The Playhouse has received a Chamber of Commerce Business award in recognition of their Chief Executive's campaign for Derry~Londonderry to apply for the City of Culture title.
The Playhouse received the award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts & Culture at the annual Chamber of Commerce Business Awards on Friday.
Sponsored by Richmond Chambers, the award recognises and rewards an individual or business that has dedicated time and care in developing the arts and cultural offering of the city.
The award follows two in as many years for founder and artistic director of The Playhouse Pauline Ross. Pauline was last year awarded the Arts and Cultural Individual of the Year at the Chamber of Commerce Business Awards 2013, and was praised at the Business Achievement Award for 2012 as "a true business and cultural champion', both for her enormous contribution to the Playhouse Theatre, but also to the city as a whole".
This year's award was recognition of Playhouse CEO Niall McCaughan's drive for the city to apply for a City of Culture title, which began in 2006, when Niall attended an information event in the Tower Hotel about Belfast seeking European City of Culture status for 2008. In September 2006 he wrote a piece for the Belfast Telegraph and then for the Derry Journal titled ‘The Economic Dividends of the Arts' outlining the obvious economic benefit of the arts to the city. Niall continued to spread this idea to those who worked in the arts, business sector, government departments like Derry City Council, DCAL and the Arts Council to name but a few.
In January 2008 spoke at the first ‘London-Derry Connections' and in his speech included the recommendation to encourage and support a bid for Derry to become the European City of Culture. In 2010 the announcement was made by Westminster that for the first time ever, there would be a UK City of Culture title, the BBC contacted Niall and organised the first live debate between Radio Foyle, Phil Redmond (Liverpool City of Culture), a representative from Belfast and himself to discuss why Derry or Belfast should seek such a title. The rest as they say is history.
"Often, big things can start out as a simple idea, growing from one person's vision to something that incapsulates a city and a region, and that is how one of the biggest life changing events of this city started" Áine McCarron at The Playhouse said.
"Niall has been recognised by many as the lone voice at the start, who put forward the idea, and never gave up on it. It may not have been the first to think of it, but the difference was that he really believed passionately that it could transform the city, and his enthusiasm and drive to spread this vision played a key part in preparing the city for the bid, and then working with the rest of the arts community, deliver UK City of Culture 2013."
Playhouse Chief Executive Niall McCaughan, with Bobby Nicholson from sponsors The Richmond Centre.
(L-R) Playhouse producer Kieran Griffiths, finance manager Rosemary McCaul, Head of Development Max Beer, marketing officer Áine McCarron and Chief Executive Niall McCaughan.