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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Local artist transforms face of Ballymena businesses


Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID) has helped transform the town centre in unique way with the introduction of bespoke Shutter Art and new green planters across a series of businesses.

The Shutter Art concept, thought to be the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, is now featured on 8 businesses within the town centre.


The concept was introduced by BID Board Member, Lesley McCaughan, owner of Follow Coffee. She engaged with local artist, Sam McAleese, during lockdown, and was so impressed with Sam’s shutter and internal art mural, that she submitted the idea to the BID’s Marketing Subgroup for consideration.

Ballymena BID ran a competition across all businesses to win shutter art for their premises. Alongside this, 23 businesses were gifted beautiful green planters to adorn their entrances, in a bid to make the town centre more attractive.


The shutter art was created by Sam McAleese, a local artist and Tattooist, who is about to open his first Tattoo business in the town within The Barber Collective located on Church Street. He is delighted to be able to showcase his art in such a unique and highly visible way.


Speaking about the new initiatives, Emma McCrea said: “The shutter art has been a fantastic addition to our town centre.

“It has added a unique, vibrant and colourful element to each business, with the artwork tailor-made to suit the business. Willow Beauty has a gorgeous, soft, muted tone mural featuring Willow Trees, UPS has a street scape showcasing house sales.


“We also ran an initiative to introduce 46 green planters into the town, to help create a welcoming environment to shop entrances. We were delighted with the interest and were able to secure the trees from a local Ballymena garden centre Ben Vista.”


Roy Smyth, owner of Outdoor Adventure, who has a camp scene painted on his shutter, said: “We absolutely love the art work, the scene is really beautiful, and it has really added to our business and helps us market the place when we are closed. We have had many visitors comment on it and even taken their photograph outside the premises for social media.

Lesley McCaughan, BID Board member and owner of Follow Coffee said: “Sam’s work is second-to-none and it is lovely to support a young, up-and-coming artist and fellow business owner in this town. Like ourselves, I am delighted to see so many businesses benefit from the artwork.”



Ballymena was the first BID to be established in Northern Ireland in 2015 and since then it has been committed to the improvement of the town centre. They have a £1M budget allocated for a five-year term, with a remit to invest back into the town centre to attract further trade.


The money is allocated between marketing and promotion, making the town a safer, cleaner and more welcoming place for all and also providing additional business support to the businesses. BID also work hard to secure additional funding to help support local businesses.

For details of the Ballymena BID’s business plan visit www.ballymenameans.com.



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