I joined Portico in 2014 during its restoration, courtesy of the Heritage Lottery Fund. My job was to transform what was a crumbling old church into a vibrant arts and heritage centre. To cut a long story short... Mission accomplished.
Portico now holds concerts of all kinds - country, classical, comedy - and even, occasionally, genres not beginning with c. We attract big names sometimes like Kathryn Rudge, the Tallis Scholars, Derek Ryan or Beth Nielsen Chapman. Sometimes we have just have big fun with mad theatre like Big Telly's Freak Show or dance in the aisles with ABBA tribute The Bjorn Identity.
We show off our unique 'Grade A'-listed architecture to tour groups, tell tourists about our connections with the United Irishmen and exhibit virtual and real artefacts telling the story of this region - the Upper Ards.
Portico delivers wellbeing to the thousands of visitors it attracts every year and substantial economic regeneration in the hospitality industry locally.
It's a real community project, too. Apart from the caretaker and me, Portico is staffed almost entirely by volunteers - we have over 90 now. Yes, it's like herding cats sometimes. But no, Portico simply would not exist without our lovely volunteers.
Come and see for yourself - come for a tour or come for a show!