About ABC Culture

In 2022, we bid to become UK City of Culture 2025. DCMS feedback told us that the bid was ‘seen as one of the strongest in terms of its creative approach to programming and the vision was articulated passionately. The detail provided was extremely thorough, and the ideas drew on the heritage and assets unique to the area. The need was also very clear; creating and understanding the relationship between city, market town and new town were also seen as important messages for place-making. The suggested partnerships with local organisations, including grassroots, were positive, as were the cross-sectoral partnerships. A wide range of artforms was included, showing the ABC’s strength of cultural diversity to share with the world.’

The bid had three interwoven themes that collectively reflect our rich heritage, character, and our forward leap into a new, shared and confident future. They have evolved through extensive creative and community consultation. They are: 

Nurture and Nature

Traditions for the Future

Provoking Thought. 

These themes are echoed in the ambition for ABC Culture as we move ahead.

Engraved indelibly above the entrance to Armagh’s Robinson Library, the oldest library in Northern Ireland, is an original Greek inscription translated as “the healing place of the soul”. This inscription describes beautifully the city of Armagh and the wider borough. A place of wide, open spaces, even in the middle of the city: The Mall, The People’s Park, Craigavon Lakes, and Solitude Park. It includes places and spaces for peaceful reflection, joy, inspiration or just being; our churches and cathedrals, our libraries and theatres, and our museums and galleries. This is the first of our themes which encourages a holistic reflection on mind, body, and soul: Nurture and Nature.

With boldness, energy, and bravery, we are where the penalty kick was invented by William McCrum in 1890. We are where the linen industry flourished. Where the Lambeg drum made its first appearance. And where William Kennedy made his uilleann pipes. We have so many traditions – as relevant for tomorrow as they were for yesterday – to share with the world. Our artist-makers are sharing their skills through digital media to teach people across the globe. Our musicians are using cutting-edge technology to attract ever more curious audiences. Our sports bring people together, never more needed than now. Formed by our past but not prisoners of it. These are Traditions for The Future.

Our city of Saints and Scholars is a seat of learning, spirituality, and progressive thinking. Our borough is the home of the woman who discovered the pulsar. The base for an ever- expanding digi-tech and pharmaceutical sector. It is host to AmmA, state-of-the-art colleges, and our Observatory – world-renowned not only for its capacity to look out into the universe, but also to reflect upon our own planet. Our New Town of Craigavon was a design phenomenon of its time, and our canal the first of its kind on this island. For centuries, we have led the way in journeys of discovery. We push the boundaries. We think big. We think out of the box and out of this world. Our third theme is Provoking Thought.