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Arts Council extends funding to Intercultural Arts Programme

Friday 18th December 2015 at 10am 0 Comments Community Arts , Intercultural Arts

The Obon Japanese Festival in Derry-Londonderry is just one of the initiatives that has been supported by the Arts Council's Intercultural Arts Programme Image: The Obon Japanese Festival in Derry-Londonderry is just one of the initiatives that has been supported by the Arts Council's Intercultural Arts Programme

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has today (18/12/2015) opened its successful Intercultural Arts Programme for 2016/17 with the help of an additional £100,000 National Lottery funding. 

The success of the previous Intercultural Arts Programme, evidenced in a recent evaluation report ( “Opening Doors: An Arts-led Approach to Building Social Capital” ) was so significant, helping to achieve many of the NI Executive’s goals on building social cohesion, tackling inequality and racism and developing integrated community planning, that the Arts Council agreed to extend the programme for another year, funded by its National Lottery resources.

Fionnuala Walsh, Head of Community and Participatory Arts , Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,

“We are delighted to extend the Intercultural Arts Programme (ICAP). The evaluation results of the previous 3-year ICAP programme were so overwhelmingly positive it made sense to find the additional funding. There will be some minor changes to the new ICAP progamme but essentially, at its heart, remains the commitment to help build Northern Ireland’s social capital through the arts.

Stretching from the south- east to the north-west and everywhere in between, the ICAP programme has opened doors to many artists and communities from across the world. It would be terrific to agree more long term funding for ICAP in the near future as this programme tackles head-on many of the current NI Executive’s priorities, tackling inequality and building social and community cohesion.”

The previous, ICAP programme, which ended in 2015, was the first of its kind to launch in the UK or Ireland and was aimed at providing opportunities for minority ethnic communities to access and participate in the arts.

The programme supported 31 projects and engaged an estimated 3,500 people whose countries of origin included Argentina, Mexico, Ghana, South Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Bulgaria, Hungary, Japan, Jamaica, Poland, Portugal, and England.

The programme also provided funding support for professional artists from ethnic minority backgrounds as well as a programme of training, networking and development for artists and communities exploring the areas of arts and cultural diversity.

The newly launched ICAP fund can be accessed below and is open for applications until Thursday 31st March 2016.

Two case studies help illustrate the ICAP programme and the benefits of building social capital through the arts:

Case study 1: The Accolade Community Choir, Newry and Mourne 

The Accolade (All Community Arts Communication) Community Choir was set up in the Newry and Mourne area by classically trained musicians Nikolay and Veselka Ivanov. Many of the participants are older people; one of them comments ‘I would never come across some-one from a different ethnic group. We’re very parochial here in Newry’.

It has offered the opportunity for 53 people from the Newry Area to meet together to learn more about each other’s cultural heritages, to learn songs from many different countries and to perform together at local events and venues. The choir has been established on a cross-community basis. One participant says ‘We are made up of the two existing communities - I’ve no idea what religion other people are.’ It has Indian, African, Zimbabwean, Polish and Portuguese members and its programme features music from Portuguese, Zimbabwean, Polish, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Irish, Ulster-Scots and Jewish traditions.

An important element of the choir’s rehearsal process is that the history, traditions and meanings lying behind the songs are explained to participants by people who are locally settled in the area, which sets up an informal forum for discussion and exchange. The choir has given many performances in the local area and recently sang at the home of the NI Assembly in Stormont.

Case study 2: Oban on the Foyle, Derry ~Londonderry and Clady 

Obon on the Foyle Festival group received an award from ACNI’s Intercultural Arts Programme during 2015. The Obon group are committed to supporting the development of Japanese Arts and Culture in the North West and include local Japanese people, Taiko enthusiasts and Japanophiles.

The funding supported an outreach programme which included Taiko drumming workshops and performance, choral workshops and performance, manga art workshops and exhibition, and dance workshops and performance.

Local Japanese artists and a range of arts groups included the Ibuki Taiko drumming group, the Yu-Jo Taiko Dance and the Inishowen Gospel Choir delivered workshops with over 100 participants from diverse cultural, religious, language and traditions in community settings and rural schools.

The outreach programme then formed part of the Obon on the Foyle day-long Japanese Festival of Taiko and Light in June 2015 which created a ‘Little Tokyo’ in Claudy, County L/Derry attracting audiences of over 500 people.

Fiona Umetsu, Co-ordinator with Obon on The Foyle Festival commented.

‘The Intercultural Arts Funding we were lucky to receive was indispensible for our project. It enabled us to work with a diverse and eclectic range of Japanese art forms and bring them to the attention of the public. The Obon Japanese Festival itself would not have been possible as all the performances were a direct result of workshops supported by the Intercultural Arts Fund’.

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