Coronavirus (COVID-19) – A message from Sophie our Chief Executive

The Crescent is currently closed to staff and the public. We do not know exactly when our re-opening will be. What we do know is that it will be phased, and careful, with an absolute commitment to adhering to public health guidelines.

We have a duty of care to our Staff, Creative Learning Tutors and participants, Creative Hub Companies, regular Café users, our Volunteers and all of our friends, and are currently running our own risk assessments, to ensure that we can all safely use the building. 

We are committed to keeping you up to date as and when we make decisions.

UPDATE: 17th December 2020 

It has been 272 days since we were last able to welcome you into our beautiful Victorian building. We do hope everyone is doing ok!

As it stands, The Crescent, like many other Arts Organisations, have still not been given the green light to reopen. Along with those in the arts sector affected by the impact of Covid-19, The Crescent is part of the Arts Collaboration Network, and we are continuing to work as a group calling for sector support and for clarity around a planned re-opening for this vital sector. You can read the latest update from the Network here:

We shall be taking some off over the Festive period and The Crescent will be closed Friday 18th December – Wednesday 6 January inclusive.

And as this year draws to a close, we would like to wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Here’s to a better 2021 and being able to welcome you back to The Crescent,  



UPDATE: 15th September 2020 

In what would have been Week 1 of a Crescent Autumn Term, we are writing to share an update with you. 

Firstly, many thanks to the hundreds of you who shared your thoughts via our recent Customer Survey. We know how many of you are keen to be back in the building, to reconnect, to create, to learn, to socialise. And we learnt a great deal from all your comments and suggestions about what it would mean to be back in the building. Thank you. 

The arts and culture sector faces significant challenges. You may have seen calls in the media for the £33 million the UK Chancellor announced for arts and culture in Northern Ireland in July to be allocated to the sector, now. You can download a copy of the letter that was sent to MLAs here, and we urge you to like and retweet all the #savethearts posts and contact your local MLA to tell them how important the arts are to you. We understand that decisions on the future of the sector will be made this week.

You may have seen that the indicative reopening date for venues of 01 September was not given the green light by the Executive, and that there are now further restrictions in place.

As it stands we do not expect to be able to resume any ‘usual’ Creative Learning activity in the building this Term. Should this change we will advise you as soon as is feasible. We are of course looking at how we best adapt our services to meet a changed landscape while staying true to our core mission and vision, and will keep you updated as we progress.  It takes up to 10 weeks to prepare and communicate a programme, and at the time of writing The Crescent has not received any additional funding to meet the requirements needed to make the building as safe as possible, nor mitigate the challenges to our financial model with significantly reduced capacity. 

Here’s a recap of recent and future online activity that The Crescent and Belfast Book Festival has been involved with during building closure, and a few coming up - please do have a look. 


Belfast Book Festival

It was miserable to have to cancel the 10th edition of the Belfast Book Festival, scheduled for June. However we did deliver and participate in some brilliant literary activity

Mairtín Crawford Award 2020

2020 was the 4th edition for Poetry, and the 3rd for Short Story. We received a record-breaking number of submissions for both Awards (over 3 times on previous years) and we are extremely grateful to our esteemed Judges - Moyra Donaldson and Naomi Foyle (Poetry), and Lucy Caldwell and Rachael Kelly (Short Story) for their hard work.

Winner for Short Story was: Sarah Gilmartin

Winner for Poetry was: Alan Weadick

You can read their winning work here and also see them in conversation with the Judges.

Big Book Weekend 

Despite the cancellation of the Festival in 2020, we were delighted that our Festival Patrons - Lucy Caldwell, Paul Muldoon and Glenn Patterson - along with host broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir, had the opportunity to take part in the Big Book Weekend 8 - 10 May. Co-founded by authors Kit De Waal and Molly Flatt, the Big Book Weekend was a 3-day virtual festival that brought together the best of British book Festivals that were cancelled due to coronavirus and was supported by BBC Arts and Arts Council England.

Check out this event and listen as three talented writers from Northern Ireland chat about their work and their best books of the year.


Creative Learning 

A number of Crescent Tutors stepped up to the challenge of adapting their offer online and joined us for Tutor Takeover: Spring and Summer Terms. The Crescent promoted the activity and you paid the Tutors directly. Lots of you took part in Tutor Takeover to support to tutors and stay connected; 

‘The social aspect wasn't as rich via Zoom, but at least we could see each other every week, continue to learn, share the fun of the Ukulele and keep the momentum going. I think our Ukulele tutor did a great job!’


Crescent Arts Youth Theatre 

Our Youth Theatre group has been connecting via a writing project ‘Essential Journeys’. 


Creative Hub 

The Crescent is proud to be a home to creative companies. Here are some examples (by no means a comprehensive list!) of what they have been up to over previous months. 

Tinderbox Solo Art - Opened up a small fund to support Freelance Artists who each received a small grant and an opportunity to showcase their work

Dumbworld - Headed to the contemporary arts Festival, Kunstfest Weimar, to present seven short operas performed in public spaces in surprising and innovative formats

BelfastTrad - Made the decision to deliver music classes online and are continuing to run their Autumn Term online to stay connected and keep playing music together



One thing we have missed during the lockdown, is our daily vantage point of seeing the Swifts’ flying visit to Belfast. As home to one of the largest colonies of Swifts in Ireland, each year we are treated to seeing these beautiful birds return to the building. 


And a few more activities to look out for: 

11th edition of Poetry Jukebox, Belfast International Arts Festival 

Many of you will have listened to poems via The Poetry Jukebox at The Crescent. Listen out for the next edition, brought to you online from Quotidian - Word on The Street, in partnership with the Belfast International Arts Festival - a selection of poems by poets from Northern Ireland who have lived-experience of The Troubles. 


Dublin Book Festival

This December we are delighted to be partnering with the Dublin Book Festival to bring to you an exciting event featuring three short-story writers. Join Belfast Book Festival Patron, Lucy Caldwell in conversation with two stellar short story writers, Lucy Sweeney Byrne and Yan Ge. Join these three brilliant writers in a conversation about their work and a celebration of the short story.


With best wishes,



UPDATE: 29th June 2020 

We are delighted to announce the winners of the Mairtín Crawford Awards 2020;

The winner of the Mairtín Crawford Award for Poetry 2020 is Alan Weadick.

The winner of the Mairtín Crawford Award for Short Story 2020 is Sarah Gilmartin.

Click here for more information about the winners and to read their work.

The 2020 Awards attracted a record number of entries and saw entries from countries including the US, Finland and New Zealand. Despite the cancellation of the Belfast Book Festival 2020, we are determined to continue with the Awards. 

To read the full round-up of this year's Awards, click here. 

UPDATE: 25th June 2020

Summer Term 2020: Tutor Takeover 

Following the success and enjoyment that many of you found in participating in the Spring Term: Tutor Takeover, we are delighted to bring you Summer Term: Tutor Takeover. We have once again invited our Tutors to adapt their Course or Workshop for online delivery. Tutors will run their own sessions and you will pay Tutors directly. 

Just like the Spring Term, we will not take any commission from the tutors. Our role is as a hub, a convenor, a network - supporting people to keep connected, creative and engaged. 

From the Art of Photography to the Art of Writing, pre-recorded workshops to live and interactive courses, why not have a browse and see what's on offer. We hope you might find something you like!

The Crescent will not reopen over the Summer. We do not know exactly when our re-opening will be. What we do know is that it will be phased, and careful, with an absolute commitment to adhering to public health guidelines. We are currently running our own risk assessments, and looking at how Staff, the Licensees in our building and Customers can all safely use the building.

We will of course keep you updated, and will be back in touch soon. But until then we hope you find something to keep you creative over the Summer period. 

In other news, we were delighted that despite the cancellation of the Belfast Book Festival 2020, we were able to continue with the Mairtin Crawford Awards for Short Story and Poetry. 

We have announced the shortlist and are excited the reveal the winners on Monday 29th June.  

For more information about the Awards visit

With best wishes, 


UPDATE: 20th April 2020

Spring Term: Tutor Takeover (4 May - 28 June)

Many of our Customers have been telling us they want to stay connected and stay creative. So rather than simply cancel Spring Term we invited our Tutors to adapt their Course or Workshop for online delivery. Have a browse - we hope you might find something you like!

The model for this Spring Term is a bit different - customers will pay Tutors directly. The Crescent decided not to change our business model completely and adapt a full Term of Creative Learning into a streamlined online offer, but instead focus on what we do have capacity to do - offer our communications platforms to Tutors as a means to maintain engagement with Customers. The Crescent is not paying Tutors, but nor will we take any commission. As a venue, as an institution, our role is as a hub, a convenor, a network - supporting people to keep connected, creative and engaged.

We will keep in touch with you about the Summer Term and beyond. We don’t know what our re-emergence will be, but we are listening, we are learning, we are holding close to our organisational values. We really miss seeing you all in person, and we want to find ways for you to stay connected with us. We really miss being in our beautiful building.

Here are a couple of other things to look out for in April and May:

You may have seen on our website that the Belfast Book Festival 2020 scheduled for June is cancelled. We are however proceeding as planned with the Mairtín Crawford Award 2020 for Short Story and Poetry. Submission deadline extended to 13 May! Click here for more information on how to submit your work.

Our Book Festival Patrons - Lucy Caldwell, Paul Muldoon and Glenn Patterson - will be hosted in conversation by broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir as part of Big Book Weekend 8-10 May - a 3 day virtual festival that brings together the best of cancelled literary festivals. Please follow @bigbookweekend and sign up to join the festival (for free) here.

With best wishes,


PS If you purchased a Course or Workshop for Spring Term as previously published on our site, you should have received a full refund. If not please contact with the details.

UPDATE: 7th April 2020

Sadly, because of the problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Belfast Book Festival will not take place in June this year. Due to the scale of the Festival, and the inclusion of artists who would be required to travel, we have decided that rescheduling the Festival as a whole is not feasible. 

Following in the footsteps of the revolutionary and generous spirit of Mairtín, we are delighted to announce that we will proceed, as planned, with the Mairtín Crawford Award for Poetry and Short Story.

For this edition of the Awards, to underpin our ambition to support writing talent we are making a couple of changes. We have augmented the cash prize for the Winner of each Award to £1,000, and added two runners up Prizes in each category. We have also extended the deadline by a couple of weeks to give us a bit more time to spread the word. 

For all the details on this year’s Award, including the Judges, please see

UPDATE: 26th March 2020

Due to the current health emergency please note that we have removed the Creative Learning Spring Term Programme of Courses and Workshops from the website. 

To our Customers who purchased a Course or Workshop - we will be in touch ASAP. 

To our Tutors - we will continue our correspondence. 

All: please make sure you sign up to The Crescent mailing list for updates on Spring, Summer and Winter Terms. 

Thank you all for your patience. 

Very best wishes, 


Chief Executive,  

The Crescent

26th March 2020

UPDATE: 17th March 2020

Given the current situation, we have made the following decisions:

Creative Learning - Winter Term (13 January - 5 April 2020)

In the circumstances you will understand that we have cancelled the remainder of the Winter Term. As of 9am on Wednesday 18 March all classes and workshops have been cancelled. There are a few exceptions - a number of our Tutors have proposed online/alternative solutions. Either The Crescent or the Tutor will be in touch with students directly about this.

To our Tutors and Life Models:

We will be in touch with you separately to confirm, but please note that The Crescent is committed to paying you for the rest of the Term, whether the Course continues to run or not.

To our Participants:

In these challenging and uncertain times we are asking our Winter Term customers to consider donating the last 2 weeks of term to The Crescent to help us support our Tutors, many of whom are freelance artists.

Please go to this link and let us know your preference as soon as possible.

If we don’t receive a response by 12pm on Friday 20 March we shall issue a Gift Voucher. We have never had to issue refunds on this scale, so please bear with us - it might take a bit longer than normal. If you have any further questions please email Please allow 7 working days for a response.

Creative Learning - Spring Term (20 April - 28 June 2020)

Our Spring Term was published online in early March. Some of you have already purchased Courses and Workshops. If, as is likely, many of those courses won’t run in the same way, we will of course offer refunds. As above, please bear with us if we are a bit slower than usual to process these refunds - thank you for your patience. 

However, rather than fully cancelling a whole Term, which has implications particularly for our Tutors who have made plans to teach, we are seeking to find alternative ways of working. People tell us that the social and connecting aspect of our Creative Learning activity is powerful, and particularly at a time of increased social isolation, we’d love to find ways to continue to provide connectivity, learning and fun, in a non-contact way. 

A number of our Tutors are already proposing online teaching, and over the next weeks we will seek to clarify, on our website, which courses and workshops will be available. As you will anticipate we hope to keep in particular elements of the following two Programme strands: Creative Writing; Language & Culture. 

We’ve got other ideas about how you can share your creativity and keep connected with us in these unusual times. Please keep an eye on our website and on social media. 

Please note: 

  • We won’t be doing our usual printed programme for the Spring Term (Please tell your friends who might not be frequently online - we know many people look forward to it through the letterbox) 
  • It is likely that we won’t run a full 10-week Spring Term, but spend some time thinking and preparing, and bring you a shorter Term, from mid-May. Tutors - we will be in touch - this is not necessarily going to be straightforward to manage - please bear with us as we also ‘Try Something New’! 

Creative Learning - Summer Term (20 July - 30 August 2020)

As many of you know, last year we introduced a Summer Term to the Creative Learning Programme, and were planning to do the same for 2020. We’ll need a bit of time to consider the evolving situation, and will keep you updated.

Creative Learning - Autumn Term (14 September - 13 December 2020) 

Our Autumn Term dates for your diary.

Crescent Engage: Outreach & Education 

Our work in this area is temporarily suspended. We apologise to all our partners and participants involved.

We make particular reference to CAYT - Crescent Arts Youth Theatre - who have been working so hard on their National Theatre Connections Production ‘A Series of Public Apologies’ by John Donnelly.

The CAYT Home show took place at The Crescent and was a great success.

We hope there’ll be a means for them to present their work with the other Youth Theatre Groups in due course.

Belfast Book Festival - 5- 14 June 2020

This year is our 10th anniversary. At the time of writing it is highly unlikely that the Festival will take place in June, and in the way we originally envisaged, but we will keep everyone updated as soon as a firm decision has been reached.

The Building

The Building will be temporarily closed to the public from 17h on Friday 20 March. We will remain open for a period for Staff and Creative Hub Companies.

You can still get in touch with us via email ( or on Twitter or Facebook.

With best wishes from us all at The Crescent; with solidarity to all our friends and colleagues across the culture sector and beyond. We look forward to welcoming you back to The Crescent.


Chief Executive

The Crescent

17th March 2020

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