Present Future exhibition allows children and young people from PUL communities to showcase their hopes and dreams

A major immersive installation and exhibition showcasing the aspirations of children and young people from Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist (PUL) communities in Carrickfergus, Larne and East Belfast has taken place at the iconic Telegraph Building. The project was supported by the Executive Office through the Communities in Transition project. The event took place as part of the 4 Corners Festival.


Organised by Northern Ireland Alternatives and Wonder Arts it was entitled Present Future and features the voices and images of children and young people from East Belfast, Carrickfergus and Larne.


Director of Wonder Arts, Jonathan Hodge, explained the idea for the project emerged organically from a group of young leaders who are working to address issues in working-class Protestant communities.


“One of these was educational under-attainment and it was felt that this issue fitted well with the overall theme of the 4 Corners Festival – Dreams. Once the theme was agreed, the group participated in creative planning sessions where different ideas were explored.”

“The Cube and exhibition feature the voices of children and young people who have been involved in the Raising Aspirations projects. The younger children talk about what they would like to do in the future, and what is really positive about this is the diversity of aspirations they all have in terms of careers.


“The young people talk more about their own experiences of education and making their way in life. The voices have been set to a specially commissioned score by producer Ryan Vail.”


Other elements of the exhibition include a set of specially commissioned images of children and young people who have been involved in outreach projects delivered by Northern Ireland Alternatives and Wonder Arts in Carrickfergus, as part of Communities in Transition, exploring their experiences in their community. These images were projected large-scale onto specially erected screens in the Telegraph Building. Speaking about the project, Carolyn Mada from The Executive Office’s Communities in Transition Programme said: “This project is about encouraging children and young people to have dreams and make positive choices about their futures.

“It is also about challenging narratives and stereotypes about children and young people from working-class PUL communities and about encouraging young leaders to think about different ways of telling the story of their community, particularly through the creative arts.


“Finally, it demonstrates to children and young people that a career in the creative industries is a viable opportunity, particularly as this is a major area of growth within the local economy.


“The Communities in Transition Programme works to build capacity and resilience, providing support in communities which are most impacted by paramilitary activity and coercive control. This particular project has been very successful in achieving that.”