art as a vehicle for change

Cat Barter – special festival bursary award: ‘art as a vehicle for change’

As a special project, we organised a competition to award a bursary of £3,000 to support new work on political art for presentation at the Imagine! Belfast Festival in March 2022. Funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities in response to Covid-19 and the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the arts and cultural sectors in Northern Ireland, we developed this bursary to support new and emerging artists interested in art as a vehicle for change.

Throughout its history, the festival has developed new approaches to presenting controversial or ‘difficult’ issues and we are particularly interested in showcasing and interrogating aspects of political art such as socio-political expression, protest and satire. We are also interested in discovering new ways of strengthening the dialogue between the arts and political, social and cultural movements. We were therefore delighted to be able to offer this opportunity and, following the receipt of over 20 applications, the bursary was awarded to Cat Barter in March 2021.



On receiving the award, Cat commented: “I am honoured that Imagine Belfast has selected my proposal, SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS, to be the recipient of the special festival bursary. After the palpable sense of separation that has been experienced in the past year, I felt compelled to artistically explore the science of human connection and its impacts on wider society.

My idea is to design a music performance and sound installation in creative consultation with young people deemed to be “at risk” in the community who have been legally removed from their home and placed in secure care facilities. I’ve been inspired to use a public space than has fallen into disrepair for the event, in which I will invite audience members to get out of their comfort zone and examine how relationships on every scale start to crumble without continuous maintenance.”

According to Peter O’Neill, Festival Director: “It was a tough call to select an award winner from such a strong field of talented applicants but in the end our selection panel was swayed by Cat’s creative concept and methodology. We would like to thank everyone who entered the competition and the Arts Council and Department for Communities for supporting this initiative. We look forward to presenting Cat’s project at our festival in March 2022.”

We’ll be in touch.