Let's Do Launch
The deep cleaning is just about done. The high visibility tabards are less visible now and the hard hats are mostly hung up. The MAC and the Titanic Signature building are on target, on message and ready for delivery. I've seen all the presentations and over the past couple of weeks, I've been party to the big reveals. Now we do launch.
Sure the MAC needs added content - a few Lowrys on the bare walls, a William Conor here and there, an Owen McCafferty play downstairs and a whole lot of arts workers inside, but that's imminent. Meantime the Titanic gift shop is operational and the swooning statue welcomes all. The immodest figurehead has been blessed by many denominations, beckoning us inwards. Upstairs, the exhibition ride around the riveters is impressive and you leave with a sense of the smell, the intensity and the grunt-work of a job this size. Now it's up to MTV, the choirs, the light shows and other spectacles to respond in kind.
In the middle of all this I was reminded of a long-ago time when my dad escorted me across Botanic Gardens to see an event called Ulster '71. This had been planned as far back as 1968, when Northern Ireland was a whole other prospect. By the time the pre-fab housing had been cleared and the exposition park had been fabricated, Belfast was in bits and the mission statement ("come and join in the fun") was a mocking retort.
So I'll not be carping on about the public expense in 2012. The fabric of our arts and culture isn't ideal, and with more resources to play with, the smaller enterprises might flourish better. But Belfast is also steering away from 30 years of defensive mentalities, providing actual and imagined viewpoints, getting a bit bold, challenging our reserve, our aversion to fancy notions, that small-minded default. History will say if it's all delusional or a significant change. Me, I'd really like to join in the fun.