Crescent Arts Centre founder Roger Courtney honoured

Roger Courtney, the founder of the Crescent Arts Centre, former Chief Executive of Simon Community NI, and consultant whose work has reverberated through Northern Ireland’s third and cultural sectors for almost five decades, has been honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the CO3 Annual Leadership Awards.

Courtney’s involvement in the third and cultural sectors began with voluntary Peace and Reconciliation work at Corrymeela before founding the Crescent Arts Centre. Conceived to enhance the work of cross-community youth trips in the 1970s and offer a place for these groups to meet after their trips had ended, Courtney contacted the Department of Education to take over the vacant former Victoria College building on University Road. Finding “40 rooms riddled with dry rot”, Courtney toured the arts centres of England and returned to open the centre in 1978.

Roger Courtney

Having left the Crescent Arts Centre after three years, Courtney went on to serve as organising secretary and Chief Executive of the Simon Community NI, stepping away from the organisation in 1998. After joining the organisation in its infancy, when operations were limited to just Belfast, he left with the Simon Community containing “more than 200 staff and places to house the homeless across Northern Ireland”.

Having founded Courtney Consulting in 1998, Courtney’s influence throughout Northern Ireland’s third and cultural sectors is significant. He has now worked with more than a hundred voluntary and community organisations. A testament to the success of the foundations laid by Courtney is that, upon being approached to oversee a new strategic plan for the Crescent Arts Centre as Interim Director for a year in the 2010s, he returned to find a “totally different” building, with the centre thriving following a £7.2 million refurbishment.

A co-founder of CO3, a non-profit organisation for Chief Officers of the third sector, Courtney holds a PhD in Strategic Management in the voluntary sector from the University of Ulster (now Ulster University) and has written the organisation’s guides to great governance and to measuring success within the third sector, meaning that the new generation of third sector executives in Northern Ireland operate within a landscape shaped by Roger Courtney’s guiding hand.

Awarded an MBE in 1998, he has authored a leading textbook on strategic planning for third sector organisations and provides frequent training and facilitation for third sector organisations in planning for the future and improving their governance.

Upon receiving the award, Roger Courtney, said: “I was shocked to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent CO3 Leadership Awards. Having been invited to be a guest of CO3 at the ceremony, I had absolutely no idea that I was going to be honoured in this way. It was a very humbling experience. I am absolutely delighted to have been honoured by people whom I respect enormously.”

Donal Laverty, Consulting Partner of award sponsor Baker Tilly Mooney Moore, said: “Roger Courtney’s dedication and impact in Northern Ireland’s third and cultural sectors are unparalleled. His leadership, vision, and tireless commitment have left an indelible mark, shaping the landscape for generations to come. We at Baker Tilly Mooney Moore are proud to sponsor this prestigious award and see his contributions recognised. Roger’s work serves as an inspiration for all of us striving to make a positive change in our communities.”

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