JOHN HEWITT SOCIETY - 2019-2021 STRATEGY
The John Hewitt Society is over 30 years old and is renown for their annual international summer scheme held in Armagh. The Society was established to promote Hewitt’s ethos of utilising literature and the arts as a medium for tackling prejudice, exclusive concepts of identity, and sectarian hostility. McGarry Consulting were asked to help them deliver a new 2019-2021 strategy, based on their knowledge of the Arts sector and previous positive working relationship.
John Hewitt (1907 - 1987) , was born and bred in Belfast becoming a freeman of the city in 1983. He started off as an Arts Assistant at the Belfast Museum and Gallery, before becoming Art Director of the Herbert Gallery & Museum in Coventry. On returning to Belfast in 1969, he produced many seminal works and became the first writer in residence at Queen’s University in 1976.
Hewitt had an active political life and was involved in the British Labour Party, the Fabian Society and the Belfast Peace League. He was an early advocate of the concept of ‘regionalism’ as a means of establishing personal identity, as opposed to traditional sectarian concepts based on politics or religion. He rooted his own regional identity within the island of Ireland and famously described his identity as Ulster, Irish, British, and European.
An avid supporter of equality, opportunity and justice for all, John Hewitt officially opened The Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre (BURC) on Mayday 1985. A social enterprise business was established in Belfast to raise funds towards the running of the centre – this was to become The John Hewitt Bar, which opened in 1999, named in tribute to the ethos and beliefs of the poet.