CT Consults

Northern Ireland – Starting to share its cultural power

Painted mural of five people on side of building

The challenge

A young, recently emerged tourism destination, Northern Ireland is playing rapid catch-up. The success of recent capital developments like Titanic Belfast and Seamus Heaney’s Homeplace, plus the global popularity of Game of Thrones, has indicated a genuine visitor interest and connection. 

The big opportunity lay in what they simply couldn’t do 25 years ago – being dynamic, strategic and creative in partnerships – transforming good heritage into genuinely distinctive experiences found nowhere else. We found a warm, edgy and contemporary personality emerging

Vintage signage, framed in black wooden frame displayed on a stone wall at Ulster Folk Museum - National Museums of Northern Ireland.

Our response

We were commissioned to pinpoint the issues preventing key heritage tourism offers from performing to their full potential, and to make the case for culture and heritage in international image-making and tourism and place-making, to drive investment in quality cultural heritage experiences. 

The brief asked for a strategic plan to inform how culture and heritage could contribute more to the tourism agenda. Very quickly we made the case for a fundamental shift in how the sector thinks, operates and invests, connecting visitor experience to brand. So rather than a narrow plan, we developed a strategic framework that set out how to transform the impact of NI’s cultural heritage assets for the long-term. Our process of interrogative consultation, strategic analysis and collective ‘imagineering’ created a model which continues to drive thinking and increased investment into culture and heritage, as the key pillar of the region’s tourism strategy. We signposted new collaborative approaching and interpreting heritage to connect place, stories and people better.

Kickstarting a new approach

The Prospectus for Change provided an important challenge to plans for major programmes and a new brand proposition. It was instrumental in driving the approach for European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 and attracting significant funds for the delivery of activities in that year, and a legacy based around a new collaborative national vision for heritage (which we brokered). A number of pathfinder projects got the green light to develop their visitor experiences, including National Museums NI, who then appointed us to help with their strategic vision. A visionary new leadership group, including National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council NI and British Council, has taken a strategic lead – which we continue to support and advise. Three years on, we’re still driving its roll-out all across Northern Ireland. And the framework also informs new resources that continue to support a sector open to collaborative practice.

Tree lined road, ancient trees create an archway over road
In helping to define a new vision for the Ulster Folk Museum, the CTConsults team demonstrated passion, expertise and professionalism. They worked seamlessly alongside our team and our stakeholders to harvest knowledge and insights, which they used to produce a vision that is transformative, meaningful and actionable.”

Aaron Ward, Head of Audience Development, National Museums NI

European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 success

Helped to make the case for a successful National Lottery Heritage Fund bid of £500,000 to support nine projects in Northern Ireland for its contribution to European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018

Revitalising national museums

National Museums NI invested in two visioning studies, delivered by CTConsults, for Ulster Folk Museum and Ulster American Folk Park

New cultural heritage inspired brand

Tourism Northern Ireland launched their new brand infused with a strong cultural heritage underpinning

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