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Got the talent? You’re in the Tribe

By Kieran Hughes

There’s a rich source of untapped creative talent bubbling under the surface in working class communities across Belfast just waiting to be discovered. That’s the message from a unique Belfast-based talent scouting and training organisaton who next week will give that talent a chance to break through into one  of our most exciting and rapidly growing industries.

Next Friday (June 29) The Talent Tribe, in conjunction with the South Belfast Partnership Board, is opening its doors to 90 young dancers, singers and actors from deprived communities in the city and giving them the opportunity to be take part in masterclasses delivered by leading creative industry professionals.

After a day of auditions, twelve of the most promising 8- to 18-year-olds will be selected and go on to take part in one of the classes The Talent Tribe is renowned for.

Director Fedelma Harkin says Belfast is full of young talent just waiting to make a career in the creative industries.

“We are seeking to introduce young people of all ages to the creative industries as well as looking for young creative people and show them a whole world out there that,” she said.

The former senior producer at the BBC knows all about finding the best in young talent  having set up the widely respected and hugely successful drama department at St Louise’s Comprehensive College, where she was a teacher for 17 years.

In her time she mentored some of the finest acting talent that the city has produced including Rocky Balboa star Geraldine Hughes and stage actress Katie Tumelty, who is current lighting up the stage at the Waterfront Hall in Fly Me To The Moon.

Fidelma says there’s much more talent out there, but young people need to be given the opportunity to shine. “There is a massive industry out there utilising different crafts and skills and not just necessarily acting or dancing. This isn’t about becoming famous, it’s about giving young people the skills that they didn’t necessarily know they had, and it’s about teamwork and self confidence.”


“We are seeking to introduce young people of all ages to the creative industries as well as looking for young creative people and show them a whole world out there that.”


That self-confidence is key for Fedelma and it is something that traditional classroom-based schooling doesn’t seem to be able to harness.

“Schools are there to educate, not train, and that is not a criticism. But what we want to do is identify and train young people, young people from areas of deprivation or people with low self-esteem or those at risk who wouldn’t normally get an opportunity like this.

“We act as an agency for them to actively try to get them experience. And it does work; for example, we had a six-year-old who has been in three films already and a 14-year-old who has been in theatre, radio and television.”

What set those young people apart is that they had not only a spark of talent, but a desire to work hard.

“Imagination is more important than factual knowledge and it is great fun, but that’s not saying that it isn’t hard work.”

Anne McAleese, Chief Executve of the South Belfast Partnership Board, who approached The Talent Tribe about holding next week’s event, says creativity is hugely important in relation to the confidence of young people.

“It is very important for children to be able to express themselves and opportunities to do that should be available to children of all backgrounds,” she said.

“But some families can’t afford it and that is why we decided to work with Fedelma and Talent Tribe to let children come along on the day.

“Drama and creativity are great in later life for confidence as well as opening doors in different industries.”

There are 90 spaces available for the event at The Crescent Arts Centre on Friday, June 29. Anyone wishing to participate can register on the day, however it is on a first come first served basis. If there are more than 90 young people then The Talent Tribe will take details and offer future possibilities.


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