BAW 2016 Brochure cover jpg.jpgFriday 29 April to Monday 2 May

BREAKING NEWS … Two of Northern Ireland’s top bands, The Ingram Brothers and Rory Conway with the Convicts, will perform live at the launch night of the 2016 Cushendun Big Arts Weekend, transforming Knocknacarry Hall into a party venue for the evening of Friday 29 April!

The finest way to welcome in the month of May has to be at the Big Arts Weekend in the beautiful seaside village of Cushendun. The weekend-long festival has a ‘bringing it all back home’ theme this year, not to mention a touch of stardust. Harpist and singer Amy McAllister, who grew up in the Glens of Antrim and now performs all over the world, will give a concert in St Patrick’s Church, supported by Cushendun Folk Choir, and there will be exciting contemporary theatre by Rasharkin-born actress/writer Mary-Frances Doherty, in a double bill with Cushendall-based Lurig Drama Group – as well as talks, walks, exhibitions and outdoor fun for children and families.harp beach (1).jpeg

This will be the fourth Big Arts Weekend and once again there will be many free events in a programme that offers something for everyone and draws on Cushendun’s history as a place beloved of creative people. There will be talks by contemporary writers including Roisin McAuley, Anne-Marie Fyfe and Damian Gorman, all closely associated with the area, as well as a unique look at the life of the enigmatic Roger Casement – diplomat, poet and rebel, executed for his role in the events of 1916 – who was a regular visitor to Cushendun.

Established favourites like Share a Poem, as well as family fun, including the popular sandcastle competition and face-painting, will all be back, alongside some brand new events. Play in a Day, a fun children’s drama project culminating in a performance, is scheduled for Saturday, and Naturally North Coast and Glens artisan market will bring their hand-crafted goods and food to Cushendun for the first time on Bank Holiday Monday.

Cushendun’s Big Arts Weekend is organised by Cushendun Building Preservation Trust (CBPT) in support of the Old Church Project. The Old Church itself will be open all weekend, hosting a magical moths-and-butterflies art installation, and resounding on the Sunday afternoon to the sweet strings of Cushendun-based musician Glenn Simpson. There will be story-telling with Liz Weir, and more art on show at the open exhibition in Glenmona House, where you’ll also find delicious treats at the pop-up tea shop.

CBPT thanks the Cushendun community, as well as the Heritage Lottery Fund, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, the National Trust, Heart of the Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme, McBride’s Bar and McCollam’s pub, Cushendall and Glenmona House Trust for all their support.

Tickets will also be on sale in the Corner House Tea Rooms, Cushendun on the weekends of 16-17 and 23-24 April, 10am to 3pm. Early booking is recommended.


The Story So Far

As many of you will know, in December 2014 we heard that our application to the Heritage Lottery Fund had been successful. We were awarded development funding of £22,800 to help us prepare our completed application for stage 2 funding (provisionally £263,600). HLF require a high level of detailed information and advanced plans before they award the full grant, so 2015 has been a busy year.
In March we appointed our Project Development Officer, Melanie Rintoul. Melanie ran the reminiscence sessions in Glenmona over the Big Arts Weekend and you may have met her there. She has collated some great stories about the Old Church, which we hope to publish as a booklet as part of the next stage of the project. She would love to hear from you if you have any memories of the Old Church you would be happy to share. Melanie has also been completing the more utilitarian aspects of project development including our Business Plan,  Activities Plan (heritage and community use of the building) and many funding applications.  The plans can be viewed by clicking this link: CPT01 DR03 Proposed Elevations and Plans
In May we appointed Alistair Coey Architects to draw up plans for the Old Church. We are delighted with the draft plans which are sympathetic to the original building whilst providing the services needed to make it a versatile and useable space in the long term. We have attached the plansto this e-mail and we welcome feedback but please be aware that these are only draft plans and subject to change.
We had one serious setback. The main HLF grant was part of a funding package which included funding from Ulster Garden Villages and a Listed Building Grant worth approximately £75,000. Due to government cuts the Northern Ireland Environment Agency withdrew all listed building grants in 2015 which, along with a slight rise in building costs, has left us with a funding shortfall that we need to make up before we can submit our stage 2 application. Inevitably this will hold the project up.  So far we have successfully managed to raise £15,000 towards restoring the stained glass windows – thank you Pilgrim Trust. We will persevere with applications to other funding bodies and fundraising activities and hope that we will have all the funding in place by the end of this year.


Cushendun’s Big Arts Weekend 29 April to 2 May 2016
The Big Arts Weekend is now an established event in the Glens of Antrim calendar and we have exciting plans for this year, so make sure to SAVE THE DATE.  Just to whet your appetite, we have Rory Conway and Band  to get the weekend of to a dancing start; something new is the  ‘Play in a Day’ drama workshop for young actors and on bank holiday Monday Ballycastle Town Market will be at Glenmona.
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Big Arts Weekend 2015

CBPT Old Church Logo pngDrama, music and the outdoor world are the big themes for the 2015 edition of Cushendun’s Big Arts Weekend. For the third year running, the Antrim coast village of Cushendun will host a programme of arts events to delight, inspire and entertain over the May Bank Holiday weekend. With highlights including the first performance of a new play, an evening of cool jazz and a jam-packed family fun day, the Big Arts Weekend promises enjoyment for all tastes and ages.

The weekend kicks off with a Friday night of laid-back jazz from BBC Radio Ulster’s jazz presenter Linley Hamilton and the Julian Bohn trio.

Keith Donald ImgOn Saturday evening, a powerful new autobiographical play will be premiered in Knocknacarry Hall. Entitled NewBliss, the play follows the story of saxophone and clarinet player Keith Donald, who, in the course of a career spanning six decades, has played with the likes of Van Morrison, Christy Moore and the Moving Hearts. The play charts the highs and lows of a life as a musician – from pit orchestra gigs to pay the bills to sold-out stadium tours across North America, Africa and Europe – much of which was spent under the shadow of alcoholism.

Sunday’s events are all about the great outdoors. Early risers are invited to a Dawn Chorus walk through Cregagh Wood, where a guide from the local Heritage Trust will introduce walkers to an open-air concert of birdsong. On Sunday afternoon, Glenmona House will host the Big Picnic, a family festival with face-painting, traditional games and music, with plenty of green spaces to run around in and explore. For artistic children of all ages, Makendoo will be on hand to help you create sensational hats and heDownload prog button

addresses. Down on the beach, the creativity continues with Cushendun’s splendid annual sand sculpture competition.

On Bank Holiday Monday, the Music for a May Evening event will feature Corcra in concert in St Patrick’s Church, Cushendun, with an eclectic mix of songs and music to round off the weekend’s programme.

These are just some highlights of the Big Arts Weekend, which also includes live poetry with Elaine Gaston, in association with the John Hewitt Society, an exhibition of local artists’ work, and three rare films. The full programme is available at http://www.cushendunbpt.org, where you can book tickets for the performances and register for the many free events.

So whether you are a theatre buff, a music fan, a lover of nature or a small person bursting with energy and imagination, Cushendun is the place to be this May Bank Holiday weekend. A warm welcome awaits!


Meet Melanie

MelanieI am delighted to take up the post of Project Development Officer for Cushendun Building Preservation Trust.  My background is one of project management & community development with specific experience in community arts and heritage projects.

This is a very exciting time in the redevelopment of the Old Church, and there is much to do over the course of the coming months in order to submit a second round funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund.  This will involve a number of pieces of work including a business plan and a programme of activities to link people with heritage and the arts.

This is your village and your local community – the place where you live, go to school and work.  I will be working alongside the CBPT and we need to engage with you closely over the coming weeks and months in order to drive this project forward. 

This will include;

– Working with local residents, groups and schools to ensure that the Old Church is a space where they feel welcome and can utilise.

– Engaging young people to develop a youth sub-committee for the Old Church – harnessing their creativity & talents.

– Ensuring the Old Church is a hub which engages with visitors to Cushendun & develops the tourism potential of the village.

– Planning with local businesses to ensure that anything we develop is working with them and of a benefit to the village as a whole.

I hope to speak with as many of you as possible over the next few months.  I will be here for the Big Arts Weekend, where amongst other things I will be running reminiscence workshops on people’s memories of the Old Church.  This will be totally informal and any memories, good or bad, inside of the Church Building or not would be really appreciated.

I look forward to meeting with you!

Melanie Rintoul


Exciting news! Cushendun Old Church has been awarded HLF funding.

english_compact_pantoneAt last we can go public with the wonderful news that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) have earmarked over £260,000 for the Old Church Project. Initial development funding of £22,800 has been granted to enable  CBPT to put together all the information HLF require before the full grant for restoration is released in 2016.

Heritage Lottery requires very detailed planning before it will fund a project to guarantee that the money it grants does not go to waste. There is lots to do and over the next 12 months we will be very busy commissioning an architect, drawing up a conservation plan, developing a sustainable business model, not to mention the essential bat survey.  We will also be regularly consulting with our  local community and key stakeholders to ensure we have everyone’s support. Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage ecoKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAnomy.

It’s been a long road since we were voted regional winner in the BBC’s ‘Restoration Village’ back in 2006 (the project was awarded funding for an audience development report and energy use report as a consequence).    Since then there has been much work behind the scenes to negotiate a lease from the Church of Ireland which was finally secured in late 2013.

Once the Old Church is restored it will provide a focal point for visitors to learn about the village and will be wonderful venue for exhibitions, workshops, performances, heritage displays as well as much needed community space. Plans for the building include careful modifications to provide a kitchenette and disabled toilet creating a comfortable and versatile venue for the community and visitors alike. CBPT has already established a reputation for organising events such as the Vintage Book Fair for European Heritage Open Days and the Cushendun Big Arts Weekend which showcase some of the potential uses for the building.

Betty Allen, former parishioner of the old church and founding member of Cushendun Building Preservation Trust said, “I am delighted! I was a long standing member of the congregation and am a founder member of the Building Preservation Trust. When the Church was deconsecrated there was a real risk off it becoming derelict, now it will be properly looked after and a great asset to the village.”

CBPT Old Church Logo pngCBPT are collecting information and recollections about the Old Church and would love to hear from anyone who used to be a member of the congregation or has other associations with the building. For further information about the project and to contact  CBPT visit www.cushendunbpt.org

We are also planning the Cushendun Big Arts Weekend 2015. If you have any suggestions, or would like to get involved do get in touch at info@cushendunbpt.org or come along to our planning Open Meeting in Glenmona on Monday 29th at 7:30 pm.

Finally we would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the years, we could not have got this far without you.

Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2015


Planning begins for 2015 Big Arts Weekend

BAW 2015 public meeting LQPlanning the Cushendun Big Arts Weekend takes a lot of hard work and dedication from the event organisers.  Cushendun Building Preservation Trust invites everyone to an open meeting in Glenmona House, 7:30 pm on 29 December 2014, to come onboard with us and help us prepare and deliver an even bigger Arts Weekend next May Day Weekend.

Please feel welcome to come along and offer any comments or suggestions you may have and we would be delighted if anyone can offer even a few hours over the Arts Weekend to help out in any way possible.

News and Updates

A fine day out, excellent reading and a literary lucky dip …

IMG_0742That’s what was on offer at this year’s Vintage and Secondhand Book Sale in Cushendun Old Church on the European Heritage Open Days Weekend of 13 and 14 September.

Now in its third year, the Cushendun Vintage and Secondhand Book Sale has become a popular stop for Heritage Weekenders ‘doing’ North Antrim and the Causeway Coast, as well as for locals in the know.   Between 300 – 400 visitors came over the two days attracted by the great range of bargain hardbacks and paperbacks – everything from fiction, crime and biography to travel, cookery and children’s reading – as well as our traditionally rather good tea and buns supplied by local home bakers.

For anyone unable to decide which book was for them, this year we launched our inaugural ‘Literary Lucky Dip’.  A number of books were neatly wrapped in brown paper and hidden inside one of them was a £20 Amazon Gift Certificate.  This proved to be a huge success and something we will do again at our next Vintage Book Sale.

IMG_0743Of course the Book Sale also offers an opportunity to visit the Old Church, a lovely 1840’s country church in the picturesque National Trust Village of  Cushendun which is open as part of the European Heritage Open House Weekend (EHOD).  This year we are pleased to announce that we raised close to £900 over the course of the weekend and this money will be put to good use for the general upkeep of the Old Church until such times as were are in a position to complete the restoration.  We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who brought books, bought books, baked or helped out in any number of other ways.

IMG_0750As well as organising the Big Arts Weekend in May, and the Book Sale in September we have been busy putting together our Stage One application to the Heritage Lottery Fund and an application to Ulster Garden Villages. This is a very exciting, although nail-biting, time for the Cushendun Building Preservation Trust and we will update everyone as soon as we know the outcome.

We are starting to plan ahead for the next Big Arts Weekend 1-4  May 2015. If you have any suggestions, would like to be involved or help out at any of the event drop us an e-mail (info@cushendunbpt.org).

Once again  THANK YOU for your continued support!