Democracy Day to return in 2018 at the Imagine Belfast Festival

Democracy Day to return in 2018 at the Imagine Belfast Festival

01 November 2017

The Trust is delighted to announce it will be sponsoring the Imagine Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics for the fourth successive year in 2018.

The festival is designed to celebrate and support the role of the citizen in the cultural and political life of Belfast and Northern Ireland.  Aimed at engaging people in political/cultural discussion and debate in the broadest sense, it also encourages participation from people not normally involved in politics.  The festival is not aligned with any political party or particular interest group and is scrupulously non-partisan.


As well as supporting the festival as a whole with a £10,000 sponsorship package, the Trust will be organising its own showpiece event during the week – the return of last year’s popular ‘Democracy Day’.


Democracy Day is intended to provide some fresh thinking about the meaning and practice of democracy – beyond voting – by showcasing the best of local and international innovations that are providing new ways of involving citizens directly in the key decisions affecting their communities and societies.


In particular attendees will have an opportunity to explore Citizens’ Assemblies and Participatory Budgeting, as well as the Trust’s own Civic Activism projects, the work of the NI Open Government Network and much more.


Overview of last year's Democracy Day from Building Change Trust on Vimeo.


Paul Braithwaite, who leads the Trust’s Creative Space for Civic Thinking work said:

“It almost goes without saying that the times we’re in – with devolution suspended, public services under severe strain and a highly uncertain Brexit on the horizon - require some new approaches and courageous leadership. The Trust believes the VCSE sector is about much more than delivering services – its origins are in movements of people making common cause and striving for social change. Now more than ever, the sector and civil society as a whole need to help politicians and government reconnect with citizens and harness their collective wisdom and ingenuity in finding solutions to our most intractable challenges. Through Democracy Day we hope to bring together those who are already demonstrating such leadership and provide them with fresh opportunities to connect with each other and collaborate for the public good.”


Ever keen to find new collaborators and innovations, the Trust is leading a group from Northern Ireland to the Council of Europe’s World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg next week to scour for ideas and inspiration. We’ll report back on what we find in the coming weeks and hopefully bring the best over to Belfast for Democracy Day.


We would also love to hear from others already pioneering novel and effective approaches to civic engagement in Northern Ireland – contact Paul Braithwaite if you have an idea you think should be part of Democracy Day 2018.


The Imagine Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics will take place from 12th to 18th March 2018 and Democracy Day is earmarked for Wednesday 14th March. The Festival call for ideas is open now and will close on 5th December. Tickets will be available via the Imagine website in the New Year.