Matt’s primary art form is percussion and he has a lead role in the musical direction and tuition of Beat Carnival’s main street percussion programmes, teaching around 50 individuals on a weekly basis. He has also developed strong competencies in float and prop construction. Originally a landscape gardener with an interest in chainsaw carving, he has developed his woodwork skills into designing and making drums.
Matt leads Beat Carnival's in-house samba band, BEATnDRUM, and has been involved with Beat for over eight years as a volunteer, facilitator and carnival artist. Over the years he has taken all opportunities for training with Beat and has consequently worked with some of the most respected percussionists and carnival organisations from across Europe and further afield. These have included Sam Alexander, Maracatu Estrella do Norte (London), Mestre Chacon Vianna, Maracatu Nacao Porto Rico (Brazil) and Monobloco (Brazil), Les Grandes Personnes (France). He has performed at many carnival and festival events throughout Ireland and in several European countries as well as studying and performing Maracatu percussion and dance in Olinda, Brazil.
Founder-Director of The Beat Initiative (1993) and the annual Belfast Carnivals, David established the Beat Carnival Centre. His vision was to create innovative, large-scale, celebratory arts programmes, in collaboration with carnival arts companies around Britain, Ireland and in Europe. David was active in developing social and arts projects through the civil turmoil and trouble of the 80s and 90s in Belfast, where the carnival work has proven to be a significant force for positive change in the city and civil society. Passionately believing that participation through carnival opens opportunities in education, job creation, self esteem, skills training and cross-community and intercultural communication, David has driven Beat to be Northern Ireland's carnival arts company and one of Belfast City’s flagship arts companies. Leading Beat through the current challenges and changes, David is working to consolidate a Carnival Arts Centre of Excellence in Belfast with an international profile.
Passionate about the power of creative networks, David is a long-time member of Trans Europe Halles, a European Network of Independent Cultural Centres that connects cultural actors, and was a council member of Banlieues d'Europe, a resource centre of cultural and artistic innovation in Europe that brought together 300 international active partners and 5000 contacts in Europe. He's also a member of NICVA, the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, a membership and representative umbrella body for the entire voluntary and community sector of Northern Ireland.
Jean has over 20 years' experience in programme management in the pre-school sector and is qualified to work with 0-8 year-olds. Jean manages the Beat Carnival’s in-house young people’s carnival training and performance programmes. She is an accredited trainer and qualified NVQ assessor for young people and adults and has facilitated accredited training with Beat participants through the Youth Achievement Awards. She has been a project coordinator on various carnival projects over the years, including projects across Ireland, at the London Dome and in Liverpool. She is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Beat Carnival, and is its Child Protection Officer. In reality, Jean's the first port of call for many Beat participants and artists and is informally referred to as the Beat Mummy!