STAGE BEYOND Chairperson wins ‘inspirational trustee’ at arts & business NI awards

Stage Beyond Theare Company was among arts organisations, businesses and individuals celebrated at this year’s Arts & Business NI Awards 2022, in partnership with Forestside Shopping Centre, with winners announced across 11 categories.  

Bernie Shiels, Chair of Stage Beyond, was the winner of ‘Inspirational Trustee’ at the ceremony which brought together the cultural and private sectors, to celebrate the best in creative partnerships and also recognise the achievements of outstanding individuals.

The Inspirational Trustee Award is awarded to an individual who, in a voluntary capacity, has added outstanding benefit to an arts organisation in a governance role.

Bernie Shiels, Inspirational Trustee winner at the Arts & Business NI Awards 2022 pictured with Mary Nagele CEO Arts & Business NI and Lee Cutler Forestside Centre Manager, Principal Sponsor. Event photography by Aaron McCracken. 

Commenting after being announced as the winner, Bernie Shiels said: “I was totally shocked when my name was announced, and I was called to the stage to receive this award. It was such a proud moment for me personally and for Stage Beyond which has been such a central part of my life since I joined the theatre company 21 years ago.”

“I would like to thank the staff, Board and members of Stage Beyond for everything that they do and being so supportive. I was really chuffed to be nominated for this category and to be shortlisted alongside individuals from the other brilliant arts organisations. It just feels amazing to actually win the Award and my family are so proud also.”

Bernie was appointed Chair of Stage Beyond last year and became the first member of the local theatre company for adults with learning disabilities to hold the position.

Congratulating Bernie on her success following the awards announcement in Belfast on Thursday evening, Dee Conaghan, Artistic Director of Stage Beyond, said she was absolutely delighted to receive the news. “Bernie Shiels has been a stalwart at Stage Beyond since its formation and she is fully deserving of this award for her inspirational recent new role as Chair of the Board of Trustees which makes important decisions on the future direction of the company.”

Left to right: Joe Lindsay Host, Mary Nagele CEO Arts & Business NI, Liam Hannaway Chairperson Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Lee Cutler Forestside Centre Manager and Principal Sponsor. Event photography by Aaron McCracken. 

Arts & Business NI, CEO Mary Nagele said“Our award winners are shining examples of the amazing benefits of collaboration between the Arts and businesses. We have a cultural sector to be proud of, and at a time when all sectors continue to face unprecedented challenges, it is hugely important we showcase the value of working together and the amazing things that can happen when we do.” 

Other winning partnerships on the night included, Cahoots NI & Savills, Arts Care & Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Young at Art & U105 and Millennium Forum & Specsavers. Each winner took home a specially commissioned piece of artwork created by Sasha McVey Ceramics, which was sponsored by Bank of Ireland. 

Lee Cutler, Forestside Centre Manager and Principal Sponsor commented: We were delighted to sponsor the Arts & Business NI Awards for the second year running. The awards are a chance to shine a light on the past year’s successful creative partnerships which have helped to make Northern Ireland a more vibrant place, in which to live and do business.”

Arts & Business NI Awards have been celebrating and inspiring connections between the cultural and commercial sectors in Northern Ireland for over 20 Years. Full list of award winners listed below. 

Winners & Highly Commended: Arts & Business NI Awards 2022, in partnership with Forestside

Creative Community Engagement Award 
Cahoots NI & Savills
Highly Commended: 
Millennium Forum & Specsavers

Staff Engagement Award
Winner: Arts Care & Belfast Health and Social Care Trust              

Brand Storytelling Award
Winner: Young at Art & U105
Highly Commended: The Playhouse & The Guildhall

New Sponsor Award 
: Belfast Exposed & Translink
Highly commended: Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival & The American Bar                                     

Commitment to Diversity Award 
Millennium Forum & Specsavers
Highly commended: 
Kabosh & Cara Friend                         

Inspirational Trustee Award  
Bernie Shiels, Stage Beyond 
Highly Commended: 
Maria Lee, Young at Art                                   

Arts Organisation of the Year
Belfast Exposed

Business of the Year
The American Bar

Arts Innovator Award
Winner: Stephen Kelly, c21 Theatre Company

Above and Beyond Award
Winner: Jenni Barkley, Belfast Harbour

Forestside Choice Award
Winner: Jennifer Willis, photographer for the ‘Seen to be Heard’ project