Waterfront Hall & Ulster Hall have been shortlisted in the Best Venue offering Digital Event Facilities category at the Digital Event Awards 2021.
It was the year the world turned upside down. The two iconic venues in Belfast, Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall, went from welcoming over 300,000 customers through the doors to having empty auditoria. The same rang true for our sister venue, ICC Belfast: a venue whose primary purpose is to generate economic impact for the city by welcoming national and international conferences with thousands of delegates.
It is without doubt that 2020 was a challenging year for the events industry.
We saw international travel come to a halt and the growth of digital technology in everyday life was accelerated. To survive, companies and venues had to adapt their offering to meet the ‘new norm’ in which we lived, and this included Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall bringing live entertainment to the safety and comfort of your living room.
The delivery of virtual events started in June 2020 when ICC Belfast pivoted the offering within a matter of months to meet the demands of businesses, and they have gone on to delivery product launches, conferences and award ceremonies. Before long, it was recognised that these learnings could be adapted to the delivery of entertainment events at Ulster Hall.
With the support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Organisation Emergency Programme, Live from the Ulster Hall was launched, catapulting a 158-year-old concert hall into a new era of streaming and on-demand content.
The series of four concerts which ran over the festive period had a total of over 13,000 plays of the content with an average of 2.1 viewers watching the performance per view. The series of concerts not only generated ticket sales income for local artists but enabled them to engage with new audiences on a global scale. Of all tickets booked, 35% of bookers were from outside of Northern Ireland, showcasing the widened geographical reach that Live from the Ulster Hall enabled with viewers from over 30 countries including China, Australia, Denmark and Japan.
Oonagh O’Reilly, Director of Sales and Marketing at ICC Belfast | Waterfront Hall | Ulster Hall commented, “It’s hard to believe that it has been almost one year since we delivered a large-scale, in-person event."
Despite the challenges faced, our commitment to business preparedness has been unwavering and we’re delighted to have been shortlisted in the Digital Event Awards.
"The learnings we gained from ICC Belfast’s pivot to virtual solutions was invaluable and provided a solid foundation from which developments could be made that are tailored to our entertainment offering. Hybrid is here to stay, and these advancements will undoubtedly benefit us long after we safely return to live events.”
Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “Congratulations to the Waterfront and Ulster Hall team in being nominated for this Digital Event Award. Live from the Ulster Hall has been a terrific success and the Arts Council was delighted to support the series through our Organisations Emergency Programme, a vital funding scheme designed to help arts organisations respond to the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis by continuing producing creative work and to plan for recovery in the long-term.”