I am Founder-Director of Beat Carnival (starting as The Beat Initiative in 1993) and established Beat Carnival Centre in Belfast to create large-scale, celebratory arts programmes and events; collaborate with local communities, carnival arts companies around Britain, Ireland and in Europe; and participate in international projects. I was active in developing creative social and arts projects through the civil turmoil and trouble of the 80s and 90s in Belfast, where the carnival work has proven to be a means for positive change in the city and in neighbourhood communities. I have been involved with European cultural and social activism networks, principally Banlieues d'Europe from 1996 until closure in 2015 and Trans Europe Halles since 1997. Passionate about the power of creative networks, I am a long-time member of Trans Europe Halles (since 1997) a European Network of Independent Cultural Centres that connects cultural actors; and was a council member of Banlieues d'Europe (from 1996 until closure in 2015) a resource centre of cultural and artistic innovation in Europe that brought together 300 international active partners and 5000 contacts. I have been working for 30 years with Beat Carnival to create shared celebration for all through carnival arts, to leave a legacy of skills and achievement with communities and to consolidate a Carnival Arts Centre of Excellence in Belfast with an international profile. I was a member of the Research Advisory Committee of The University of Liverpool, Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast, on Art for Reconciliation research. Personal awards include Creative Britons, Paul Harris Fellowship and in 2020 Honours was awarded MBE for ‘contribution to the Arts and to the community’.
In June2023 I presented in ‘Music, Hope and Reimagining Society’ conference organised by Ioannis Tsioulakis at QUB.