5 min

The end of 2019 found Belfast’s three world-class entertainment and convention venues celebrating.

By December, the team at ICC Belfast, Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall had booked 49 conferences for 2020. They had sold 90,000 tickets for live entertainment events scheduled between January and March. They were on track to surpass their five-year £100 million economic impact goal.

Then 2020 threatened this momentum with unprecedented challenges. In January, the resignation of the organisation’s chief executive unsettled the team. A few months later, the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered arts and cultural venues around the globe.

“In partnership with our ticketing provider Tessitura ... what was achieved in six weeks would have ordinarily taken 12 months.”

Today, Northern Ireland’s cultural gems are emerging stronger than ever. Their success is the result of bold ambition, inventive solutions, a focus on client needs and an investment in staff.

Belfast's case study offers a roadmap for navigating challenges.

The management team shares outcomes and key learnings from the past 18 months in a new case study: Leadership in Uncertain Times. One highlight was the launch in December 2020 of Live from Ulster Hall. Music returned to the city’s 158-year-old concert hall through this series of streaming and on-demand digital events.

According to the report, “The team’s passion and sense of pride when creating live experiences was unwavering, and whilst the venues remained mandated shut, these events were its vessels. In partnership with our ticketing provider Tessitura, when forced to create a ‘new normal’ we developed the functionality of gated content through our websites that transported customers from their living room to standing in the middle of the Ulster Hall.

“What was achieved in six weeks would have ordinarily taken 12 months. The hunger to cultivate a sense of normalcy and provide hope and joy at the end of a truly terrible year was what drove this project forward at such speed.”

Organisations facing difficult obstacles will find a roadmap in these examples. The Belfast team’s journey also celebrates how the unexpected can become a catalyst for both reinvention and transformation.

“Rebuilding what was lost during the pandemic isn’t the plan,” they wrote. “The Executive Leadership Team has reimagined this business and what its people can achieve.”

Read the full study ›


Arts & Culture


Business Strategy




Presenting & Performance


Virtual Experiences

  • ZACH Theatre | Success Story
    Success StoriesSuccess Stories

    ZACH Theatre | Success Story

    Business Strategy / COVID-19 / Customer Service / Ticketing & Admissions

    How the ZACH Theatre is bringing back audiences — safely

  • Free ticketing, new opportunities
    Success StoriesSuccess Stories

    Free ticketing, new opportunities

    Arts & Culture / Customer Service / Museums / Ticketing & Admissions

    How Science Museum Group grew engagement and enhanced the visitor experience

  • Keeping Live Audiences Safer
    Success StoriesSuccess Stories

    Keeping Live Audiences Safer

    COVID-19 / Customer Service / Digital / Ecosystem Partners

    Atlanta Opera and Appscension collaborate on digital health check surveys