Creative Space in Belfast cathedral quarter provided to creative businesses including training matchmaker in Belfast central library by libraries NI
Libraries NI has provided a creative space for four businesses whose offices were destroyed in the devastating fire in Cathedral Buildings in October 2022. Organised by Damien Corr, BID manager, Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) working with Julie Reid Deputy Head of Service, Libraries NI, the library has given the space free for a year and supported the businesses with furniture and other facilities.   The office space means that the entrepreneurs behind these creative organisations have professional city based premises to operate their businesses from while more permanent locations are sought. The businesses have said the temporary office space has been a lifeline at a time of uncertainty. Julie Reid, Libraries NI Deputy Head of Service said they were keen to support development and growth in the Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District.
“After the devastating fire in Cathedral Buildings in October 2022 it has been a real privilege for Libraries NI to be able to help these creative businesses by providing use of space in Belfast Central Library,” she said. Since Belfast was established as a city 135 years ago, the library has helped to develop and support creativity and learning and we see the Creative Space as a natural fit. Belfast Central Library is strategically located in the Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District and we hope that the ambition and vision for the redevelopment of the library will move forward providing the people of Belfast with a library that matches the aspirations of the city and the people.”
One organisation that stepped in to support businesses following the fire was the Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District. BID manager Damien Corr provided a number of displaced businesses with opportunities for relocation in the weeks following the fire. He said: In the immediate aftermath of the Fire the Cathedral Quarter BID set about searching for alternative accommodation for those impacted and lobbying for a support package from our Statutory partners.
“The first thing that became apparent was the widespread willingness to help from right across the sectors and no more so than from Julie at Belfast Central Library. Julie was one of the first to respond to our call, asking how can we help and when do you need it?; The subsequent arrangement is a godsend to those who gratefully took up the offer and hopefully paves the way for future collaboration. Our Statutory Partners in Belfast City Council, DFC and DFI along with the owner and his contractor worked with us to relocate some businesses in other areas and to provide ongoing support and assistance.” Mr Corr said that it was testament to the willingness in Cathedral Quarter to reach out and help their neighbours.
Christine Watson, founder of said it was the loss of a business ‘home’ that hit her the most. She explained:
“Remote work is a blessing but operating as a digital nomad brings its own set of challenges. “My co-working space facilitated by Excalibur Press, not only gave me a solopreneur, a professional business address to call my work home, housed in a beautiful old building in a creative part of our city, it also gave me a community to network with and even lean on and help out too from time to time – like minded business owners and creative professionals who cheerily said hello when our paths crossed at the front door, on the stairs and even in the kitchen – those water cooler type conversations that workers in large organisations get to avail of.
She added:
“I’m excited to be able to benefit from this positive vibe again in ‘Creative Space’ in Belfast Central Library. I am grateful that Libraries NI are willingly homing my micro enterprises and thankful of the dedication of the CQ BID to secure a roof over our heads. As someone who delivers work right across Northern Ireland I am a big advocate and frequent user of our local library network – I look forward to seeing what comes of operating in a productive work space and to see what comes from the many water cooler conversations I anticipate having again in the year ahead.”
  Creative Space in Belfast Central Library is shared by the following organisations: Design agencies Form Native and Landmark, Communications Agency Excalibur Press, Marketing Consultancy and Training Provider Watson and Co. Chartered Marketing and Online Aggregator Platform set up to inspire learning:

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