Open House

Open House has played a key role in the cultural and economic transformation of post-Troubles Belfast for over 25 years.

Crowd watching a band play in a crowded venue

Throughout its history the Foundation has supported cultural organisations and believed in the role they can play in regenerating an area’s economy and community. A good example of such an organisation is Open House, which has been based in Bangor since 2013 where it delivers a year-round programme of over 1,000 events and a range of outreach and volunteering opportunities.

The support from Garfield Weston Foundation has been a deal breaker for our project. They totally understood our vision, and proved to be a supportive and flexible partner, particularly in navigating the many challenges we faced during Covid. Their support helped us save an iconic heritage building and create a new independent music and arts venue that is leading the regeneration of our struggling seaside town.

In 2020 the Foundation supported Open House’s major capital project to refurbish Bangor’s former Court House and to transform it into a thriving arts centre with a year-round cultural programme. Open House has helped to transform Bangor from a town with high levels of crime and a failing high street, into a vibrant city that has attracted major investment for regeneration projects. Open House successfully generates the majority of its income from box office and bar income, though it was struggling to cover its core operational costs in the current financial environment, which hampered its ability to develop programmes.  The organisation clearly set out its anticipated income and expenditure so we could see its likely shortfall alongside its clear delivery plan. We were delighted to make a grant over three years to help Open House continue to deliver a vibrant arts programme and to contribute to Bangor’s success.

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