Natural Gas’s donation to the Welcome Organisation.

Cathy Magovern, Marketing & Events Manager at Phoenix Natural Gas said, “We were overwhelmed by the number of wishes cast in aid of the homeless in Northern Ireland. Children visiting the MAC over Christmas had the opportunity to wish for anything they desired, yet many chose to sacrifice their wants in aid of those less fortunate – an entirely altruistic act.

“We reached out to the Welcome Organisation in Belfast to see how a donation on behalf of the children could be best utilised. From speaking with them, it became apparent that homelessness is about more than having a roof over your head. People become and stay homeless for a whole range of complex and coinciding reasons. That is why we are delighted to work with the organisation to provide those that visit their centre with essential lifestyle skills through a £1500 donation to help deliver 100 hours of cookery lessons.”

Kieran Hughes, from The Welcome Organisation, said: “The Welcome Organisation is delighted to be able to help the five winners fulfil their Christmas wish to help the homeless thanks to this wonderful initiative by Phoenix Natural Gas and the MAC.

“The £1500 will allow us to provide essential skills for some of the 1,400 homeless people who use our services every year. It will provide our service users with the chance to learn new skills and rediscover old skills that they may never have had the opportunity to do. These skills will help some of the most vulnerable people in our community to have a brighter future.

“We would like to thank Phoenix Natural Gas, the MAC and all the young people made who made their pledge in the Phoenix Wishing Well.”

Anne McReynolds, Chief Executive of the MAC adds: “We are delighted with the positive response to the Phoenix Wishing Well competition and inspired by the generosity of spirit shown by our young theatre goers.”

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MICHAEL COLLINS BROUGHT TO LIFE AT THE MAC

MICHAEL COLLINS BROUGHT TO LIFE AT THE MAC

actor-dominic-mchale-as-michael-collins-on-stage-in-the-great-arrangement-pic-2From the 22-24 September, the MAC will transport audiences to pre-treaty Ireland as the forging of a nation is retold from the perspective of Michael Collins, as his romance blossoms with the woman who became his fiancé, Kitty Kiernan.

In a post-Brexit Northern Ireland, where the question of borders is ever-more prevalent, this is certainly a play for today.  The action takes place in a country in turmoil, as Collins and the Irish delegation negotiate what would become the Anglo Ireland Treaty of 1921, a treaty that would shape the future of 20th century Ireland.

Patrick Talbot’s play, A Great Arrangement, which he also directs, opened this week in Dublin, and comes to the MAC in Belfast for just three nights.  The show has been celebrated for its historical accuracy, while drawing on the illuminating love letters between Collins and Kiernan, alongside Collins’ inspirational speeches, and newspaper reports from the time. It is packed full of drama and judging by the audience response so far, Belfast audiences will not be disappointed.

Actor Dominic McHale rises to the challenge of reprising the formidable Michael Collins, bringing to the stage an impassioned performance with intensity, vigour and power. While Irene Kelleher portrays the love of his life, Kitty, in a show full of drama, rich history and emotion.

Writer and Director Patrick Talbot says: “I was interested in presenting a fresh perspective on Collins. Traditionally he is presented as the soldier and the man of action but in this play I focus on Collins the political leader and budding statesman, but also the young man falling very much in love and imagining what it might be like to have a somewhat normal settled existence, something that eluded him for all of his short adult life.’   

In preparation for bringing these characters to life on the stage, the cast visited Béal na Bláth, the site of the ambush where Michael Collins was killed by anti-Treaty forces.

“That was an incredibly powerful and poignant visit. It really helped us both to establish a connection with the lives of both Michael (Collins) and Kitty (Kiernan),” explained Dominic McHale who plays the lead role.

“What I find particularly moving about the Kiernan-Collins relationship is that amid incredible pressure, essentially carrying the weight of a nation, both found the time to write these endearing and revealing letters to one another providing comfort and support to the other.

“While obviously it was a very testing time, there are moments of humour and light too, like Kitty reminding Collins to go to Mass.  They could perhaps be described as Ireland’s first power couple,” added Kelleher.

Witness Collins as you’ve never seen him portrayed before – with words of uncertainty, fear for the future and talk of daily life and love.

A Great Arrangement is playing the MAC in Belfast from 22-24 September, the only dates in Northern Ireland. For more information or to book your tickets, visit themaclive.com or call the MAC on (028) 9023 5053.

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Notes to Editors:

  • Writer/Director – Patrick Talbot: Patrick Talbot is the adaptor / director of the critically acclaimed ‘God Bless the Child”, based on stories by Frank O’Connor, which toured Ireland in 2015 and 2016, including visits to the Gaiety Theatre Dublin, the Cork Opera House and the Lyric Theatre Belfast. He was Artistic Director/CEO of The Everyman Cork between 2001 and 2011.
NEW CREATIVE DIRECTOR TAKES CENTRE STAGE AT THE MAC

NEW CREATIVE DIRECTOR TAKES CENTRE STAGE AT THE MAC

Leading Belfast arts venue, the MAC has announced a significant new appointment to its team. Simon Magill, joins the MAC’s as Creative Director, tasked with supporting the venue’s drive to be a landmark of cultural excellence.

Simon’s new role will be central to the MAC’s vision and aspirations both regionally and internationally.  He will work with local artists and creative sector, as well as seeking out the best artists, performers and production companies from around the world.

Whilst the MAC has been bringing world leading productions and exhibitions to Belfast already, Simon’s remit will be to expand upon this and further the MAC’s reputation as the dynamic hub for cultural and artistic excellence.

Over the last four years, since the MAC opened, the venue has brought some leading names to Belfast such as Royal Court, Andy Warhol and Eddie Izzard. In addition, the venue has experienced growing visitor numbers and has worked with some 3,500 artists and companies many of whom have collaborated with the MAC on their journey to success.

Welcoming the new appointment, Chief Executive of the MAC, Anne McReynolds says:

“We are delighted that Simon Magill will be taking up the post of Creative Director at the MAC. Already a major figure in the arts scene, Simon is an inspirational and widely respected figure who has been a committed champion of Northern Ireland’s creativity through his many roles with the Waterfront, Tinderbox, co-founder of Prime Cut Productions and The Lyric. His appointment offers an exciting new direction for the MAC and its audiences who have already enjoyed what we have staged since 2012.

“We had a very strong field of applicants for the role, but in our discussions throughout the recruitment process Simon’s passion for the MAC and vision for its future made him stand out as the perfect candidate to build on our success and write the next chapter of the MAC’s creative story.”

On his appointment Simon Magill says: “I’m thrilled and flattered that the board has shown confidence in my vision. The MAC is a truly versatile creative space and in a short period of time, has firmly established itself within the local, national and international arts scene. With its vast spectrum of performances, exhibitions and educational programmes, I very much look forward to working with the team to enhance the organisation’s existing achievements.

“I hope to expand upon the creative development approach, introducing new initiatives that cultivate the passion and endeavour of local artists whilst also bringing the best of the world to our stages and galleries. I want to ensure the MAC continues to keep the customer at the heart of our programme and corporate activities.”

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BEECHLAWN SCHOOL EMBRACES THE ARTS

BEECHLAWN SCHOOL EMBRACES THE ARTS

Beechlawn School, based in Hillsborough, is the first school to take part in the MAC’s Arts Award and one of the first groups of people through the doors for an exclusive preview of the newly refurbished Tate Modern.

Arts Award is an accredited programme run by the MAC offering a range of qualifications open to those aged up to 25 yrs to develop creativity, leadership and communication skills through arts, culture and media. The Arts Award assesses a young person’s development and encourages independent learning, confidence building and transferable skills.

The young people from Beechlawn have successfully completed the Entry Level 3 ‘Explore’ award, making them the first cohort in Northern Ireland to graduate on the scheme.  There are four levels starting at Entry Level and progressing to Level 3, a Gold award which is worth 35 UCAS points. Delighted with the result, teachers at the school are hoping many of the young people will continue on to the next level, to achieve their Bronze award.

As the first school to take part in this award, Caroline Harris, Music Co-ordinator at Beechlawn School remarked: “As a school catering for pupils with multiple learning difficulties, which can range from Autism, ADHD, anxiety and behavioural issues to more complex problems, it is just amazing for our pupils, some of whom find reading tricky, to come away with a qualification in Year 9. It is clear to see that our pupils’ confidence has increased and parents are so proud of what their children have achieved.

“The MAC Arts Award provides a fantastic platform for our pupils and the MAC has been mindful of our pupils’ challenges and unique requirements throughout.”

To achieve an Arts Award, young people complete challenges and take part in a range of arts activities. As part of their qualification with the MAC, the pupils of Beechlawn took part in African drumming workshops and a singing workshop with MAC Artist in Residence and local star, Katie Richardson. They learned to create beats, control rhythms and play together.  They also got to experience a theatre production, completed independent research and took part in a music workshop, creating a video of themselves singing and playing drums as part of their final presentation.

With the introduction of the MAC’s signature MACtile tours in 2015 (the initiative which introduces children with Autism Sensory Disorders (ASD) to theatre in a relaxed atmosphere), the accredited Arts Award is another addition to the MAC’s superb education and outreach programme.

Speaking about her role in delivering the Arts Award, MAC Learning and Participation Officer, Clare Lawlor said:

“I am absolutely delighted that our Beechlawn pupils have completed the first Arts Award at the MAC.  I was involved with the group throughout and was lucky enough to accompany them on our special visit to the Tate, which was just amazing. Their response to the art works was a pleasure and I can see how they have grown in confidence and life skills throughout the course.

“The fact that a mixed ability group are the first to successfully graduate and can add this excellent qualification to their CVs is testament to how great Arts Award is. I would encourage other schools and community groups who are thinking about a different route to qualifications to get in touch with us.”

To round off the project, last week some of the Beechlawn pupils accompanied Clare and other staff from the MAC to visit the newly reopened Tate Modern for an exclusive preview. As a Plus Tate partner, the MAC was invited to nominate a local school in the region to be among the first to visit the new Tate and it was only fitting that Beechlawn were chosen.

The 26 pupils from Hillsborough were among 3000 other schoolchildren from across the UK to be the first to experience and explore the Tate Modern’s four new floors comprising a staggering 250 artists.

For more information on the MAC’s Arts Award and Learning and Participation programme, please visit themaclive.com or contact Clare Lawlor at the MAC on 028 9023 5053.

MAC BELFAST AND PHOENIX NATURAL GAS LAUNCH NEW ARTS AND BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP

MAC BELFAST AND PHOENIX NATURAL GAS LAUNCH NEW ARTS AND BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP

The MAC, Belfast’s award-winning arts venue, and Phoenix Natural Gas, are delighted to announce the details of the MAC’s s comprehensive Christmas programme; the first events programme to be supported by the new title sponsor. The programme this year proves to be even more popular than ever and has already got off to a flying start with a number of dates for the MAC’s family show, Pinocchio, already sold out.

Each year the MAC presents a host of family events for the festive season, that has been one of the key drivers in its increased visitor figures which rose to an impressive 311,000 last year alone, more than 60% of what was forecast for the venue*.

Likewise, Phoenix is marking a milestone year as the company celebrates its 20th anniversary, so the partnership between two of Northern Ireland’s leading brands seemed fitting.

Visitors to the MAC travel from across Northern Ireland and beyond, either as part of the MAC’s learning and outreach programme or as independent gallery visitors and theatre goers.

It seems mad to think about Christmas in June but that’s exactly what the MAC and Phoenix are planning towards.  Now celebrating its fifth Christmas, the MAC has become a place where new family traditions are created.  Many visitors have and will come to see the light switch-on, the unveiling of the magical Phoenix Natural Gas Christmas window and to watch the MAC’s anchor show, Pinocchio co-produced with award-winning theatre company Cahoots NI.

This year is anticipated to be the venue’s biggest year to date regards visitor numbers with the MAC set to welcome over 3,500 school children through its doors and over 10,000 families. Having already achieved 30% of its Christmas ticket sales in May, including seven sell-out school performances, the MAC has developed exceedingly strong relationships with local schools – some of whom are returning for their fifth Christmas visit in the MAC’s short, yet thriving, history.

Anne McReynolds, Chief Executive at the MAC, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to be working with our partners, Phoenix Natural Gas, who are supporting our Christmas programme. A MAC Christmas is something very special and has quickly become a firm tradition for many schools and families across Northern Ireland. 

Just like Phoenix, we share a commitment to providing exceptional service to our customers from Northern Ireland and we look forward to announcing some very exciting plans together very soon.”

 

Michael McKinstry, Chief Executive for Phoenix Natural Gas, said:

“We are very excited about this partnership with the MAC, and as we approach our 20th anniversary this Christmas it gives us a real opportunity to celebrate our commitment to the community that we serve.

“We are very proud of our strong corporate social responsibility programme and we believe that the MAC’s additional programmes of support for communities and schools during the festive period are reflective of our vision and ideals. We look forward to a strong and creative partnership together.”

As part of that partnership, thanks to support from Phoenix, visitors to the MAC can expect to find the enchanting ‘Wishing Wood’ where families will be encouraged to make a wish. Just in time for Christmas, Phoenix Natural Gas will help to make one extra-special wish come true for at least one lucky family.  More details coming soon.

For more information on the MAC or to enquire about the Christmas programme, including the upcoming production of Pinocchio, please visit themaclive.com.

 

*From targets set in the Benefits Realisation Plan in 2011.