Farewell to Project 24

Monday 27th March 2023

Ards and North Down Borough Council bids farewell to Project 24 with an event to mark the end of this unique revitalisation project and to celebrate its success and the positive impact it has had on the City of Bangor.

On Saturday 25 March, Ards and North Down Borough Council bid farewell to Project 24 with an event to not only mark the end of this unique revitalisation project but also to celebrate its success and the positive impact it has had on the City of Bangor.

Project 24 opened in 2013.  The concept developed through consultation, community engagement and stakeholder partnerships was initially awarded funding of £265K from the Department for Communities (at that time known as the Department for Social Development) with a contribution of almost £40K from North Down Borough Council.

Project 24 created a new destination for Bangor and attracted a lot of positive attention, featuring on BBC’s The Art Show, BBC Radio Ulster, and even winning a Civic Trust Award, which recognises the very best in architecture and design.  

The project was initially set to run for 24 months, but it proved so popular and given the timescales surrounding the Queen’s Parade development, the Council took the opportunity to extend its lifespan, enabling more creatives to take part, and welcoming more visitors to the location.  Throughout this time, it has stimulated significant interest from near and far with numerous best practice visits seeking inspiration for meanwhile use projects.

Project 24 has hosted more than 80 established and emerging artists within its small but quirky shipping containers. These artists have worked in print, paint, photography, textiles, jewellery and much more.  Project 24 has also played host to a range of family, creative and engaging events including Christmas Switch-ons, Summer Fun Days, Sundown Markets and Film Festivals, welcoming tens of thousands of visitors over its lifetime. 

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Karen Douglas thanked each and every person who has been part of this project, she said: “I would again thank everyone who has contributed to the success of Project 24 – local residents, visitors, the businesses who have supported and showcased the project, the artists who have come and gone, the entertainers who have performed, delivered workshops and made us laugh at every event and especially the funders who have enabled us to keep it going”.

“Some of these artists are still with us today and others have moved on to many and various new opportunities in the Borough and beyond”. 

“Examples of success stories include:

·       Boom Studios, located in the City Centre, first began in Project 24 where Marianne Kennerley was one of the first artists through the doors.

·       Dr Sarah McAleer who was resident in the early days of the project left to open a studio in Australia.

·       Lee Boyd, painter, and sculptor has gone from strength to strength since his time in Project 24; even being chosen to appear on SKY TV’s "Portrait artist of the year" show in 2020. 

·       Lauren and Julie Scott, who has now opened a studio in the Republic of Ireland.

·       Leah Kerr who specialises in bespoke cake decoration began her journey at Project 24.  Leah launched her business ‘Copperhead Cakes’ and now has her own premises in Balloo Industrial Estate, Bangor.” 

“These are only a few examples of our artists’ inspirational success stories, there are many more around awards won, prestigious exhibitions delivered, UK and International shows and exciting creative pathways”.

“I’m pleased to have this opportunity to wish every artist the very best for the future and to thank them once again for their very valued contribution”.

As a City, as a Borough, and as a Nation we have experienced difficult times of late as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  As lockdown restrictions were eased Market Fresh returned to Project 24. Market Fresh was established in 2019 by Project 24 artist, Sharon Regan, in collaboration with the Council.  It is a monthly market, showcasing local makers, bakers, creators, and growers.  Thanks, should be given to all of the small businesses that helped to create such a varied and unique market and an atmosphere of fun and friendship. Market Fresh will be relocating to the British Legion on Hamilton Road in April.

As we celebrate this project, we look forward to the bright future of this prominent location within our City.  Bangor Marine’s plans are now progressing apace on the much-awaited Queen’s Parade development.  The company secured £9.8M of funding from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund earlier this year to deliver the Marine Gardens part of the £50M scheme.  The Marine Gardens will include 2 café/restaurants, an enhanced events space, a children’s play area, seafront lawns and sheltered seating with sales kiosks for local traders.  Bangor Marine is currently undertaking detailed design work and pre-site construction surveys.  Work ‘on the ground’ is planned to start later this year and be carried out in a phased approach over a four-year period. 

Aran Blackbourne of Bangor Marine said: “Project 24 has proven to be a brilliant opportunity for local artists to base themselves in the city and we want to keep that vibrant, independent, creative spirit alive as we move forward with the £50m redevelopment of Queen’s Parade. From when we achieved planning permission last September, we have been working behind the scenes to get work started, but the very welcome news that we have secured £9.8m from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund has given the project a huge boost towards mobilising on the Marine Gardens Public Realm. We have been finalising the planning elements of the project and liaising with the Levelling Up Fund to fully comply with their process. As with all major schemes, there are many stakeholders involved and it is important that we get this right. Public realm has a critical role to play in bringing people into the area and we want this to be an area that the people of Bangor feel proud of, a place that they want to spend time in and one that brings the community together.”

Exciting times are ahead for the City of Bangor.