The Arts Council today, Wed 13th June, launched the first Intercultural Arts Strategy for Northern Ireland in front of a gathering of MLAs, community groups and artists at Stormont. The strategy, which will be backed by a £300,000 funding package opening in the autumn, promotes cultural diversity through the arts and will help to deliver one of the Programme for Government’s overarching aims of Building a Better Future for All.
Bob Collins, Chair of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is pictured at the launch of the first Intercultural Arts Strategy for Northern Ireland with artist Karishma Kusurkar and Eileen Chan-Hu from the Chinese Welfare Association NI. Karishma’s work is part of the visual arts exhibition organised by the Arts Council to accompany the launch. Entitled ‘Diverse Expressions’, the exhibition features work by leading ethnic minority artists living in Northern Ireland and runs in the Long Gallery, Stormont until 22nd June.
The Intercultural Arts Strategy is available to view at the Arts Council website www.artscouncil-ni.org and is also available in other formats and languages upon request.
The Arts Council’s new Intercultural Arts Strategy recognises the changing face of society in Northern Ireland and its increasing cultural diversity. It highlights the need to promote cultural pluralism, develop good relations and tackle racism within and between communities and their cultures.
The launch took place with the support of William Hay MLA, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and was accompanied in the Long Gallery by a visual arts exhibition, ‘Diverse Expressions’, featuring work by leading ethnic minority artists living in Northern Ireland.
Bob Collins, Chair of the Arts Council said “At the heart of this strategy is the genuine desire to use the arts to engage with others who live and work around us and to actively foster the expression of cultural pluralism. In this strategy we have a demonstration of the arts leading by example, supporting and encouraging the delivery of the Government’s commitment to creating an inclusive society.
The arts offer us a way to express our distinctive cultures in a positive and open way. The Arts Council’s plan to invest £300,000 over the next three years promoting cultural diversity through the arts will strengthen the ethnic minority arts infrastructure and create more opportunities for communities in Northern Ireland to engage with each other and find their voice through the arts.”
He finished by asking MLA’s to take the time to read the strategy and said, “We’d like to hear your views and we’d greatly appreciate it if you would help spread the word about the funding available to your constituencies”.
Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Caral Ní Chuílín, MLA spoke at the launch and said, “the Arts have a positive role to play in our communities, and are a key vehicle for encouraging engagement, involvement and inclusivity. The Intercultural Arts Programme aims to underline this by providing financial support for schemes which will have a real impact at grassroots level.”
Speaker of the NI Assembly, Mr William Hay MLA said, “I would like to congratulate the Arts Council for having the foresight to tap into this great wealth of talent and for providing the funding for ethnic minorities to promote themselves and their distinct cultures and identities in positive and inclusive ways”.
The new intercultural arts programme will open in the autumn and community and voluntary groups will be able to apply for funding to support arts-based projects that will benefit their community and increase access to the arts for minority ethnic groups. The programme will also help individual ethnic minority artists to develop their professional practice and undertake relevant training in order to increase their opportunities to engage in collaborative work within and across communities.