|Belfast International Arts Festival|
|Begins||16 October 2018|
|Ends||3 November 2018|
|Location(s)||Belfast, Northern Ireland|
Originally established in 1962, it was hosted by Queen's University until 2015, after which a new independent organisation (a company limited by guarantee and registered as a charity) was formed. The event covers theatre, dance, classical and roots music, visual, film and digital arts and literature accompanied by outreach and education events. It takes place every October in venues and locations across Belfast.
Held annually, usually in October/November, the festival was founded by student Michael Emmerson in 1962.
From small beginnings the festival grew through the 1960s and 1970s, expanding to a two-week-long event. Performers during this time included Jimi Hendrix, Richard Stilgoe, Laurence Olivier, Rowan Atkinson and Billy Connolly.
The festival is held at several venues across the city, including The MAC, Ulster Hall, the Naughton Gallery, the Queen's Film Theatre, the Brian Friel Theatre and the Whitla Hall at Queen's, as well as the Grand Opera House, the Waterfront Hall and An Chultúrlann arts centre.
In January 2007, sufficient funding was not in place to ensure that the 2007 festival would go ahead, and the university launched a 'Save Belfast Festival' campaign, encouraging people to petition Maria Eagle MP, then minister responsible for cultural activities in Northern Ireland. The campaign received support from the Belfast Telegraph and celebrities including Patrick Kielty. On 16 February 2007 the Minister announced a £150,000 one-off payment to the Belfast Festival at Queen's, although the campaign to raise more funds continued throughout the year. The university subsequently announced that the 2007 festival would go ahead, albeit on a reduced scale, but that work is still required to secure its long-term future. On 18 December 2007, Arts Minister, Edwin Poots, announced a grant of £300,000 over three years for the Belfast Festival at Queen's.
On 8 February 2008, Ulster Bank Group chief executive, Cormac McCarthy, announced a three-year sponsorship deal worth over £1m for the Belfast Festival at Queen's. It was hailed as a "new dawn" for the festival which had been suffering underfunding.
This funding came to an end in 2016 when the Ulster Bank announced its withdrawal from the funding of the much-diminished festival.