West Belfast. Photo by David Boyd Fascinated by Shankill: learning from my visit to Belfast Tandem Ukraine 2014-15 participant Irina Leifer has recently visited Shankill in Belfast. Irina works together with Maria Lanko (Ukraine), on Open Gallery Ukraine – the Netherlands: 1000 km view. In this piece, she shares her perceptions from Belfast and how it influences the way she will think about her own projects in the future. In my professional practice, I focus a lot on local issues which at the same time have a global character. Besides that, I often develop projects on the interface of heritage and contemporary art in areas where there is a feelable tension between past, present and future. The issues described above can, in my opinion, be applied to both the Shankill area in Belfast and the Bijlmer neighbourhood in Amsterdam. Cultural organisations, operating in these areas, such as for example Beat Carnival in Shankill and Open Art Route Zuidoost in the Bijlmer (OARZO) differ a lot in their approach to cultural work but also share common challenges. Light Up the Road. Photo by David Boyd Beat Carnival, as well as OARZO have been active in their neighbourhoods for quite a long time, building a trustful relationship with various stakeholders and conducting regular events for and with different community groups. However, recent developments in the arts and culture globally and locally have required new approaches to cultural and social work on location. One of the challenges we have broadly discussed with David Boyd, Director of Beat Carnival, was how to achieve a greater collaboration between big and small organisations working in the same area in a way that will be beneficial for both organisations and for the residents. Beat Carnival has recently developed the Shankill Arts Map as well as an action plan on how to include in a (mutual) art-production with big and small players. For me, it was very important to see the first results of such a collaboration in situ, and especially in the area that had a strictly divided society until a very recent past (and partly still nowadays). Another challenge I encountered in Belfast was dealing with (built) religious heritage. In Northern Ireland as well as in the Netherlands many churches get closed and their buildings stay empty for a long time because of a number of reasons: inflexible rules of use for such buildings, bureaucracy, a lack of agreement between the organisations and the members of various communities on how to use former churches and for what purpose and so on. At the moment Beat Carnival develops realistic plans and conducts negotiations with an owner of the former church building in Shankill in order to be able to use it for various kinds of cultural activities. I am very interested to see how this process will be progressing and will keep following the developments. In general, I got fascinated by Belfast and especially by Shankill where one sees, feels and actually cannot fully understand how it was possible that until such a recent past, the so-called Troubles, which were extremely violent and continued for dozens of years, happened on just a few neighbouring streets from where the residents seemed to know each other and looked like each other’s brothers and sisters. My visit to Belfast and to the Beat Carnival in Shankill has brought me a lot to think about and to reflect upon in the upcoming projects!