The Cultural Olympiad leaves a permanent mark in Lisburn City Library

THE Queen skydived, 450 balloons lit up Hadrian’s Wall, and a string quartet performed in choppers. But has the Cultural Olympiad left a permanent mark? Well, it has in Lisburn.

The Ulster Orchestra were awarded a plaque in the Copperbox at the Olympic Park in recognition of the ‘Pied Piper’ project, part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and the plaque has been permanently installed in Lisburn City Library.

The closing ceremony of the Paralympics in early September signaled the end of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but it also concluded the Cultural Olympiad programme which has been running for the past four years.

More than 18 million people all over the UK have taken part or attended over 9,000 performances and 8,000 workshops in the largest celebration of art and culture that the UK has ever seen. The Cultural Olympiad aimed to involve the all members of the community in one of the biggest projects in the world and to inspire creativity across all forms of culture.The Ulster Orchestra jumped at the chance to take part in this wonderful celebration of culture and their ‘Pied Piper’ project was the first in Northern Ireland to be awarded an Inspire Mark as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

The ‘Pied Piper’ project, an educational outreach programme, featured Belfast-born composer Brian Irvine and over 200 local school children from schools across Northern Ireland.

It involved workshops designed to inspire performance, self-expression and creativity and to encourage collaboration between diverse communities.

The children were also encouraged to explore different art forms such as music, dance and visual arts.

The project culminated in an impressive carnival parade through Belfast and a grand performance at the Belfast Waterfront on March 14, 2009, involving the Orchestra, 200 singing children and over 60 dancers!

Ulster Orchestra Education Officer, Jan Power said: “our aim with The Pied Piper was to create a real sense of accomplishment for the children involved – a sense of achieving their ‘personal best’ and a long-term legacy for the Orchestra is the growth and development of future audiences by stimulating an interest from an early age.

“The Ulster Orchestra is hugely proud to have been the first organisation in Northern Ireland to be awarded the Cultural Olympiad’s Inspire Mark for Pied Piper and we’re delighted that the plaque has been mounted in Lisburn City Library for all to see.”