The Isle of Man, with its compelling mix of heritage, history and natural beauty, has long provided a rich source of artistic inspiration.
It is against this background that in 2014 we are celebrating our Island’s cultural past and future potential.
Island of Culture 2014 will showcase the Isle of Man as a nation embracing culture and the arts in all its diversity; a people who are challenging and creative, noted for independent thinking, receptive to the new and respectful of the traditional.
This year we will salute not only the many and varied cultural activities that take place year-round in town and villages across the Island but also welcome artists and performers from the UK and beyond to our shores to share in our celebrations.
We chose 2014 primarily because it comes at the end of the Art Council’s 10-year strategy to develop a resilient and aspirational long-term future for the arts in the Isle of Man. But this year is also one to be celebrated in that it marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest Manx artists, Archibald Knox, a towering figure in the British Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements whose work is sought after internationally to this day and has done much to promote the Isle of Man to a global audience.
2014 is also the centenary of the beginning of the First World War. It is therefore fitting that Island of Culture 2014 serve as a means to commemorate this most significant of milestones in world history and honour all those who lost their lives in the Great War – among them many brave Manx men and women.
These two events may be worlds apart but in their very different ways provide an opportunity to inspire cultural and artistic expression and, in so doing, enrich our programme for Island of Culture 2014.
The aim of Island of Culture 2014 is, however, far more nuanced than simply to celebrate the Island’s cultural and artistic life. It is about bringing communities together, promoting civic pride, galvanising imagination and creativity, encouraging social integration and recognising the transformational change a year of culture can bring.
This will be a year not only to nurture young artistic talent but also provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to become involved and share in the Island’s vibrant cultural scene. To this end our programme for the year will see the return to their home shores of our cultural youth ambassadors: blues guitarist Davy Knowles, currently working in America, dancer Lloyd Mayor, now performing with New York’s Martha Graham Dance Company, and principal trumpet with the London Philharmonia Jason Evans.
Importantly Island of Culture 2014 will have a life that extends far beyond December 31st. It will serve to rekindle in some and awaken in others an interest in the arts, especially among our young people, enhancing their academic performance and perhaps setting them on new and exciting career pathways. It will also see the bursaries founded help realise the potential of some of our most talented youth, while many of the events launched this year will become an annual fixture in the Island’s cultural life.
And Island of Culture 2014 can be a springboard to economic success, with the power to benefit the Manx economy, encourage greater numbers of visitors to our shores and alert a wider audience to the attractions and investment opportunities the Isle of Man has to offer.
Simply put, Island of Culture 2014 will create a lasting legacy.
This is the year we tell our story to the world.
Director, Island of Culture 2014