The John Hewitt Society was established in 1987, to commemorate the life and work of renowned Northern Irish poet, who died that year.
The Society was established with the mission:
'To provide for the exploration of arts, culture and politics of Ulster, Ireland, Britain and Europe, in order to contribute to development and change in the new society, inspired and guided by the life, work and ideals of John Hewitt.'
The Society’s objectives are based on the life and work of Hewitt, who was devoted to defining the relationship of Protestants in the north of Ireland with their Catholic neighbours and the rest of the island. These include providing a safe, neutral space for its activities and, through the use of the arts, to encourage debate, understanding, tolerance and acceptance of cultural diversity. The Society actively promotes cross-community and cross-border links and, through its work, it plays a very real role in reinforcing the peace process in Northern Ireland.
The Society’s main activities are:
THE JOHN HEWITT INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL
The John Hewitt International Summer School is an internationally renowned festival of literature and the arts, held in honour of Northern Irish poet John Hewitt. The week-long School, established in 1987, is the Society’s main event commemorating John Hewitt. The School adopts a specific theme each year and provides a safe, neutral and unthreatening space to explore these themes.
The School annually includes more than 30 distinct, though related, cultural events across a range of artforms including creative writing, drama and the visual arts. We are very proud to annually secure contributions from leading writers, poets, artists and musicians from across Ireland, Britain and beyond.
The School takes place in the wonderful, modern surroundings of the Marketplace Theatre and Arts Centre in Armagh. Each year it attracts up to 400 people from all over Ireland, Britain, Europe and the United States, to experience the wide range of distinct, though linked, cultural events, including creative writing workshops, poetry study, discussion and readings, open debate, music, drama, film and visual arts.
The John Hewitt International Summer School 2009
The residential nature of the Summer School provides opportunities for people from all communities to live, work and socialise together throughout the week, encouraging interdependence. In order to maximise participation, the School works in partnership with local councils, arts organisations, community organisations and businesses to provide bursaries to individuals who might otherwise be excluded to attend the School.
THE JOHN HEWITT SPRING FESTIVAL
The Spring Festival, established in 2003, is a packed one-day event of readings, talks debate and entertainment from renowned writers and artists. The Festival is held in Carnlough, Co Antrim. The location recognises John Hewitt’s love for the Antrim Glens and enables the Society to maintain its strong link with area and people.
The Society organises additional, one-off events throughout the year, including readings and talks.
THE JOHN HEWITT STATUE PROJECT
The John Hewitt Society, in conjunction with the Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre and The John Hewitt Public House, hopes to erect a commemorative statue of the poet in Belfast city centre.
The Society occasionally publishes papers and talks by leading writers and academics who have contributed to the annual Summer Schools, Spring Festivals and other events.
Most recently, the Society coordinated the publication of 'John Hewitt Selected Poems' (2007), edited by Michael Longley and Frank Ormsby and published by Blackstaff Press.
The Society maintains an up-to-date website to raise awareness of the Society and its activities.
OTHER ORGANISATIONS - LINKS
The Society seeks to forge and develop mutally beneficial relationships with other arts organisations, to include:
C L Dallat, Anne Marie Fyfe, Bill Jeffrey, Paul McAvinchey, Paul Maddern, Carmel Maguire, Peter Morgan-Barnes, Brian Scott, Pat Scott
Patrons: Eilish Clerkin, Margaret D’Arcy, Seamus Deane, Brian Garrett, Maurice Hayes, Seamus Heaney, Fred Heatley, Marie Jones, Edna Longley, Michael Longley, Terence McCaughey, Carmel McGuckian, Keith Millar, John Montague, Tom Paulin
Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Armagh City and District Council, Community Relations Council (Cultural Diversity Programme), Armagh City Hotel, Milestone Trust
The John Hewitt Society is a not-for-profit, charitable status, limited liability company