Arts Council of Northern Ireland

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for The Arts in Northern Ireland

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Statement – Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Tuesday 16th August 2022 at 6pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland awarded funding to Féile an Phobail through the 2022/23 Annual Funding Programme. This award makes a contribution to the organisation’s staff salary costs only and not artists/musicians fees.

In relation to questions received about an element of programming within this year’s festival, the Arts Council condemns sectarian behaviour in any form. We will discuss the issues raised directly with Féile an Phobail in light of the commitment to good relations we ask of all our funded clients.

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Camerata Ireland presents the 2022 Clandeboye Festival from 20-27 August

Thursday 11th August 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

Camerata Ireland presents the 2022 Clandeboye Festival, with 13 concerts of world-class music taking place from 20-27 August 2022

The Festival features international artists alongside the very best of homegrown talent, including all-Ireland orchestra Camerata Ireland

Camerata Ireland is proud to present the 2022 Clandeboye Festival, which will take place from Saturday 20th to Saturday 27th August in the historic surroundings of the Clandeboye Estate, Bangor. Over 13 concerts, the Festival will showcase the very best of well-loved music by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and more, with performances from world-class musicians, including regular artists Michael d'Arcy and Elina Vähälä (violin), Ed Creedon (viola), Henri Demarquette cello), Ailish Tynan (soprano), Michel Lethiec (clarinet), Richard Watkins (horn), Eimear McGeown (flute), Justine Gormley (piano), and all-Ireland orchestra Camerata Ireland, along with many special guests.

The Festival’s Artistic Director, Barry Douglas, notes, ‘After 2 years of the drama and tragedy of Covid, we are now in renewal mode and that is why the theme this year is “Renewal and Renaissance”. This will be a special and important occasion, packed with great music and great artists.’

Central to the ethos of Camerata Ireland is the nurturing and support of young musicians from across this island, and an important part of the Clandeboye Festival each year is the Camerata Ireland Academy, in which talented young musicians from all over the island take part in masterclasses with the visiting artists. While masterclasses continue to be online this year, the 2022 Festival will showcase several young musicians who took part in the Academy in 2021, including oboist Ben Gannon, pianist Stan O’Beirne, and Sam Kane, violinist and former leader of the Ulster Youth Orchestra from Co. Armagh.

Douglas adds, ‘for so many of our young artists, the Academy has been a springboard for successful professional careers. It gives me great pleasure to invite these musicians back to Clandeboye to perform as professionals in their own right - this year, for example, we have the fantastic young pianist Justine Gormley from Belfast performing in 6 concerts!’

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music and Opera at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland notes, “Camerata Ireland’s commitment to developing musicians and musicianship across the island of Ireland, through the Camerata Ireland Academy, ensures that the Clandeboye Festival remains one of the principal showcases for some of our most exciting emerging young talent. As principal funder, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud of our long association with Camerata Ireland and with this very special celebration of chamber music, in the intimate surroundings of the Clandeboye Estate.”

All concerts will take place in The Courtyard, Clandeboye Estate, Bangor BT19 1RN. Free parking is available at Clandeboye Estate, and lunch is available to purchase from 12-2pm each day. The bar will be open for evening performances. Tickets are available to purchase from the Grand Opera House box office, www.goh.co.uk

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Young musicians encouraged to join Jazz Juniors improvisation workshops

Tuesday 9th August 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

Jazzlife Alliance, supported by The National Lottery, through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, is offering the opportunity for young people aged under 18 in Northern Ireland, to join Jazz Juniors, a musical ensemble taught by internationally-acclaimed, MOBO Award-nominated jazz musician, David Lyttle.

Jazzlife Alliance’s Jazz Juniors, now in its second year, is recruiting for a second ensemble and this month will be hosting four jazz improvisation workshops with David Lyttle in Draperstown, Enniskillen, Belfast and Newry. Young musicians of all ages and musical abilities are encouraged to come along, try out improvisation and consider applying for Jazz Juniors. Participation is totally free and is open to all musicians under 18 who should bring their own instruments.

David Lyttle commented, “I’m very grateful to be part of Jazz Juniors and to see so much support and positivity around it. Our current nine students have so much potential and we are excited to welcome more young people to the scheme in September.”

The Jazz Juniors ensemble rehearse with David Lyttle once a month at The MAC in Belfast and they also perform in concerts as David’s support act. The opportunity is open to all levels of musical ability, including total beginners to jazz. The main requirement of the scheme is that participants are very serious about music, very passionate about music and interested in learning jazz.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music and Opera, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said,

“Thanks to National Lottery players, young people are being given the opportunity to learn new skills and jazz from an internationally acclaimed jazz musician. The Arts Council is committed to supporting opportunities for our young people to access and participate in high quality music making and Jazz Juniors is the perfect platform to nurture and develop gifted young musicians.”

Jazz improvisation workshops will take place at:

  • Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen—August 20, 11:30 am
  • Newry Town Hall, Newry—August 20, 4 pm
  • The MAC, Belfast—August 21, noon
  • Glasgowbury, Draperstown—August 21, 4 pm

More information is available at www.jazzlifealliance.org and places can reserved by contacting join@jazzlifealliance.org

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Belfast International Arts Festival reveals 60th Autumn Programme

Tuesday 9th August 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

The 60th Belfast International Arts Festival (BIAF) has unveiled the autumn season of its diamond anniversary year, with a programme of events that addresses the current and future nature and role of arts and culture in society, the contemporary issues that are influencing our international artists, and Northern Ireland’s place in the global world.

From October 5 to November 6, over 320 imaginative, inspiring and intriguing events spanning across the artistic disciplines of music, theatre, dance, film, visual arts and discussion will be hosted throughout the city of Belfast for all to engage with and enjoy.

The autumn programme follows an earlier-than-usual festival opening in April 2022, when BIAF celebrated the beginning of its anniversary year with a major free event; the spectacular outdoor production Cristal Palace by French company Transe Express, featuring a local community cast.

The festival’s autumn season opens on 5 October with the UK premiere of Dinner With Groucho, a new play by renowned Irish writer Frank McGuinness. Produced by b*spoke theatre company, the performance promises blistering wit, brilliant buffoonery, and reflections on the ephemeral nature of life from the award-winning writer of such iconic plays as Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me and The Factory Girls.

At the heart of this year’s programme is a special focus on Canada and the Middle East and North Africa. Canadian events include Vivek Shraya’s How to Fail as a Popstar, a reflection on the power of pop culture, dreams, disappointment and self-determination; the European premiere of The Queen and Me, an exuberant new opera involving comedy and drama from Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野 (they/them) exploring the many ways that race, gender, and sexuality are policed in the opera industry, and closing the festival, the critically acclaimed Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools bringing together two extraordinary artists to examine their intertwined histories, colonial legacies and the changing climate we all face.

A special focus on new contemporary works from the Middle East and North Africa is among projects supported by the British Council, BIAF’s Principal International Partner, and features Another Lover’s Discourse ليه خلتني احبك, a newly commissioned work from Palestinian interdisciplinary artist, Riham Isaac plus new stage works from Egyptian choreographer, Shaymaa Shoukry and Moroccan live performance and visual artist, Youness Atbane, as well as a concert featuring recently arrived refugees from across the Middle East. Additionally, BIAF will host delegations of artists and programmers from the Middle East and India who will have the opportunity to see the work of local artists at first hand. In particular, there will be an exchange of delegations between BIAF and Cairo’s D-CAF (Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival) with Belfast welcoming D-CAF’s Director, Ahmed El Attar in October with an opportunity for local audiences to hear him speak about the current contemporary arts scene in Egypt and the Arab world.

Fans of traditional Irish music will be delighted as Martin Hayes, one of the world’s most celebrated fiddlers and an influential figure in the genre, brings his latest project, The Common Ground Ensemble, to the Grand Opera House on Tuesday 25th October. The following night, hit-maker Paul Carrack takes to the stage.

The BIAF22 Talks & Ideas strand brings together international and local names to explore thought-provoking topics including state violence, freedom of speech and movement, culture, society, impermanence and the creative possibilities opened up by our digital world. As part of the festival’s long-standing partnership with Institut Français, two of France’s most original and acclaimed novelists, GauZ’ and David Foenkinos, will join a free digital event to discuss their latest works, while the Black Box will play host to one of the finest and funniest chroniclers of modern England, Jonathan Coe, as he reads from and discusses his new novel, Bournville.

Belfast International Arts Festival’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director Richard Wakely says the 60th edition is an opportunity to take stock and set out a vision for its future.

“60 years is a momentous occasion, and we pause to reflect on the artistic talent and creative commissions that have seen Belfast International Arts Festival reach this significant milestone, our diamond anniversary. This year’s festival is however determinately future-facing, underscored by creative collaboration and a truly international programme that reflects our core values; global connectivity, community, access and participation, and contemporary arts practice. The festival has evolved much over the past six decades, and it continues to do so with this year’s programme demonstrating the unique ability of artists to respond to the changing world around us.

“From homegrown talent and platforms such as our Artist in Residence and new Featured Artist programmes to significant bodies of work from Canada, Europe and the Middle East and North Africa, our festival this year reflects the vital role we play in the very fabric of Belfast and its contribution to the city’s growing status and appeal as a major cultural capital.”

Complementary to its long running Artist in Residence programme, this year’s festival includes a new strand of programming, the Featured Artist, which takes a more in depth look at the work of a leading artist or ensemble. The first Featured Artist is the young rising star of French and European dance, Noé Soulier whose works are showcased live and online.

Also storming a trail in Europe is leading NI dancemaker Oona Doherty's largest project to date - Navy Blue, which makes its homecoming appearance 25-26 Oct. Among other featured home-grown talent is double Ivor Novello-nominated composer Conor Mitchell's Propaganda: A New Musical, playing at the Lyric Theatre, The Ghost House by Cahoots building on the sell-out success of last year’s Grimm Hotel, and an adaptation of Owen Booth’s Frankenstein’s Monster Is Drunk And The Sheep Have All Jumped The Fences by Big Telly Theatre.

In the spirit of collaboration, BIAF welcomes old and new partners with the longstanding Belfast Music Society’s Northern Lights Mini-Fest and the popular free BBC Radio 3 concert series; Belfast Harbour is once again sponsoring the community ticketing scheme; and a new collaboration with Design & Crafts Council Ireland, Craft NI, and National Museums NI brings the outdoor exhibition Irish Craft Heroes to Botanic Gardens, which highlights 50 years of craft making and makers across the island.

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“The Arts Council, as long-time principal funder, is proud to support Northern Ireland’s flagship festival of contemporary international arts. We endorse it, not just as a showcase and meeting place of new ideas and new creativity, but for its desire to open up this inspiring world and share it with everyone - to expand the audience for contemporary arts through community ticketing incentives and free and low-cost events, so that everyone is encouraged to embrace this very special anniversary festival. Happy 60th anniversary!”

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Christina Black, said,

“Belfast City Council has been a longstanding supporter of Belfast International Arts Festival and we are delighted to support the festival’s 60th edition: the autumn programme - a key highlight in Belfast's cultural calendar.

“The festival has earned a reputation as a progressive, contemporary, global arts event that contributes to Belfast’s profile and reputation as a vibrant cultural city. With civic engagement at its heart, it brings our community together, but it also connects our city with new audiences afar, showcasing our rich local talent and highlighting our UNESCO status.

“I am very much looking forward to enjoying the range of activities on offer during this special anniversary year.”

Tourism NI’s Chief Executive, John McGrillen, commented,

“This year marks the 60th Belfast International Arts Festival, which we are delighted to support. Events and festivals contribute greatly to the positive perception and profile of Northern Ireland, and are recognised as crucial economic drivers. I wish the organisers, sponsors, participants, and attendees the best of luck for an exciting event."

Jonathan Stewart, Director British Council Northern Ireland, said,

“At the British Council we have a long history with Belfast International Arts Festival and have been a partner since its inception in 1962. It’s therefore immensely rewarding for us to see in this 60th anniversary year that international connections and relationships continue to grow.

“In 2022, we are welcoming artists and arts organisations from across the Middle East and North Africa to Northern Ireland and look forward to sharing exceptional performance art from the region with local audiences. In addition, we’re supporting new connections between Northern Ireland and the Caribbean, with the festival linking to Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad and Tobago.

“The festival is a vital part of Northern Ireland’s cultural calendar and does an incredible amount of work for our arts sector, and we wish them every success in this significant milestone year.”

For more information about BIAF22, including ticket deals, visit belfastinternationalartsfestival.com.

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EastSide Arts Festival Celebrates its 10th Birthday!

Tuesday 9th August 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

EastSide Arts Festival is celebrating its 10th birthday this summer (festival runs from 4th–14th August) and everyone is invited! On Saturday 6th August, the occasion was marked with two family fun days – one in Orangefield Park and the other in CS Lewis Square.

Packed full of unique, exciting events, festival goers still have plenty to look forward as festival continues through to August 14th with music, theatre, film, literature, walks, talks, tours, comedy, cabaret and family focused events.

This year’s festival features over 100 artists across more than 80 events taking place in a range of venues in east Belfast including: Strand Arts Centre, Vault Artist Studios, The Ballyhackamore Social Club, Banana Block (Portview Trade Centre), C.S. Lewis Square and many more.

The EastSide Arts Festival is supported by Principal Funder, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, funders Belfast City Council, National Lottery Awards for All and Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland, Principal Sponsor Translink, sponsors Connswater and Hewitt & Gilpin.

Highlights still to come:

  • Gerald Dawe in conversation with Anthony Tony, 9th August, Banana Block, Portview Trade Centre. Music is a strong thread that runs through the life of the poet Gerald Dawe and was an integral part of his early inspiration. In this fascinating and insightful conversation with songwriter Anthony Toner, the celebrated poet and essayist will discuss the music and influences that forged his awakening as a poet, and his life as a writer. The event will start - and close - with a specially compiled playlist, during which audience members will have a chance to meet the author.

  • David Hull Promotions Presents Cash Returns - The Johnny Cash & June Carter Tribute Show, Thursday 11th August, C.S. Lewis Square. Cash Returns will kick off the series of ‘Live @ C.S. Lewis Square’ events in style. JP Mac (Johnny Cash) and Karen Martin (June Carter) have been hailed as the most exciting Johnny Cash & June Carter Tribute in the UK, Ireland and beyond. This is an event not to be missed by Man In Black fans.

  • Dig with It magazine presents… New Pagans, Lemonade Shoelace and Winnie Ama Friday 12th August, C.S. Lewis Square. New Pagans, Lemonade Shoelace and Winnie Ama represent some of the most inspiring, alternative voices from the local music scene. They are brought together for this special ’Live @ C.S. Lewis Square’ event by Dig With It, a quarterly magazine from Belfast that champions music, arts and counter-culture.

  • Maurice Jay’s Pleasuredome, Sunday 14th August, C.S. Lewis Square. The Ultimate 80's Party night - pure 80's musical heaven closes the festival. This is a party you will not want to miss!

  • The Van Morrison Song Book, Sunday 14th August, Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich. Four unique song-writing talents unite to offer their take on one of Belfast’s most iconic musicians. Performing inspired versions of Van Morrison classics in this one-off event (in association with EastSide Arts Festival) are Matt McGinn, Anthony Toner, Ken Haddock and Grainne Holland (who will deliver her versions in Irish). This promises to be a memorable night.

Gilly Campbell, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“Thanks to National Lottery players and money raised for Good Causes, the Arts Council is proud to continue to support the work of Eastside Arts and this year’s wonderful festival programme. For 10 years, Eastside Arts Festival has worked hard to raise the profile of the arts and artists in the area, with creativity now at the forefront of driving the wider regeneration of East Belfast. This year’s festival programme continues that work, with a fantastic mix of events to suit all ages and interests to look forward to in the week ahead.”

Director of the EastSide Arts Festival, Rachel Kennedy added:

“We are delighted to invite everyone to join us as at this year’s EastSide Arts Festival as we celebrate our 10th birthday. As always, we are bringing festival goers a jam-packed programme of events that celebrate the people and places of east Belfast and encourage connection and celebration. The festival provides us with the opportunity to showcase the very best of east Belfast as a place of creativity, a place that is vibrant and a place that is welcoming. A huge thanks to our Principal Funder, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Principal Sponsor, Translink for their invaluable support, and the vital support of all of the festival funders and sponsors who have helped the festival reach this incredible landmark.”

For the full festival programme and ticket information visit www.eastsidearts.net. Follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #ESAFest22.

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Young podcasters from GSCA visit BBC Radio Ulster to chat about their mental health podcast

Wednesday 3rd August 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

Spill the Tae is a popular youth-led podcast series created by young people in Derry-Londonderry along with Greater Shantallow Community Arts’ Studio 2, supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Danny Quigley Fund.

The podcast is designed and produced by young people in the city and was established in response to the declining mental health of their peers, with the aim of promoting positive mental health and wellbeing. Some of the podcast creators recently had the opportunity to visit BBC Radio Foyle to be interviewed by local media star, Marie-Louise Muir, about their podcast for her show, The Culture Café.

Spill the Tae was launched alongside a Mental Health Youth Forum with Ted Talk style conferences, events and lobbying activity for better support for mental health for young people. Within the podcast series, the young people have explored various topics including, dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism, muscular dystrophy and talked to young people from the city who are living with these conditions and how these affect their mental health.

They also interviewed the popular local social media star, Mammy Banter, about steps to wellbeing for young people, and interviewed circus performer, Gwyneth Doherty, about diet, exercise and healthy living. The podcast has also explored discussions around aromatherapy, the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol, and also the pros and cons of social media.

Gilly Campbell, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is so proud of these articulate young people who have created and produced Spill the Tae, thanks to The National Lottery Players. Their fearless approach and dedication to producing an honest, brave and empathetic podcast series, with the aim of helping others, is something to be deeply appreciated and celebrated.”

Gilly continued, “Through this project these young people are gaining valuable and impressive skills in communication, media technology and production. We are thrilled that they got the opportunity to visit BBC Radio Foyle and be featured on BBC Radio Ulster’s The Culture Café, an inspiring experience I’m sure that will stay with them for a long time to come. We wish Greater Shantallow Community Arts and all the young people involved in the podcast series continued success.”

You can catch up on all episodes of the first series of the Spill the Tae podcast at Spill the Tae youth led Podcast | Podcast on Spotify and Spill the Tae youth led Podcast on Apple Podcasts and watch this space for details on the upcoming series two.

VIDEO: Watch the video with the young podcasters here https://youtu.be/k0s4GOLJDL0

RADIO INTERVIEW: You can listen to the interview on BBC Radio Ulster’s The Culture Café at The Culture Cafe - Spilling the Tae - BBC Sounds (please go 35:40 minutes in to listen to the interview)

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Arts Council £51,000 awarded to fund community projects

Friday 29th July 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

NINE arts projects have been awarded funding totalling over £51,000 this month (July 2022) as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Small Grants funding programme. The money will be used to support arts initiatives in communities across Northern Ireland, including projects in Armagh, Derry/Londonderry, Omagh and Belfast.

Supported through National Lottery funds, the Small Grants Programme is designed to encourage organisations in Northern Ireland to get more people to engage with the arts through creative, community-based projects. Grants are awarded by the Arts Council on a monthly basis and organisations can apply for up to £10,000 to support projects in any art form, including music, drama, dance, literature, visual, and participatory arts.

One of the organisations awarded funding is St Colmbs Park House in Derry/Londonderry. The award of £7,310 will support an Artists in Residence scheme. Artists Gemma Walker-Farren and Sorcha Shanahan, who together perform as the MakeyUppers, will be artists in residence at St Columb’s Park for 12 months (August 2022-July 2023). During that time they will help to deliver four key events and engage in a range of outreach activities.

Sharon Doherty, Manager of St Colmbs Park House, commented:

“St Columbs Park House are delighted to welcome the Makey Uppers as our first Artists in Residence. This opportunity supported by the Arts Council for Northern Ireland allows us to connect our communities to their shared green spaces and natural environment in a creative and innovative way. We are very excited to work with the Makey Uppers and to present bespoke performances that link the arts, peace building and diverse communities in our shared space”.

Commenting on funding programme, Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“This month we have awarded funding through our Small Grants programme to support nine fantastic projects, creating more opportunities for people to engage with the arts, from grassroots level projects through to professional productions. Thanks to National Lottery players and the money raised for good causes, this valuable funding programme will support a variety of high quality arts projects in locations across Northern Ireland, including performances, workshops and mentoring opportunities.”

In JULY Small Grants Awards were awarded to:

The St Anne’s Trust, awarded £4,000, for their project Education through Music
The St Anne’s Trust are planning a range of activities over the next year. These include a Come & Play day in May 2023 with special needs schools. The Choir of the Year Competition will also take place involving 450 school children and the Trust is also hoping to expand its outreach activities and build on the positive work that has taken place through its Annual Carolfest. Plans are also in place to undertake additional activities with local primary schools and through a scholarship scheme to provide young people with an opportunity to develop their musical and performance skills, regardless of their social, cultural or religious background.

Armagh Old Boys Band, awarded £8,400, for their project Foddens in Armagh
Armagh Old Boys Brass Band Summer School will return in August for a week long music programme with tutors from Fodens, one of the finest brass bands in the world. Two bands will be formed based on experience to rehearse a repertoire of varying levels of music and challenged to create a concert programme which will be performed at the end of the summer school week. The week will consist of band rehearsals, sectional practices and finale concert. Armagh Old Boys will also host a gala weekend of brass band music with the Fodens Band in September. This will involve soloist workshop performances with the Fodens Band open to all participants from across Northern Ireland and Ireland allowing tips and best practice to be shared among everyone.

iBbY Ireland, awarded £3,730, for the Leabhair Go Leor! Conference
The Leabhair Go Leor! Conference will be a day of lectures, discussions, and workshops facilitated by leading writers, illustrators, translators, and editors of children’s books in Irish, delivered in Irish and English, to be inclusive and attractive to parents, educators, library staff and community leaders and anyone else working with and supporting children speaking or learning Irish. The majority of the artists and facilitators involved in the day are from Northern Ireland. All are leading practitioners in their fields. Included among the speakers is the CEO of An tSnáthaid Mhór, a Northern Ireland publisher leading the way in producing award winning children’s books in Irish. The day will finish with a presentation by Áine Ní Ghlinn, current Laureate na nÓg.

St Columbs Park Reconciliation Trust, awarded £7,310 for their Art in the Park – Artists in Residence programme
St Colm’s Park Reconciliation Trust plan to engage artists Gemma Walker-Farren and Sorcha Shanahan, who together perform as the MakeyUppers, as artists in residence at St Columb’s Park for 12 months (August 2022-July 2023). During this time, the MakeyUppers will design and deliver four key events relating to the seasons/nature in order to engage people of all ages and abilities in ‘Art in the Park’.

Focus, awarded £5,446 for Omagh Goove and Samba
Focus will create a community music programme that will target young people living with disabilities, members of the BAME communities, young people in local primary and secondary schools and the wider community. The project will see the creation of a samba band, masterclasses with professional musicians, mentoring sessions and a Grand Concert Finale for the local community to attend.

Bready and District Ulster Scots Development Association, awarded £7,390 for Scot Dance NI Jubilee Celebration
Working in six groups, choreographers will mentor dancers to help develop their skills during training sessions in August and September for the Scot Dance NI Jubilee Celebration. Each of the six sections will then be performed and filmed in a different county in Northern Ireland. It is hoped that the final filming day would take place at Royal Hillsborough, where the dance can be performed in its entirety.

South Bank Playhouse, awarded £5,000 for Billy Boy
South Bank Playhouse has been awarded funding to stage Rosemary Jenkinson’s Billy Boy, about young bonfire builders in East Belfast. The solo show will be performed by John Travers (15 years of experience touring theatre productions with Tinderbox, C21, Brassneck and Replay etc). The funny, moving and thought-provoking production is based on interviews with bonfire builders and challenges negative perceptions of young people involved in bonfire building in East Belfast. The show will be performed at EastSide Arts Festival (in The Vault) and Feile an Phobail in West Belfast (An Culturlann), before travelling to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Vault Artists Studios, awarded £8,250 for its Summer Festival in a Day
Building on the success of Vault Fringe (2019), (C)Art Park (2020), and Car Park Sessions (2021), Vault Artists Studio will hold a one day festival at Vault Artist Studios (VAS) in August 2022. This event will transform VAS into an exciting festival hub, showcasing the performance, visual art and creative skills of its 130 members, in celebration of Belfast art. Studios will become performance and workshop spaces, larger rooms will become stages for music, theatre and circus, and corners of the building will be used in new and inventive ways.

Londonderry YMCA Ltd, awarded £1,950 for The Art Demo project
The Art DEMO project will provide the opportunity for approximately 90 young people, aged 5-18, the chance to develop their creative flair and imagination through music, graffiti, and art workshops. The project will engage young people from areas of social and economic deprivation and rural communities, who have had limited opportunities to engage in the arts. The Art DEMO project will improve young people's personal capabilities, improve thinking skills and enhance their confidence and self-esteem working to bring change through learning and creativity.

Funding from the Small Grants Programme is awarded to organisations by the Arts Council on a monthly basis. Application forms and guidance notes are available to download at http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/small-grants-programme

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Carnival of Colours hits the city!

Friday 29th July 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

In Your Space Circus (IYSC) is bringing its flagship Circus, Arts and Music Festival, Carnival of Colours back to the City Centre for the 15th edition of one of Derry’s favourite headline events.

The Mayor joined performers and youth circus artists to help launch the event, which will be taking over Derry’s stunning City Centre on the 6th and 7th August. The programme for the weekend will be jam-packed with circus-themed treats featuring the very best of International Street Theatre, IYSC’s own walkabout characters and performances, circus workshops, arts and crafts, graffiti arts demos, an exciting programme of music from the Nerve Centre, and much more!

The headline shows will include acrobatics, juggling, clowning, comedy, physical theatre and some crazy dance moves thrown in for good measure! Acts will include TeaTime Company, Granny Turismo, Frankie Magilligan and Cikada Circus. Incredible local artists will also be showcasing their talents and bringing a weekend of pure joy to the people of the North-West and visitors to the City!

The Festival will be taking place between the Guildhall Square, Waterloo Place, Foyle Embankment and the Peace Garden. Carnival of Colours attracts people of all ages from right across the Derry-Londonderry area and visitors to the city; it brings people together from all walks of life for a shared cultural experience. It also highlights Derry City as an exciting, beautiful and progressive destination for events and arts activity.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Sandra Duffy, said:

“It’s great to see the Carnival of Colours back for another year and taking over the city centre with all of the fabulous vibrancy, comedy and entertainment that it always offers. The programme looks amazing, and with lots of characters and acts to see there will be plenty to make you laugh, and plenty to thrill you as well with some circus skills. I’d encourage everyone to check out the programme and get yourselves up to the city centre on August 6th and 7th - you never know what you might see! Well done to In Your Space Circus and everyone involved in the delivery of this fantastic event.”

The Festival is supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council, Tourism NI, and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Local businesses including All State NI, First Source, Learning Pool, Guapo and Storefront are also supporting the event, which has been a massive help in 2022. In addition a number of local cafes and restaurants are generously feeding and watering our artists and volunteers!

Gilly Campbell, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support In Your Space Circus’s, Carnival of Colours, thanks to The National Lottery players. This thrilling festival spreads amazement and joy across the city of Derry-Londonderry every year and once again the team there has curated a fabulously fun programme with something to suit all tastes, from the very young, to the very young at heart! I would encourage everyone to get outdoors this August and enjoy everything that this terrific celebration of circus has to offer.”

IYSC brought the event to the City Centre in 2021, having historically taken place in St Columb’s Park. The relocation was a huge success and we are delighted to be delivering it from the central location again this year. It’s a fantastic event for audiences and artists alike, allowing local talent to experiment and receive payment for showcasing their fantastic create skills.

Carnival of Colours is a showcase and celebration of In Your Space Circus’s year-round work including the Circus School and its street theatre and performance work delivered across Northern Ireland.

Cath McBride, IYSC’s Company Director said:

“We are thrilled to be back in the City Centre again in 2022. We have so greatly appreciated the support of our funders and the general public in welcoming our work to take over the City. We aim to ensure that the 2022 Carnival of Colours is a celebration of the city, of our artists and participants, of circus, and of our wonderful audiences. We are confident that there is something in the programme for everyone and that it will give families a fabulous opportunity to spend some quality time together!”

For the full Carnival of Colours programme visit: www.inyourspaceni.org/carnival

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Cultural Bridge announces new 2023 - 2024 programme of funding for organisations

Wednesday 27th July 2022 at 8am 0 Comments

The Cultural Bridge partnership which promotes cross-border collaboration and exchange between Germany and the UK announces a new 2023 - 2024 programme of funding for organisations.

Cultural Bridge celebrates bilateral partnerships between the UK and Germany through the collaboration between Arts Council England, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, British Council, Creative Scotland, Fonds Soziokultur, Goethe-Institut London and Wales Arts International / Arts Council of Wales.

By funding partnerships between Germany and the UK, the programme aims to build new relationships and foster artistic collaboration and cultural democracy.

In 2021, Cultural Bridge launched its pilot programme supporting seven new collaborations between organisations across the UK and Germany to initiate projects exploring socially engaged practice through intercultural exchange and dialogue. Find out more.

Cultural Bridge will be inviting applications for its 2023-2024 programme from 14th September - 26th October 2022. This is an opportunity for organisations based in the UK and Germany who embody cultural democracy and wish to forge or develop bilateral partnerships to work together and share artistic practice.

Guidance for the Cultural Bridge 2023 - 2024 programme is available now and we encourage organisations to start to develop their collaboration and project proposals ahead of the application window.

There will also be two information and match-making sessions on 6th and 8th September for organisations seeking support in finding a potential Cultural Bridge partner.

Find out more at cultural-bridge.info

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Applications for funding for individual artists now open

Wednesday 20th July 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has opened a range of funding programmes to support the work of individual artists. The schemes are part of the Support for Individual Artists Programme (SIAP), which provides funding to support individual artists, working across all artforms, both at home and internationally, and at different stages in their career.

While artists may apply to more than one scheme, only one grant will be awarded in any one funding round. Separate application forms must be submitted for each scheme and the projects within each application must be significantly different.

For details of how to apply, eligibility and how much funding you can request under each scheme, please check the individual guidance notes. Links are included below.

Support for Individual Artists Programme
The aim of the overall Support for Individual Artists Programme (SIAP) is to support artists across all disciplines to create work and develop their practice. Broadly, awards can be for specific projects, specialised research or personal artistic development.

Open Now

  • General Arts Awards
    General Art Awards can be for specific projects, specialised research, personal artistic development and certain materials/ equipment.
  • Artists Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES)
    These awards aim to deepen the developmental impact of Arts Council’s support for artists, with a targeted package of training, mentoring and support provided for successful applicants. Funding is aimed at career artists whose practice is of high quality, original, challenging and innovative. The awards are designed to support artists in their professional development, enabling successful applicants to raise their profile and significantly enhance their career.
  • Artists International Development Fund (AIDF)
    The Artists’ International Development Fund is an annual programme jointly funded by the British Council and Arts Council of Northern Ireland and is open to individual artists and organisations. The programme will support early stage international development opportunities for individual, freelance and self-employed artists and organisations based in Northern Ireland.

Application deadline: Tuesday 30th August 2022 at 12pm

For guidance notes and applications visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/SIAP


SIAP Minority Ethnic Residency & Mentoring Programme
Open Now

In working to create the conditions for the widest variety of art and creativity for both artists and audiences through our Support for the Individual Artist Programme, the Arts Council is seeking to address the numerous and complex barriers to access, progression and representation in the arts encountered by minority ethnic artists with this mentoring and residency scheme. Through this programme the Arts Council wishes to create opportunities for specialized training, research, cultural exchanges, networking and learning for individual artists, creative practitioners and arts administrators from minority ethnic and migrant backgrounds.

Application deadline: Monday 22nd August at 12pm

For guidance notes and application visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/siap-minority-ethnic-residency-mentoring-programme


SIAP Travel Awards
Open Now

These awards enable individual artists and established music groups (up to 4 members) to travel from Northern Ireland to develop their skills and expertise. Applicants must provide evidence that they have been invited by a host organisation in the country to which they intend to travel.

Application deadline: This is a rolling programme. Please note, applications must be made 4 weeks before intended date of travel.

For guidance notes and application visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/travel-awards


SIAP Major Individual Awards
Open Now
Major Individual Awards are intended to create the circumstances in which established artists with national / international recognition may develop extended or ambitious work. Awards can be for specific projects, specialised research, personal artistic development and materials/ equipment. The Arts Council is offering 4 awards of up to £15,000 each in 2022/23.

Application deadline: Monday 15th August 2022 at 12pm

For guidance notes and application visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/siap-major-individuals-award

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Five finalists and a new Vice Patron announced for NI Opera’s 12th Glenarm Festival of Voice

Tuesday 19th July 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

This year for the first time since 2019, Northern Ireland Opera is returning to the beautiful village of Glenarm on the north coast of Northern Ireland with their annual Festival of Voice.

Five opera singers have been selected as finalists from applications received from across the island of Ireland. They will compete for the Deborah Voigt Opera Prize, the Audience Prize and the Song Prize by performing arias, ensemble pieces and Irish art songs in front of an audience and a judging panel of opera experts, hosted by NI Opera’s Patron, broadcaster Sean Rafferty.

This year the festival also welcomes a new Vice Patron, Newry baritone Ben McAteer. Ben was the first winner of the Glenarm Festival of Voice vocal competition in 2010. He is an in-demand opera singer with companies across the UK and Europe and has, since his win in 2010, returned to perform at the festival as a BBC Radio 3 Recitalist.

Ben McAteer comments: ‘I am delighted to become Vice Patron of the NI Opera Festival of Voice, and to be able to do my bit in championing young operatic talent on the island of Ireland. The inaugural festival, twelve years ago now, played a hugely important role early in my career. The relationships I made with the coaches and my fellow singers have proved invaluable over the intervening years, not to mention my continued work with NI Opera itself. I’ve been fortunate to be involved with the festival in one way or another in subsequent years and I couldn’t be happier to formalise this relationship with NI Opera and the Festival of Voice.’

The five finalists selected for 2022 are: Hannah O’Brien (soprano), Heather Sammon (mezzo-soprano), Michael Bell (tenor), Owen Lucas (tenor), David Kennedy (baritone) and the Peter Rankin Piano Intern for 2022 is Doireann O’Carroll.

The team who will coach the finalists includes Kathryn Harries, Dr Ingrid Surgenor and pianist Simon Lepper. They will work with the finalists on their competition repertoire across the weekend in the build-up to the Competition Finale on Sunday 28th August at 6.30pm in Glenarm’s Church of the Immaculate Conception.

Dr Ingrid Surgenor comments: ‘It is such a thrill for me to be coming home and returning to the beautiful Antrim coast this year for what is an exciting festival of top-class vocal music-making. Most importantly, Glenarm Festival of Voice has given a multitude of Irish and Northern Irish singers a platform on which to launch their careers and for the audience a joyful few days in wonderful surroundings.’

The 12TH Glenarm Festival of Voice also features three recitals with NI Opera’s festival partners, BBC Radio 3, which will be recorded live and open to audiences for the first time since 2019. This year’s recitalists are tenor Alessandro Fisher (8pm, 26th August), baritone Seán Boylan (8pm, 27th August) and soprano Soraya Mafi (3pm, 28th August) and will take place in St Patrick’s Church, Glenarm. Tickets for these recitals are free but must be booked in advance at www.niopera.com

NI Opera will also be welcoming the 2021 winner of the Festival’s Deborah Voigt Opera Prize, soprano Ellen Mawhinney, to the historic Londonderry Arms in Carnlough where she will perform an afternoon recital on 27th August from 3-4pm.

Family friendly music and creative activities will be taking place Glenarm on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th August, next door to the Milk Parlour at Glenarm Castle as part of the Festival – details will be listed on the NI Opera website in August.

Tickets for all events are available to book now via www.niopera.com

NI Opera is grateful for the support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Esmé Mitchell Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation and Glenarm Castle.

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PRS Foundation’s, Beyond Borders, opens for applications

Thursday 14th July 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

PRS Foundation, the UK’s leading charitable funder of new music and talent development announces today that its UK and Republic of Ireland initiative, Beyond Borders, is open today for applications from organisations, music groups and composers.

This co-commissioning and touring programme is run by PRS Foundation in partnership with Creative Scotland, supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Arts Council of Ireland / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

Beyond Borders was established in 2010 to support high quality co-commissions and tours, stimulating collaboration between composers, performance groups and music organisations across the four UK countries and, since 2014, the Republic of Ireland.

Previous Beyond Borders successes have included Songs of Separation, a collective of 10 female English and Scottish folk musicians whose album won ‘Best Album’ at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017, and David Fennessy's ‘Panopticon’, commissioned by Hebrides Ensemble and Psappha, which won the Scottish Award for New Music for Small Scale work. Martin Green’s ‘Flit’, combining live music and animation which reflects on first hand stories of migration, also won over audiences and critics nationwide in 2016, and was funded through Beyond Borders.

Full details about the programme and how to apply is on the Beyond Borders page of the PRS Foundation website. Applications can be submitted from today until the deadline of 6pm on Monday 19th September 2022.

Elizabeth Sills, Grants & Programmes Manager at PRS Foundation said,

“We are delighted to be opening up our co-commissioning and touring initiative Beyond Borders for applications this year. This collaborative opportunity, with our friends at Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales and Arts Council Ireland, has enabled exciting, award winning and critically acclaimed new music to be created and performed in front of audiences across the UK and Ireland. We're excited to see who applies and the collaborations, for this unique touring opportunity."

Clare Hewitt, Music Officer at Creative Scotland said:

“Collaboration and exchange are vital for new ideas and connections between nations to flourish. The Beyond Borders programme is designed to do exactly that, enabling musicians from across the nations to collaborate and tour, reaching new audiences across the UK, and we’re so pleased to be partnering with the PRS Foundation to help make this happen.”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music and Opera, Arts Council of Northern Ireland comments,

“Beyond Borders is an outstanding opportunity for musicians to collaborate with other artists across the UK and Ireland in new projects, gaining a platform for their music to tour and to be heard by new audiences. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support this important artist development programme and look forward welcoming new proposals.”

Suzanne Griffiths-Rees from Arts Council of Wales said,

“The Arts Council of Wales is delighted to be able to support Beyond Borders once again, this time through our Lottery Funding. It is exciting to enable Welsh artists to tour to other countries in the UK and Ireland, and bring our culture and heritage to those who haven’t experienced it before and it is also a pleasure to welcome artists from across those countries into Wales. Funding Beyond Borders through PRS Foundation ensure that this happens and enhances the arts infrastructure for all of us.”

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Arts Council of Northern Ireland presents to the House of Commons Select Committee

Friday 8th July 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland was invited to give evidence on Wednesday 6th July 2022 to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee*. The aim of the session was to provide evidence on the role and impact of the Creative Cluster* initiative on the Northern Ireland Creative Industries.

The Arts Council’s Creative Industries Development Officer, Matthew Malcolm, provided evidence to RT Hon Greg Clark MP (Chair), Aaron Bell MP, Tracey Crouch MP and Rebecca Long-Bailey MP. Commenting on the opportunity Matthew Malcolm said,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is committed to accelerating growth opportunities in the Creative Industries and encouraging innovative practices that cross artform boundaries and build digital capabilities within the Northern Ireland arts sector. We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to present research findings and evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee where we hope it will influence and guide future policy making and decisions in relation to the Creative Industries in Northern Ireland.”

Within the Science and Technology Committee the Arts Council had the opportunity to outline the prioritisation and allocation of Arts Council Creative Industries funding. The Arts Council also highlighted the role of the Creative Industries Cluster (Future Screens NI) and demonstrated the benefits this partnership had provided including the academic contribution to delivering innovation funding and further developing the Creative Industries ecosystem to connect artists and creative technologists.

Key evidence included the following:

  • The Creative Industries in Northern Ireland is a significant contributor to the economy supporting 29,000 NI jobs with a value of approximately £1.311bn (3.1% NI GVA)
  • Since 2020, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland has invested almost £600,000 (£589,471) into the Creative Industries, focusing on digital innovation and increasing capabilities within the arts sector, with £182,068 of this investment coming from Future Screens NI; the NI Creative Cluster.
  • This funding has encouraged collaboration between artists, academia and creative technologists through a successful partnership with Future Screens NI.
  • Demand for digital innovation funding within the arts sector is high; between 2021 and 2022 applications significantly exceeded budget for these programmes; with only £220k available despite over £1.4m or applications (16%).

Notes

* The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee exists to ensure that Government policies and decision-making are based on solid scientific evidence and advice.

* The Creative Cluster programme is an £80m investment from the UK Industrial Strategy, through the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which aims to drive innovation and skills in the Creative Industries in the UK and to create products and services that can be marketed globally. There are nine Creative Clusters across the UK and Northern Ireland’s Creative Cluster is Future Screens NI.

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£50,000 Arts Council grant will support staging of new drama about John Hume

Thursday 7th July 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced funding of £50,000 for a new play about the life and work of John Hume. Awarded through the Arts Council’s £2million Lottery Project Funding, the grant is one of 66 awards announced, to support the development of arts activities across Northern Ireland.

The John & Pat Hume Foundation are first time applicants to the scheme and will work with The Playhouse in Derry/Londonderry to create an original musical drama, entitled Beyond Belief, to premiere and broadcast internationally on the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in 2023.

Tim Attwood, Foundation Secretary of The John & Pat Hume Foundation said:

“The John & Pat Hume Foundation is delighted that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland has agreed to support the production of Beyond Belief. John and Pat Hume had a long association with The Playhouse and championed the organisation’s cultural and peacebuilding work. The Hume Foundation partnership with The Playhouse on Beyond Belief is a natural one as they have a deep commitment to promoting healing, understanding and reconciliation. We are excited that the Playhouse, with Beyond Belief, will develop an inspiring, creative and emotional work telling the story of John Hume’s journey of peace and reconciliation.”

Commenting on the award Playhouse CEO Kevin Murphy said,

“The difference that The Playhouse and The John & Pat Hume Foundation both make is that we bring people together to effect meaningful change creatively, peacefully and with hope. We each strive to support positive changemakers, nurturing their creativity and confidence. In addition, when we work together the possibilities only grow and through this partnership we can contribute to sustaining peace in societies worldwide as well as here in our home city.”

The creative team behind the production will include artists Damian Gorman (Writer) and Brian O’ Doherty (Composer). The production will also provide training and development opportunities for performers from The Playhouse Music Theatre Company, which played a significant role in the staging of The White Handkerchief, produced earlier this year to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

Speaking about The Playhouse Music Theatre Company and the opportunities the new production would bring, Playhouse Theatre Director and Producer Kieran Griffiths said:

"One of the ways we are actively making a lasting difference in our creative communities is by offering free conservatoire level education in music theatre, tuition and practical education in movement, vocal and acting tuition. Focusing on the practical experience of performance, being a member of The Playhouse Music Theatre Company offers the very best local talent the opportunity to help us tell our communities stories, performing to and for the public, building the CV, confidence and practical experience required to make it in the industry.

“The company provided the ensemble, and several principal roles, in our phenomenally successful production of The White Handkerchief, performed and broadcast from the Guildhall on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. This year’s company will do the same for Beyond Belief, a major new musical drama about the life and mission of John Hume, to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement."

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“We are very pleased to announce today over £2million of funding to support a huge range of arts activities through our Lottery Project funding.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, funding raised for good causes will directly benefit communities here in Northern Ireland through quality arts programming. This vital source of funding will reach into the hearts of towns and cities across Northern Ireland, providing arts experiences for all.

“After a difficult two years, we all understand the many positive benefits the arts brings into our lives. There’s much to look forward to over the coming month including a brand new drama for local and international audiences from the John & Pat Hume Foundation, as well as festivals, concerts, new literature, plus workshops and classes for adults and young people.”

For a full list of awards made through the Arts Council’s Lottery Project funding, visit http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-LPF-Awards-July22.pdf

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Mental Health Podcasts help St Cecilia’s Girls Bounce Back Post Lockdown

Wednesday 6th July 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

A group of girls at St Cecilia’s College in Derry/Londonderry have created a series of inspirational podcasts, addressing mental health issues and the impact of the pandemic.

Working with professional artists from Bounce Culture, students have written scripts, conducted interviews, learned technical skills and even created their own music soundtracks for the project which has involved 24, year 8 girls.

The school was one of eleven to receive funding through the Creative Schools Partnership in September 2021. Supported by National Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Urban Villages Initiative and the Education Authority, the programme is designed to encourage schools to embrace the benefits of the arts by injecting more creativity into the classroom and improving educational outcomes for students. Schools were given the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £15,000 each to develop a two year arts project that would bring professional artists into the classroom to teach students new skills, build self-confidence and explore creative expression.

The Creative Schools Partnership programme is based on research which indicates that access to quality arts experiences in school can benefit all aspects of learning and personal development. This includes better engagement, increased attendance, improved results in other school subjects, growth in confidence and self-esteem and promoting positive mental health and well-being. The programme promotes a student-centred approach, using the arts as a catalyst for connected learning, raising aspirations and fusing community and school based efforts in improving educational, good relations and wider social outcomes.

Commenting on the project, Tanya Wakeley, lead teacher on the project at St Cecilia’s College, said:

“For the podcasts, we asked the students to focus on lockdown and how they coped with isolation from their peers and not being able to come to school. The project has been really fantastic. We’ve really seen their confidence grow. It’s given the group an opportunity to come together to talk about their mental health in a really positive way and also to be in control of their own learning. The podcasts they have created will be shared with the wider school community and the project has been so successful we are already planning how we can build upon it next year to take it out into the community.”

The Creative Schools Partnership encourages students to think creatively and critically, developing their own voice, resulting in a sense of pride and citizenship. The programme enables teachers to collaborate with arts professionals across a range of creative domains; to co-construct learning opportunities and address the specific needs of pupils in their school and the communities in which they live. Through creative arts participation, young people develop new skills and strengthen their relationships with their communities whilst identifying potential new career opportunities and positive self-expression.

Kwame Daniels, Creative Director, and lead artist at Bounce Culture, commented:

“This has been a brilliant project to be involved with. The students have been really enthusiastic and they’ve had the chance to try all sorts of new things that go into planning and making a podcast. There’s been opportunities to get behind the mic, we’ve been teaching set up and technical skills and they’ve even been learning to DJ, create their own music, to scripting and conducting interviews. The work we’ve done here with this group of student’s feeds into other aspects of their school life, like building literacy and numeracy skills, teamwork and learning to think creatively. To be able to take ownership of each stage of the creative process has been incredibly powerful for them.”

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ACNI National Lottery Project Funding Awards 2022-23

Tuesday 5th July 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

Funding for a new play about the life and work of John Hume is one of 66 awards announced today by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The grants, worth over £2million, will be distributed under the Arts Council’s Lottery Project funding to support the development of arts activities across Northern Ireland.

Among those set to benefit from the fund are: The John & Pat Foundation for Peaceful Change and Reconciliation, Aisling Ghéar Theatre Company, Newry Chamber Music, BEAM Creative Network (Mid-Ulster), Portico of Ards, Arts for All (North Belfast), Carntougher Community Association (Maghera) and the Greater Shankill Partnership. The funding will be used to support the development and creation of year round arts activities and events through literature, drama, visual arts, music and community programming.

The John & Pat Hume Foundation are first time applicants to the scheme and have been awarded £50,000. They will work with The Playhouse in Derry/Londonderry to create an original musical drama, entitled Beyond Belief, to premiere and broadcast internationally on the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in 2023.

Tim Attwood, Foundation Secretary of The John & Pat Hume Foundation said:

“The John & Pat Hume Foundation is delighted that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland has agreed to support the production of Beyond Belief. John and Pat Hume had a long association with The Playhouse and championed the organisation’s cultural and peacebuilding work. The Hume Foundation partnership with The Playhouse on Beyond Belief is a natural one as they have a deep commitment to promoting healing, understanding and reconciliation. We are excited that the Playhouse, with Beyond Belief, will develop an inspiring, creative and emotional work telling the story of John Hume’s journey of peace and reconciliation.”

The creative team behind the production will include artists Damian Gorman (Writer) and Brian O’ Doherty (Composer). The production will also provide training and development opportunities for performers from The Playhouse Music Theatre Company, which played a significant role in the staging of The White Handkerchief, produced earlier this year to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“We are very pleased to announce today over £2million of funding to support a huge range of arts activities through our Lottery Project funding.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, funding raised for good causes will directly benefit communities here in Northern Ireland through quality arts programming. This vital source of funding will reach into the hearts of towns and cities across Northern Ireland, providing arts experiences for all.

“After a difficult two years, we all understand the many positive benefits the arts brings into our lives. There’s much to look forward to over the coming month including a brand new drama for both local and international audiences from the John & Pat Hume Foundation, as well as festivals, concerts, new literature, plus workshops and classes for adults and young people.”

Organisations to be awarded funding include:

Newry Chamber Music
Awarded £50,000

The 22/23 season will offer up to 14 live performances of world class concerts from Newry Chamber Music’s flagship Chamber Music group, the Fews Ensemble. This will feature new work by NI/Irish composers and include innovative and exciting programmes which will be performed across Northern Ireland in a bid to strengthen and develop growing audiences.

BEAM Creative Network (Mid-Ulster)
Awarded £10,001

BEAM Creative Network will engage young disabled and able people from Mid Ulster in a project called Beyond Limits. This project is an inclusive arts project of workshops in drama, music, dance, and pre-production skills to include set design and paint, culminating in a performance to family and friends. The aim of Beyond Limits is to enable disabled young people to work safely alongside their non-disabled peers, to improve artistic skills, increase understanding and develop relationships between all participants.

Greater Shankill Partnership
Awarded £31,743

Lottery Project funding from the Arts Council will support high quality creative activity at a grassroots level within Greater Shankill. The programme will be targeted at the most disadvantaged, vulnerable members of the community, and the need for providing focussed support, fellowship and a creative outlet through their Meet Up Monday Group (aimed at those who are living with poor mental health) and Chatty Tuesday Gang (a sociable art class aimed at socially isolated older people). Greater Shankill Partnership will also continue to support young people to build on their cultural capital through the Art Den afterschool and holiday provision and the cross community schools Friendship Programme. The Ausome Arts project will extend to meet the needs and support the families of children with ASD and the organisation will continue to develop the skills base of more experienced artists through the Women's Art Group, whilst encouraging participation for those with little experience of the arts by way of facilitated sessions in their Dip In taster workshops.

Carntogher Community Association (Maghera)
Awarded £38,218

Carntogher Community Arts will deliver a wide ranging arts programme within Carntogher and across the Mid Ulster Council area. Post covid, the programme will focus on rebuilding audience and participations, with a focus on those living in rural isolation, offering a bilingual Arts programme which covers a wide spectrum of artforms, including visual, spoken, written, music performances and drama.

Fighting Words Northern Ireland
Awarded £23,734

This funding will support Write Club, a community for young writers in NI aged 13-18, supporting them to write about what they want, in the way they want. Membership is free, with writers given the opportunity and support to write and explore a range of subjects. Over the next year, Fighting Words plan to expand Write Club from a weekly activity on Zoom to a sustained course programme, and lay the foundations to grow Write Club to three more locations.

Household Belfast CIC
Awarded £20,550

Household Belfast has been awarded funding to develop a 12 month programme of activities that aims to promote a new ‘Culture of Collecting’ in Northern Ireland and nurture and champion public art production. Over the next 12 months, Household Belfast will expand UPHOLD, its online platform that promotes and sells work by NI visual artists and produce a new produce new public art within the Queen’s University campus.

For a full list of awards made, visit http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-LPF-Awards-July22.pdf

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Nine projects gets share of £49,000 Arts Council fund for community projects

Monday 4th July 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

NINE arts projects have been awarded funding totalling over £49,000 as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Small Grants funding programme in June. The money will be used to support arts initiatives in communities across Northern Ireland, including projects in Limavady, Belfast and Derry/Londonderry.

Supported through National Lottery funds, the Small Grants Programme is designed to encourage organisations in Northern Ireland to get more people to engage with the arts through creative, community-based projects. Grants are awarded by the Arts Council on a monthly basis and organisations can apply for up to £10,000 to support projects in any art form, including music, drama, dance, literature, visual, and participatory arts.

One of the projects set to benefit from funding is Limavady-based ArtAbyss. It has been awarded £7,500 to support their three day children’s festival in July, offering up to 1,200 children the chance to enjoy a whole host of fun new arts experiences.

Kathryn McShane from ArtAbyss explained what the award means for the organisation:

“ArtAbyss Children’s Festival, first piloted by Stendhal Festival in 2018, engages children and young people in the wider area in arts activity which aims to build confidence, resilience and most importantly, to reconnect with their creativity!

“We believe that creativity is the seed of innovation, and that everyone is an artist in their own way. By including many facets of artistic practice we believe there’s something for everyone. Our key themes this year are to promoting mental wellbeing, reconnect with nature and build confidence and self-esteem through participation in the Creative Arts. We want to allow our young people to do what they do best, be creative and play.

“We've watched ArtAbyss grow from Strength to Strength over the last 5 years and is now a charity in it's own right. We've loved to watch our event grow, inviting more schools in the region to take part - but ArtAbyss isn't just a festival. We're growing our outreach programme and providing training to artists and facilitators in the region. We believe ArtAbyss has been a valuable resource for children in the rural North West and provides a much needed outlet for our young people to reach their full potential. Without our biggest supporter, Arts Council of Northern Ireland we wouldn't be where we are today!”

Commenting on funding programme, Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“Thanks to the National Lottery, we have awarded funding through our Small Grants programme to support nine fantastic community projects this month, creating more opportunities for people to engage with the arts, from grassroots level projects through to professional productions.

“Made possible thanks to National Lottery players and the money raised for good causes, this valuable funding programme is supporting a huge variety of high quality arts projects, proving that sometimes a small investment can have a tremendous impact on the communities we live in.”

In JUNE Small Grants Awards were awarded to:

BEAMA Education CIC, awarded £3,855 for their project ‘All Points: East’
All Points Arts is an artist-led audio-video project produced by BEAMA education CIC, bringing together some of NI’s foremost digital content creators, poets, visual artists and musicians, with the aim of showcasing emerging and established local talent in venues of historical and cultural significance. All Points: East builds on the success of All Points: North and will focus on showcasing and promoting the work of musicians, content creators and venues in the East of Belfast.

ArtAbyss LTD, awarded £7,500 for the ArtAbyss Children’s Festival 2022
ArtAbyss is a three day dedicated Children’s Festival for Key Stage 2 school children based in rural Northern Ireland. It takes place just outside Limavady and offers children a range of arts experiences, performance opportunities and workshops including, circus, music, craft and visual arts. The 4th annual ArtAbyss Children's Festival will take place on the 15th, 16th & 17th of July 2022 for 1,200 children living within a 30 mile radius of the Limavady.

Sailortown Regeneration, awarded £6,500 for the Sailortown Gathering
The Sailortown area is being brought back to life in a partnership between Sailortown Regeneration, Maritime Trust and the Harbour through the Maritime Mile initiative. Funding awarded through the Arts Council’s Small Grants programme will support a festival that will include local venues, streets and Barrow Square, as part of the organisation’s ongoing mission to revitalise Sailortown. Planned events and activities include exhibitions, live music and performances.

Cara-Friend, awarded £6,500 for The Rainbow Library
The Rainbow Library is an ambitious UK and Ireland-wide participatory literature creation and publishing project addressing demand for LGBTQ+ identities in children’s books. Eleven LGBTQ+ writers and illustrators will develop eight new works of children’s literature (picture books, poetry, novella, comics), all conceived during creative workshops with LGBTQ+ young people in eight cities (Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, Cork, Inverness, Glasgow, Manchester, Nottingham, Basildon). Funding from the Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme will support the NI based elements of the project.

Reclaim the Enlightenment, awarded £4,500 for Harps Alive
Harps Alive│An Chruit Bheo│Harp Leevin is a major collaborative festival that will take place in July to mark the 230th anniversary of the assembly of harpers in Belfast in 1792 and celebrate the work of the renowned organist and collector, Edward Bunting, who played a major part in the preservation of the music of the harpers. The event will bring together harpers from all over Ireland, showcase the harpers’ music, and bring a contemporary spotlight to bear on current developments to safeguard harping as a living tradition in Ireland.

The Public Catalogue Foundation, awarded £4,675 for Art UK: Northern Ireland Audience Development Programme
Art UK will carry out a programme of content development in Northern Ireland that will build upon its work growing and diversifying digital audiences. It will also support public art collections and venues across Northern Ireland to improve their reach, raise their digital profile, and engage individuals and communities in an accessible way. This work will include the commissioning of 15 articles over 12 months, from art writers, artists, authors, researchers and specialists in or from Northern Ireland, covering a wide range of subjects relating to Northern Irish art.

Celtronic Derry LTD, awarded £7,000 for Celtronic 2022
For 22 years, Celtronic has showcased the most relevant national/international acts alongside the best emerging acts across all genres of electronic music. Headliners at recent festivals have included Nile Rodgers & Chic, Ulster Orchestra, Jon Hopkins, David Holmes, Bicep, Nina Kraviz, Mary Anne Hobbs and Annie Mac. Celtronic 2022 will take place in Derry across a range of indoor/outdoor venues and will showcase showcase the best local, national electronic musicians, DJs, producers and live acts alongside the world's most national/international acts.

Pollen Studio and Gallery Belfast, awarded £5,950 for ArtFest:Pollen8
Funding from the Arts Council through the Small Grants programme will enable Pollen Studio to expand its work to deliver two separate community focused arts projects. The first, named ArtsFest, is a support network for artists in Belfast and beyond, directed at providing a platform for amateur artists to gain experience of taking part in a live art event and develop their professional artistic practice. The second project, named Pollin8, will focus on pollination and conservation, fusing arts and science to create an interactive arts experience for young people, lead by qualified conservation scientists and artist workshop facilitators from Pollen Studios and Gallery.

Codetta Choirs, awarded £3,150 for two commissions for young singers.
For 2022, Codetta will commission two new works for its Junior and Youth choirs from acclaimed composer and concert harpist, Anne Marie O’Farrell. Each work will be of 3-5 minutes duration and will be workshopped as part of Big Sing schools events at the Festival. Composers, writers and performers will be encouraged to take part in the digital programme of Symposia and podcasts that accompanies the Choir Festival. After the event, both works will be recorded by Codetta Junior and Youth choirs, with recordings engineered by the Choir Festival’s experienced in-house production team of R&D Media and PS Audio for dissemination.

Funding from the Small Grants Programme is awarded to organisations by the Arts Council on a monthly basis. Application forms and guidance notes are available to download at http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/small-grants-programme

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BAFTA-nominated chiptune composer, Niamh Houston, reveals details of videogame installation project

Saturday 2nd July 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

TieYourLaces (TYL) is an innovative, immersive digital art project by Chiptune Musician and Composer Niamh Houston (aka Chipzel). The project is being supported with £25,000 from the Creative Industries Seed Fund, a funding programme, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funds and Future Screens NI, which aims to assist arts organisations, entrepreneurs, and creative businesses to undertake projects that contribute to the growth of the creative industries and unlock future income generation.

Niamh Houston (aka Chipzel), is a BAFTA-nominated (Super Hexagon – Best British Game) and award-winning composer, producer and performer. Niamh will use her award to finance a ‘sprint’ development period working with regional talent on TieYourLaces (TYL). TYL was first developed in 2021 when Niamh worked together with Craig Fairweather and Andrew Dyce from, We Throw Switches, to develop a prototype inspired and constructed around her powerful chiptune beats to get inter-generational communities more active. TYL is a punksport, movement-based videogame installation, which combines modern videogame design; original music composition; and cutting-edge hardware to answer the question: 'In 2022, what would a real-life, community e-sport look like?

The laser-tracking technology at the heart of the installation will invite participants to intuitively move around a pre-set physical ‘court’ sized space (4mx4m), indoors or outdoors, and these movements act as digital inputs for the installation. Participants can create competitive scores and opt in to generate digital user content. The game is intended to be accessible to users of any ability who can increase movement and create meaningful social interactions that are motivated by sound. TYL will make previously underused public spaces come alive.

Niamh Houston (aka Chipzel), who is originally from Strabane but is now based in County Down began her journey with the Chiptune music genre during her time as a student at Lumen Christi College in Derry-Londonderry when she started composing on a Game Boy. Previously, Niamh teamed up with Terry Cavanagh, a video games developer from Monaghan, they worked together on the BAFTA-nominated mobile game Super Hexagon which led to an established career in games scoring. Chipzel has become best associated as a pioneer of the Chiptune scene - a style of electronic music created on retro consoles and computers. Chipzel is renowned for her use of a Nintendo Gameboy in both composition and performance.

Commenting on the project Chipzel said,

“This project is a playable and scalable installation that is designed to get you moving. It is a videogame that is designed for public spaces so it could be installed at a music festival, at a gym, outdoors, the possibilities of location are endless and you in your body are the physical controller of the game.”

The project is one of four partnership projects that use the arts within new and emerging digital, immersive technologies to expand the possibilities of how the arts can be distributed and utilised in new and innovative ways. The Creative Industries Seed Fund, worth £100,000, from The National Lottery and Future Screens NI, is now in its second round of the programme and the current four awardees include: Niamh Houston/Chipzel, Bad Girl Barre/Jill Rose Jacobs, Accidental Theatre and Belfast Photo Festival.

Matthew Malcolm, Creative Industries Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“The Arts Council is delighted to partner with Future Screens NI on the Creative Industries Seed Fund programme and thanks to The National Lottery, it will support four ambitious projects that distribute and utilize the arts in new ways using digital and immersive technologies. This programme reflects our continuing commitment to encouraging innovative practices that cross artform boundaries and build digital capabilities within the Northern Ireland arts sector. Chipzel’s exciting project expands on how arts audiences can engage with the arts through accessible experiences that combine her music, immersive technology and physical activity to reimagine how a real-world physical space can be interacted with.”

The Creative Industries Seed Fund is now closed with all available funding allocated. For details on all Arts Council funding opportunities visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding

To find out more about the work and music of Chipzel visit https://chipzel.co.uk/

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Arts Council of Northern Ireland announces Annual Funding Programme awards for 2022-23

Friday 1st July 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today announced that 95 arts organisations will receive largely standstill funding for 2022-23 from their Annual Funding Programme. The annual programme award of £13,012,490 will support the core and programming costs of those organisations who are central to the arts infrastructure in Northern Ireland today.

With £8,531,011 of exchequer funding from the Department for Communities allocation, and £4,481,479 from Arts Council’s National Lottery sources, the total fund offered £13,012,490, is the largest funding allocation made to arts organisations each year.

Chair of the Arts Council, Liam Hannaway, said,

“I am pleased to announce the annual funding awards today and thank both the Department for Communities and the National Lottery for the support that allows us to allocate this crucial support. It remains a financially challenging time for everyone working in the arts, and though we were able to award largely stand-still public funding for 2022/23, we are facing a weakened creative sector, working with reduced income and facing higher costs of delivery.

“In fact funding for the arts in Northern Ireland now sits at an all-time low, compared to other parts of the UK and Ireland. Despite fulfilling almost identical functions, investment in the Arts in NI sits at only £5.44 per capita, based on 2022/23 budget figures. This contrasts sharply with Wales at £10.35 and the Republic of Ireland at £25.90 per capita. A reinvestment in the arts is needed to regenerate a sector which struggles year on year to make ends meet”.

Mr Hannaway said the Arts Council had recently met arts organisations and both he and the Chief Executive, Roisín McDonough had engaged with the Department for Communities and informed them of the current stresses,

“The Arts Council met with our key organisations in April and May and in response, brought their concerns to the Department for Communities. We are making the case for more investment in the arts and creative sectors here so that we can afford to deliver the Programme for Government targets we are charged with; ensuring as many people can access and participate in the arts as possible. We all know that through the arts, significant and positive change happens - we bring communities together, build a stronger economy and improve mental health and wellbeing for all. Our recent bid to the Department to increase the funding baseline for the arts in NI, can help strengthen our arts sector and allow us to deliver on these important outcomes.”

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council said,

“The consequences of the pandemic and other inflationary costs and issues, are being felt everywhere and by everyone in the arts and creative sector. This is set against a backdrop of reduced public investment in the arts which has fallen by 28% in cash terms over the last decade, from £14.1m to £10.1m, closer to 49% when inflation is taken into account.

“This year, our core arts organisations are to be congratulated for proposing an inspirational range of arts events and activities as the sector fully reopens. They support hundreds of individual artists, providing employment and opportunity, delivering touring programmes and entertaining audiences on stages in our fine venues, while providing tuition and educational outreach to communities across Northern Ireland.

“They also help build the reputation of Northern Ireland abroad, delivering an important and inspirational impact for a relatively small public spend – so for all of that, we take this opportunity to thank them for their resilience and spirit.”

Some of those organisations offered Annual Funding Programme awards include the following:

Organisation 2022/23 AFP funding offered (£)
Greater Shantallow Community Arts, Derry-Londonderry 132, 015
Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company, Derry-Londonderry 112,910
Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre, Fermanagh 47,415
The Armagh Rhymers, Armagh 58,790
Open House Festival, Bangor 49,400
Oh Yeah Music Centre, Belfast 56,674
Array Studios, Belfast 25,477
Drake Music Project NI, Newry 51,224

Greater Shantallow Community Arts (GSCA), Derry-Londonderry
AFP funding offer: £132,015

Greater Shantallow Community Arts (GSCA) is a community organisation based in Derry-Londonderry and their aim is to provide direct access to the arts for those living in disadvantaged communities. The key objective of GSCA is to bring arts and cultural activity to areas of significant marginalisation and deprivation, and address complex social issues like social exclusion, isolation, lack of opportunity and poverty. They are a trusted arts partner, delivering key services to some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in their community. Core funding enables the organisation to offer a year-round programme of creative activities benefitting over 1,400 people every week, delivered from their purpose-built, high-quality community arts centre, 'Studio 2'.

Echo Echo, Derry-Londonderry
AFP funding offer: £112,910

Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company is based in Derry-Londonderry where it has its home studios in Waterloo House on the historic City Walls. Echo Echo was founded by Ursula Laeubli and Steve Batts in Amsterdam in 1991 and the company worked extensively throughout Europe before moving to Derry in 1997. Echo Echo favours collaborative and co-operative working methods. The company is organised as an ensemble with a group of artists who are committed to long term collaboration and mutual support. Echo Echo creates touring, site and event-specific productions, an annual festival of dance and movement, a programme of artistic residencies, performances by visiting artists and companies, and a wide variety of participatory projects with a broad range of groups and individuals.

Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre, Fermanagh
AFP funding offer: £47,415

Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre supports the development of dance and is the only professional and participatory dance organisation in Northern Ireland that is based in a rural location in Fermanagh. The company has three primary areas of work including; professional dance performance locally and internationally, a programme of participatory and community development, and a schools education programme that runs in conjunction with curriculum needs.

The Armagh Rhymers, Armagh
AFP funding offer: £58,790

The Armagh Rhymers deliver quality arts to a variety of sectors in society, many from the most deprived backgrounds. A lot of their work takes place in schools providing quality storytelling & bespoke interactive plays using music, song, dance, puppets and masks. They also take part in a wide range of events and festivals such as the Belfast Mela, Halloween in Derry City, and the Big Arts Festival in Ballycastle. The Armagh Rhymers have also toured internationally in USA, China and Europe.

Open House Festival, Bangor, Co.Down
AFP funding offer: £49,400

Open House Festival was established in Belfast in 1999 and moved to Bangor in 2013. It’s a popular annual summer festival that takes place every August in the beautiful seaside town in County Down. At the heart of the Festival is an eclectic programme of events, including folk on a boat, an island picnic trip, pop-up restaurants, local interest talks and tours alongside a run of shows in the beautiful Bangor Castle Walled Garden, which include music, theatre, comedy, spoken word and film.

Oh Yeah Music Centre, Belfast
AFP funding offer: £56,674

Oh Yeah is Belfast’s dedicated music hub, a resource for music makers and also for the music industry. It was constituted in 2007 in the belief that music is a valuable agent in Northern Ireland, a catalyst that changes lives for the better. The venue offers affordable rehearsal space, a live venue, a music exhibition, a café space, a recording studio, a song-writing room and workshop spaces. Their programmes focus on talent development, promotion and celebration, industry mentoring, youth development and community outreach as-well as arts and older people projects, music industry incubation, music tourism and heritage. They run the annual Women’s Work Festival and the NI Music Prize.

Array Studios
AFP funding offer: £25,477

Array studios was established in 1994 by a group of early career artists intent on making a difference to the world of visual art in Belfast. Over the past 20 years Array has seen a vast number of artists come through the doors working in painting, print, drawing, sculpture, sound, video, performance, ceramics, photography and more. Members have exhibited worldwide and locally and are deserved recipients of numerous awards and funding bursaries. Array also hosts short-term residencies and exhibitions in their InCube space. In 2021 the Array Collective won the prestigious Turner Prize. The Array Collective is a group of individual artists rooted in Belfast, who joined together to create collaborative actions in response to the socio-political issues affecting Northern Ireland. Array’s studios and project space in the city centre acts as a base for the collective.

Drake Music Project Northern Ireland
AFP funding offer: £51,224

Drake Music Project Northern Ireland is based in Newry but works across the region with a studio in Belfast also. The organisation provides access to independent music making for children and adults with complex disabilities. Workshops in composition and performance skills are afforded by the provision of adapted computer interfacing technology allowing people with disabilities the opportunity to express their creativity in an independent and controllable environment.

To view the list of Annual Funding Awards offered visit http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACN-AFP-Awards-July-2022.pdf

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WOMEX World Music Expo 2022 - bursaries now available to attend

Friday 1st July 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

WOMEX World Music Expo will take place in Lisbon, Portugal from 19- 23 October 2022. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is now welcoming applications from artists in Northern Ireland for bursaries to attend. Three bursaries of up to £650 each are available to artists based here and online applications are open from Friday 1 July and will close at 12noon on Thursday 28 July 2022. Apply now at http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/womex-2022-bursaries

WOMEX World Music Expo, one of the most important international professional market for world music of every kind including folk, roots, ethnic and traditional music. The four-day event attracts in excess of 2,000 delegates from over 90 countries, including hundreds of concert and festival bookers, labels, publishers, distributors, managers and the world's media.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland will offer a maximum of three bursary awards for WOMEX World Music Expo 2022. The award of £650 per delegate is to be used towards the costs of return flights, registration and a contribution towards accommodation and subsistence. Those eligible to apply for the delegate bursaries includes musicians, managers and agents working in Northern Ireland. In particular, bursaries are aimed at those artists and promoters who have a track record of touring internationally, have excellent promotional material available (CD’s, website etc) and who would benefit from attending the event to promote their work at this important music industry marketplace.

This will be the eighth occasion of the Arts Council’s support for attendance at WOMEX World Music Expo which has fast become the most important international professional market for world music.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music and Opera, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to make three bursaries available to artists from Northern Ireland to attend WOMEX World Music Expo in Lisbon this October. Attendance offers artists the vital opportunity to network and showcase their work to music industry professionals and promoters from across the world, often leading to touring opportunities for artists. I would encourage those interested to apply soon.”

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland will host a combined stand located within the Horizons section of WOMEX World Music Expo. Horizons is an initiative which aims to collectively promote the music of nations of the UK & Ireland at WOMEX. The Horizons partners include, Arts Council England, British Underground, Arts Council of Ireland, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Culture Ireland, Creative Scotland, Scottish Music Industry Association, Arts Council of Wales, Cerdd Cymru: Music Wales and Wales Arts International, UK Trade & Investment. Selected delegates will participate in the national stand to promote their work to international arts industry presenters and promoters.

Online applications open from Friday 1 July and will close at 12noon Thursday 28 July 2022. To view the guidance notes and make an application visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/womex-2022-bursaries

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Exciting new performance art event to take place in Writer’s Square

Friday 24th June 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

A new performance art event exploring how the pandemic has changed people’s lives takes place in Writers Square in Belfast this Saturday June, 25, 2022.

Tairsearch, which is Gaelic for Threshold or Próg in Polish, is a collaboration between internationally renowned performance artists Sinead O’Donnell from Ireland, Selina Bonelli from England, and Marta Bosowska from Poland.

The three have been working together online since March and are spending this week visiting various parts of Belfast collecting material and ideas before their public performance on Saturday.

Belfast-based Sinead, who is co-ordinating the project said:

“We are three disparate female and non-binary performance artists coming together to find new ways of continuing to make art in a post-pandemic world and to develop new and innovative methodologies that can be used by us and other artists.

“This project is about not just adapting and managing but acknowledging that the world has changed and that our practices will never be the same. We want to use this project to develop new ways of working that encompass the past and the pandemic, but that adapt to us and our future.”

Damien Coyle, Chief Executive of the University of Atypical, added:

“The Tairsearch project addressed an important aspect of disabled people’s experience during the Covid pandemic, while developing new creative approaches for disabled artists, blending online and live elements. The work evolved during the pandemic and this final performance takes place as we cross the threshold from lockdowns and isolation into a new beginning.”

Both Marta and Selina have worked in Belfast before the pandemic and are excited at the prospect of collaborating on a new work drawing on their memories of the city and how it has changed since Covid-19.

Marta said: “Belfast is the city where I started with performance art in 2009 because it has a very strong community of artists. This project is very important to me going back to my roots. As an artist I am working with memory and borders and I love the energy of this city.”

Selina added that she was interested in exploring how the pandemic has increased and magnified the divisions that were already existing between people: “The pandemic exacerbated the fears we had and separated us literally and physically. The question is how we can come back together as that separation still resonates in our bodies.”

Created by D/deaf, Disabled and Neurodiverse artists, Tairsearch is funded by the Four Nations international fund by Arts council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of England, Arts Council of Wales & Creative Scotland and is supported by the Belfast based disabled-led University of Atypical for Arts and Disability

The performance takes place on Saturday June 25, 2022 from 2-6pm in Writers Square, opposite St. Anne’s cathedral on Donegal Street, Belfast.

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Our Place Project Finale held at Duncairn Arts Centre

Wednesday 22nd June 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

Writers in Schools Northern Ireland this week celebrated the poetry and stories of children and young people through the Our Place project 2021-22. The project offered approximately 300 children and young people the opportunity to engage in writing residencies where they worked alongside a writer and explored themes of place and shared spaces. The Our Place Project was made possible through the support of the Reconciliation Fund (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The Reconciliation Fund has been supporting Poetry Ireland and peace-building and reconciliation themed writer residencies in schools in Northern Ireland since 2016.

The finale event, held at the Duncairn Arts Centre in North Belfast (Tuesday 21st June), featured readings and performances from children who participated in the programme, along with music and stories from renowned storyteller and songwriter Len Graham. The Our Place programme saw writers and storytellers Frank Galligan, Sheena Wilkinson, Deirdre Cartmill and Pat Ryan working with children from St Teresa’s PS Belfast, Upper Ballyboley PS Ballyclare, Glengormley High School, John Paul II PS Belfast, Grange PS, St Mary’s PS Enniskillen, Fane Street PS Belfast, Star of the Sea PS Belfast, and Holy Family PS Belfast.

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Arts Council is delighted to once again this year be involved in this wonderful project which connects artists and schools, inspiring them to take a creative approach to learning and literacy, as well as giving children the self-confidence to develop their own artistic voices. Today’s event has been a real celebration, an opportunity for participating schools to come together to share their work. We congratulate all of those who have taken part in this year’s programme!”

Here is some of the feedback from teachers and writers involved in the project:

“The children were highly engaged throughout. They were visibly enjoying themselves during the session and were disappointed for it to end.”

“The children really worked hard, were engaged all the time, and came up with some great stories. The teacher said she got a lot of ideas for classroom writing, teaching creative writing, managing the classroom when doing oral and written creative work.”

“We, as a school, have a major focus on wellbeing and the sessions really supported this - the children enjoyed themselves and were able to be creative in a relaxed and informal environment.”

“The activities relating to the senses, which encouraged children to think of how to extend their descriptions beyond just sight were very effective. It helped the children to really stretch their writing and think more creatively.”

“This project is of immense benefit to the increasing number of schools who have pupils from diverse background and for whom, English is not their first language.”

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EastSide Arts Festival celebrates its 10th birthday

Wednesday 22nd June 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

EastSide Arts Festival celebrates its 10th birthday this summer, 4th–14th August and everyone is invited!

Packed full of unique, exciting events, festival goers will enjoy music, theatre, film, literature, walks, talks & tours, comedy & cabaret, family focused and community events for all ages.

The celebrations will feature over 100 artists across more than 80 events taking place in a range of venues in east Belfast including: Strand Arts Centre, Vault Artist Studios, The Ballyhackamore Social Club, Banana Block (Portview Trade Centre), C.S. Lewis Square and many more.

The EastSide Arts Festival is supported by Principal Funder, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, funders Belfast City Council, National Lottery Awards for All and Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland, Principal Sponsor Translink, sponsors Connswater and Hewitt & Gilpin.

With the 10th birthday celebrations in mind, here’s 10 of the key events not to be missed at this year’s festival:

Hot House Flowers Thursday 4th August, Banana Block, Portview Trade Centre. Having headlined the festival in 2018, EastSide Arts Festival is delighted to have this brilliant live band back to open the festival in their 10th birthday year.

OPTIMO Friday 5th August, Banana Block, Portview Trade Centre. Optimo are regarded as one of the most important names in contemporary club culture, partly thanks to their seminal Sunday night party at Sub Club in Glasgow. Optimo will be joined by The Night Institute DJs for their first gig in east Belfast.

Park Fest, Saturday 6th August, C.S. Lewis Square & Orangefield Park. Get your birthday hats and party blowers at the ready for a day of family-friendly creative fun for all ages. Park Fest, delivered alongside EastSide Greenways, will include two family events at C.S. Lewis Square and Orangefield Park and animation along the Connswater Community Greenway linking the two main locations.

Otter Debauchery presents Peninsula, Friday 5th August, Vault Artist Studios. This is a highlight of this year’s programme of events at Vault Artist Studios. Dan Leith/Otter Debauchery will present a new live musical comedy special filled with sardonic wit, honest anecdotes, crude humour, and catchy tunes. Tackling issues such as love, life, saving the planet and being from Belfast.

Hairspray [2007] Thursday 4th August, Strand Arts Centre. This special screening will celebrate the 15th birthday of this hilarious comedy, with a special live performance from resident dance and drama school, Ni Stars! Teenager Tracy Turnblad teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about integration after winning a spot on a local TV dance show.

David Hull Promotions Presents Cash Returns - The Johnny Cash & June Carter Tribute Show, Thursday 11th August, C.S. Lewis Square. Cash Returns will kick off the series of ‘Live @ C.S. Lewis Square’ events in style. JP Mac (Johnny Cash) and Karen Martin (June Carter) have been hailed as the most exciting Johnny Cash & June Carter Tribute in the UK, Ireland and beyond. This is an event not to be missed by Man In Black fans.

Dig with It magazine presents… New Pagans, Lemonade Shoelace and Winnie Ama Friday 12th August, C.S. Lewis Square. New Pagans, Lemonade Shoelace and Winnie Ama represent some of the most inspiring, alternative voices from the local music scene. They are brought together for this special ’Live @ C.S. Lewis Square’ event by Dig With It, a quarterly magazine from Belfast that champions music, arts and counter-culture.

Billy Boy by Rosemary Jenkinson, Thursday 4th August, Vault Artist Studios and Friday 5th August Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich. A new play about bonfire culture by east Belfast writer Rosemary Jenkinson. Written in 2021 and inspired by interviews with young bonfire builders, performed by the amazing actor John Travers.

Young at Art’s Baby Rave, Sunday 7th August, Banana Block, Portview Trade Centre. A family-friendly highlight of the 2015 festival, EastSide Arts Festival is delighted to bring back Baby Rave. With classic dance tunes and pumpin’ beats, you and your mini-ravers can get lost in music together.

Maurice Jay’s Pleasuredome, Sunday 14th August, C.S. Lewis Square. The Ultimate 80's Party night - pure 80's musical heaven closes the festival. This is a party you will not want to miss!

William Leatham, Vice Chair, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“Thanks to the National Lottery, the Arts Council, as principal funder, is proud to support EastSide Arts and this wonderful flagship festival. EastSide Arts continue to deliver their vision for the creative transformation of the east of the city, based on the power of great art to inspire people and bring us all closer together. Eleven amazing festival days - supported by 365 days of concentrated work behind the scenes, engaging local communities in the arts and building strategic partnerships with cultural organisations across the city. Happy 10th birthday! Enjoy the celebrations, everyone.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Tina Black said:

“It is wonderful to see our support for EastSide Arts Festival helping them to grow and thrive on their 10th birthday. Belfast is so proud of our cultural festivals as they bring so much vitality to the city – and encourage people to celebrate, share space and enjoy new experiences together. I’m particularly pleased to see events like Young at Art’s Baby Rave and Hothouse Flowers coming to Banana Block at Portview Trade Centre, which is proving to be a really fantastic, welcoming new venue for east Belfast. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish the organisers and participating artists the very best of luck.”

Director of the EastSide Arts Festival, Rachel Kennedy added:

“We are delighted to invite everyone to join us as at this year’s EastSide Arts Festival as we celebrate our 10th birthday. As always, we are bringing festival goers a jam-packed programme of events that celebrate the people and places of east Belfast and encourage connection and celebration. The festival provides us with the opportunity to showcase the very best of east Belfast as a place of creativity, a place that is vibrant and a place that is welcoming. A huge thanks to our Principal Funder, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Principal Sponsor, Translink for their invaluable support, and the vital support of all of the festival funders and sponsors who have helped the festival reach this incredible landmark.”

For the full festival programme and ticket information visit www.eastsidearts.net. Follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #ESAFest22.

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Ashfield Girls shine under spotlight at the Eastside awards

Tuesday 21st June 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

A group of pupils from Ashfield Girls’ High School took to the stage of the Stormont Hotel recently to showcase their talents, at the annual Eastside awards. The performance at the awards, which celebrates the best of East Belfast, is the latest phase of a special project the pupils have been working on under the guidance of professional actress, Christina Nelson, musician Emer Maguire and author Sheena Wilkinson.

The school was one of eleven to receive funding through the Creative Schools Partnership in September 2021. Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Urban Villages Initiative and the Education Authority, the programme is designed to encourage schools to embrace the benefits of the arts by injecting more creativity into the classroom and improving educational outcomes for students.

Schools were given the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £15,000 each to develop a two year arts project that would bring professional artists into the classroom to teach students new skills, build self-confidence and explore creative expression.

Speaking about their project, Ashfield Girls’ teacher Sam Fitzpatrick commented:

“Together with artists Christina, Emer and Sheena, our students are exploring the concept of what it means to belong (to family, form class, school, community and the wider world) through literature, drama, music, creative writing and journaling. Witnessing the girls perform their song, ‘Belonging To Belfast’, so confidently at the recent Eastside Awards, is testament to the value of the creative experiences offered by the Creative Schools Partnership. The girls were thrilled to showcase their piece at such a prestigious event, as was aptly summed up by one of the student’s, Lillie, afterwards: ‘It was brilliant … the best experience ever!’”

The Creative Schools Partnership programme is based on research which indicates that access to quality arts experiences in school can benefit all aspects of learning and personal development. This includes better engagement, improved attendance, improved results in other school subjects, increased confidence, self-esteem whilst promoting positive mental health and well-being. It is a student-centred approach using the arts as a catalyst for connected learning, raising aspirations and fusing community and school based efforts in improving educational, good relations and wider social outcomes.

The arts is a natural stimulus promoting innovative approaches to learning. Students are encouraged to think creatively and critically, developing their own voice, resulting in a sense of pride and citizenship. The programme enables teachers to collaborate with arts professionals across a range of creative domains; to co-construct learning opportunities and address the specific needs of pupils in their school and the communities in which they live. Through creative arts participation, young people develop new skills and strengthen their relationships with their communities whilst identifying potential career and self-expression pathways.

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St Cecilia’s College and Magherafelt High School exhibit artworks from the Arts Council Collection

Friday 17th June 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

St Cecilia’s College in Derry-Londonderry and Magherafelt High School are two secondary level schools currently taking part in the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Art Lending Scheme for Schools. The scheme offers schools the opportunity to exhibit works from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Contemporary Art Collection with the aims of promoting the work of the local artists in the Collection and to increase opportunities for young people to be inspired by and engage with high-quality visual arts.

The Arts Council’s Art Lending Scheme for Schools is a free programme which enables participating schools to choose and exhibit works from the Arts Council Collection, which currently holds over 500 artworks, by established and emerging visual artists working in Northern Ireland. The scheme was officially launched in 2019 and to date eight schools have taken part.

Joanna Johnston, Visual Arts Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said,

“Many of the artists represented in the Arts Council’s contemporary art collection have major national and international reputations, such as two-times Turner Prize nominee, Willie Doherty; Cara Murphy, whose work is included in the Downing Street Sliver Collection; and Colin Davidson, who painted the Queen’s portrait in 2016, Brendan Jamison, Ian Cumberland, and Paul Seawright.

“By offering the Collection for public display in schools, we are helping to showcase the work of our artists and to introduce the public to Northern Ireland’s wealth of creative talent. Going forward into this year we’re hoping to roll the scheme out to more school across Northern Ireland and see as many of our works as possible going into schools to inspire and delight students.”

Catherine McGlinchey, Head of Art, St Cecilia’s College, Derry, said,

“St Cecilia’s College is delighted to be part of the Art Lending Scheme. In a school this big we simply don’t have the ability to physically take the pupils out to visit a gallery. So thanks to the Art Lending Scheme we’re able to have our own mini gallery in the school exhibiting creative, modern, contemporary art from professional artists and it is just a fantastic opportunity for us.”

Gill Waterson, Head of Arts, Magherafelt High School, added,

“I’ve no doubt taking part in the Art Lending scheme will raise the profile of art and design in the school. It’ll encourage our pupils to realise that art is not just pencil drawings and that there are loads of different media that they can use very successfully when creating art.”

For more information visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/the-arts/visual-arts1/art-lending-scheme

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Singer-songwriter, Dani Larkin, announced as awardee of The Tyrone Guthrie Centre Bursary

Tuesday 14th June 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

Dani Larkin, a singer-songwriter and folk musician from the Armagh-Monaghan border, has been announced as the awardee of a new bursary from The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, a beautiful, secluded residential workplace and residency programme in Annaghmakerrig that is open to professional artistic practitioners in all art forms.

The Tyrone Guthrie Centre Bursary for Musicians and Composers Living and Working in Northern Ireland, was established earlier this year and is made possible through an anonymous donation to The Tyrone Guthrie Centre. The Bursary enables the awardee to take up a valuable two-week residency on the Annaghmakerrig House with full use of the Composer’s Room and Ulster Garden Performance Space.

Dani who recently supported Snow Patrol, Declan O’Rourke and Hothouse Flowers, as well as headlining a show at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast, released her debut album, Notes For A Maiden Warrior, in 2021 to widespread critical acclaim. Her sound is inspired by the Irish Traditional melodies she was raised with and her songs are reminiscent of Celtic folk tales.

Dr Éimear O'Connor, Resident Director, The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, commented,

“We extend our warmest congratulations to Danielle, and we very much look forward to welcoming her to The Tyrone Guthrie Centre where we hope that she will enjoy our creative facilities to the fullest.”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music and Opera, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“Congratulations to Dani Larkin, a hugely gifted musician, on being awarded this Bursary which offers a valuable opportunity for a musician to take time out to create and develop their professional practice through the creation of new work. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support The Tyrone Guthrie Centre and this Bursary, and wish Dani continued success in her artistic career throughout this residency and beyond.”

Tyrone Guthrie Centre Bursary awardee Dani Larkin, said,

“I am immensely grateful to be awarded the Composer's Award for a residency in Annaghmakerrig. The cycles of the artist are calling me home and there's no better place on this island to be called home to than Annaghmakerrig. I look forward to the stillness and the creativity that comes with that during my time there and of course the ever evolving mix of artists who call Annaghmakerrig their artistic home throughout the year.”

To find out more about Dani Larkin, The Tyrone Guthrie Centre and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland visit www.danilarkin.com, www.tyroneguthrie.ie and www.artscouncil-ni.org

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Arts Council joins world-leading Harkin Summit to lead discussion on the Arts and Disability

Thursday 9th June 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

On Wednesday 8th June, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland chaired a panel on Arts and Disability at The Harkin Summit in Belfast, only the second time ever that this leading conference has been delivered outside the USA. The discussion on ‘Arts, Disability and the Pandemic – a creative response’ addressed the barriers facing disabled people and disabled artists in accessing and participating in the arts post- pandemic.

Among the attendees at the Harkin Summit 2022 were global leaders in the fields of Government, disability, research, philanthropy and business. Chairing the Arts Council panel was Arts Council’s Head of Participatory Arts, Gilly Campbell, who was joined by a panel of experts from the disability arts sector, policy and research, creative industries and Government sectors including Fionn Angus and Jonathan Angus of Fionnathan Productions. Gilly commented,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland was proud to take part in the Harkin Summit. Our aim is to help advance and create equality of opportunity to the arts for disabled people and today’s Summit offered a vital platform to bring together those with the power to create change and impact positively on the lives of disabled people; the experts, the researchers, the policy makers and representatives from Government. We are very grateful to Senator Tom Harkin for bringing this influential and important Summit to Northern Ireland and for inviting us to be a part of the challenge for change along with the Department for Communities.”

"Northern Ireland benefits from some of the most innovative disabled artists whose work has been honoured by the Arts Council and celebrated locally, nationally and internationally, yet we know that disabled people are facing increased barriers to the arts due to the pandemic – we want this to change.”

Conceived in 2016 by retired US Senator, Tom Harkin, the Harkin Summit is internationally recognised as a platform that brings together leaders and activists across Business, Government, Philanthropy, the Third and Voluntary Sector, and Academia to highlight and address disability employment issues, showcase best practice and success, build relationships and challenge for change.

Senator Harkin also co-authored and sponsored the ‘Americans with Disabilities Act (1990)’ (ADA), and acts as a key advisor to the Biden-Harris Administration on these issues. The Harkin Summit took place over two days, 7th-8th June, in Belfast and its overarching 2022 theme was ‘Disability: Shaping, Growing and Driving Economic Change’. It offered a clear focal point for leading transformational change, before, during and post event to advance the equality of opportunity for disabled people.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland works from the perspective of the Social Model of Disability, understanding disability as a problem of exclusion from ordinary life and requiring a change in society’s values and practices in order to remove the barriers to participation. The Arts Council works in partnership with, and takes advice from, disabled people and relevant sector organisations to create our policies and programmes. The Arts Council sees disability as an equality and inclusion issue and aims to encourage universal accessibility to the arts for disabled people in Northern Ireland.

For more information on the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s policies on arts and disability visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/the-arts/participatory-arts1/arts-disability

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Arts Council announces new three-year £1.5m funding programme promoting arts projects in rural areas

Wednesday 8th June 2022 at 4pm 0 Comments

Community groups, arts organisations and local authorities in rural communities across Northern Ireland can now apply to the Arts Council’s new Rural Engagement Arts Programme (REAP). The programme, which has a budget of £1.5m of National Lottery funding over 3 years, invites online applications for grants of up to £10,000 to deliver arts projects benefitting rurally-based communities. Applications are open from Wednesday 8 June 2022 and will close on Thursday 28 July 2022.

The Rural Engagement Arts Programme aims to provide an integrated, cohesive approach to the needs of local rural communities as they emerge from the global Covid-19 pandemic. The overarching theme of the programme is to tackle isolation and loneliness, and promote social inclusion and wellbeing.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“We know that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, boost confidence and motivation, as well as alleviate isolation and loneliness. The pandemic and the resulting lockdowns across the UK have taken a toll on individual lives, with mental health and well-being adversely effected as families and friends were separated for sustained periods of time, especially intergenerational. This has been particularly compounded in rural communities which are characterised by smaller and more dispersed populations.”

The Chief Executive continued,

“Thanks to The National Lottery players, this new Rural Engagement Arts Programme will increase opportunities for people living in rural communities to engage and participate in meaningful arts activities, enriching their lives for the better. The Arts Council believes that arts, and coming together as communities, can all make a vital contribution to building health, confidence and healthy integrated communities and I would encourage organisations in rural areas to apply to this vital new funding programme.”

The Rural Engagement Arts Programme (REAP) is one of the Arts Council’s core National Lottery programme areas. To develop and design the Rural Engagement Arts Programme, the Arts Council liaised with local authority officers to ensure that funding information will be widely disseminated. Some examples of previous rurally-based Arts Council supported projects are below.

A recent project, Heart of The Sperrins, was developed by Derry City and Strabane District Council and was funded through the Arts Council’s National Lottery supported Arts and Older People Programme. The project brought together a number of isolated, older residents living near the rural village of Lettershandoney in Derry-Londonderry to work with a professional artist, Leona Devine, for a six-week arts programme focusing on ceramics and making clay cottages for the participants’ homes and gardens.

Watch this video which features the group of older people from the rural village of Lettershandoney enjoying the project - https://youtu.be/O-dOn172ms0

Glasgowbury based in rural Draperstown, Magherafelt, is an arts organisation, supported by the Arts Council, which aims to support and enhance the profile of new and emerging artists from Northern Ireland while making arts accessible and available to all at a local level through the delivery of a series of creative programmes to people of all ages. The organisation developed a thriving Creative Hub delivering services tailored to meet the needs of children and their carers, young people, adults and older people and facilitate their participation in the arts, the creative industries and the digital community. One of their recent programmes ‘Heart of the Community’, offered free workshops to young people in their local community in DJing, electronic music production, samba drumming, photography, podcasting, pottery, sewing and more. Workshops were delivered to groups and aimed to reduce social isolation through participation in arts and creativity.

In 2021 Armstrong Storytelling Trust carried out a project to bring the traditional art of storytelling, music and reminiscence sessions to older people, aged 70+ who were experiencing dementia and isolation. Armstrong Storytelling delivered 40 sessions to individuals across the region in their own homes digitally through Zoom, between January and May 2021. Armstrong Storytelling partnered with Dementia NI, DEED (Dementia, Engaged and Empowered Derry) and Alzheimer’s Society to identify suitable participants.

The Rural Engagement Arts Programme is open to rural groups across the region and to people of all ages. The Arts Council will develop a series of case studies to support applicants who may be wishing to engage in the arts for the first time. Please note that applications must be submitted online and are open from Wednesday 8 June 2022 and will close on Thursday 28 July 2022. To view the Guidance Notes and make an application visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/rural-engagement-arts-programme

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IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund Information Sessions

Tuesday 7th June 2022 at 4pm 0 Comments

In Your Space Circus is currently working on an exciting project in partnership with Ulster University and Circusful, funded by the Imperial War Museums (IWM). The project will involve bringing Compagnie XY (the French collective of acrobats) to perform in Derry-Londonderry in September 2022.

As part of the project research phase, the IWM Team will be coming to Derry the week commencing 13th June with a funding opportunity they would like to present to Northern Ireland-based cultural organisations.

Would you be interested in working in partnership with Imperial War Museums (IWM) on a new art commission to explore the impacts of conflict from the First World War to the present day?

The IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund is a national programme of 22 fully-funded, ambitious artist commissions which will see brand new works span the length and breadth of the UK. Building on over 100 years of contemporary art commissioning by IWM, this new initiative continues the vision and reach of 14-18 NOW, the official UK arts programme for the First World War centenary, and has been made possible thanks to the success of Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed film ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’, co-commissioned by IWM and 14-18 NOW.

Alongside the five major partners and two IWM commissions, 15 members from IWM’s War and Conflict Subject Specialist Network will receive smaller grants of £20,000.

On 17th May a second phase inviting expressions of interest opened for the seven remaining places in the programme.

The team will be in The Millennium Forum, Derry on Wednesday 15 June 2022 at 2.30pm to talk about the programme and how you can get involved. The presentation will last approximately 30 minutes, then the team are happy to take any questions or get a chat on your potential project or idea.

If you’d like to attend, please register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/iwm-14-18-now-legacy-fund-recruitment-talk-tickets-348757431867

If you’re unable to make it on 15th June, the team are available for individual appointments on Thursday 16th June between 2-5pm at The Millennium Forum – to reserve your slot click here https://doodle.com/meeting/participate/id/dwpX528e/vote

Online appointments can also be made throughout June by contacting partnerships@iwm.org.uk

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Arts Council congratulates recipients of Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022

Tuesday 7th June 2022 at 8am 0 Comments

The Arts Council would like to offer our congratulations to the artists from Northern Ireland who have been recognised by the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022, announced on June 1st. The honours acknowledge exceptional achievement and service of extraordinary people across the UK.

  • Clifford Brooks, MBE, artist and founding member of The Engine Room Gallery, for services to Visual Arts in Northern Ireland.
  • Richard Yarr, MBE, musician, producer, Chair of the Charles Wood Festival of Music, and presenter of BBC Radio Ulster’s Sounds Sacred programme, for services to Music in Northern Ireland.
  • Dónal Doherty, Honorary MBE, Artistic Director of Codetta Choirs and Artistic Director of the City of Derry International Choir Festival, for services to Music in Northern Ireland.

These artists join those who were recognised earlier this year in the 2022 New Year Honours:

  • Oliver Jeffers, MBE, author and illustrator, for services to the Arts.
  • Maureen Elizabeth Dunn, MBE, for services to Dance and the Performing Arts in Northern Ireland.
  • Professor Jackie McCoy, MBE, for services to higher education, to business and to the arts.
  • William McFarland, BEM, for services to Music in County Antrim.

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Stage Beyond take on Chaplin classic to shine a light on people with disabilities

Monday 6th June 2022 at 9am 0 Comments

Stage Beyond, the theatre company for adults with learning disabilities based in Derry, supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, will present ‘The Great Dictator’ at the Millennium Forum on 15th June 2022. Working with visiting director, Kate Guelke, the multi award-winning company is tackling the Charlie Chaplin masterpiece of the same name in a truly unique production combining slapstick humour with a serious subject close to their hearts.


Stage Beyond is back in action with its first live theatre production since the COVID-19 pandemic, to shine a light on how people with disabilities and learning difficulties have been persecuted in the past. Drawing on recent historical episodes, ‘The Great Dictator’ asks, is how we treat the vulnerable a measure of our humanity? Based on Chaplin’s 1940 satirical film, Stage Beyond interrogates what happens when society treats disability like a crime.

The hard-hitting storyline takes place in Pandora, a country at war where people deemed as ‘different’ are disappearing. Dictator Heidi (Frank Nelis) has a doppelganger – Brian (Bryan Sutherland), a decorator. When Brian’s sister Hanna (Alison Smyth) goes missing, he discovers a terrible secret at his local hospital. In a bizarre case of mistaken identity, fate offers him the chance to change history.

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support Stage Beyond, a company that provides valuable opportunities for adults with learning disabilities to access and participate in theatre, make friends, learn new skills, and increase their confidence and self-esteem. They overcame the challenges faced during COVID-19 restrictions to embark on this latest theatrical milestone for the company and I look forward to seeing the energy, commitment, and creativity that they will bring to the Millennium Forum once again in ‘The Great Dictator’.”

Kate Guelke, Visiting Director at Stage Beyond for ‘The Great Dictator’, said:

“Stage Beyond has a huge natural affinity with comedy. Chaplin's masterpiece - combining slapstick humour with a serious subject - seemed the obvious choice for our new production. This is a massive undertaking but knowing the company's track record tackling classics - most recently their award-winning ‘Hamlet’ - I knew 'The Great Dictator' would work. Many members of the company are very politically engaged, especially when it comes to disability rights activism. We wanted to shine a light on how people with disabilities and learning difficulties have been persecuted in the past. This company is doing some really important work, their commitment and interest in the subject matter and the bravery to face it head-on has been extraordinary. This is a truly unique theatrical event and I hope the audience will laugh, cry, cheer and feel as much as we have in rehearsal!”

Bernie Shiels, Chair of the Board of Stage Beyond and one of the original members who is also performing in ‘The Great Dictator’, said she was immensely proud of the company in rising to their latest theatrical challenge. “It is important for us not to shy away from the reality of what happened to people like us in the past. It has been quite an emotional process at times working openly and inclusively as a team on the script itself and in rehearsals but as with all Stage Beyond productions, there is a good mix of comedy and positive overall message that as people with learning disabilities, we are all part of society just like everybody else.”

Dee Conaghan, Artistic Director of Stage Beyond, said she was prouder than ever of the company members in taking on such a challenging and confronting production. Members of Stage Beyond’s youth outreach programme funded by BBC Children in Need, will also be taking part in ‘The Great Dictator’ with Jean Dunne, the company’s lead drama facilitator and Niamh McCarron, drama graduate intern, also working alongside the visiting director. Dee added: “It is an absolute joy for us to work with talented and committed company members who embrace new material with such enthusiasm while supporting each other and also having fun, which is the central ethos of Stage Beyond.”

The performance takes place at the Millennium Forum, on Wednesday 15th June 2022 at 7.30pm. Tickets priced £11.50 (concessions available) can be booked at www.millenniumforum.co.uk

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Sheila Llewellyn wins Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize

Wednesday 1st June 2022 at 9am 0 Comments

Arts Council of Northern Ireland ACES awardee Sheila Llewellyn’s book, Winter in Tabriz (Sceptre, Hodder & Stoughton), has won the prestigious Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize at the 2022 Society of Authors Awards.

Congratulating Sheila on the award, Damian Smyth, Head of Literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:

“What a tremendous accolade the Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize is for Sheila Llewellyn and her second novel from Sceptre, Winter in Tabriz. That this magisterial and moving imagining of Iran in the revolutionary period of the late 1970s, with its surprising and exhilarating dramas of love and repression among young people embroiled in extraordinary world events, has been recognised with this inaugural prize, is testament to Llewellyn’s vivid place-making and exquisite phrasing.

“The prize recognises an author who is focusing on the experience of travel away from home, and Winter in Tabriz sustains Llewellyn’s compassion for people under the pressure of circumstance, commitment and suffering. Congratulations to all involved in this wonderful novel, especially Sheila, from all at Arts Council NI.”

Caroline Brothers, Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize judge, said:

‘The novel stood out for the sophistication of its engagement with a country in upheaval, for its exploration of the risks and price of resistance, and for its honesty about being a foreigner with an escape route from someone else’s history. It is a novel that takes no easy fictional solutions, but speaks hard-won truths about the way seismic change reverberates upon even the least political of lives.’

Sheila Llewellyn was born in England, of Welsh heritage, and has dual British/Irish citizenship. She has worked in Africa, Iran, Singapore, Germany and Russia. She completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in Belfast in 2016. Her first novel, Walking Wounded, was published in 2018 and was shortlisted for the Society of Authors’ Paul Torday Memorial Prize. Her short stories have been published in various anthologies and shortlisted for the Costa Short Story Award twice, the Sean Ó Faoláin Prize and the Bridport Prize. She also won the RTÉ Radio One P.J. O’Connor Prize for Radio Drama.

The Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize is awarded to a UK or Irish writer, or a writer currently resident in those countries, for a novel focusing on the experience of travel away from home.

You can watch the award ceremony online from 7.00pm on Wednesday 1st June 2022 on the Society of Authors’ livestream.

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Arts Council publishes Business Plan 2022-23

Wednesday 1st June 2022 at 9am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today, 1st June 2022, published its Business Plan for 2022-23, setting out the organisation’s strategic objectives and corresponding actions for the current financial year.

The Business Plan reflects the delivery of the fourth year of the Arts Council’s five-year Strategic Framework for developing the arts, 2019-2024, entitled ‘Inspire, Connect, Lead’. It considers the specific strategic context for the arts in 2022-23, including the impact of COVID-19, wider Governmental priorities, the implications of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, responding to environmental challenges, and reflecting the increasing diversity of Northern Ireland society in the audiences, leaders, producers and creators of a progressive and dynamic arts sector.

Under the Framework’s headings of ‘Inspire’, ‘Connect’ and ‘Lead’, the Business Plan outlines the key actions to be undertaken by the Arts Council this year in regards to: Resilience and Sustainability; Investing in the Future; Accessibility and Participation; Engagement; National and International Representation; Demonstrating Impact; Partnership Working, and; COVID Recovery.

Headline actions include, for example: launching a rural needs programme; commissioning a scoping study to identify skills development needs in the creative industries; implementing a resilience programme with Derry City and Strabane District Council, and; ensuring key outcomes of the new minority ethnic and rural deliberative forums are incorporated into future strategies and policies.

The Business Plan 2022-23 also takes the opportunity to look back at some of the achievements of the previous year, providing an overview of the Arts Council’s Funding and Research programmes, as well as a sample of the arts sector’s successes, including Northern Ireland Opera garnering numerous national and international awards and accolades for their cinematic production ‘Old Friends and Other Days’, and Array Collective becoming the first artists from Northern Ireland to win the prestigious Turner Prize.

Read the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Business Plan, 2022-23 here: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-Business-Plan-2022.pdf

Read the Arts Council of Northern Ireland 5-Year Strategic Framework for Developing the Arts, 2019-2024 here: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-5-year-Strategic-Framework-for-Developing-the-Arts-2019-2024.pdf

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Arts & Business NI Awards 2022 opens for entries

Tuesday 31st May 2022 at 5pm 0 Comments

Entries for the Arts & Business NI Awards 2022 in partnership with Forestside have opened this morning, (Monday 30 May 2022)

This year’s awards, the first live and in person since January 2020, is set to feature 11 categories, including Arts Organisation of the Year, Business of the Year and an Inspirational Trustee Award.

Chief Executive of Arts & Business Northern Ireland, Mary Nagele, has praised the ongoing partnership with Forestside as well as the positive impact on the awards across Northern Ireland’s cultural sector.

She said: “Many thanks to Forestside for their continued and vital support. It is just wonderful to be able to bring our business and arts partners together again for an in-person Awards ceremony. The Arts & Business NI Awards in partnership with Forestside is a vital showcase for what is possible when the cultural and corporate sectors come together. The partnerships being celebrated also highlight the huge impact that the arts have across our society.”

Forestside Centre Manager, Lee Cutler expressed his delight at the Centre’s involvement in the awards for the second year. He said: “Forestside are delighted to once again sponsor the Arts & Business NI annual awards. Having been on the journey ourselves as an entrant with many of our Arts partners we know first-hand how important it is to help shine a light on the fabulous work that happens between businesses and arts organisations. It not only gives well-deserved acknowledgement for all involved but also helps keep key stakeholders onboard and brings to life how the Arts can enrich the working environment. It is also a pleasure to work with the Arts & Business NI team in the lead up to these awards and watch their well-oiled machine put everything into place and deliver a most memorable night for everyone involved.”

Speaking on its launch, Roisín McDonough. Chief Executive of Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: “The Arts & Business NI Awards are a tremendous advert for what is currently being achieved locally by businesses and arts organisations as they pool their skills and talents. The participation of Forestside, as the headline sponsor, shows the great impression that their own engagement with the arts has made on them. Their embracing of the arts, alongside the inspiring new partnerships that will be profiled at this year’s awards, set the best possible example for others to follow.”

Arts & Business NI today also announced an open call out across the visual arts community for a Northern Ireland artist to be commissioned to design this year’s award pieces. The chosen artist will be announced in the summer.

The Arts & Business NI Awards 2022 in partnership with Forestside are due to take place in September 2022. Application forms and details on categories are available via the Arts & Business NI website -

https://www.artsandbusinessni.org.uk/news/2022/may/arts-business-ni-awards-2022-in-partnership-with-forestside-now-open-for-entries

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Young Ballet Dancers Aim to Hit the High Point for Queen’s Jubilee

Tuesday 31st May 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

In honor of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the Royal Family’s long standing love of ballet, a group of young dancers based at St Malachy’s Church Hall in Belfast are this week making their final preparations for a very special performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

Founded by former ballerina Rana O’Brien, High Points Youth Ballet (HPYB) is a company of 35 dancers aged 9-18. They provide year-round pre-professional classical training and performance opportunities to young dancers from all different backgrounds, who aspire to a career in ballet.

On Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th June, former HPYB alumni and Newtownards native Rachel Neale will return to take the lead role of Odette in Swan Lake. The beautiful and tragic story tells the tale of a young girl, magically transformed into a swan by the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart. Odette can only assume her human form by moonlight and her curse will only be broken if she finds true love.

The production has been supported by National Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Small Grants Programme.

Jacob Allison, Artistic Director, HPYB, commented:

“We are very much looking forward to bringing Swan Lake to Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey this Platinum Jubilee Weekend. Rachel is a former student at High Points Youth Ballet and we are delighted to have her return from her ballet studies at the Central School of Ballet in London to perform this iconic role in her hometown.

“This production is a collaboration of local and international artists, including myself, repetiteurs Anna Carapellotti and Ero Tsampazi, costumers Fiona Dunbar, Laura Murphy, Katrina and Ritchie Larmour, visual artist Sharon Murphy, and 35 young dancers from across Northern Ireland, including Amy Crawford and Lauren McConnell who will begin vocational training this year in England. Performing opportunities like these are invaluable for students pursuing dance careers. It teaches them classical repertoire they can then put on their CVs, and it strengthens their skills as performers“.

HPYB is one of 13 organisations to have received support last month through National Lottery funds, from the Arts Council’s the Small Grants Programme. The programme is designed to encourage organisations in Northern Ireland to get more people to engage with the arts through creative, community-based projects. Grants are awarded by the Arts Council on a monthly basis and organisations can apply for up to £10,000 to support projects in any art form, including music, drama, dance, literature, visual, and participatory arts.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“We are delighted to be able to support High Points Youth Ballet with this stunning new production of Swan Lake. All of the young dancers have worked incredibly hard and it will be wonderful to see them perform once again, on stage, in front of a live audience.

“The Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme is supporting arts projects in communities across Northern Ireland, creating more opportunities for people to engage with the arts, from grassroots level projects to professional productions. Made possible thanks to National Lottery players and the money raised for good causes, this valuable programme is supporting a huge variety of high quality arts projects, proving that sometimes a small investment can have a tremendous impact ”.

Tickets for High Points Youth Ballet’s Swan Lake can be purchased from the Theatre at the Mill website: www.theatreatthemill.com. Over 200 free tickets have been made available for youth and community groups. For more information on these contact highpointsballet@gmail.com.

For a full list of grants awarded through the Arts Council's Small Grants programme in May go to: https://bit.ly/38Wy0e4

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New £150K disabled-led programme to improve digital technology skills for artists

Monday 30th May 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

A new £150,000 disabled-led digital technology programme for artists delivered by artists has been launched by the University of Atypical for Arts and Disability (UofA).

Digital Horizon, funded by the Santander Foundation’s Financial & Digital Empowerment Fund, is a three-year professional development initiative supporting the Disability Arts sector in Northern Ireland.

The programme will deliver opportunities for d/Deaf, Disabled and Neurodiverse artists to pursue new ambitions through the use of digital technology that will support them in their career.

Digital Horizon will also offer finance management workshops, an annual Digital Innovator award for an artist using technology for professional practice, and opportunities to showcase, sell and promote artists and their work.

For the first stage of the programme UofA is seeking artists across a range of artforms, who identify as d/Deaf, Disabled or Neurodiverse, to lead masterclasses which will take place over the three years of Digital Horizon.

Edel Murphy, Head of Business Administration at UofA, who is leading the programme said:

“This is an exceptional opportunity for important and exciting development for the Disability Arts sector in Northern Ireland over the next three years, made possible through the Santander Foundation. We are now seeking high level artists who use technology to elevate or inform their practice to apply to be our Digital Horizon leaders so that we can inspire others to embrace new technologies.”

UofA is the lead sectoral organisation for arts and disability in Northern Ireland. UofA is disabled-led, taking an empowerment-based approach towards d/Deaf, disabled and Neurodiverse people’s involvement in the arts as audience members and creative practitioners. The organisation is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “This impressive new initiative will help to strengthen the Disability Arts sector in the region and enable our disabled artists to learn new skills in the use of emerging digital technologies when creating artwork.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Michael Long said:

“This new Digital Horizon programme is a fantastic initiative which is sure to maximise digital potential for the Disability Arts sector and it’s a great way to encourage and represent diverse artistic perspectives.’

Applications are now open for artists to apply to lead a Digital Horizon workshop by making a proposal to the scheme. There are four decision making deadlines: 3 August 2022, 23 November 2022, 10 May 2023 and 22 November 2023

Application forms are downloadable from the UofA website https://universityofatypical.org/for-creatives/digital-horizon/ or by email request: administration@universityofatypical.org.

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lrish Pages Press named “Small Publisher of the Year 2022 (Island of Ireland)”

Monday 30th May 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

The Belfast-based publisher, The Irish Pages Press/Cló An Mhíl Bhuí, has won the highly prestigious “British Book Awards Small Publisher of the Year 2022 (Island of Ireland)”. Before an audience of 1200 publishers, authors and booksellers, the awards ceremony, often likened to the BAFTAs for books, saw The Irish Pages Press become the first ever winner in any publishing category from Northern Ireland.

Both The Irish Pages Press, and Irish Pages: A Journal of Contemporary Writing, are published by the non-profit Irish Pages Ltd, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The Arts Council of Ireland, and Foras na Gaeilge.

Based on the city’s Ormeau Road, despite its modest staff and resources, the journal Irish Pages (founded in 2002) has grown in strength and ambition in recent years, expanding from a twice-yearly literary publication to a publisher of non-fiction, memoir and poetry titles from established, emergent and new writers, under its new imprint The Irish Pages Press, launched in 2018.

Judges praised all aspects of The Irish Pages Press operation, saying, “Belfast-based but increasingly active in Scotland too, it excels on design and production and is an important champion of Celtic voices. Direct website sales increased during bookshop closures, and marketing and publicity give it a literary profile that belies its small size.”

Both the journal and press are edited by poet and essayist Chris Agee (Founder and General Editor), along with a small group of acclaimed poets including the Scottish Editor Kathleen Jamie (Scotland’s “Makar”, or poet laureate) and Scottish Gaelic Editor Meg Bateman.

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, offered his congratulations:

“This major accolade shows how important The Irish Pages Press has become in such a short period of time, through publishing creative work at the highest standard we have become accustomed to in the pages of the journal. The prize is a credit to the small team behind the Press and to the vision which sustains it and them. The Arts Council is delighted to be part of this success story in funding great writing and effective publishing. Well done all.”

Organized by The Bookseller magazine in London, The British Book Awards, or ‘Nibbies’, are the leading awards for the book trade in the UK and Ireland. Celebrating the best books, the best bookshops and the best publishers, it is supported by all major industry associations including The Publisher Association, The Booksellers Association and the Independent Publishers Guild. Judged by leading Industry experts, it is widely regarded as ‘the BAFTAS of the book trade’.

Chris Agee said,

“While aware of the irony that an all-island Irish press based in Belfast has won under the rubric of ‘British’, the Editors strongly welcome this acknowledgment of our 2021-2022 book-publishing programme, which joins the publication of our long-standing journal Irish Pages. Of our last eight books – both poetry and non-fiction -- two are from English authors, two from Scottish authors, and four from Irish authors. This is the first time, in fact, that a press based in Northern Ireland has first been shortlisted and then won any of the three relevant British Book Awards for publishers.”

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Winners announced for the 2022 KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards

Tuesday 24th May 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

The winners of the 2022 KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards were announced today (Tuesday, 24th May 2022) in a ceremony hosted by broadcaster Rick O’Shea, as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin in Merrion Square.

Selected for their excellence across six Award categories, this year’s winners include a free-verse novel exploring chronic illness, a quick-witted story of first love and a skilful début sharing the human stories behind the night the Titanic sank. Eight-year-old Daisy Magill from Glenarm, Co. Antrim received the KPMG Reading Hero Award, which celebrates a young person’s reading efforts and remarkable passion for books.

Author C.G. Moore took home the coveted KPMG Book of the Year Award for Gut Feelings, a powerful, free verse novel that tenderly tells the story of a young gay man’s journey with an inherited, potentially fatal condition. Praised by the judges for its engaging narrative, ‘filled with darkness and light, despair and hope, fear and desire, and love and trust’, Moore’s semi-autobiographical prose is paired with Becky Chilcott’s powerful illustrations in this excellent work of young adult fiction.

The Judges’ Special Award has been presented to critically-acclaimed and bestselling author Adiba Jaigirdar for The Henna Wars. The Henna Wars is Jaigirdar’s début and, with Jaigirdar’s trademark wit and refreshing narrative, it follows Irish-Bangladeshi teenager Nishat as she navigates first love, cultural appropriation and learns to reconcile her family’s expectations with her own identity. The Henna Wars also won The KPMG Junior Juries’ Award, having been voted for by 100 Junior Juries of young readers throughout the country that read their way through the Awards shortlist. The judges wish to recognise The Henna Wars as an important text for young readers, for its original portrayal of queer women of colour in Ireland.

For the second year running, Pádraig Kenny has won the Honour Award for Fiction ¬for his Rookhaven series, with The Shadows of Rookhaven, illustrated by Edward Bettison. The Shadows of Rookhaven’s dark narrative follows protagonist Mirabelle as monsters from far and wide descend on Rookhaven for the Great Configuration, a once in a century event. About the book, the judges said: ‘Kenny’s brilliant second book about Rookhaven is wonderfully paced story – with truly excellent illustrations by Bettison – exploring ideas of loss, difference, forgiveness, family and friendship.’

Dublin-based illustrator Lauren O’Hara is the winner of the 2022 Honour Award for Illustration for Frindleswylde, a delicately illustrated picturebook created together with her sister, Natalia O’Hara. This original tale contains echoes of Hans Christian Andersen as well as Russian folktales and features beautifully whimsical illustrations. The quality of O’Hara’s hand-drawn, watercolour illustrations has been described by the judges as ‘nothing short of outstanding’.

Belfast-based author-illustrator Flora Delargy has won The Eilís Dillon Award for her ‘stunning’ début, Rescuing Titanic: A True Story of Quiet Bravery in the North Atlantic. This award is named in honour of the revered Irish children’s author and recognises an outstanding first book for children and young people. Rescuing Titanic is both written and illustrated by Delargy and offers a different perspective on one of the world’s most famous maritime disasters. About the book, the judges said, ‘Intertwining the stories of passengers and crews on both ships allows for a collective tale of heroism while also paying respect to the victims of the catastrophe. Illustratively, the detailed hand-drawn artwork is excellent and reveals the extraordinary research behind the project.’

The KPMG Reading Hero Award is awarded annually to a young person in Ireland or Northern Ireland who deserves special recognition for their reading efforts. This year’s Reading Hero is Daisy Magill (8) from Seaview Integrated Primary School, Glenarm in County Antrim. Daisy was nominated by her teacher, Ashleigh Moran, for the countless hours she dedicates to becoming a better reader:

‘Daisy comes to the class teacher (myself) every morning for extra support to improve her literacy skills and can be seen reading all the time. She reads all types of books and loves nothing more than a good chat and natter about the text she is reading. Daisy is my reading hero because she puts so much effort, time, sweat and tears into becoming a better reader and never resents the stories on a page but cherishes them.’

Chair of the judging panel, Dr. Pádraic Whyte, said:

‘This has been an extraordinary year for Irish children’s books, and huge congratulations to the brilliant and talented illustrators and writers who received awards today. These awards demonstrate that children’s literature in Ireland is not only thriving but is also producing high quality, world-class, engaging, and inspiring works for a wide range of younger readers.’

Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, said:

‘This year’s shortlist shows remarkable breadth, with our winners including picturebooks, fiction and non-fiction, a verse novel, artists from across the island of Ireland and from a variety of backgrounds. The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards are a celebration of these extraordinary writers and illustrators as well as their readers – we hope many children and young people will be inspired by our Reading Hero, Daisy, and will pick up one of our shortlisted and winning books today.’

Seamus Hand, Managing Partner at KPMG Ireland, said:

‘A love of books and reading is an important part a child’s development and education. Our support of the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards underpins our commitment to literacy and to making a difference in our community.’

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£200,000 Arts Council programme promoting positive health and wellbeing of older people now open

Monday 23rd May 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

Community groups, arts organisations and councils across Northern Ireland, can now apply to the Arts Council’s Arts and Older People Programme. This latest round of the programme, worth £200,000, invites applications for grants of up to £10,000 to deliver arts projects benefitting older people. Applications are open from Monday 23rd May 2022 and will close on 7th July 2022.

The Arts and Older People Programme has been designed to challenge the perceptions of what it means to be an older person, aiming to tackle loneliness, promote positive mental health and well-being among older people through engagement with the arts. It was established by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2010 and is now a cross-governmental partnership with funding from The National Lottery, the Public Health Agency and The Baring Foundation. To date the programme has provided £2m funding to community organisations and voluntary groups in the delivery of over 200 arts projects to thousands of older people across the region.

Lorraine Calderwood, Arts Programmes Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“We know that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, boost confidence and motivation, as well as help to relieve stress, loneliness worries and pain. The Arts and Older People Programme aims to increase opportunities for older people to engage in the arts and more recently, has focused on delivering arts activity within care home settings, working with residents living with dementia and their carers. Thanks to The National Lottery players, the Arts and Older People Programme is providing meaningful opportunities for our older people to take part in the arts, enriching their lives for the better and I would encourage organisations across the region to apply.”

The Arts and Older People Programme is one of the Arts Council’s core National Lottery programme areas and has employed artists and organisations to engage with over 29,000 participants through over 200 projects since its inception as a pilot in 2009. A recent project, Heart of The Sperrins, was developed by Derry City and Strabane District Council and was funded through the Arts and Older People Programme. The project brought together a number of older residents living near the rural village of Lettershandoney in Derry-Londonderry to work with a professional artist, Leona Devine, to create ceramics over a four-week period.

Artist Leona Devine commented,

“This project involved participants working with clay over a three-week period creating little cottages for their gardens and in the fourth week we glazed the cottages so they could take them home to enjoy and show off. Clay is such a therapeutic material to work with and working with your hands enables the participants to really become engaged in the process whilst having fun together as a group.”

Jean Smyth, Arts Development Officer, Derry City and Strabane District Council, commented,

“Post-Covid we realised that older people were not getting the opportunity to engage with arts and culture the way they should so we established The Heart of the Sperrins project thanks to funding through the Arts and Older People Programme. This has been a great project which has allowed so many community groups to reopen and for older people to gather again, enjoy participating the arts and have some fun.”

Applications are open from Monday 23rd May 2022 and will close on 7th July. To view the Guidance Notes and make an application visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/arts-and-older-people-programme

Watch this video which features a group of older people from the rural village of Lettershandoney in Derry-Londonderry, enjoying a project funded through the Arts and Older People Programme

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Applications for Boardroom Apprentice 2022 are open

Friday 20th May 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

Applications for this year’s Boardroom Apprentice programme are now open and available on the official Boardroom Apprentice website.

Open to those aged 16 or over from all backgrounds and all abilities, this unique board learning and development programme is looking for a diverse range of Boardroom Apprentices to take a seat at one of 58 host boards and attend a suite of learning days throughout the year. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is one of the organisations taking part as well as others including Libraries NI, Community Fund, The Playhouse and Verbal Arts Centre.

Founded by Eileen Mullan in 2017, the programme is now in its sixth year and has helped 223 individuals across Northern Ireland make their aspiration of sitting on a board a reality whilst helping to diversify boardrooms in the public and third sector.

Eileen Mullan, Boardroom Apprentice founder, said:

“I decided to create a programme that brings together three key elements – knowledge and understanding, experience and support. Over a twelve-month window Boardroom Apprentices will get practical board experience, a suite of learning days and support to fully equip them to serve on a board in the public or third sector.

“Being a Boardroom Apprentice is a gift. You get the programme as a gift with the expectation that you give it back. Being a Boardroom Apprentice is about preparing you for public service, which is about you playing your part.”

With support from the Department of Finance, the Boardroom Apprentice provides apprentices with the opportunity to expand their skill set through a suite of learning days on topics such as finance, governance and communication.

The programme seeks to enable a wider diversity of individuals within boardrooms across Northern Ireland and challenges preconceived stereotypes of the makeup of boardrooms.

Arts Council Chair Liam Hannaway, commented:

“Serving as a board member is a hugely rewarding experience, an opportunity to make a real difference for an organisation or in an area which you feel passionate about. The Boardroom Apprentice programme is a fantastic route into the boardroom, combining practical training with real world experience serving on a board. The Arts Council is delighted to be involved in this year’s programme.”

“If being on a board giving your time and sharing your skills is something you aspire to do, but are not sure how to do then Boardroom Apprentice will enable you to do just that,” said Eileen.

Applications are now open, to apply go to boardroomapprentice.com/how-to-apply

This year’s programme will run from 01st September 2022 – until 31st August 2023 in adherence to all relevant Covid-19 guidance.

CASE STUDIES

Boardroom Apprentice Nikita Brijpaul believed his time in the 2019 programme was just the beginning of his journey. “It is exceptionally important in encouraging particularly women and ethnic minorities,” he said, adding: “The programme acts as a springboard for those seeking to go on to serve on boards.

“It gives underrepresented groups the self-belief and self confidence that is integral. I think all boards wish to see more diversity however it’s exceedingly difficult to recruit, without the support and encouragement of the likes of Boardroom Apprentice.”

2017 Boardroom Apprentice Brendan Morrissey felt that his expectations of the learning days were exceeded and thanks to them, he was able to enhance his skills further. “My expectations of the learning days were exceeded as it just blew my mind in terms of how much I learned and how much I developed.

“Even my self worth and confidence had developed so quickly over a short period of time. I didn’t expect to feel just as strongly about all of that as I did at the end of it.

“I think the Boardroom Apprentice is essential because a lot of people including myself think that they haven’t got what it takes but boards are crying out for people and want a more diverse board and this programme is opening a gateway for that.”

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New exhibition invites us to view Northern Ireland through a different lens

Tuesday 17th May 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

A new exhibition of work by emerging photographic artists at Belfast’s Golden Thread Gallery is set to share alternative viewpoints on Northern Ireland, as seen through a different lens.

A Bigger Picture, presented by Belfast Photo Festival and the Northern Irish Art Network, invites visitors to view Northern Ireland through the underrepresented gaze of feminist and queer artists from the Belfast School of Art.

“Northern Irish photography has established itself internationally as having a distinct and recognisable sensibility,” remarks exhibition curator Dr Clare Gallagher, a lecturer in photography at Ulster University’s Belfast School of Art.

“However, it remains widely viewed as a masculine terrain, dominated by male voices,” Dr Gallagher adds.

“The images that define this place have been largely captured through the male gaze. What this exhibition offers is a countertext, an alternative perspective that addresses the omissions in representation, not only in Northern Irish photography, but in the narrative of what it means to be from here.”

Delivered in association with Ulster Presents at Ulster University, the group exhibition presents highly nuanced and challenging perspectives on Northern Ireland. A Bigger Picture is on display at Golden Thread Gallery until 9 July.

Its opening marks the launch of this year’s Belfast Photo Festival programme.

Northern Ireland’s premier visual arts festival is set to return next month (2–30 June) presenting a programme of compelling and immersive exhibitions in galleries and public spaces throughout the city.

Under its theme The Verge, this year’s festival explores untold stories, underrepresented narratives and perspectives on the world that too often go unseen.

Clare Gormley, Head of Programmes & Partnerships at Belfast Photo Festival, says:

“Celebrating photography that pushes against dominant social, cultural, historical and visual frameworks, this year’s festival features the work of artists who find themselves – both conceptually and aesthetically – on the verge of new territories. They bring forth new perspectives on the world we live in, the past we inherit and lead us to the verge of something altogether new.

The festival’s director, Michael Weir, adds:

“How fitting it is that the first exhibition to open our 2022 programme is by a collective of fifteen emerging artists through whose gaze we are offered a new perspective on Northern Ireland; a body of work that weaves a rich tapestry of love and loss, hope and struggle, bringing into focus people and place through a less seen, but powerful feminist and queer gaze.”

Commenting on this year’s programme, Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, says:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support Belfast Photo Festival. Thanks to The National Lottery players, this popular festival returns for 2022 with an impressive programme celebrating the work of local, national and international contemporary photographers. I’m particularly pleased to see the festival include a series of open air exhibitions at Queen’s University, Botanic Gardens and Belfast Harbour Quay, which will undoubtedly capture attention, engage and inspire new audiences as people go about their day. Congratulations to the dedicated team at Belfast Photo Festival and I would encourage everyone to go along and enjoy what the festival has to offer.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Michael Long adds:

“I’m delighted to see Belfast Photo Festival and the Northern Irish Art Network join forces to present this important body of work from feminist and queer artists from the Belfast School of Art. We are so fortunate that Belfast is home to such talented artists, who encourage us to see the world in different ways – and who bring new perspectives to our lives. Belfast is becoming an increasingly diverse city – and that’s something to be celebrated without doubt. With diversity comes a richness of experience and a host of narratives to be explored and understood.

“I’d encourage everyone to take this opportunity to view the world around them through a different lens by visiting A Bigger Picture at Golden Thread Gallery, and during the rest of this year’s Belfast Photo Festival, which Belfast City Council is very proud to support.”

Among this year’s other highlights is Alternative Ulster, a new body of work by renowned Japanese artist Kensuke Koike which draws on the photographic archives of National Museums NI (NMNI) and the Public Records office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) to present an alternative vision of Northern Ireland’s past. Set to be installed in the grounds of Queen’s University Belfast, the artist’s use of techniques including cutting, collaging and layering to rework the original images make surreal the historic depictions of Northern Ireland contained within two of our most historically important archives of photography.

Featuring the works of Victor Sloan, Tabitha Soren and Alexandra Rose Howland, Against the Image at Ulster Museum examines the authority of the photograph in an era of mass media and mass (mis)information. It exposes the tension between the truth of events and how they are presented. The featured artists challenge and expose the highly subjective and mediated nature of photography, distorting and manipulating images to expose narratives that often go unseen.

From Covid and the climate crisis to global conflicts and the mass displacement and migration of people, Capturing the Now in Botanic Gardens is dedicated to the work of photographers who provide an inside look at the most pressing events of our era as we live through an historic global moment of environmental, political and social upheaval.

Renowned for its creative presentations and animation of public spaces with captivating visual art, this year’s festival will once again stimulate curiosity and discussion with a range of open air exhibitions along Botanic Gardens, Queen's University Quad, Belfast City Quays, Belfast City Hall Lawn, Queen’s Island (adjacent Titanic Belfast) and Stormont Estate.

Belfast Photo Festival is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Arts & Business, Belfast Harbour and Alexander Boyd Displays.

For more information on this year’s festival, visit belfastphotofestival.com and keep up to date on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Moving artwork and creative goods to and from Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Tuesday 17th May 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

Moving artwork and creative goods to and from Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Training for artists and creatives operating under the NI Protocol post EU Exit

Tuesday 31 May, 2.00pm to 3.30pm

This virtual training session is target at artists moving artwork and cultural goods out of or into Northern Ireland in a Post-Brexit / NI Protocol world. It will focus on the practical steps artists need to take in order to ensure items reach their destination safely an in line with the new rules.

Topics covered will include:

  • Registering as a sole trader;
  • EORI numbers; tariff/commodity codes;
  • temporary admission;
  • customs special procedures and reliefs;
  • supplementary declarations.

If you would like to attend, e-mail Andrea Moore at andrea.moore@fujitsu.com to book a place. To help make the session as relevant as possible, please e-mail any specific questions or illustrations you may have to Andrea in advance of the event.

Supported by Trader Support Service in association with HM Revenue & Customs, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Visual Arts Ireland, UK Arts Infopoint UK.

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TOLD/UNTOLD’ - An Exhibition by Elin Johnston

Thursday 12th May 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

TOLD/UNTOLD’ - An Exhibition by Elin Johnston

Date: Sat 28th May
Time: 2.00pm to 3.00pm

TOLD/UNTOLD, Elin Johnston’s solo exhibition, is on view at The Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre until 2nd July. On Saturday 28th May there is an informal opportunity to meet Elin, view her new work, and explore its creation and process.

In this exhibition of inter-related series she investigates perceptions, emotions, and concerns which, whether revealed or withheld, serve to shape and define individual or shared values and responses.

Consisting of Digital, Video, & Installation projects produced over 2020-22 with core funding from ACNI, the work has seen selections and screenings at digital arts and film festivals in Berlin, Porto, Copenhagen, Athens, Madrid, UK and USA.

Elin says:

“ACNI’s valued support was key in enabling me to create this new body of work, which I hope everyone will find of interest and a pleasure to view”.

For more information visit:


https://www.elinjohnston.com

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‘A strange, rich and often dazzling collection’ – 2022 SoA Awards shortlists announced

Tuesday 10th May 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland welcomes news of the Society of Authors (SoA) shortlisted books, announced recently.

This year’s awards are a showcase of the written word across all genres and formats, celebrating novels, children’s books and short stories, and exploring themes from race and social injustice, to coming of age, loneliness, grief and reconciliation.

Among the 32 shortlisted works is Arts Council of Northern Ireland ACES awardee Sheila Llewellyn’s book, Winter in Tabriz (Sceptre, Hodder & Stoughton), which has been shortlisted for the Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize.

The Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize judge Caroline Brothers said:

“The shortlist for the inaugural Volcano Prize represents some of the most adventurous works of contemporary fiction, each grappling in different ways with the forces that are shaping the modern world... In their journeys away from home, these novels stood out for their sophisticated understanding of people, places and history, for their courage in exploring complexity and the search for meaning, for the way they harnessed the power of language to help us see the world with fresh eyes.”

Author Sheila Llewellyn, former Arts Council awardee said:

“I'm so pleased to have been shortlisted, I have a lot of respect for the Society of Authors and the work they do to encourage writers and writing. And I'm particularly pleased and grateful that the judges must have connected with the novel and found something worthy in it, which is as much as a writer can hope for.”

Congratulating Sheila on the award, Damian Smyth, Head of Literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:

“Sheila Llewellyn’s second novel Winter in Tabriz has been rightly saluted with this prestigious shortlisting. A magisterial and moving imagining of Iran in the revolutionary period of the late 1970s, it surprises and exhilarates with the drama of love and repression among young people embroiled where extraordinary world events and private lives collide. What a book. It continues her compassion for people under the pressure of circumstance, commitment and suffering which marked her debut Walking Wounded. Congratulations to ACES awardee Sheila and Sceptre, Hodder & Stoughton from all at Arts Council NI.”

Winter in Tabriz is the story of two men caught in the 1979 Iranian revolution. Damian, a university lecturer, originally from Northern Ireland, and Arash, an Iranian poet from Tabriz, meet each other at Berkeley, California. Damian follows Arash to Tabriz to live with him, but their relationship is tested as the chaos of pre-revolutionary Iran takes hold. Arash becomes one of ‘the disappeared’, and much of the novel explores Damian’s attempts to come to terms with the grief, and the ‘not knowing’ endured by the loved ones of those who are disappeared.

The Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize is awarded to a UK or Irish writer, or a writer currently resident in those countries, for a novel focusing on the experience of travel away from home. In memory of Malcolm Lowry and endowed by Gordon Bowker, his biographer, and Ramdei Bowker.

The winners will be announced on the 1 June 2022 at an in-venue ceremony at Southwark Cathedral, which will also be livestreamed.

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Magnetic, a new Franco-UK network of artists’ residencies

Friday 6th May 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

Magnetic is a new network of 8 artists' residencies in France and in the United Kingdom created under the umbrella of Fluxus Arts Projects.

Magnetic is a joint Franco-UK initiative that brings together eight venues to create a new programme of artists’ residencies : four in France – CAPC in Bordeaux, CRAC Occitanie in Sète, FRAC Grand Large in Dunkerque, Villa Arson in Nice, and four in the United Kingdom –Grizedale Arts in England, Flax Art Studios in Northern Ireland, Cove Park in Scotland and Aberystwyth Arts Centre in Wales.

The programme has been designed to foster artistic development through exchange and to enhance sustainable cooperation between the UK and French visual arts scenes in the longer term. It will gradually build an expanding network of partner institutions with shared commitments and values.

Eight artists will be selected for residencies of 2 to 3 months across the network of eight institutions, in France and the four nations of the United Kingdom. Societal and environmental issues will be at the heart of this programme, the residencies will be situated, with the selected artists expected to work in resonance with each specific context –geographical or historical, societal, artistic etc.

The level of remuneration for artists is another strength of the programme. Artists will receive a threshold monthly fee of £ 2000/2500 € as well as curatorial mentoring. Each residency will be tailor-made in discussion with the institutions’ curatorial teams, providing the artist with networking opportunities throughout their stay. Artists will be provided with accommodation and access to a work space.

The opportunity is open to artists who have been living and working in France or the UK for at least 3 years. France-based candidates are invited to apply for UK residencies and UK-based candidates for France residencies.

Magnetic is a new collaboration conceived by the the Institut français du Royaume-Uni and the four UK arts funding agencies, produced under the umbrella of Fluxus Arts Projects, a charity founded and run by the Institut and supported by French and UK institutions and private donors. Over the past twelve years, Fluxus Art Projects has become a marker of notoriety for artists and venues, supporting exhibitions and curatorial research in France and in the United Kingdom.

Applications are open now until May 30, 2022.

Candidates must submit a CV and a proposal outlining their motivations and intentions in relation to the selected venue and its context. All applications must be submitted via the Fluxus Art Projects website, where additional information regarding the programme and the various institutions can be found.

Apply:https://fluxusartprojects.com/apply

The selected artists will be announced at the beginning of July. Residencies will commence in Autumn 2022.

Magnetic is supported by the Institut français du Royaume-Uni, the Institut français, French Ministry of Culture, French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales/Wales Arts International, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council.

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Make Your Nomination to the 2022 National Lottery Awards

Wednesday 4th May 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

Entries for this year's National Lottery Awards are now open.

The National Lottery Awards celebrate the people and projects who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding. This year they want to hear about those people who stood up against adversity and stood out for their caring commitment to their causes.

A total of 16 projects from across the UK will be shortlisted to take part in a public vote, later in the year, to be crowned National Lottery Project of the Year.

All winners will receive a National Lottery Awards trophy and a £5,000 cash prize for their project.

Individual Nomination Categories:

  • Arts, Culture & Film
  • Community/Charity
  • Environment
  • Heritage
  • Sport
  • Young Hero (under 25s)

National Lottery funded projects from any sector are eligible to enter The National Lottery Project of the Year category.

Young Hero nominees should be under 25 years of age and all suggestions must have been either funded by the National Lottery or be associated with a project which has received National Lottery funding. The judging panel is made up of members of The National Lottery family and partners, who will decide the winners of the individual categories.

To make your nomination or to read about last year's winners go to: https://www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards

Entries close at midnight 1 June 2022.

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Ten projects get share of £45,000 Arts Council fund for community projects

Thursday 28th April 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

Ten arts projects have been awarded funding, totalling over £45,000 this month (april 2022) as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's Small Grants programme.

The money will be used to support arts initiatives in communities across Northern Ireland, including projects in Tyrone, Fermanagh, Derry/Londonderry, North Down and the North Coast.

Supported through National Lottery funds, the Small Grants Programme is designed to encourage organisations in Northern Ireland to get more people to engage with the arts through creative, community-based projects. Grants are awarded by the Arts Council on a monthly basis and organisations can apply for up to £10,000 to support projects in any art form, including music, drama, dance, literature, visual, and participatory arts.

Two of the projects awarded this month will have links to the Queen’s Jubilee Celebrations. They are, Inspiring Yarns CIC, for their project ’70 by 70 for 70’ and Lagan Village Youth and Community group, for their Together in Celebration Project.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme is supporting arts projects in communities across Northern Ireland, creating more opportunities for people to engage with the arts, from grassroots level projects to professional productions.

“Made possible thanks to National Lottery players and the money raised for good causes, this valuable programme is supporting a huge variety of high quality arts projects, proving that sometimes a small investment can have a tremendous impact.”

In April Small Grants Awards were made to:

Lagan Villages Youth and Community Group, awarded £2,545 for their project Together in Celebration

Together in Celebration will be a 24 week programme for two hours per week. The group, which will include older people and those with special needs will learn a range of skills, including needlework, image transfer and embroidery. The group will also create their own Queens Platinum Jubilee art piece, which they will design and create. The group will work towards an exhibition at the end of the sessions, to showcase their work and learning.

Inspiring Yarns CIC, awarded £5,288 for its project ’70 by 70 for 70’

This project will target 70 people across Ballynahinch, Newtownards and Ballybeen, inviting them to learn to crochet or knit. The focus of this project is to help build capacity, social networks, resilience and self-help coping mechanisms through mindfulness and creative expression. The project will link in with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, with participants reflecting on the theme of ‘resilience’ to create individual work which will together form a wall hanging to displayed at Inspiring Yarn’s premises in Newtownards.

The Glens Wellbeing Group, awarded £3,760 for its project ‘Handmade with Love’

The funding will be used to support a 20 week arts and craft project, which will include watercolour painting, lettering and graphic design. The group will produce crafts and gifts, participate in the local Cushendall community festival in August and stage an end of project showcase, displaying their work. The project will tackle social isolation and support positive mental health.

Soul Studio Belfast CIC, awarded £3,839 for its project Re:Bound

Soul Studio Belfast’s Re:Bound project will encourage young people from Belfast to 'Re:Bound' back from Covid19 after two years of isolation. They will create a week-long training camp for dancers from 5+ in July 2022, contributing to the growth of arts in communities in west and north Belfast. Focus will be given to redeveloping social skills, confidence and improved mental and emotional wellbeing through the expression of dance.

North Coast Trad, awarded £5,980 for its project ‘Trad Music’

This funding will be used to help North Coast Trad provide weekly traditional multi-instrumental classes, sessions and concerts in Portrush and Portstewart. The project will promote the traditional arts in the North Coast and help build a legacy of traditional arts participation in the north coast area.

Fermanagh/Tyrone Brass Band Summer School, awarded £6,000 through the Small Grants Programme

Twenty bands from the Fermanagh and Tyrone area will take part in the Fermanagh/Tyrone Brass Band Summer School, building on their wealth of experience and helping to maintain the tradition of brass bands in the area. The 3rd annual Summer School will take place in July 2022 and provide training and performance opportunities for players across all ages and abilities.

Art Arcadia, awarded £7,600 for its Art Arcadia Residency Programme 2022

Since 2018 Art Arcadia has been running a programme of artist residencies with associated public programmes at St Augustine’s Heritage Site in Derry. The residencies offer time, space, and resources to artists of all disciplines to research, create and exhibit new work. The residency programme places the artists at the centre of the community. This year’s programme will run for six months and five artists will each take part in an artist residency, culminating in an exhibition.

Feldstein Agency, awarded £4,964 to publish new works by Northern Ireland authors

This Small Grants funding will support the costs of publishing three new works by Northern Ireland writers this Autumn, from Jason Johnson, Anthony J. Quinn and Fionola Meredith.

Ballintoy Young at Heart, awarded £4,386 for its project Small Art Big Heart

This visual art project will introduce participants to a range of skills, including watercolours, collage, lettering and mixed media. Small Grants funding from the Arts Council will help support the costs of artist lead workshops this summer and autumn. The project has been created in recognition of the power of the arts to address social isolation and loneliness and the importance of staying connected with each other.

Extending the Choice Club, awarded £1,990 for its Street Art Mural project

ETC is a club for adults with learning disabilities living in the Greater Belfast area. With this funding they plan to use one of the walls outside their building as a canvas for a street art mural. The mural will focus on the values of the club, which include social inclusion for adults with a learning disability; integration into the local community; breaking down barriers and promoting independence for their members.

Funding from the Small Grants Programme is awarded to organisations by the Arts Council on a monthly basis. Application forms and guidance notes are available to download at http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/small-grants-programme

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Arts Groups Can Now Apply for National Lottery Project Funding

Thursday 28th April 2022 at 9am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is now inviting applications to its National Lottery Project Funding Programme. The annual programme is designed to support organisations to develop and deliver future arts projects across all artform areas, including, dance, drama, literature community arts and music.

The minimum grant available under this programme is normally £10,001 and the maximum grant available will be £50,000.

Successful applicants will create arts projects which contribute to the growth of arts in the community for new and existing audiences and which reflect the diversity of Northern Ireland’s society and culture.

In addition, the Arts Council wishes to support programmes which:

  • Encourage the involvement of under-represented groups including those from black and ethnic minority (BAME) communities;
  • Encourage the involvement of children and young people, older people, or people with disabilities with organisations and artists of the very highest professional standards across the disciplines;
  • Promote innovative, original work by Northern Ireland artists, especially in drama and dance, which tours outside the company’s administrative base; and
  • Advance collaborative audience development projects

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council, commented:

“Thanks to National Lottery players and money raised for good causes, the Arts Council is able to reopen this important funding scheme which will support the development of high quality arts activities in communities across Northern Ireland.

“Last year’s Lottery Project Funding supported a diverse range of projects from festivals, to community arts events, theatre productions and concerts. This year, once again, we would encourage applications across all areas of the arts, with a particular focus on quality and inclusivity.”

Only projects that take place between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 are eligible for the scheme. Applicants will need to find a minimum of 10% partnership funding from non-lottery, non-Arts Council sources. For statutory bodies the minimum partnership funding needed is 50% of the costs.

The deadline for applications is 12 noon, Monday 16th May, 2022. Applicants are advised to consult the programme Guidance Notes, Introduction Notes and Commitment statements before submitting their application. You must apply using the Arts Council’s online system. The Arts Council will not accept applications in hard copy or by email.

Full details of the programme, eligibility and what you can apply for can be found on the Project Funding Programme webpage at: http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/lottery-project-funding-2022-2023

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Celebrating 10 years of The MAC

Tuesday 26th April 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

The MAC is celebrating a decade of bringing art, culture and all kinds of entertainment and debate to Belfast. The award-winning organisation opened in April 2012 and has become a symbol of a new Belfast with over 2.3 million users and visitors, local and international, coming through the doors of the St Anne’s Square venue and now the MAC wants visitors to share their favourite MAC memory over the last decade. The first ten years of the MAC has seen shows, exhibitions and performances from some of the biggest names in arts and culture, as well as opening the door to new and emerging artists.

Chief Executive Anne McReynolds said that there have been a series of highlights over the last decade.

"The MAC’s tenth birthday is a perfect time to reflect and celebrate the incredible things we’ve been able to achieve together with our amazing artistic and community partners. There have been many highlights over the years including bringing the work of globally renowned artists like Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Gilbert & George to Belfast.

“We have built very strong local, national and international partnerships with outstandingly talented musicians, theatre and dance companies.

“The MAC belongs to the people of Northern Ireland and it is gratifying that they have made the venue into a thriving social space, meeting friends and colleagues and enjoying our coffee in a safe, comfortable space.

“At a time of reflection we are also looking forward and we are very excited about the remarkable arts events planned for this year, including the first exhibition in Ireland from the sculptor Ron Mueck whose ‘hyperreal’ sculptures, including In Bed and Dead Dad have moved visitors the world over. This Christmas we will again wow children of all ages with a full-throttle family show in partnership with our children’s theatre company Cahoots.”

“The best thing about my job over the last 10 years has been being part of a team of exceptionally talented Trustees, Directors, staff and volunteers who share the core belief that arts and culture are fundamentally important and should be equally available for everyone to enjoy.

“Now we want to hear from customers, visitors and participants about their favourite MAC memories. It may be something life-changing, or it may be a favoured family memory. Please tell us all about it.”

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, principle funder of the MAC said, “hearty congratulations to the MAC as they celebrate their milestone 10th birthday.

“Throughout the past ten years, the MAC has contributed significantly to the cultural offerings in the region, bringing us an array of exhibitions, theatre, concerts and more, right in the heart of Belfast. The MAC has offered a valuable platform for our local artists and organisations to showcase their work as well as bringing high-profile international work to Northern Ireland for audiences here to experience and enjoy.

“We wish The MAC well as it plans for the next 10 years, and look forward to enjoying many more engaging events in the dynamic art centre in the heart of our city.”

Chair of the MAC, Ray Hutchinson, added

“Opening and successfully running an arts and entertainment space like the MAC for 10 years is no small achievement and our success to date is down to the dedication and ambition of the whole MAC team. The arts sector here faces many challenges and Covid made life extra difficult for organisations like the MAC. However we maintain a steadfast commitment to bringing great art to Belfast, to stimulating conversation and debate, and to celebrating all that is great about this city and country.”

As part of a range of 10 year celebratory events, the MAC is asking customers to recall and share their favourite memories of ten years of the MAC. Images and comments can be posted on social media channels and shared by the MAC, with the hasthag #MAC10

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Arts Council announces recipients of £100,000 digital arts programme

Monday 25th April 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, in collaboration with Future Screens NI, today (Monday 25 April 2022) announced the recipients of the Creative Industries Seed Fund, a funding programme which aims to assist arts organisations, entrepreneurs, and creative businesses to undertake projects that contribute to the growth of the creative industries and unlock future income generation.

The programme will support four partnership projects that use the arts within new and emerging digital, immersive technologies to expand the possibilities of how the arts can be distributed and utilised in new and innovative ways. The Creative Industries Seed Fund, worth £100,000, from The National Lottery and Future Screens NI, offered applicants the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £25,000. This is the second round of the programme and awardees on this occasion include: Niamh Houston/Chipzel, Bad Girl Barre/Jill Rose Jacobs, Accidental Theatre and Belfast Photo Festival.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“Today’s announcement is welcome news and we congratulate all of the organisations involved. The Arts Council is delighted to partner with Future Screens NI on this programme and thanks to The National Lottery, it will support four ambitious projects that distribute and utilize the arts in new ways using digital and immersive technologies. This programme reflects our continuing commitment to encouraging innovative practices that cross artform boundaries and build digital capabilities within the Northern Ireland arts sector. I look forward to experiencing these exciting projects as they develop.”

Professor Paul Moore, Director Future Screens NI, said,

“Future Screens NI is privileged to partner with Arts Council NI to deliver the Creative Industries Seed Fund which will enhance the ability of artists to develop ambitious creative projects employing new technologies and to develop specialist skills required to sustain the future of the creative industries. These awards are part of a growing portfolio of partnership work which FSNI is involved in with Arts Council NI and is the latest example of how artists and organisations can unleash the potential of technologies to facilitate news forms of expression and meaning. As new technologies emerge it is essential we continue to develop practices and projects which challenge the idea that art, technology and science operate in different spaces.”

Among those offered funding through the second round of the Creative Industries Seed Fund are:

Niamh Houston/Chipzel
Funding amount offered: £25,000
Project title: TieYourLaces (TYL)

Niamh Houston, aka 'Chipzel', is a Bafta-nominated musician, composer and producer based in Derry-Londonderry. The musician will use her Creative Industries seed Fund award to finance a ‘sprint’ development period working with regional talent on her project, TieYourLaces (TYL). TYL was first developed in 2021 Niamh worked together with Craig Fairweather and Andrew Dyce from, We Throw Switches, to develop a prototype inspired and constructed around her powerful beats to get inter-generational communities more active. TYL is a punksport, movement-based videogame installation, which combines modern videogame design; original music composition; and cutting-edge hardware to answer the question: 'In 2022, what would a real-life, community e-sport look like?

The laser-tracking technology at the heart of the installation invites participants to intuitively move around a pre-set physical ‘court’ sized space (4mx4m), indoors or outdoors, and these movements act as digital inputs for the installation. Participants create competitive scores and opt in to generate digital user content. The game is intended to be accessible - users of any ability can increase movement, create meaningful social interactions motivated by sound. TYL will make previously underused public spaces come alive.

Bad Girl Barre / Jill Rose Jacobs
Funding amount offered: £25,000
Project Title: Jacobs Method of Notation: embodiment of notation using Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and VR

Prior to entering into doctoral research, for 17 years, Jill Rose Jacobs was a professor of dance education in the performing arts professions at New York University; also, a Group Fitness Instructor for a leading corporation where she specialized and launched Barre programmes. Her doctoral research was inspired by the physiological improvements observed in her students’ as a result of combining aspects of fitness and the arts, and, in the benefit/effects of music. Earlier, Jill was also a professional ballet and musical theatre dancer, dance captain and choreographer. Jill will use her Creative Industries Seed Fund award and extensive experience in dance to develop a dance/fitness content creation system for VR based on her original user-friendly notation system for pairing dance-movement to musical accompaniment to create choreography. Her notation system will be realised within a graphical user interface and embodiment of notation. The content will also feature an animated avatar, using motion capture to respond to her notation method.

The project has the potential to impact the performing arts, sports (gymnastics, figure skating), NHS fitness and rehabilitation programmes and all programmes in which movement may be paired to musical accompaniment and sound to improve outcomes. This project will also include a video-recorded documentary.

Accidental Theatre
Funding amount offered: £25,000
Project title: The Belfast Method

Accidental Theatre, a fringe theatre space in Belfast, has been a pioneer in adapting to new technologies both before and during the pandemic. The company now want to take what they have learned in the last two years and develop a system for small venues like theirs to reach larger audiences online through digital only projects, without incurring unsustainable or high production costs.

They will use their Creative Industries Seed Fund award to develop The Belfast Method, a system of remote collaboration that Accidental Theatre developed during the pandemic that allows technical collaborators to control Accidental’s live streaming system from anywhere in the world. They will use their funding to roll The Belfast Method via a series of digital only productions. They also hope to teach other venues how to utilise the same system with the aims of reducing technical team costs, increasing online engagement with the arts, increasing international artistic and technical visibility, reducing project costs whilst increasing online sales through online distribution.

Belfast Photo Festival
Funding amount offered: £24, 982
Project title: Live Visual Motion

Belfast Photo Festival will use their Creative Industries Seed Fund to develop a Live Visual Motion project which aims to explore how new technology allows for new creative opportunities and engaging means of self-expression in a live performance setting, pushing the possibilities of how both visual and performance art is utilised and perceived.

The project will be a cross-sectoral collaboration across contemporary visual art, dance, music and VFX disciplines made possible by new motion capture technologies and real-time VFX software. Belfast Photo Festival will facilitate the creation of performance pieces that explore the idea of the creative journey and the relationship between an artist’s skills, their output of work and the audience sensory experience.

The project will be used as a testing ground to measure success and live physical presentations will be held in 2023 to national and international audiences, and the NI creative sector, including a live showcase and project panel discussion at the creative industries conference, CAPTURE, in Belfast.

The Creative Industries Seed Fund is now closed with all available funding allocated. For details on all Arts Council funding opportunities visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding

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Arts Council announces £40,000 National Lottery funding to support the creation of digital art

Wednesday 6th April 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (Wednesday 6 April 2022) announced £40,000 of National Lottery funding to support arts organisations based in Northern Ireland in the creation of four innovative digital arts projects.

The funding is part of the Arts Council’s Organisations Digital Evolution Awards, a programme which aims to support those making digital art for the first time or are working with digital or immersive technology which they have not used previously. Among those offered up to £10,000 each of National Lottery funding are Prime Cut Productions, Disability Action (who will collaborate with Big Telly Theatre Company), Belfast Photo Festival and Digital Arts Studios.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“Today’s announcement is welcome news and I congratulate all of the organisations involved. Thanks to The National Lottery, this programme will support the creation of art using digital and immersive technologies, and will help organisations to develop skills in the use of new technologies. The Organisations Digital Evolution Awards reflects the Arts Council’s commitment to encouraging innovative practices that cross art form boundaries and build digital capabilities within the Northern Ireland arts sector and I look forward to experiencing these exciting new projects as they develop.”

Among those offered funding through the Organisations Digital Evolution Awards are:

Prime Cut Productions
Funding amount offered: £10,000

Prime Cut Productions will use their funding to build upon their highly acclaimed At Arms Length Theatre In Education Project by working with five primary schools across north, south, east, and west Belfast, to develop a new live/digital hybrid show aimed at Key Stage 2 students – specifically Year 7, with the aim of exploring and encouraging an appreciation of diversity across our society.

Disability Action and Big Telly Theatre Company
Funding amount offered: £10,000

Disability Action and Big Telly Theatre Company will deliver a live multi-sensory immersive theatre experience for and by people with diverse disabilities entitled Unapologetic Adventures. This experience will incorporate an ambitious digital AI framework to promote the co-creation of content, with and between d/Deaf and disabled people, to deliver a multi-sensory live experience. The performance will incorporate both physical and remote audiences who will influence the performance narrative by making choices which will influence the experience of the performance.

Belfast Photo Festival
Funding amount offered: £9,985

Belfast Photo Festival (BPF) will partner with Visual Spectrum Studios (VSS) to facilitate the creation of new digital art for showcasing to the arts sector and audiences, both online and offline, at the 2023 Capture Conference. Involving joint learning between BPF and selected visual artists, VSS will increase access to digital art creation by removing the high financial barrier to entry, providing training, equipment and studios for participants to research, experiment, and develop a range of new digital artworks both for the first time and using technology they have not used before including AI Driven Machine Learning, Motion Capture(MOCAP), Data Capture and Virtual Reality.

Digital Arts Studios (DAS)
Funding amount offered: £9,918

DAS will use their funding to further develop its Future Labs Programme into a dedicated foundation residency, which will support new or emerging artists to produce new digital art. The aims of the residencies are to provide a substantial period for learning in a range of digital technologies, to improve the digital skills of the participants, to update knowledge and to boost confidence in the production of digital art. The new digital art produced will be showcased in a significant public exhibition in the future.

A second strand of the project will see DAS adding another branch to the Future Labs programme by providing skills development for their staff. This advanced aspect of the project will encompass a period of research and dedicated training in new and emerging technologies. The aims are to improve the skills, update knowledge and boost the confidence of DAS staff via training with industry professionals, beginning with a tour and demonstration of Digital Catapult’s Immersive Lab.

The Organisations Digital Evolution Awards scheme is now closed with all available funding allocated. For details on all Arts Council funding opportunities visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding

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Contact Us

Wednesday 6th April 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

Chief Executive’s Office

Roisín McDonough
Chief Executive

chief@artscouncil-ni.org

Shirley Hanna
PA to Chief Executive

07500 559 266
s.hanna@artscouncil-ni.org

Diane Dillon
Assistant to Council & Directors

07500 559 260
ddillon@artscouncil-ni.org

Arts Development Department

Noirin McKinney
Director of Arts Development (Job Share)

nmckinney@artscouncil-ni.org

Gilly Campbell
Director of Arts Development (Job Share)

gcampbell@artscouncil-ni.org

Music

Ciaran Scullion
Head of Music

07500 559 269
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Joanne Wright
ADO Music & Traditional Arts

-07500 559 274
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Maria McAlister
ADO Traditional Arts incl Bands P/T

07500 559 273
mmcalister@artscouncil-ni.org

Shannon Downey
AADO Music inc Bands

07500 559 288
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Literature, Drama and Dance

Damian Smyth
Head of Literature/Drama

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Caoileann Curry-Thompson
ADO Drama & Dance

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Julie McBride
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Roisin Murray P/T
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Suzanne Lyle
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ACNI commissions research for new disability access scheme

Monday 4th April 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council is aware that D/deaf, Disabled & Neurodiverse people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and many have real concerns about returning to public spaces, including theatres and arts venues.

With this in mind, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland has asked Perceptive Insight, a Northern Ireland market research company, to undertake research with local disabled, deaf and neuro-divergent audiences to obtain their views on a new access scheme. We are running this scheme in collaboration with Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales and the British Film Institute.

The scheme will make it easier for disabled people to access the arts by:

  • Only requiring individuals to share their access needs once – these will be shared with venues they wish to visit in NI or the UK;
  • Enabling D/deaf, Disabled & Neurodiverse people book tickets online;
  • Providing free companion tickets; and
  • Enhancing front of house support.

To help us understand the needs of D/deaf, Disabled & Neurodiverse audiences and to gauge reaction to what is being proposed, we have developed a short survey.

If you identify as disabled and you have an interest in attending the arts we would welcome your feedback. The survey, which has been anonymised to protect individual’s identity, can be found here:

https://tinyurl.com/AccessCard2022

If you need help completing the survey, contact the free-phone number 0333 323 696. The survey is open until Friday 15th April.

If you are a venue, festival or producing company and you feel your D/deaf, Disabled & Neurodiverse audiences would be interested in completing the survey, please feel free to share the link with this group.

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Working Class Voices in Literature Celebrated at the Launch of The 32

Thursday 31st March 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

Diversity in literature was under discussion at a special event to celebrate the publication of The 32, an anthology of short stories by working class writers from across the island of Ireland.

The event was held at the Crescent Arts Centre on Sunday as part of the Imagine! Belfast Festival. Guest speaker Lucy Caldwell, winner of the 2021 BBC National Short Story Award joined Paul McVeigh project manager and editor of The 32, to discuss why we need more diversity in literature. The reception also featured readings by some of the book’s contributors.

The 32 is a landmark publication which features 16 stories by established writers, including Roddy Doyle, Kevin Barry, Lisa McInerney and Daniel McLaughlin and 16 new writers from across the island. Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland through National Lottery funding and the Irish Secretariat, the book is a collection of essays and memoirs.

The creation of the anthology was inspired by award-winning writer Kit de Waal’s hugely successful ‘Common People’, which similarly brought together stories from working class writers from across the UK, inviting readers to see the world through their eyes.

Speaking about the project, Paul explained:

“We were delighted to have Lucy Caldwell join us today to celebrate the launch of The 32 to discuss the steps which need to be taken to make publishing more inclusive. The project celebrates successful working class writers while giving a platform to new working class writers, allowing them to share their stories and hopefully bringing them to the attention of the industry.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK, providing funding to support thousands of projects like this.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council
, commented:

“The 32 brings together some of the most exciting writers, both established and emerging, from across Ireland, providing a platform to tell us their stories in their own voice. We congratulate Paul and all those who have helped to get this project off the ground, championing diversity, breaking down barriers, and providing new opportunities for future generations of writers.”

Reflecting on the event, Lucy Caldwell said:

“When Kit de Waal was unable to travel, it was an honour to step in to help celebrate The 32. It’s an anthology that speaks for itself: speaks in voices that often aren’t heard enough – or aren’t listened to. Defiant, furious, joyful, profoundly moving, these pieces enrich us all, and this anthology is a beacon, a gateway, a rallying call for so many more stories. I could have listened to the brilliant writers who represented the anthology at the Imagine! Festival event all night.”

The 32 is published by Unbound and available to purchase now in print and ebook formats. Visit www.unbound.com/books/32 for more details.

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Sound artist Una Lee takes a unique approach to storytelling

Thursday 31st March 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

Sound artist Una Lee will draw on her interest in the human condition, memory, time and our relationship with art and ecology, for her upcoming performance as part of the Sonorities Festival.

Trained composer and musician Una Lee describes herself as an artist of sounds, stories and sensations. Recently awarded funding though the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery funded Minority Ethnic Artists Programme, Una seeks to tell stories in new and unique ways, bringing together elements of music, sound, performance art and digital interaction in her practice.

On Wednesday 6th April she will perform at Belfast’s newest events space Banana Block (Portview Trade Centre, Newtownards Road), joining a host of other artists for the launch of the 2022 Sonorities Festival Belfast, a biannual festival of music and sound.

The event is just one element of her plans for this year, as using funding from the Arts Council’s Minority Ethnic Programme she will work with mentor Caroline Bergvall, an internationally acclaimed poet, artist and performer, to incorporate language into her current sound and music practice.

Drawing on her Korean-Irish heritage, she plans this year to produce a new work entitled ‘FERVĒRE’, addressing the themes of racism and sexism on the Asian female body and encouraging audiences to reflect on their own current cultural and political environment.

Speaking about her plans, Una explained:

“I'm thrilled to receive this particular award to support my new work which directly addresses being a person of minority ethnicity. I gather a sense of serendipity, which inspires me to produce my best possible work, carrying a responsibility to convey an appropriate representation. My performance at the Sonorities Festival will be a musicalisation of the homophonic-translation-poem that sits in the very centre of the whole project 'FERVĒRE', thus mark the quasi-launch of its upcoming instalments over the next months."

Joanne Wright, Music and Traditional Arts Officer at the Art Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“Through the Minority Ethnic Programme, the Arts Council is providing vital support to our growing community of minority ethnic artists and creative practitioners. In working to create the conditions for the widest variety of art and creativity for both artists and audiences, we are seeking to address the numerous and complex barriers to access, progression and representation in the arts encountered by minority ethnic artists.

“National Lottery players raise £30 million every week for good causes in the UK and thanks to that funding, this important programme has been developed. As one of our most exciting up and coming music and performance artists, we are very much looking forward to hearing more about Una’s plans for the coming year and wish her all the very best for her performance at the Sonorities festival.”

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Belfast Exposed & Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, explore institutional racism

Monday 28th March 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

We, Us, Them is a new collaborative exhibition between Belfast Exposed and the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, which acts as a platform through which seven female artists explore personal reflections on communal history, identity and place, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The exhibition at Belfast Exposed is now available to view and continues until 21st May 2022, with a parallel exhibition underway simultaneously at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Australia.

The exhibition features five of Australia’s contemporary female photographers and videographers, as-well as Belfast artist, Deirdre Robb and socially engaged artist, Lesley Cherry. Through the lens of these artists, and thanks to support from the British Council, this exhibition hopes to provide a respectful reflection on the role the Irish Travellers and the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities play in society, their place in history and the shaping of their respective countries and communities. This international exhibition aims to connect and promote indigenous languages and cultures, acknowledging the positive changes and achievements of such communities in surviving and adapting to their changing environments.

Belfast artists Deirdre Robb and Lesley Cherry present a hybrid photographic and audio installation, collaboratively developed with Irish Traveller women. Opposing the prejudiced experiences by these women, the artists created a celebratory and observational response to their cultural values, ways of living, and the future of their communities. Incorporated into the artwork are images from the Belfast Exposed Travellers archive reflecting on their heritage and present-day social issues. This project amplifies the female voices from Traveller communities, and considers their place in history and in shaping their culture and country.

Commenting on the collaboration with the Melbourne Centre for Contemporary Photography, in Australia, Deirdre Robb, from Belfast Exposed said,

“This is an exceptional and exciting project to be immersed in. Working with the Melbourne team and Lesley Cherry, this programme will explore the role of Irish traveller and Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through photography. We are delighted to be working with the local traveller community here who are allowing us into their daily lives, helping reflect their lived experiences as a First Nation community. As artists, we are exploring the prejudices they experience through the exhibition. We want it to be a celebration of the culture and history of these communities. This is sure to be thought provoking and I hope the beginning of a respectful discussion on the contribution of First Nation communities to society globally.”

Adam Harding, Director with Melbourne Centre for Contemporary Photography, added,

“We, Us Them’ asks us how we see a community, see those that live with us, share our values, experiences and still be invisible, exploring how artists, women, migrant and first nation communities document themselves we hope to confront institutional racism. Learn to see again, be better, embrace the two cultures of our institutions and celebrate the joy between them the artists and the communities they document."

Patricia Lavery, Visual Arts Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support Belfast Exposed. This is a very important exhibition which celebrates women artists and really highlights the calibre of our artists here in Northern Ireland. The fact that Belfast Exposed has been able to partner and showcase work internationally is fantastic for our visual arts sector and I would encourage everyone to go along and experience this powerful exhibition.”

The We, Us, Them exhibition at Belfast Exposed continues until 21st May 2022, visit www.belfastexposed.com for gallery opening times.

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Children’s Writing Fellow encourages children to share their stories through pictures

Tuesday 15th March 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

Paul Howard, Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland, is on a mission to get kids passionate about books.

Promoting visual literacy, he believes, is key for breaking down barriers to reading and, over the next two years, Paul is offering schools the opportunity to invite him into the classroom where he can share his skills first hand with pupils, through free illustration and writing workshops.

The celebrated writer and artist, best known for his stunning illustrations in Jill Tomlinson’s The Owl Who was Afraid of the Dark and Joe Wick’s The Burpee Bears, was announced as Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland in January 2022. The post was created as part of Queen’s University and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's joint ten-year Seamus Heaney Legacy project, supported by the Atlantic Philanthropies.

Paul follows on from previous fellows Myra Zepf and Kelly McCaughrain and over the next two years will be based at the Seamus Heaney Centre where he will work with students and engage in outreach activities which promote literacy and learning.

Speaking about his plans, Paul said: “I am very much looking forward to engaging with lots of young people over the next two years, particularly those in schools who have never had the opportunity to experience an author/illustrator visit before, for whatever reason.

“As an illustrator, primarily, I want to use my Fellowship to promote visual literacy as an alternative, fun and accessible gateway into literature and help children, of all literacy levels, feel confident enough to engage with reading and use drawing as a springboard to create their own stories.”

In addition to schools visits, Paul will be taking part in a number of events over the coming months.

In June, he will be in residence at the Crescent Arts Centre Belfast for Belfast Book Festival where he will host a series of readings, workshops and more. While later in the year, Paul will travel to The Burnavon arts centre in Cookstown to work with schools groups in the region.

Paul will also be sharing insights into his career with the creative writing students at Queen's University Belfast, and spending time in the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's where he will continue working on his own stories and illustrations.

Teachers can register their interest in booking a free illustration workshop with Paul Howard for their school by contacting the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast. Go to www.bit.ly/CWF-Paul-Howard for more details on how to apply.

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Future stars of jazz tune up with jazz supremo, David Lyttle

Friday 11th March 2022 at 5pm 0 Comments

A group of young people from across Northern Ireland are taking part in Jazz Juniors, a youth music educational programme launched by Jazzlife Alliance, supported by The National Lottery. Its members, aged 9-16, are taught by internationally-acclaimed, MOBO Award nominated jazz musician, David Lyttle, to learn the skills of playing jazz and they also perform in concerts throughout Northern Ireland. As part of the programme, the ensemble also get the opportunity to be coached and learn from other international jazz musicians throughout the year.

The Jazz Juniors ensemble rehearse with David Lyttle once a month at The MAC in Belfast and they also perform in concerts as David’s support act. It is an under eighteen scheme with no lower age limit, the youngest is nine. All the students are total beginners to jazz and everyone in this ensemble has a different musical background, some have come with a good knowledge of musical theory and others have come with none, and the main requirement of the scheme is that participants are very serious about music, very passionate about music and interested in learning jazz.

David Lyttle, Jazzlife Alliance Artistic Director and jazz musician, commented,

“Jazz Juniors is a first-of-its kind education scheme for Northern Ireland that teaches jazz to gifted young people who come from a range of backgrounds and have a passion for music. It’s been great seeing their confidence and abilities grow. At the audition stage they could all improvise a little and now they can improvise over jazz tunes which is remarkable given that they’ve only had six rehearsals so far. They’re getting thrown in the deep end by playing concerts but playing concerts and being on stage is the best way to get good at jazz. I’m very proud of all the young musicians taking part and look forward to seeing them develop further.”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music and Opera, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said,

“Thanks to The National Lottery players, these gifted young people are being given the opportunity to learn new skills and jazz from an internationally acclaimed jazz musician. The Arts Council is committed to supporting opportunities for our young people to access and participate in high quality music making and Jazz Juniors is the perfect platform to nurture and develop gifted young musicians. Congratulations to all involved.”

Hear and see Jazz juniors next at The Ardowen Theatre in Enniskillen on Friday 15th April at 7pm when they perform as the supporting act for David Lyttle and jazz guitarist, Phil Robson.

For more information on the work of Jazzlife Alliance visit www.jazzlifealliance.org

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Women’s Aid and Spark Opera join forces

Wednesday 9th March 2022 at 4pm 0 Comments

Women’s Aid ABCLN an organisation addressing domestic abuse and providing services for women and children across Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey, is partnering with Spark Opera to deliver a project in Antrim that uses the arts to help older women who have experienced domestic abuse. The project is entitled, The Reconnect Project, It’s Never Too Late, is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Arts and Older People Programme, with funding from The National Lottery, Public Health Agency and The Baring Foundation.


The Arts and Older People Programme supports arts organisations across the region in delivering a series of community-based arts projects benefitting older people. It aims to tackle isolation and loneliness whilst promoting positive mental health and well-being among older people through engagement with the arts. The programme is designed to challenge the perceptions of what it means to be an older person.

The Reconnect Project, It’s Never Too Late, enables older women who have experienced domestic abuse to use the arts to tell their stories whilst working with professional artists in a safe, supportive and inspiring environment. From dance, to craft, visual arts and writing, older women are using an arts based approach towards healing and connection with one another.

Kate Guelke, Artistic Director, Spark Opera, commented,

“The Reconnect Project, It’s Never Too Late, is a participant led arts programme that uses the arts as a tool for women to tell their stories of their experiences, to empower them and to heal them. This enables the women to take ownership of their experiences and create a new narrative in a safe, supportive environment. It’s thanks to The National Lottery players that we can make this opportunity available to older women and Spark Opera is proud to partner with Women’s Aid ABCLN on this important and impactful project.”

Bronagh O’Boyle, Women’s Aid ABCLN, added,

“We at Women’s Aid ABCLN have a long track record of being involved with the Northern Ireland creative arts community. The Reconnect Project, It’s Never Too Late, is a group where women come to socialise and where they talk about empowerment, be listened to and having their voices magnified through participation in the arts. The women gain so much from this project and it’s incredibly satisfying to see them progress in their journey, expressing themselves in a safe environment.”

Joan Cosgrove, Volunteer, Women’s Aid ABCLN, added,

“This project is bringing out the best in these women. It’s giving a platform for them to feel and get help to make it an easier journey towards a rejuvenated life.

To find out more about the important work of Women’s Aid visit womens-aid.org.uk

To find out more about the Arts Council’s Arts and Older People Programme visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding

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Latest research shows 900 older people in NI care homes benefitted from art during the pandemic

Wednesday 9th March 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

A research report published today (9 March 2022) by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland reveals findings from an independent evaluation of Round V of the Arts Council’s pioneering Arts and Older People Programme (AOPP). The report covers the time period January – October 2021 and shows that 900 older people in care homes in Northern Ireland benefitted from arts interventions during the pandemic, and the programme helped to alleviate isolation and loneliness, while promoting positive mental health and well-being.

The AOPP is one of the Arts Council’s core National Lottery programme areas and has employed artists and organisations to engage with over 29,000 participants through 196 projects since its inception as a pilot in 2009. The programme aims to increase opportunities for older people to engage in the arts and more recently, has focused support on delivering arts activity within care home settings, working with residents living with dementia and their carers. The programme receives funding from The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The Baring Foundation and the Public Health Agency (PHA). The programme has been supported with over £2 million National Lottery funding since it began in 2009.

As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, AOPP funded organisations in the most recent programme round, had to radically adapt their engagement strategies to guarantee the safety of participants, care workers and artists whilst still ensuring the delivery of arts activities. Due to the need for social distancing during COVID-19, many of the projects were delivered online via Zoom, which proved to be enormously successful in making the arts accessible to vulnerable people and carers.

Lorraine Calderwood, Arts Programmes Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“We know that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, confidence and motivation, as well as help to relieve stress, worries and pain. Thanks to The National Lottery players, the Arts and Older People Programme is providing meaningful opportunities for our older people to take part in arts activities, enriching their lives for the better. The arts have a vital role to play in helping older people find their voice and express the issues which can often affect them on a day-to-day basis, promoting positive physical and mental health.

Today’s Evaluation Report demonstrates the positive impacts of the programme during the pandemic, a time when a lot of our older people, and their carers, faced increased isolation as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. Thanks to the swift, innovative thinking of those delivering the projects and moving them online, 900 older people across the region were able to access and participate in high-quality arts activities, connect with others and improve their wellbeing at an extremely challenging time.”

The Arts and Older People Round V Evaluation Report also showed that:

  • Twelve, established, projects were funded through round V of the Arts and Older People programme, receiving £109,024 in National Lottery funding, an average award of £8,428 per organisation.
  • Collectively, these organisations engaged with an estimated 900 participants.
  • Music was the primary art form element within eight of the projects delivered.
  • Over half of the projects (55.6%) delivered all or some of their work online using virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom. This move yielded the unanticipated benefit for some projects of making their work available to a greater number of participants than would have been possible in person.
  • Seven projects worked with people aged over 80 years, eight, between 70 and 80 years and six between 50 and 60 years.
  • Observation based evidence demonstrated impact across all domains in the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) ‘Take Five steps to Wellbeing’ including: connecting participants; learning new skills; sharing / giving learning with others; taking time out and taking notice.
  • Project workers were cognisant that they were connecting with socially isolated people and making a tangible difference in people’s lives. Project workers were quoted as saying,
    “… they [the participants] described our sessions as the ‘the highlight of the week’ … Most of the older people we were working with were living alone. Some were living with carers. For some people it was an opportunity to interact with others experiencing similar difficulties.” (AOP Project 1)
    “The participants’ enthusiasm and engagement in the whole project was its biggest success.” (AOP Project 7)
  • Observation of online workshops on reminiscence, storytelling and song writing with carers and with people who have dementia, served to highlight how the arts can promote dignity.
  • The high level of engagement by people with dementia in workshop settings challenges stereotypical notions about capacity of the people affected by the condition.

To read the Executive Summary visit: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-AOPP-Evaluation-Executive-Summary-Dec2021.pdf

And for the full report visit: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-AOPP-Evaluation-Full-Report-Dec2021.pdf

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Shortlist for the 2022 KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards

Wednesday 9th March 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

The titles competing for this year’s KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards have been revealed today, Wednesday 9th March. The extraordinary diversity of topics explored in the ten shortlisted titles incudes monkeys and mangoes; a heist; a haunted house; a tale of the Titanic rescue; folk legend retellings from Ireland and from Russia; a coming of age verse novel dealing with chronic illness; a story of first love, and a witty yet hard hitting tale of a mother’s alcoholism. The selection comprises a spread of books for young readers of all ages – from picturebooks to young adult novels.

Founded in 1990, the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards are the most prestigious awards for children’s books in Ireland and celebrate Irish writing and illustration for young people. The ten shortlisted titles will compete for a total of six awards. The winners will be announced by book-loving broadcaster Rick O’Shea, at an online ceremony on 24th May as part of International Literature Festival Dublin.

The shortlisted titles are:

Cluasa Capaill ar an Rí written by Bridget Bhreathnach and illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald

Not My Problem written by Ciara Smyth

The Summer I Robbed a Bank written by David O’Doherty and illustrated by Chris Judge

There’s a Ghost in this House written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Rescuing Titanic: A True Story of Quiet Bravery in the North Atlantic written and illustrated by Flora Delargy

The Henna Wars written by Adiba Jaigirdar

Frindleswylde written by Natalia O’Hara and illustrated by Lauren O’Hara

Gut Feelings written by C.G. Moore and illustrated by Becky Chilcott

The Shadows of Rookhaven written by Pádraig Kenny and illustrated by Edward Bettison

Maybe … written and illustrated by Chris Haughton

For the youngest readers, Maybe … by Chris Haughton tells a humorous tale of three playful monkeys pushing boundaries in order to enjoy some delicious mangoes. There’s a Ghost in this House, by picturebook creator Oliver Jeffers, takes readers age 4+ on a journey through a house that might be haunted … Cluasa Capaill ar an Rí written by Bridget Bhreathnach and illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald retells an ancient folk tale.

Frindleswylde by sisters Natalia O’Hara and Lauren O’Hara takes us on a wintry adventure. Rescuing Titanic tells the story of the RMS Carpathia and its role in rescuing passengers from the ill-fated Titanic. The Summer I Robbed a Bank written by David O’Doherty and illustrated by Chris Judge is a fresh and fun heist story. The Shadows of Rookhaven is the second in the series from author Pádraig Kenny and illustrator Edward Bettison, last year’s winner of the Honour Award for Fiction.

Three Young Adult novels are also included in this year’s shortlist. Gut Feelings written by C.G. Moore and illustrated by Becky Chilcott is a coming-of-age story, dealing with chronic illness and sexuality. The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar follows Irish-Bangladeshi teenager Nishat as she navigates first love. Not My Problem is the second novel from Ciara Smyth who won the Junior Juries’ Award in 2021.

As in previous years, Children’s Books Ireland, the national charity and arts organisation that administers the awards, will be working closely with ‘Junior Juries’ – groups of children and young people who will read and judge the shortlisted titles. The Juries scores decide the winner of the Junior Juries’ Award, giving children a meaningful way to participate in the awards and make their voices heard. The awards judging panel also included a ‘Young Judge’, Clíodhna Jackson, who read and adjudicated alongside her adult counterparts.

Judges Chair Pádraic Whyte said:

‘These awards are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the excellence of recent Irish children’s literature. In a market that can often seem over-crowded, particularly given the dominance of texts from the UK and the US, this is a chance to showcase the brilliant talents of Irish writers and illustrators and to highlight the world-class nature of these shortlisted books. Congratulations to all the amazing illustrators and writers who have been shortlisted today!’

In total, six awards will be made: The Book of the Year Award, The Honour Awards for Fiction and Illustration, the Judges’ Special Award, the Junior Juries’ Award, and the Eilís Dillon Award for a first children’s book, named in honour of the revered Irish children’s author Eilís Dillon.

Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, said:

‘Each year we take huge pride in announcing the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards shortlist and surveying the landscape of children’s publishing in Ireland. This year is no exception, with such talent, humour, innovation and empathy shown across the age ranges and in both languages. Children’s writers and illustrators in Ireland are second to none and we have no doubt that our Junior Juries will thoroughly enjoy reading this year’s shortlisted titles.’

Seamus Hand, Managing Partner, KPMG Ireland, said:

‘We are really delighted to be associated with the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards. They reflect the great importance of literacy, the value in instilling a love of reading at an early age and the huge depth of talented writers and illustrators we are so fortunate to have in Ireland. This talent and the quality of our shortlist will clearly pose a real challenge for our judging panel. Best wishes to everyone on our shortlist.’

Children’s Books Ireland are supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery Funding.

Paul McVeigh, Acting Head of Literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

‘We are lucky to have a wealth of hugely talented writers and illustrators here on the island of Ireland. These awards recognise some of the most outstanding books of the last year – the picturebooks, stories and novels that have captured the hearts and imaginations of young readers. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, is delighted to be associated with these important awards and offer our congratulations to all those who have made this year’s shortlist.’

The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards recognise excellence in writing and illustration in Irish or English and are open to books by authors and illustrators who were born in Ireland, are permanently resident in Ireland or are citizens of Ireland and which were published between 1st January and 31st December each year. Founded in 1990, the Awards are the leading children’s book awards in Ireland. Each year a panel of judges read all of the books submitted by publishers, some one-hundred and thirty-nine titles in 2021, and a shortlist is announced in March at the Belfast Children’s Festival. The final awards ceremony takes place in May in partnership with the International Literature Festival Dublin. Previous winners include Oein DeBhairduin and Leanne McDonagh for Why The Moon Travels, Máire Zepf for Nóinín, Deirdre Sullivan and Karen Vaughan for Tangleweed and Brine and for Savage Her Reply, Chris Haughton for Goodnight Everyone, and former Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan for One.

The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards and Junior Juries programme are kindly supported by the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Ecclesiastical Movement for Good Awards.

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Arts Council publishes Youth Music Strategy and Action Plan

Tuesday 8th March 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today published its Strategy and 5-year Action Plan for the development of Youth Music in Northern Ireland. The strategy, produced by a co-design group representing the youth music ecosystem, establishes the Arts Council’s priorities over the next five-year period. Priorities include:

  • enhancing opportunities for young people of all abilities and backgrounds to engage in music;
  • improving training and career pathways;
  • strengthening the youth music infrastructure;
  • increasing awareness of the impact of music amongst decision makers; and
  • building partnerships and collaborations to improve coordination and support between the various elements of the sector.

An accompanying report identifies a set of complementary recommendations for improving Youth Music provision which fall beyond the scope of the Arts Council as the lead organisation, but which can be addressed effectively through a multi-stakeholder approach involving educational institutions, independent arts organisations, the Arts Council and other partners. Priorities include:

  • strengthening the role of music in delivering the curriculum;
  • upskilling teachers in the use of new technologies in music;
  • increasing opportunities for young disabled musicians embarking on a musical career; and
  • establishing a Music Sector Representative Body with a Youth Music element.

The strategic reports are informed by a major audit commissioned by the Arts Council to establish a comprehensive body of evidence about the current state of Youth Music in Northern Ireland and its developmental needs.

The Arts Council’s Youth Music Strategy and Action Plan lays the foundations for the creation of a musically inclusive Northern Ireland where every child or young person has the opportunity to engage in music and to access the appropriate support to develop their talent.

Download the documents here:

Youth Music Strategy and 5-Year Action Plan:
http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-Youth-Music-Strategy-and-five-year-action-plan.pdf

Youth Music Strategy and 5-Year Action Plan (Recommendations which are beyond the scope of the Arts Council):
http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-Youth-Music-Strategy-recommendations-beyond-the-scope-of-ACNI.pdf

Youth Music Audit:
http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-Youth-Music-Audit-for-NI.pdf

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A statement on Ukraine

Friday 4th March 2022 at 9am 0 Comments

We’re sending our support and friendship to all artists, actors, performers, writers, filmmakers, creative people, cultural groups and organisations living and working in Ukraine.

We stand with our colleagues in the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation, fellow members of the International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies, which represents organisations like ours in more than 70 countries worldwide.

Our thoughts go out to those who have loved ones, friends and family in Ukraine at this time, and to people in all parts of the world where conflict and oppression deny them the universal right to a creative and cultural life.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland

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Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics 2022 returns with over 150 in-person and online events

Friday 4th March 2022 at 9am 0 Comments

The Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics (21st March – 27th March) launched its biggest ever programme for 2022 with the Rt. Hon. the Lord Mayor, Councillor Kate Nicholl and Northern Ireland’s Queen of Comedy, Nuala McKeever. The strictly non-partisan festival returns to live events after two years of operating online.

The week-long programme is an eclectic mix of talks, workshops, theatre, comedy, music, exhibitions, film and tours with over 150 in-person and online events. Now in its eighth year, the majority of events are free and will take place online and in venues across the city. This year has seen an increase in grass-root organisations participating in the festival bringing new and fresh perspectives on a diverse range of important and provocative issues. Keynote speakers include the internationally renowned historian, Michael Ignatieff; iconic musician and broadcaster, Tom Robinson; leading author Kit de Waal and legendary poet Michael Longley, CBE to name just a few.

Speaking at the launch about this year’s programme, Festival director and founder, Peter O’Neill said:

“We are delighted to present our largest ever festival. With over 150 events, there’s something for everyone in this eclectic programme, as we try to make sense of this volatile world. Our aim is to encourage participation from people not normally involved in political debate and stimulate a discussion on new ideas on culture and activism. As most of the events are free, everyone will be able to enjoy this annual showcase of talks and cultural events.”

The festival will host a number of interesting placemaking events organised by Artists in Residence: The International Peripatetic Sculptors’ Society. The Glasgow-based artists will lead participants on a series of performative walking tours, exploring the city and making instant sculptural works. In addition the Sheffield group of artists known as the Bare Project will organise tours of Belfast alley ways and entries in the innovative project ‘Meet Me in the Alley’. There will also be three lively panel discussions from the Academy of Ideas covering issues as diverse as freedom of speech, online safety, campus culture and culture wars as part of the ‘Belfast Battle of Ideas.’ Censorship will also be explored in an exciting film strand curated with Queen’s Film Theatre where a series of films previously banned in Belfast will be shown and discussed. Furthermore, ‘Democracy Day’ will return on 25th March with a packed programme of talks and workshops examining ways to modernise and invigorate local politics in the run up to the NI Assembly elections.

This year the festival has taken the theme of ‘Road Test Your Reality’. Peter O’Neill explained the concept at the launch:

“It’s often said that ‘everyone is entitled to their own opinions’ but we think it’s important to also regularly re-examine and reflect on how we view the world around us. With this in mind, we’re inviting people to come along to this year’s programme of events and consider how well their own bubble of reality stacks up against the wildly diverse range of viewpoints and perspectives presented in this year’s festival. We want people to debate the big issues of our times, explore political themes through the arts and listen to different arguments in this contested period in our history, while having some fun!”

Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Kate Nicholl said:

“We’re really proud to be supporting this year’s Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics. The team has curated such an entertaining, thought provoking and inspirational programme. Cultural events like these give us the chance to take a little time out from the responsibilities of day-to-day life and consider the world around us from a different perspective – to be challenged a little, to laugh together, and maybe even to be uplifted!”

Liam Hannaway, Chair of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,

” The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support Imagine! Belfast. For a festival which revels in taking on the big issues of our time and exploring new ways of approaching our cultures and our politics, away from the mainstream, it gives a welcome platform to alternative voices, represented through the arts, and I encourage as many people as possible to visit and enjoy the experience.”

The Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics 2022 programme is now available to view online via imaginebelfast.com.

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Belfast to showcase some of the island’s brightest stars at St Patrick’s eve concert

Thursday 3rd March 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

The sounds of a modern island will echo around Custom House Square as The Duncairn Arts Centre presents a family-friendly evening of homegrown music and poetry from a range of exciting Irish artists. Everyone, from every community in our city is welcome to join in this unique celebration of what makes us great.

On the night, headliners Mick Flannery and Susan O’Neill will perform tracks from their chart-topping album ‘In The Game’, with rising-star Tolü Makay bringing her unique blend of R&B and jazz to Custom House Square for a special set.

Belfast’s own Joshua Burnside will showcase his experimental folk sound, with music also coming from trailblazing flute and whistle player Brian Finnegan.

The Duncairn Creative Collective, which brings together over 20 independent Irish musicians from different backgrounds and genres will complete the evening’s stunning line up.

Alcohol will be put to the side for the evening as we have our fill of fun, arts, culture, creativity and diversity in a safe and welcoming environment. Aside from the high quality entertainment on stage there will be street performers, family friendly food options and more.

Taking place on the 16th March, this ambitious event will be unique to Belfast’s St. Patrick’s celebrations and hopes to kick-start the carnival festivities for the day after. Doors Open at 4.30pm, the show starts at 5pm and will be over at 9pm, just in time to get the little giggoers to bed or to continue your celebrations in this wonderful city we call home.

The concert is free to attend but admission is by ticket only. Registration opens at 10am on Thursday 3rd March from https://visitbelfast.com/event/st-patricks-eve-concert/ and tickets are limited to 4 per person.

This event is curated by The Duncairn Arts Centre and funded by Belfast City Council and Arts Council of Northern Ireland

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Exceptional Young Musicians land leading role in BBC Ulster Orchestra concert

Friday 25th February 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

Tune in to BBC Radio Ulster’s Classical Connections with John Toal this Sunday 27 February at 7pm for a very special BBC Invitation Concert featuring the six current winners of the BBC NI and Arts Council of Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform Award.

Join the six awardees as they take to the stage of the iconic Ulster Hall in Belfast performing alongside the Ulster Orchestra, with conductor David Brophy, in what promises to be a spectacular concert. The winners include classical awardees, opera singer, Andrew Irwin, cellist, Angus McCall and pianist, Justine Gormley; traditional music awardees, Jack Warnock and Rose Connolly and, contemporary singer-songwriter awardee, Roisin Donald (ROE).

The BBC NI and Arts Council of Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform Award is a biennial award programme which aims to showcase and support the development of exceptional young musicians from the region by providing individual funding awards of up to £5,000. This funding enables the recipients to spend a sizeable amount of time learning from a master musician, mentor, teacher or composer either in Northern Ireland or abroad. For the first time, the awards have been extended beyond the classical, jazz and folk genres and now includes contemporary singer-songwriter artists.

As well as this training opportunity, the awardees receive two professional radio broadcast engagements, including this current one with the Ulster Orchestra. Performances at this level raise not only the professional profile of the young musicians but also gives a tremendous boost to their performance experience and professional CV.

Each week, National Lottery players raise £30 million for good causes across the UK. Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music and Opera, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, explained how National Lottery funding is making a difference to the young musicians in the region,

“The Arts Council is committed to providing valuable, meaningful opportunities for our artists to develop their professional careers and we are hugely proud to partner once again with BBC Northern Ireland to offer these awards to these six exceptional young musicians. Thanks to National Lottery players, these artists will have a unique opportunity to develop musical skills, learn from the best and perform live with our wonderful Ulster Orchestra. All of the previous recipients of this award have gone on to have incredibly successful careers in music and I’ve every confidence that the new recipients will benefit greatly from this experience. I would encourage everyone to tune in this Sunday to experience these hugely talented musicians.”

Highlighting BBC Radio Ulster’s continuing commitment to specialist music and to developing new musical talent, three presenters from the station have been mentoring the new awardees, helping them prepare for their upcoming performances with the Ulster Orchestra. The mentors include, John Toal, a classical pianist and presenter of Classical Connections who is mentoring the three classical musicians; Folk Club presenter, Lynette Fay, who is mentoring the traditional awardees, and Stephen McCauley of The Stephen McCauley Show who is mentoring the contemporary singer-songwriter awardee.

Paul McClean, Executive Editor Arts and Music, BBC Northern Ireland, said,

“At BBC Radio Ulster we are dedicated to providing our listeners with the best in specialist music and nurturing new talent is something we are extremely passionate about. We are delighted to be involved in finding new classical, traditional and singer/songwriting artists and to be able to have our listeners engage in their journey as they grow and develop with some help from John, Lynette and Stephen, each of whom has a deep love of music.”

Previous recipients of the Young Musicians’ Platform Award include acclaimed classical pianist, Michael McHale, soprano, Laura Sheerin, harpist, Richard Allen, violinist, Michael Trainor, folk artists, Conor Mallon and Niall Hanna and jazz drummer, Ed Dunlop, among others.

Listen to the concert on Sunday 27 February at 7pm on BBC Radio Ulster’s Classical Connections. Visit https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0014wq6

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Come on a ‘suit safari’ with Maiden Voyage Dance at Belfast Children’s Festival!

Wednesday 16th February 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

Maiden Voyage Dance is inviting 3–6-year-olds and their grown-ups to join them on a ‘suit safari’ in their new show ‘MORF’, which will premiere at The MAC as part of Belfast Children’s Festival on 5 - 6 March.

Exploring the magical in the everyday, ‘MORF’ sees two dancers use ordinary suit jackets to create familiar animals - including a jellyfish, an elephant, a bird, and a worm - as young audiences travel with them to a ‘fabric fantasy’ world of clouds, mountains, volcanos and castles. Nothing stays the same for long as what is there in one second is gone and transformed into something new the next.

Nicola Curry, Artistic Director of Maiden Voyage Dance said:

“A key part of encouraging creativity in young children is to share how to make something magical out of nothing. ‘MORF’ is a playful new dance show which embraces change with gentle, ever-shifting movement and rhythm, celebrating the joy of play, transformation and imagination.”

'MORF’ marks Maiden Voyage Dance's welcome return to Belfast Children’s Festival after the company's sell-out run with 'Turnabout' at last year’s event.

This year's show has been created by choreographer David Ogle with performers Adam Ashford and Maeve McGreevy, lighting designer Ciaran Bagnall, costume and set designer Diana Ennis and composer Brian Irvine. ‘MORF’ is commissioned and produced by Maiden Voyage Dance.

Looking forward to ’MORF’, Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Acting Head of Drama and Dance, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“The Arts Council is very excited to welcome this new work from Maiden Voyage, who lead the field in innovative contemporary dance experiences for the whole family here in Northern Ireland. The inherent joyousness and playfulness of ‘MORF’ will be particularly impactful as we return to sharing live dance together.

I can think of nothing better than being whisked off on a journey of imagination and movement by this fantastic team of creatives, and to be given permission once again to dream and wonder and dare to look at things differently. I’d encourage people to get out and experience the exhilarating, transformative joy of live dance for themselves with ‘MORF’.”

Maiden Voyage Dance is principally funded by Arts Council of Northern Ireland and funded by Belfast City Council. ‘MORF’ is supported by Ulster Presents at Ulster University.

Duration: 30-35 mins

Live performances
The MAC, Belfast 5-6 March, 2.30pm and 4.30pm

Audio Described performances
6 March, 2.30pm and 4.30pm

Relaxed performance
6 March, 4.30pm

School performances
The MAC, Belfast 4,8,9 March

Streamed performances
Online QFT Player 12-13 March

For further information and to book tickets (£10 each) for ‘MORF’, visit https://www.youngatartevents.co.uk/whats-on/morf

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Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection - Acquisitions 2020-21

Friday 11th February 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has published a catalogue of the latest acquisitions to its Art Collection. The new purchases are available for exhibition both within and outside Northern Ireland, as part of the Arts Council's Loan Scheme.

The Arts Council grew its overall collection to over 650 works with the purchase in 2020-21 of 53 new pieces by 28 artists currently working in Northern Ireland. The new acquisitions represent the recent practice of artists, both emerging and established, in a wide range of disciplines, including painting, sculpture, craft, print, photography and video. With many of the artworks created during the pandemic, these works of art reflect contemporary artistic practice that is innovative and challenging and making a significant contribution to the development of the visual arts in Northern Ireland.

View the Acquisitions catalogue here: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-Collection-Acquisitions-2020-2021.pdf

For more information about the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's Art Collection and Loan Scheme, please contact Visual Arts and Collections Officer Joanna Johnston at collection@artscouncil-ni.org

View recent acquisitions on social media following the hashtag #ACNICollection

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Community Festival will Celebrate Stories of Life on the Water

Wednesday 9th February 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

Reflections of life on our rivers, lakes, canals and the sea will be celebrated at the 2022 Waterways Storymaking Festival. The unique community festival, run by local charity, The Waterways Community and funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, is currently inviting entries for this year’s event.

The theme for submission is simply ‘waterways’ and entrants are encouraged to explore their creativity and present their work in their own chosen way. This year, there are three categories; poetry, short story and photography. Stories and poems can be personal reminiscence, historical, a reflection or pure invention on the theme. Photographs can reflect the photographer’s take on the life, heritage and beauty of the waterways.

Open to everyone, the festival encourages entries from writers and photographers of all abilities, whatever their experience. Submissions can be made across three age categories, age 11 and under, 12-17 and 18 and over, with winners chosen in each group. This year the festival is also providing free creative writing workshops in February, led by talented local writers to spark new thoughts and ideas.

Festivals Director Maire Gaffney, commented:

“This unique community festival offers a chance for people all over Northern Ireland to reflect and connect to the beauty, culture and heritage of local landscapes. It’s an opportunity to carve out some quiet time and experience the joy of exploring your creativity. We are very proud that this is a festival which is open to all, including first time writers and photographers. We all have a connection to the waterways and this is your chance to tell your story.”

Sonya Whitefield, Arts Development Officer at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“The Arts Council is delighted to be involved in the Waterways Storymaking Festival once again this year. For so many of us, the waterways provide a constant and ever changing backdrop to our lives. This special festival is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate that link. I very much look forward to seeing this year’s winning entries.”

The Waterways Community is offering free creative writing session. These fun and inspiring sessions are happening online on the 16th February 7-9pm and 26th February 11-1pm February. For further details and booking information email: maire@thewaterwayscommunity.org

Submissions to the 2022 Waterways Storymaking Festival close on 4th March. Entry forms can be found at www.thewaterwayscommunity.org. Entries will be shortlisted by a team of judges in March and April, and the chosen work will be performed, videoed and shared at the Festival Awards celebration event in June.

Like and follow the Festival Facebook page for updates and enjoy videos of last year’s shortlisted entries.

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Belfast TradFest Winter Weekend takes place on 18-20 February, supported by National Lottery Funding

Wednesday 9th February 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

Belfast will be awash with the very best of traditional music, song and dance during the February mid-term break, with Concerts, Workshops & Sessions all taking place in the city as part of Belfast TradFest’s Winter Weekend on the 18th -20th February, supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Some of Ireland and Scotland’s finest singers, musicians and dancers re-take to the stage after a very lean couple of years, for what promises to be an extravaganza of jigs, reels, strathspeys, sean nós dancing plus the very best of traditional singing.

Festival Producer, Patricia Murray, says,

“With the burgeoning number of traditional musicians and venues across the city plus the incredible quality and creativity amongst young players of all instruments, Belfast is aiming for the title of traditional Irish musical capital of Ireland”. She adds “the Winter Weekend is a great opportunity for making new friends, meeting up with old acquaintances; this is the chance to reflect the strength of shared traditional music traditions on both sides of the community”

Headlining the festival on Sunday 20th Feb in The Empire Music Hall is the world renowned singer Iarla Ó Lionáird of the ‘The Gloaming’, who will be joined by the Australian guitar maestro Steve Cooney. Their interpretations of songs from the sean-nós tradition have set a new standard of artistic integrity and creative innovation. Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich, will host Kerry songstress Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh when she performs on Saturday 19th fresh on the heels of her performances on RTÉ’s Tommy Tiernan & The Late Late Show and her recent collaboration with the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

Dundalk fiddle wizard Zoe Conway & guitarist John McIntyre will open the festival on Friday 18th Feb with a show of fiddling fireworks and sumptuous guitar work, sure to whet the appetite for more.

Artistic Director of the festival, Dónal O’Connor says

‘During the lockdown, legendary Tyrone brothers Cathal & Stephen Hayden brought great joy to their fans and followers when they released online performances from an empty Hayden’s Bar in Pomeroy. Considering the response to these viral videos it was clear that when restrictions lifted, the Haydens would be in demand, and we’re delighted that they will make a rare concert appearance, alongside Sligo’s finest, singer and guitarist Seamie O’Dowd, in the Black Box Theatre on Saturday 19th February”.

A session trail taking in some of Belfast’s finest watering holes such as Madden’s Bar, The Deer’s Head, The Sunflower, The 2nd Fiddle & The Last Drop will host musicians from all over Ireland such as Beoga’s Damian McKee, Ann Marie McCormack of the Kilfenora Céilí Band, Co. Clare’s Lorraine Ní Bhriain alongside Belfast’s finest such as Méabh Ó Hare, John McSherry & Harry Bradley. We’re even bringing traditional music to Titanic Belfast with a session in the Giant Atrium on Sat 19th at 12pm.

Dónal adds “A vital aspect of the tradition, is the passing on of the music and songs, and nurturing the next generation of performers is central to Belfast TradFest’s work.”

A full programme of workshops will be taken by some of the very best in Ireland & Scotland – Flute with Martin Meehan, Fiddle with Conor Caldwell & Isla Callister, Sean Nós Dancing with Edwina McGuckian, Guitar with Gerry O’Beirne to name but a few… Other acts performing over the weekend include Scottish band TRIP, recent Gradam Ceoil TG4 Singer of the year Niall Hanna, Scottish Smallpiper Brighde Chaimbeul, Donegal sean nós singer Diane Cannon, multitalented Maghera musician Jack Warnock, Belfast band Good Morning to Your Nightcap, Co. Clare duo Padraig Rynne & Elaine Hogan & many many more… So the invitation is going out to all players, learners and listeners to be part of what will undoubtedly be one totally unforgettable weekend.

Belfast TradFest invites locals and visitors to join them in celebrating our cultural richness while embracing the Giant Spirit that Belfast traditional music has to offer and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of Tourism NI, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

Iarla Ó Lionáird & Steve Cooney concert in association with An Droichead Trad in the City in association with Belfast Music

Visit www.belfasttradfest.com to find out more

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Children’s Writing Fellow for NI honoured by Duchess of Cambridge’s CBeebies Bedtime Read

Tuesday 8th February 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

Paul Howard, the new Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland and the illustrator behind the much loved children’s classic, The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, has spoken of his delight upon hearing that Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge, has chosen the book as the CBeebies Bedtime Story to mark Children’s Mental Health Week (7th-13th February).

The book, written by Jill Tomlinson, follows the story of Plop, a baby barn owl, who is helped by others to grow in confidence and overcome his fears.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Paul who was announced at the beginning of this year as Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, said:

“The classic story of ‘The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark’ by Jill Tomlinson has been reassuring children for over 50 years. So, I’m delighted that it has been personally chosen by HRH the Duchess of Cambridge to mark Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week and read as CBeebies’ Bedtime Story this Sunday February 13th at 6.50pm.

“Over 20 years ago I illustrated Plop the baby barn owl in pastel pencils, in an attempt to make the tactile illustrations feel like a child’s favourite comfort blanket. It’s wonderful to see, in the intervening years, how the same little owl’s story continues to help new generations of children find their own wings to fly.”

Paul Howard took up the post of Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland in January 2022. Created as part of Queen’s University and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's joint ten-year Seamus Heaney Legacy project supported by the Atlantic Philanthropies he will be based at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s for two years, working with students and engaged in outreach activities with schools and children across Northern Ireland.

Paul is an award-winning writer best known for illustrating Jill Tomlinson’s classic The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark and The Burpee Bears, a new picture book series by Joe Wicks. He has also had a range of his own stories published: young fiction titles, picture books and board books, the latest of which was 1,2, BOO! for Bloomsbury.

Further details of the Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland can be found here: http://artscouncil-ni.org/news/award-winning-author-illustrator-announced-as-new-childrens-writing-fellow

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BBC’s A Season of Arts includes short film from NI creatives, Jennifer Rooney and Ciarán Haggerty

Monday 7th February 2022 at 5pm 0 Comments

Don’t miss Flight, a short dance film about that universal desire to fly, led by Northern Ireland choreographer/Co-Director, Jennifer Rooney and Co-Director, Ciarán Haggerty, co-commissioned by BBC Arts and One Dance UK for Dance Passion - a landmark celebration of the world-class dance that happens across the UK, shining a light on the country’s unique creativity and innovative approach to choreography and performance.

Funded by BBC Arts and Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants programme, alongside thirteen other short films as part of Dance Passion,Flight is available to view on TV, Tuesday 8 February 2022 at 11:05pm on BBC One, part of the BBC series A Season of Arts, and available after this broadcast on BBC iPlayer. The short film will also be on BBC Four on Sunday 20 February as part of the Dance Passion Highlights programme at 8pm.

With music by Northern Irish composer, Garth McConaghie and featuring Bangor dancer, Jemima Brown, Flight is a celebration of dance from Northern Ireland. This short dance film steps back in time to the playful world of childhood, where a young hero in the making, through the power of imagination, attempts to defy gravity. Spring-boarding from the early memories of the film’s creators, Rooney and Haggerty, the film explores that most universal theme - a child’s desire to fly.

Combining choreography and a 1990s aesthetic, Flight transports us to a place flooded by the sights and sounds we once knew from childhood, set in a period when actions were uninhibited, possibilities seemed endless, and everything was both fresh and fascinating. This beautiful film was the result of a submission from Jennifer Rooney and Ciarán Haggerty to Dance Passion, but this week, it’s now being aired as part of BBC’s A Season of Arts series.

Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Acting Head of Drama and Dance, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said,

“We at the Arts Council are delighted that Jennifer Rooney and Ciarán Haggerty’s commission is being aired on BBC One. I’m so excited that TV audiences get the opportunity to experience Jennifer’s choreography. She is a highly regarded artist within the dance scene in NI, and her artistic dexterity and accomplishments are a shining example of the sheer quality of dance here. Jennifer’s career spans so many areas of movement and dance: from choreographing mainstage shows and opera, to teaching young people, to West End shows and everyone’s TV favourite, Derry Girls. It’s thrilling that she works here with the superb (or rather ‘superlative’, as The Guardian’s dance critic Lyndsey Winship rightly termed her) Belfast-born dance artist Jemima Brown. Flight is a wonderful opportunity for audiences, hopefully some new to dance, to dip their toe into the inventive, charming, exhilarating and transporting world of contemporary dance from NI. Congratulations to Jennifer, Ciarán and the whole creative team.”

You can watch Flight this Tuesday at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0014fqd

Flight is part of BBC’s A Season of Arts, a specially commissioned programme series showcasing some of Northern Ireland’s best-loved local artists who have delighted audiences through the years. Catch up on the full series at BBC - A Season of Arts

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Beyond Skin and The Duncairn host concert for Musicians at Risk in Afghanistan

Friday 4th February 2022 at 5pm 0 Comments

Beyond Skin and The Duncairn hosted the Musicians at Risk Concert on 29 January, an evening of music highlighting the plight of refugees & musicians at risk in Afghanistan. On the night they welcomed artists from different backgrounds to share their music and experiences including Afghan musician, Yusuf Mahmoud and his son Ariz, Amita Ravikiran, Robin Korevaar, Daragh Lynch (Lankum) and Iona Zajac.

The Duncairn and Beyond Skin are supporting the Campaign to Protect Afghanistan’s Musicians and, closer to home, The Campaign to End Direct Provision. This event was a collaboration between The Duncairn and Beyond Skin, in partnership with ICFAM, MARRS & the Schweitzer Institute.

Darren Ferguson, Chief Executive, Beyond Skin, “Here in Northern Ireland we’ve designed a very unique Artists and Musicians at Risk Resettlement Scheme to support people that are in asylum seeking status or refugee status. What we’re trying to do is to make sure that musicians and artists are protected, the heritage of their musical traditions continues and if possible, to get people out of Afghanistan to other countries to be safe but also to bless those countries they go to with their musical heritage.”

Yusuf Mahmoud, musician, said, “Since the Taliban has come into power in Afghanstan, the music has stopped and there is no music allowed and musicians living in Afghanistan don’t have jobs as they’re not allowed to play music. We’re trying to raise some money to help these musicians through the very difficult and cold winter.”

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to see two of our funded organisations joining forces on this important cause and we congratulate them and all the musicians involved, in bringing much-needed awareness to these campaigns. Both The Duncairn and Beyond Skin excel at supporting our local musicians, offering them a vital platform to be heard and seen. With this concert it’s heartening to see them extend their reach beyond Northern Ireland to help musicians in need in Afghanistan who are facing unimaginable difficulties at this time.”

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvYr9rk9qEM

To make a donation to the cause visit: https://localgiving.org/charity/beyondskin/project/afghanistan/

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Pots, Paints and Plays with Gemma Bradley

Tuesday 1st February 2022 at 6pm 0 Comments

Glasgowbury, Mid Ulster based Music, Multi Media and Arts charity, is delighted to announce that BBC NI are featuring their first documentary, ‘POTS, PAINTS AND PLAYS WITH GEMMA BRADLEY’, as part of A Season of Arts on Thursday 3rd February on BBC Two at 10pm

Musician and broadcaster Gemma Bradley returns home to her rural roots to spend some quality creative time with three arts practitioners living and working in her native Mid Ulster.

She meets butcher turned painter Conor Larkin and observes his practice, both on location and in his studio, where she tries her hand at watercolour work, before learning how to throw a clay pot with ceramic artist Stephen McGuigan.

Gemma then heads to the Bardic theatre in Donaghmore, where actor Brian McMahon takes her through a performance workshop. Inspired by the artists, all of whom are making it work for themselves in the place where Gemma’s own creative journey began, she returns to the site of her first public performance, where she reflects on the importance of supporting talent and making space for creative people in rural Northern Ireland.

The documentary was developed and created by Glasgowbury and funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland/Department for Communities, through their Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations.

Paddy Glasgow, Creative Director of Glasgowbury, said, “The documentary brought together a group of young creatives and professionals in the film industry, mainly from Mid Ulster, who over Covid were challenged with the task of making a documentary, a project that would develop their skills and enhance their careers. We are delighted that the BBC have accepted the programme as an acquisition and look forward to sharing it with everyone” Watch the documentary at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0014569

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Future Screens NI announced as partner in DfC Covid Recovery Employment & Skills Initiative

Monday 31st January 2022 at 4pm 0 Comments

Future Screens NI - a collaborative partnership between Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast and local industry partners - will lead the Art Work programme; allocating funds to arts sector organisations to recruit entry level roles that will support organisational and sectoral growth. Art Work will offer organisations funding to support good quality, fully funded 3 year fixed-term work opportunities at entry level in a diverse range of job roles for applicants who wish to enter into or progress their career in the arts and creative industries.

As one of five strands of the Covid Recovery Programme Employment and Skills Initiative established by the Department for Communities to assist and stimulate recovery in the arts, heritage, sport and voluntary sectors, Art Work will address labour market barriers faced by individuals and organisations arising from the impact of the pandemic on the arts and creative economy.

Art Work is managed and administered by Future Screens NI, the creative industries research and development partnership set up in 2018 to accelerate growth through new product development, services and high value skills for jobs in a flourishing sector. Future Screens delivers expert technical skills, opportunity and growth across the creative industries.

Welcoming the Department’s employment and skills recovery initiative and investment, Professor Paul Moore, Director of Creative Industries and Future Screens NI at Ulster University said,

“The impact of the pandemic on the arts and creative sector has been significant. It has been keenly felt on a professional level by artists, practitioners and arts organisations but also on a personal level by those individuals and communities who missed opportunities to enjoy the arts as a participant or audience because of the very necessary restrictions. This welcome government boost will encourage organisations to rejuvenate and reimagine the future of the arts, support individuals to enhance their sector-specific skills and career development and assist the arts sector to develop and thrive.

The opportunity to create new roles and offer professional development for existing roles affected by the pandemic will benefit individuals and organisations at the heart of our creative economy. Given Future Screens’ expertise in developing the skills for the creative industries we are well placed to play our part by managing and administering this programme to build transferable skills, contribute to future employability and enhance an arts sector that means so much to so many. We look forward to considering many innovative and imaginative grant applications.”

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said, “We are delighted to assist our longstanding partner, Future Screens in the delivery of this innovative programme at a time when creative individuals and arts organisations begin to emerge from the pandemic and need support to plan once again for the future. We thank Minister Hargey for making this possible and for having the foresightedness to resource a three year programme. This is a significant development for the arts.”

The Art Work programme will support a broad range of high quality and rewarding roles across the arts sector including but not limited to posts in marketing, digital skills, operations, finance, sales, technical support, administrative support and audience engagement.

Constituted, not-for-profit organisations whose primary purpose relates to the arts can apply to Art Work for a grant to fund a position for 3 years.

Organisations interested in applying can register to attend an advice and information webinar on 3 February 2022 at 12 noon by visiting https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/covid-recovery-employment-and-skills-initiative-for-the-arts-sector-tickets-257817136997

Art Work opens for applications at 12 noon on 3 February 2022 and the closing date for submissions is 25 February 2022. Outcomes will be confirmed to applicants by 31 March 2022. Full details of the criteria and application process can be found on the Future Screens NI website: https://www.futurescreens.org/funding

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Arts Council’s National Lottery Small Grants Programme Reopens

Thursday 27th January 2022 at 5pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council’s Small Grants program has reopened, offering National Lottery funding for arts projects commencing from 27th March 2022.

Professional arts organisations and community groups can now apply for grants between £500-£10,000 to support projects in any art form, including music, drama, dance, literature, visual, and participatory arts.

Every year, funding from the Small Grants programme helps arts organisations and community groups deliver arts events, festivals and activities across Northern Ireland, from grassroots community projects through to professional productions.

This year, to mark the occasion of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Arts Council will also support Jubilee projects via the Small Grants Programme and will be looking for projects which go beyond simply celebrating but which fit with the general aims of the Small Grants Programme in relation to the growth of the arts in the community for new and existing audiences.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council, commented:

“Our Small Grants programme uses National Lottery funds raised for good causes to bring the arts right into the heart of communities.

“We are looking for projects which will provide ways for new and existing audiences to connect with the arts and which reflect the diversity of Northern Ireland’s society and culture. This year we will also be offering funding to projects which mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee while also remaining true to the overall aims of the Small Grants Programme, that is supporting the growth of arts in our communities.”

“We very much look forward to seeing what projects emerge as a result of the Small Grants programme over the coming months, creating many wonderful new opportunities for communities to take part in and experience the arts.”

Previous recipients of Small Grants funding include Glengormley School of Traditional Music, which received £9,900 funding in September 2020 to go toward providing high quality and affordable music tuition with skilled tutors in a range of instruments including fiddle, tin whistle, flute, uileann pipes, guitar and harp.

No Alibis Press received £8,255 in 2020 from the Arts Council’s Small Grants programme to support a series of publications and initiatives around the publication of Joanna Walsh’s book Seed.

For those wishing to find out more, please visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/small-grants-programme

Applications should be submitted online, with all necessary enclosures uploaded with your application.

The Arts Council will aim to make a decision within two months of receiving an application. Please note, applicants should apply for funding at least two months before the start of your event (projects which start within two months of the application date will not be accepted). Organisations can apply for funding for projects due to commence from 27th March 2022 onwards.

Guidance notes for this programme and details of how to apply can be found here:http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/small-grants-programme

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Sinéad O’Donnell, Accidental Theatre & Three’s Theatre Company join international cultural exchange

Thursday 27th January 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

New funding for innovative models of international cultural exchange and collaboration has been awarded to 38 projects. The projects bring together 82 UK and 48 international partners based in over 24 different countries, from Mexico to Kenya, Barbados to Australia and throughout Europe and USA. The three projects chosen to take part from Northern Ireland include those led by performance artist, Sinéad O’Donnell, Accidental Theatre and Three’s Theatre Company.

With funding from Creative Scotland, Arts Council England, Arts Council Northern Ireland and Arts Council of Wales/Wales Arts International, the pilot Four Nations International Fund is backing artist led proposals which address the key issues facing society - social justice, gender identity and environmental sustainability – in innovative new ways.

Creative Scotland is managing the fund’s application process for the four nations’ arts councils and agencies. On the partnership’s behalf, Paul Burns, Creative Scotland’s Interim Director of Arts and Engagement said,

“International collaboration and exchange are vital for new ideas and new connections between nations to flourish. Developed in partnership with four nations’ arts councils and agencies, this pilot funding will enable artists and creative practitioners across the nations to forge new relationships, develop practice through the sharing of ideas, explore new ways of working, and reach new audiences.

“Culture is shaped by communities, and while international in their focus these projects have community at their heart. These projects provide an important opportunity to explore with our international counterparts the contemporary issues of our time from environmental sustainability and social justice to working in a post pandemic world following the UK’s departure from the European Union.”

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“Congratulations to Sinéad O’Donnell, Accidental Theatre and Three’s Theatre Company in being chosen to take part in this exciting and important initiative. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to partner with our arts funding colleagues across these islands, all of us aiming to find solutions to the current challenges of international touring and exchange. The Four Nations International Fund is a lifeline and offers a platform for these artists to engage with their counterparts in the UK and Europe, and in particular, for artists based in NI, provides touring opportunities within the Republic of Ireland.”

One of the three projects from Northern Ireland includes a project led by Irish performance artist Sinéad O’Donnell. With support from Belfast based disabled-led arts charity The University of Atypical, Sinéad O’Donnell will collaborate with Selina Bonelli (Folkstone, England) and Marta Bosowska (Poznan, Poland) on new disability led project, Tairseach (Gaelic) / Próg (Polish) - meaning ‘threshold/the beginning of something’ - to develop a hybrid means of creative engagement using online dialogue, virtual and in person research, and realised through a residency and performance in Belfast.

Sinéad O’Donnell said:

“We are three disparate woman and non-binary performance artists coming together to find new ways of continuing to make art in a post-pandemic world and to develop new and innovative methodologies that can be used by us and other artists. This project is about not just adapting and managing but acknowledging that the world has changed and that our practices will never be the same. We want to use this project to develop new ways of working that encompass the past, the pandemic, but adapts to us.”

The Fund represents one of a series of collaborations between the four UK nations’ arts councils and agencies including the pilot, Arts Infopoint UK initiative offering advice on practical issues relating to artist mobility led by Wales Arts International, and an exploration of mutual and more sustainable approaches to bilateral initiatives with several European countries, such as German Fonds SozioKultur.

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Award-winning artist, Deepa Mann-Kler, launches new digital app, AR Peace Wall

Tuesday 25th January 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

Deepa Mann-Kler, award-winning artist and Chief Executive of Belfast creative immersive company, Neon, has launched a new app, AR Peace Wall, which aims to enhance the visitor experience at Cupar Way Peace Wall in Belfast. The app is free to use and available to download now on iOS and Android.

AR Peace Wall is one of 26 digital arts projects supported through the Creative Industries Seed Fund, a funding programme, worth £363,898, developed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Future Screens NI, which aims to assist arts organisations, and creative businesses to undertake digital arts projects that contribute to the growth of the creative industries and unlock future income generation.

The AR Peace Wall app, which received £25,000 in funding through the Creative Industries Seed Fund, aims to use the new digital arts content for tourism by enhancing the visitor experience at the Peace Wall, both in person and online, through the discovery of new stories. Once downloaded the app works by pointing your mobile phone at the crane image and at the 5 AR triggers stencilled along Cupar Way.

The app explores peace building in a digital way and tells the story of a little boy on the morning the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. At its heart, this story is an exploration of the different approaches to peace building undertaken and how life found a way to survive heat that was 40 times greater than the heat emitted by the sun. It is a story of hope. AR Peace Wall uses the crane - called ‘Tsuru’ in Japanese - and is the international symbol for peace.

AR Peace Wall is also supported with funding from the Department for Communities and is a collaboration between Neon, Aura Digital, Yellow Design, Centre for Democracy & Peace Building, Peace Culture Village, Frank Lyons & Declan Keeney from Ulster University.

The artist behind AR Peace Wall, Deepa Mann-Kler, said

“For me what is really exciting about AR Peace Wall, is that it has the power to reshape the way we remember history in public spaces. AR can democratise public spaces by capturing the collective memory of a space. Since there are no regulations specifying who owns the digital space which is anchored in the real world, AR belongs to everyone at the moment. And AR has many applications across a wide range of fields, one of which is social justice.”

Deepa continued, “AR has the power to add much needed context to public spaces and it can reshape how society perceives and remembers history. Spaces have often been designed to exclude certain voices and narratives. In the past, there was little anyone could do about it without some form of vandalism. With AR technology in our grasp, everyone now has a new and powerful tool in the fight for social justice. AR has the capacity to forge connections, nurture empathy, and promote healing through immersive experiences.”

Matthew Malcolm, Creative Industries Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to partner with Future Screens NI in the Creative Industries Seed Fund which so far has enabled 26 arts organisations to create art using digital and immersive technologies. This wonderful new digital app from artist Deepa Mann-Kler demonstrates to power of using digital arts within a social justice context and to enhance the experience of storytelling.”

Matthew continued, “The Creative Industries Seed Fund reflects the Arts Council’s continuing commitment to encouraging innovative practices that cross artform boundaries and build digital capabilities within the Northern Ireland arts sector. We are currently accepting online applications for a second round of the Creative Industries Seed Fund, which will close on 28 February, and I would encourage anyone interested in applying to visit the Arts Council’s website for more information.”

Professor Paul Moore, Director Future Screens NI said,

“Supporting Neon in the creation and launch of AR Peace Wall is a natural strategic fit for Future Screens NI. Our priorities include the delivery of expert technical skills, opportunity and growth across immersive technologies and industries in Northern Ireland. We see enormous tourism, creative, education and economic potential in site specific augmented storytelling. The international partnership with Hiroshima only made this AR experience more compelling."

To download the AV Peace Wall app visit


A second round of the Creative Industries Seed Fund is now open for online applications and will close at 12noon on Monday 28th February for grants up to a maximum of £25,000. For information on the webinar, eligibility, guidance notes and to apply visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/creative-industries-seed-fund-2022. Please note guidance notes are also available on request in large print format and disk.

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Obituary: Marilyn Hyndman (1953 – 2022)

Monday 24th January 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

Obituary
Marilyn Hyndman (1953 – 2022)
Cultural activist and Community Media and Arts Practitioner

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with great sadness of the unexpected death of Marilyn Hyndman, founding member and Programme Producer of Northern Visions, who has died, aged 68, in hospital in Belfast, on Saturday 22nd January.

Marilyn Hyndman was a lifelong campaigner for social justice, from her time in Just Books to being part of the Belfast Women’s Collective in the 1980s. She was a filmmaker of distinction with programmes broadcast on Channel 4 and elsewhere. As early as 1971 she and her husband, Dave Hyndman, with a group of like-minded artists, set up the Belfast Arts Lab, which was heavily involved in cross-community work as well as printing for civil rights groups, community groups, and political groups. Her book, ‘Further Afield: Journeys from a Protestant Past’ (Beyond the Pale Publications, 1996), a collection of 40 accounts of what life is like for working class Protestants who do not fit the traditional mould, made a significant contribution to political debate in Northern Ireland.

Her strongest legacy she leaves to the arts and the communities of Northern Ireland came with the creation in 1986 of Northern Visions, which she co-founded with Dave Hyndman and others, who was a former Board member of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. In their own words, Northern Visions represented a “vision of a democratised form of media, where new technologies are utilised as a tool for expression and creativity, to effect social change and combat poverty, social exclusion and isolation”. They launched Northern Visions Television (NVTV), a non-profit local community television station based in Belfast, in February 2004, and the station continues to stream its programming online. The station’s facilities are used by 200 community-based organisations as well as artists and filmmakers. With Northern Visions (NVTV), Marilyn produced more than thirty documentaries and short films, and she was deeply involved in programme making for the station up to the very end, including the pioneering of a training programme to ensure that the next generation of producers would be able to make their own work, especially those whose life opportunities wouldn’t ordinarily have afforded them the chance.

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, paid heartfelt tribute:

“Marilyn was one of the kindest, most intelligent and gentlest of souls. She was a passionate champion of the role that arts and culture play in reaching out across communities and within all our lives. She was a lifelong friend to many, as well as a loving companion to Dave and an inspirational mother to her children, Sinead and Conor. She enriched the lives of all of us who knew her, radiating a gentle warmth that encouraged us to stretch ourselves that little bit more. Her legacy will live on though the work of Northern Visions and in the hearts of many who are now grieving her loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dave, Sinead and Conor.”

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Giant Imaginations to be inspired at Belfast Children’s Festival

Monday 24th January 2022 at 9am 0 Comments

On the back of a 2-year hiatus for live events, Belfast Children’s Festival 2022 is returning with a line up of gigantic proportions.

From contemporary dance ‘MORF’, creating the magical out of the everyday, to theatre performances of ‘A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings’, incorporating magical realism, and ‘Birdboy’, celebrating the power of imagination, offering a vision of hope and connection. A newly commissioned opera ‘Nobody, Somebody’ will focus on real issues of homelessness and mental health and ‘Touch’ a new exhibition created by local children will explore the impact of social distancing during lockdown, reflecting on and creatively responding to the pandemic impact. International performances will return to this year’s festival with ‘Do As I Say’ from Sweden, a dance performance exploring issues of bullying and authority, and ‘No Man is an Island’ from the Netherlands which brings connection, cooperation, communication and creativity together, collectively making sure that the line-up for Belfast Children’s Festival 2022 is combining reality with the magic of escapism.

Welcoming the return of the festival face-to-face, Young at Art Director, Eibhlín De Barra said:

“We are delighted to be back! 2 years after our last live and ‘in person’ festival, it is really exciting to be welcoming young audiences back to Belfast for this year’s Festival, one of the largest in Ireland. We’ve missed seeing everyone ‘in person’ so much and are so excited by the prospect of giggles of delight, gasps of surprise and seeing smiley faces at our shows again!

This year’s Belfast Children’s Festival aims to inspire GIANT IMAGINATIONS, young and old, with many BCF22 events having a GIANT theme, reflecting the desire to have GINORMOUS fun together again! We very much hope restrictions allow us to gather again in a GIANT way, and we will make sure everyone is safe, but if we can’t gather in a way that’s as giant as we would like, be assured that the Festival remains packed with fun-filled performances, events and experiences for all the family, including a digital programme of performances for everyone to enjoy at home!

In addition, the 2022 programme will feature a new production from Replay Theatre Company ‘Harbour’ An enchanting multi-sensory baby opera, where parents and little ones can discover this strange new world together. Festival favourites will return including the ‘Giant Family Day Out’ at Cathedral Quarter, ‘Acoustic Picnic’ and ‘Baby Rave’, for all of the little dancers and big dancers too! Belfast Children’s Festival 2022 is supported by Tourism Northern Ireland.

Eibhlín continued:

“The Belfast Children’s Festival is not just for the young, but also the young at heart. At Young at Art, we strongly believe great arts experiences are for everyone, so whether you’re 8 weeks old or 108 years old, this years event will provide an opportunity for you to have gigantic festival fun!”

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:

“The Belfast Children’s Festival is always one of the highlights of the arts year for young people and their families. People trust it to provide them with the very best arts experiences available home and abroad, and the festival’s international standing ensures that this is indeed the case, year after year. The acts and the performers are hand-picked, carefully selected to ensure that you, the young audiences, will come away inspired, motivated, hopefully even a little awed, by what you have seen. This is so important, because, for many, this may be your first real opportunity to engage with professional arts. The experience should be exceptional, it should be memorable, it should be fun – and it will be!

As principal funder, through our National Lottery funds, the Arts Council is proud to support Young at Art and the Belfast Children’s Festival as it continues to create opportunities for children and young people of all abilities, from all backgrounds and circumstances, to access and participate in great art. This is an investment in our children’s creative potential and in their fundamental right, as children, to enjoy fulfilling creative lives.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl welcomed the launch of the Festival, adding;

“We’re delighted to continue our support for Young at Art’s annual Belfast Children’s Festival - one of the four major annual events funded by our Cultural Multi-Annual grants and one that plays a vital role in delivering our 10-year cultural strategy, A City Imagining.” said Councillor Nicholl.

“Children’s wellbeing and mental health is one of my areas of key focus for my year in office, so I really appreciate this festival, which highlights the positive impact that arts and cultural activities can have on children’s and families’ wellbeing. This year’s wonderfully eclectic programme incorporates dance, art, film, music, visual art, literature, workshops and industry talks and it has the benefit of being wide-reaching, so it can touch the lives of young people both near and far.”

View the brochure here: https://readymag.com/u2245057935/bcf-2022/5/

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Arts Council announces £749,226 Health and Safety funding to support arts organisations

Wednesday 19th January 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, on behalf of Department for Communities (DfC) has today (Wednesday 19 January 2022), announced funding of £749,226 to support 34 arts organisations through the Health and Safety Capital Programme.

The Health and Safety Capital Programme will support organisations to reopen their creative spaces safely by funding the purchasing of equipment and/or minor works required to address any health and safety issues created as a result of the pandemic or that have been an outstanding maintenance issue.

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“The vital funding announced today will enable venues and cultural spaces to reopen safely. Theatres as well as cultural and live performance venues, all play a vital economic and social role in Northern Ireland; it is here where many artists and creative practitioners develop their skills and their craft and most importantly, it’s where they collaborate, creating art that inspires us, improves our wellbeing and supports our local economy. The Health and Safety Capital Programme funding from the Department for Communities will ensure that organisations have proper measures in place to welcome the return of their staff, artists and audiences.”

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said:

“I am delighted that my Department has been able to make this capital funding available to a sector which has been significantly affected throughout the pandemic. I am confident that the awards made by Arts Council will make a vital contribution in supporting our arts organisations to continue to keep doors open and audiences safe.”

Among those arts organisations offered funding are:

Festival of Fools (Belfast)
Funding award offered:
£22,841

The Festival of Fools will use their funding to prepare to welcome back audiences safely for their flagship event, Festival of Fools 2022, due to take place in April and May. The organisation will invest in moveable seating to create a safer, static space for audiences watching their outdoor shows. They will also invest in equipment including wooden posts and ropes to act as barriers and define the performance space to protect the artists that will be performing. In addition to hand sanitiser, the organisation will purchase gazebos to use as sanitising stations and also invest in Ipads/tablets to conduct audience evaluation surveying post performance.

Greater Shantallow Community Arts (Derry-Londonderry)
Funding award offered:
£23,678

Greater Shantallow Community Arts (GSCA) will use their funding towards a COVID RESPONSE PROGRAMME, a specifically designed programme of work to respond positively to the impacts the Covid Pandemic has had on their community arts service delivery and service users whilst attending arts workshops and events at their Studio 2 Community Arts Centre.

The funding will enable GSCA expand their safe space facilities at Studio2 Community Arts centre by extending their outdoor workshop and garden space significantly. This will enable the organisation to deliver more workshops, events and programmes to a larger audience safely. Funding will be used to extend the garden area, paint exterior walls, provide climate resilient floor covering and furnish the new space as well as purchase outdoor heating appliances, lighting and an outdoor screen for delivering workshops and events.

Big Telly Theatre Company (Causeway Coast and Glens)
Funding award offered:
£8,588

Big Telly Theatre Company will use their funding to invest in equipment that will build on their current work in innovating and creating theatre work that can move, reach new audiences, offer new experiences and is economically viable, efficient and sustainable longer term.

Their Remote Control project will benefit considerably from this equipment as it is a transformative white label platform which revolutionises digital audience engagement, maximising the potential of a unique relationship between physical and remote (digital) live audiences. Remote Control (technical experts fees funded by Innovation UK) runs perfectly in areas with fast broadband/5G and Big Telly now need this additional equipment in order to make their work more accessible in rural areas - both for digital audiences and for hybrid work to take place within site-specific locations outside of Belfast.

Sticky Fingers Arts (Newry)
Funding award offered:
£13,902

Sticky Fingers Arts will use their funding to purchase equipment that will enable them to deliver more flexible activities that can be easily transported as well as ensure that they can continue to deliver their flagship project, The International Children’s Festival. The organisation will invest in new seating, storage and dedicated equipment that is suitable for pre -school children and children with complex needs, allowing Sticky Fingers to deliver workshops and events safely.

All Set Cross Cultural (Portadown)
Funding award offered:
£5,857

All Set Cross Cultural will use their funding award to develop and create a safe environment to encourage students back to their workshops and classes and increase audiences attending performances. The new equipment will address covid-19 requirements and updated regulations will be adhered to. In the challenge to attract audiences, they will use the new equipment to improve accessibility of the traditional arts in Portadown. The new equipment will enable the organisation to run several fundraising events as they work towards having increased numbers of participants and audiences.

Seacourt Print Workshop (Bangor)
Funding award offered:
£45,250

Seacourt Print Workshops will use their funding award to improve the layout of their workspaces to ensure they are streamlined, well organised and safer to use by improving their storage facilities. They will also invest in improving their heating source to enable safe, efficient heating of the main space and the avoidance of using less safe portable heating devices. The organisation will also upgrade to newer, more energy efficient, sustainable equipment and items that eliminate the use of fuels or the creation of fumes.

To view a full list of arts organisations offered funding through the Health and Safety Capital Programme visit http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-HS-Capital-Awards-January2022.pdf

For details on all current funding opportunities visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding

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Let There Be Enlightenment

Monday 17th January 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

The inaugural Linen Hall Library Enlightenment Festival is to launch on February 1st to 5th in a special creative collaboration with two of the world’s most highly acclaimed artistic producers in international multi-arts festivals and events, Seán Doran and Liam Browne.

The packed programme, announced today will bathe the library, founded in Belfast as a direct result of the Enlightenment, in a new literal and metaphorical light, as a past, present and future centre of excellence for learning, literature, innovation, arts and the sharing of information.

DoranBrowne Arts Programming & Consultancy has brought together the very best local, national and international talent from film, politics, academia, visual arts and music to give a uniquely modern twist to themes from the Enlightenment.

The special series of talks, debates, readings, recordings and recitals planned for the library and in other atmospheric venues across Belfast will catapult abstract centuries old (17th-18th) ideology straight into 2022.

Through a contemporaneous Enlightenment lens, the festival will give rise to conversations on issues such as feminism and anti-racism. It will explore the benefits of new social contracts and coffee shop culture; the impact of populism on politics, the rights of individuals to choose versus state, innovation in science, the pursuit of knowledge etc.

Due to Covid however, this is a tale of two festivals; the first part running in the first week of February with two specially commissioned artistic illuminations inside and outside the Linen Hall Library.

BrainWaves will illuminate the exterior of the Linen Hall Library with a Festival Young Artist Commission, inviting Belfast artist Susan Hughes to create an abstract moving image, inspired by a quote from contemporary Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard, acclaimed for his six autobiographical novels My Struggle, when he viewed a living brain under a microscope.

While internationally acclaimed Dublin based lighting designer, Conleth White will take audiences on individual journeys through the Linen Hall Library at night through a bespoke light installation Linen Into Light – An illuminated promenade through the Ulster Soul.

Highlights of the February festival also includes a filmed reading ‘I will Yes’ by 22 Belfast women celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses, of which the library is a custodian of one of the few original copies. The word Yes, being an unremitting soliloquy to optimism.

In on-line events Siri Hustvedt will discuss the mixed legacy the Enlightenment has left in conversation with David Dwan, Professor of English Literature and Intellectual History at Hertford College, Oxford. While political speechwriter Ben Rhodes, former aide and confidant to President Barrack Obama talks to Carlo Gébler about his new book After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made about the threat to democracy in the US and beyond.

And in a Belfast Community Event, over 100 citizens will take part in Coffee House Conversations, in the Linen Hall’s Café and in venues around Donegall Square in groups of six people, with aspiration for new thinking from individuals in an informal setting to explore what really matters to the people of Belfast. The project and research will be made publicly available in the Linen Hall post-festival.

Julie Andrews, Director of the Linen Hall Library said:

“This idea has come about because I wanted to cast a new light on the Linen Hall Library and to focus people’s attention on its rich past and heritage. It was founded as a direct result of the Enlightenment when men and women from the burgeoning business classes got together to share information and ideas. The festival reminds us of where the library came from but also the need to revisit and review the environment in which we currently reside with a new light of understanding.”

Seán Doran said:

“We are excited to be shining a light on the ideas of the Enlightenment, exploring how seemingly distant ideas could not be more relevant or powerful in our world today, shaping us all for good or ill.”

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council, said:

“This festival gives us a fascinating opportunity to look again at the legacy of the Enlightenment values and ideas that were at the heart of institutions such as the Linen Hall Library and which transformed the development of arts and culture, through the lens of the modern-day, 21st century Belfast. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support such an innovative and thought-provoking festival, through our National Lottery funds.”

To ensure maximum Covid safety during the Omicron surge, the second half of the Linen Hall Enlightenment Festival is being rescheduled for later in the Spring. In-person events to include a special recital celebrating the life and work of two European Enlightenment geniuses Mozart and Burns, and a performed reading of Jean Rhys’ novel Wide Sargasso Sea; a post-colonial and feminist prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. It will also include a discussion amongst young people from NI and Scotland on the role and importance of education.

Updates will follow. The Enlightenment Festival is funded by the Arts Council of NI National Lottery Funding; Ulster-Scots Agency, Department for Communities, Belfast City Council, Arthur J, Gallagher td, Building Automation Controls Ltd and McConnell Property Ltd.

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Launch of the debut Look North! The North Belfast Festival

Friday 14th January 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

North Belfast’s rich culture and built heritage is to be recognised in a new Festival whose aim is to celebrate the story of North Belfast with its vibrant and diverse community.

This debut weekend festival - Look North! The North Belfast Festival - will take place from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 February in a wide range of venues along the new North Belfast Cultural Corridor. In just over one mile you can find 15 historic buildings and sites which stretch back to the 18th Century. It is an area also renowned as the birth-place and alma mater of such international literary talent as Brian Moore, Helen Waddell, John Hewitt, Ciaran Carson, Sinéad Morrisey, Anne Devlin, Gerald Dawe, Bernard MacLaverty, and Anna Burns.

The festival programme is jam-packed with activities to showcase and celebrate North Belfast’s rich heritage and its cultural, creative and literary talents, with appearances from local authors, artists and young people, though it is not all limited to the area. To this end the programme reflects a wide range of activities and interests, including talks, poetry readings, panel discussions, walks, historic tours, the visual arts, music and comedy performances, creative writing classes for adults and the launch of the first Look North! Short Story Literary Awards in association with Intercomm North Belfast

Speaking at the launch in Clifton House North Belfast, Tony Kennedy, Chair of The John Hewitt Society, who outlined the festival programme said,

“It is a great pleasure to bring a festival to this part of Belfast where John Hewitt was born and grew up, and which shaped his views on life. This debut Festival aims to be open to all and we hope that it will be the beginning of a regular event recognising the rich heritage and cultural contributions of North Belfast, both to the city and beyond. I would like to thank my fellow committee members for the development of such a rich and exciting programme. I would also like to thank our core funders, particularly the National Lottery Community Fund, Belfast City Council and Ulster University for their support, as well as sponsors and partners who are named in the programme.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl, who launched the festival said:

“This debut festival is a fantastic celebration of the unique and creative talents that exist in North Belfast. The packed schedule of events offers something for everyone to enjoy. Good luck to the team on delivering what I’m sure will be a hugely successful programme.”

The Festival Ambassador, Tim McGarry, who also spoke, added:

"As a proud son of North Belfast I'm delighted that we are finally getting our own bespoke festival and am honoured to lend my support to it. I hope the excellent range of events brings more people to this part of the city and that this is just the start of something beautiful for North Belfast".

Welcoming the Festival, Roisín Mc Donough Chief Executive of The Arts Council of Northern Ireland stated,

‘’The Arts Council is delighted to support what will be a tremendous celebration of arts in and of North Belfast.’’

To view the full schedule, and to book for events, please visit northbelfastfestival.com

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Job Opportunity: Director of Operations

Friday 14th January 2022 at 9am 0 Comments

The Arts Council is the lead development agency for the arts in Northern Ireland and now has the following vacancy:

Ref: 22/01 Director of Operations
Permanent 37 hours per week
Grade 7 £52,026 - £55,685 per annum (Aug 21)

Reporting to the Chief Executive, the post-holder will be responsible for day-to-day operational activities within the Arts Council and will support the management and oversight of all issues relating to Lottery and Exchequer funds.


Closing date: 12.00noon on Friday 4th February 2022.

We are an equal opportunities employer and we welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons.

For more information about the role, please email the HR Department at hr@artscouncil-ni.org

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Arts Council opens new £40,000 Organisations Digital Evolution Awards programme

Monday 10th January 2022 at 4pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (Monday 10th January) opened a new funding programme which aims to provide arts organisations from Northern Ireland with skills in the use of digital technology to create digital art. Online applications are open from Monday 10th January and will close at 12 noon on Monday 14th February 2022, with decisions expected by Monday 4th April 2022.

The Organisations Digital Evolution Awards, worth £40,000, from The National Lottery, offers arts organisations the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £10,000 each for proposals that will take place between 4 April 2022 and 28 February 2023.

Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact the Arts Council’s Creative Industries Officer if they wish to discuss eligibility of their project concepts.

The Organisations Digital Evolution Awards aims to support those arts organisations who are making digital art* for the first time or are working with digital or immersive technology which they have not used previously. Collaborative applications from organisations working together in cross-discipline projects and activities are also encouraged. Examples of the types of project that this scheme will support includes:

  • Creation of a virtual environment or augmented reality environment; such as augmented reality visual arts or sound overlay on venues or geographical spaces.
  • Using technology, such as 3D rendering and printing, to create artwork digitally which can either exist digitally or be manufactured into 3D physical objects.
  • Using technology to translate data into artistic content; for example algorithms that create music or visual content from data input
  • App development for the delivery of artistic content; this could include gamification or making an artistic experience for consumption on digital devices. (Note: this does not include streaming of filmed / recorded performances)
  • Piloting new forms of support to individual artists or organisations that results in the creation of digital art.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“The opening of the Organisations Digital Evolution Awards today is welcome news. Thanks to The National Lottery, the programme will support arts organisations in the creation of art using digital and immersive technologies, and will also help organisations develop skills in the use of these new technologies. This programme reflects the Arts Council’s commitment to encouraging innovative practices that cross artform boundaries and build digital capabilities within the Northern Ireland arts sector.”

The Organisations Digital Evolution Awards scheme is open for online applications from Monday 10th January 2022 and will close at 12noon on Monday 14th February 2022 for grants up to a maximum of £10,000. Decisions are expected by Monday 4th April 2022. For further information on the webinar, eligibility, guidance notes and to apply visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/organisations-digital-evolution-awards Please note guidance notes are also available on request in large print format and disk.

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Arts Council opens new £100,000 Creative Industries Seed Fund

Monday 10th January 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, in collaboration with Future Screens NI, today (Monday 10th January 2022) opened a new funding programme which aims to develop partnerships that will use the arts within new and emerging digital, immersive technologies to expand the possibilities of how the arts can be distributed and utilised in new and innovate ways. Online applications are open from Monday 10th January and will close at 12 noon on Monday 28th February 2022, with decisions expected by Friday 15th April 2022.

The Creative Industries Seed Fund, worth £100,000, from The National Lottery and Future Screens NI, offers applicants the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £25,000. To support prospective applicants to the programme, the Arts Council together with Future Screens NI, will an online webinar on 25th January 2022, to enable applicants to explore their ideas with industry experts. Registration in advance is essential and you can find details of how to attend here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/information-webinar-creative-industries-seed-fund-tickets-242826339117

The Creative Industries Seed Fund aims to assist arts organisations, entrepreneurs, and creative businesses to undertake projects that contribute to the growth of the creative industries and unlock future income generation. Eligible applications must be partnerships between an arts organization or artist and a creative business or academia. Proposals must also use new and emerging technology to advance artistic practice to enhance the experience of arts audiences, create new digital artistic products, or allow for digital distribution of existing arts products or services. This funding programme is only suitable for proposals that will take place before 28th February 2023.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“The opening of the Creative Industries Seed Fund today is welcome news and we are delighted to partner with Future Screens NI on this exciting programme. The programme will support projects that distribute and utilize the arts in new and innovative ways using digital and immersive technologies. This programme reflects the Arts Council’s continuing commitment to encouraging innovative practices that cross artform boundaries and build digital capabilities within the Northern Ireland arts sector.”

Professor Paul Morre, Director Future Screens NI, said,

“As we continue to experience transitions associated with Covid-19 it is essential that we support artists to develop the skills required to benefit fully from new, emerging and immersive technologies. Future Screens NI is privileged to partner with Arts Council NI to deliver the Creative Industries Seed Fund which will enhance the ability of artists to develop ambitious creative projects employing new technologies and to develop specialist skills required to sustain the future of the creative industries. As new technologies emerge it is essential we continue to develop practices and projects which challenge the idea that art, technology and science operate in different spaces.”

The Creative Industries Seed Fund is open for online applications from Monday 10th January 2022 and will close at 12noon on Monday 28th February for grants up to a maximum of £25,000. For information on the webinar, eligibility, guidance notes and to apply visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/creative-industries-seed-fund-2022. Please note guidance notes are also available on request in large print format and disk.

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Covid Recovery Programme opens for Arts Organisations

Friday 7th January 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, on behalf of the Department for Communities (DfC), has today opened online applications to the Covid Recovery Programme for Arts Organisations (CRPAO).

The new funding scheme is part of a wider funding Covid Recovery Programme, co-designed with seven sectoral bodies.

The Covid Recovery Programme for Arts Organisations is open specifically to arts and cultural organisations whose primary work is based in Northern Ireland. Its purpose is to reduce or remove organisations’ operating deficits. These are deficits which have arisen in the 2021/22 financial year because of the long period of lockdown experienced by the arts and cultural sector during the pandemic. It is hoped this support may alleviate the significant financial pressures arts organisations face, helping them to continue to contribute to the NI economy.

Applications will be accepted from organisations and venues working across all areas of the arts including drama, dance, literature, visual arts, music and participatory arts. Eligible organisations may apply for funding to cover deficits between £10,000 and £50,000. In exceptional circumstances requests for larger awards will be considered.

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,

“We are grateful to the Department for Communities for making this funding available to arts organisations. The opening of the Creative Recovery Programme for Arts Organisations represents an important step forward for the sector. Arts organisations across Northern Ireland have experienced significant financial and operational difficulties over the past two years and this fund will be vital to enabling them to plan ahead for 2022 and beyond.”

NICVA hosted two online information sessions on the Covid Recovery Programme for Organisations, with representatives from each of the delivery bodies. You can watch a recording here.

Applications to the Arts Council’s CRPAO programme will close at 12noon on Friday 28th January 2022, with decisions expected by the end of March 2022. Further funding details, including guidance notes, eligibility information and FAQs, are available from http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/covid-recovery-programme-for-organisations.

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Award Winning author & Illustrator announced as New Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland

Saturday 1st January 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

Award-winning author and illustrator Paul Howard has accepted the post as the new Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University Belfast.

The Fellowship was created as part of Queen’s University and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's joint ten-year Seamus Heaney Legacy project supported by the Atlantic Philanthropies. Paul will be based at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s for two years, working with students and engaged in outreach activities.

Speaking about the appointment, Paul said:

“I’m truly honoured to be appointed our new Children’s Writing Fellow, adding to the amazing achievements of my previous Fellows, Myra Zepf and Kelly McCaughrain. As an illustrator, primarily, I aim to bring a new dimension to the role through promoting visual literacy as an alternative, accessi-ble gateway for students and children of all literacy levels to engage in, building enough confidence in them to read and create their own stories. The Fellowship will also enable me to use the opportunity to take my story-building workshops to schools, who, for whatever reason, have never experienced an au-thor or illustrator visit before, endeavour to seek creative inspiration outside of the classroom and shine a light on the incredibly rich heritage of children’s literature we have in this corner of the country.”

Paul Howard is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator, best known for illustrating Jill Tomlinson’s classic THE OWL WHO WAS AFRAID OF THE DARK and THE BURPEE BEARS, a new picture book series from Joe Wicks.

After gaining a First Class Honour’s Degree in Graphic Design & Illustration in 1989, Paul worked at The Natural History Museum for a while before becoming a full time illustrator. His work has since won acclaim from the publishing industry and children across the world.

During his 30 year long career he has collaborated with some of the greats of children’s literature such as Allan Ahlberg, Michael Rosen, Geraldine McCaughrean, Anne Fine, Trish Cooke, Martin Waddell and John Boyne, and won numerous awards including a Blue Peter Award for THE BRAVEST EVER BEAR and The Primary English Award for THE YEAR IN THE CITY.

Aside from his numerous school, library, bookshop and arts centre visits across Northern Ireland, Paul has appeared at many literary festivals, including Hay, the Edinburgh Book Festival and the Belfast Chil-dren’s Festival.

Paul has lived in Belfast for over 20 years with his wife and their three children. Alongside illustrating for others, he has also had a range of his own stories published: young fiction titles, picture books and board books, the latest of which was 1,2, BOO! for Bloomsbury.

Speaking on behalf of the Estate of Seamus Heaney, Catherine Heaney said:

“We are delighted to hear of the appointment of Paul Howard as Children’s Writing Fellow for North-ern Ireland. With his decades of experience as an author and illustrator of children’s books, Paul knows exactly how to connect with young people in the classroom and beyond, firing their imaginations and en-couraging them in their own reading and writing. We look forward to seeing him build on the incredible work done by his predecessors Myra Zepf and Kelly McCaughrain and wish him every success in the role.”

Professor Glenn Patterson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, said:

“We look forward to welcoming Paul to the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s and working with him over the next two years as the next Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland.

“Paul is a respected and award-winning children’s author and illustrator, it is not just children of school age who will benefit from this appointment: our own students will learn much from, and be in-spired by, his vast creative knowledge and wealth of experience.”

Paul McVeigh, Acting Head of Literature at the Arts Council for NI, comment-ed:

“We are delighted to announce Paul Howard’s appointment today as the new Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland. In his role, he will be working with children of all ages and stages of reading to explore the joy of books, as well as encouraging them to embark on their own story-telling ad-ventures through illustration and words.

“We’d like to thank Kelly for the inspiration she has provided to budding young writers over the last two years, providing them with the tools and confidence to discover new stories and craft their own work.”

Paul Howard will take up his post as the Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland in January 2022.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice

Thursday 23rd December 2021 at 9am 0 Comments

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This page contains the latest guidance for the arts sector on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We will update this page as the situation develops.

 

Updated: 15 February 2022

On Monday 14 February 2022, Health Minister Robin Swann announced that all COVID-19 legal restrictions in Northern Ireland will be replaced by guidance from February 15 2022.

Read the full statement: http://www.health-ni.gov.uk/news/minister-swann-announces-easing-covid-regulations

Updated: 23 December 2021

Additional legal restrictions and guidance have been introduced to slow down transmission, keep as many businesses and services open as possible, and protect against pressure on health services.

Indoor gatherings

The number of people permitted to attend an indoor gathering, in a non-domestic setting, is determined by a risk assessment, carried out by the organiser or operator.

Indoor gatherings, in non-domestic settings, of 15 people or fewer, do not need a risk assessment.

The organiser must also take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

A person responsible for organising a gathering must, if requested to do so by a relevant person, provide:

  • a copy of the risk assessment

and

  • an account of the reasonable measures taken


It is important that indoor spaces are well ventilated at all times, by leaving doors and windows open. Frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, should be cleaned regularly.

Where possible, you should maintain social distancing, as well as good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

Outdoor gatherings

To determine the maximum number of people permitted to attend an outdoor gathering, in a non-domestic setting, the organiser or operator must carry out a risk assessment.

Outdoor gatherings of 30 people or fewer do not need a risk assessment.

The organiser must also take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

A person responsible for organising a gathering must, if requested to do so by a relevant person, provide:

  • a copy of the risk assessment

and

  • an account of the reasonable measures taken


Where possible, you should maintain social distancing, as well as good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

When travelling to large events you should walk, cycle or use private transport, shared only with members of your household where possible.

Indoor standing events

From 06:00 on 26 December indoor standing events will not be permitted.

Outdoor and indoor seated events (sporting and cultural)

You are strongly recommended to take a Rapid Lateral Flow test before attending an indoor or outdoor event or gathering. Lateral flow tests are free and provide a result within 30 minutes at home.

Until then existing arrangements are to be reinforced including Covid Certification checks with 100% checking arrangements in place where appropriate.

Venue operators should promote and encourage face coverings to be worn when entering and leaving a venue and for the duration of the event.

It is strongly recommended that all those present at an event wear a face covering at all times including staff, club officials, spectators and audiences.

Venue operators should ensure that attendees understand what they need to do in advance of attending an event and regularly remind attendees at the event of the need to fully comply with COVID mitigations including wear face coverings, good personal hygiene and limiting social interactions.

Venue operators must ensure they follow the current guidance and regulations for their hospitality offerings and in social club settings.

Those travelling to a sporting or cultural event should not share transport with anyone outside of their own household and should where possible travel in their own car, walk or cycle.

Other mitigations should be considered to reduce the risk of transmission including one way systems throughout venues, sufficient queuing arrangements to avoid congestion and track and trace arrangements.

Ticket purchase should be advance, use of cards and scanners are preferred and handling of cash or paper tickets should where possible be removed.

Good hygiene including hand sanitising is strongly recommended and venue operators should ensure sanitisation stations are widely available and regularly filled.

Entertainment, leisure activities and cultural attractions

From 06:00 on 26 December, the coronavirus regulations will prohibit nightclubs from opening and with the exception of weddings and civil partnerships, dancing will not be permitted in hospitality venues.

Outdoor and indoor visitor attractions are permitted to open and are subject to the requirements on gatherings to determine the maximum numbers permitted access.

You will be required by law to provide proof of COVID-19 status before entering a cinema, theatre, a conference, an exhibition or indoor premises being used for the purpose of a performance, recording or rehearsal.

More information on the COVID certification scheme and methods to prove your COVID-19 status can be found at the following link:
Coronavirus (COVID-19): information on the COVID Certification Scheme

You must wear a face covering when you go to any indoor public space, unless exempt.

This includes, but is not limited to, museums, galleries, cinemas, libraries, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, indoor play areas, snooker and pool halls, theatres, concert halls and conference facilities. Face coverings can only be removed when eating, drinking or dancing.

Venues will be required to collect customer details to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme.

Customer details will include the:

  • name and telephone number of visitors over the age of 16
  • date and time of arrival

The legal requirement to socially distance in indoor seated venues such as theatres, concert halls and cinemas has been removed, however it is still highly recommended, where possible.

The current regulations are available on the Department of Health website: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/health-protection-coronavirus-restrictions-regulations-northern-ireland-2021

For more information on Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations and guidance and what they mean for you, visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-and-guidance-what-they-mean-you


Updated: 1 October 2021

New relaxations on social distancing came into effect on 30 September. While these changes removed the requirement for social distancing in indoor visitor attractions, the Executive reminds sectors of the regulations remaining in law and recommending additional mitigations that should be put in place to limit the risk of transmission.

Your responsibility

It is your responsibility as an employer, business owner or manager of a premise to ensure that you are complying with the current regulations and guidance in place.

The current regulations are available on the Department of Health website at https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/health-protection-coronavirus-restrictions-regulations-northern-ireland-2021

Keep in mind that some of the restrictions are in law through regulation, while others are guidance. These remain in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and we ask that you continue to protect your customers and your employees by following public health advice.

If you fail to comply with the regulations without reasonable excuse, you are committing an offence. For some offences you may be given a fixed penalty or a fine on summary prosecution.

Current COVID-19 regulations and guidance:what they mean for indoor seated venues

Indoor seated venues must:

  • Require wearing of face coverings;
  • Record visitor and attendee information; and
  • Perform a risk assessment and produce it if requested

Audiences for indoor events must be seated and guests must remain seated, (unless using facilities). Dancing is not permitted for audience members.

Face coverings must be worn when seated and when moving about the venue.

Live music events (indoor and outdoor), without restriction to volume levels, must be effectively controlled and managed.

Venues are required to collect customer details to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme. Customer details will include the:

  • name and telephone number of each visitor over the age of 16; and
  • date and time of their visit

Recommended mitigations

Indoor attractions and venues must take reasonable measures to help to reduce the spread of COVID-19, this includes:

  • limiting entry to those either fully vaccinated or with a negative LFT or a positive PCR in previous 30-180 days
  • hand sanitiser stations
  • use of protective screens
  • good ventilation
  • use of one way systems (if possible)
  • minimising close face to face contact
  • regular cleaning especially for high contact areas like card machines

Current regulations do not require social distancing in indoor seated venues or outdoor venues. However, social distancing remains strongly advised where possible, and should be considered alongside other risk mitigations to limit the risk of transmission.

Areas of indoor seated venues where food or drink is sold or provided come under hospitality regulations. In these areas social distancing of 1m continues to be a legal requirement.

Risk mitigations should be detailed in your risk assessments.

Proof of COVID status

Premises are advised to limit entry to those either fully vaccinated or with a negative LFT or a positive PCR in previous 30-180 days.

While the Executive is currently considering options on the use of domestic certification there are ways to check COVID Status as outlined below.

Fully vaccinated

Photographic identification for example a drivers licence or passport to verify identity and match evidence of vaccination; AND
COVID-19 Immunisation record card – should include name of vaccine, batch number and date given; OR
COVID-19 Certificate for those who have travelled or plan to travel in the next 3 months; OR
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination confirmation – letter showing participation in Vaccine trial and being fully vaccinated

Negative Lateral Flow Test

Photographic identification for example a drivers licence or passport to verify identity and match evidence of test result; AND
Text proof of a negative result being reported to the NHS – date and result should be clearly visible and within 24 hours prior to attendance at the venue.

Positive PCR in previous 30-180 days

Photographic identification for example a drivers licence or passport to verify identity and match evidence of vaccination; AND
Email or text proof of a positive test result – date and test result should be clearly visible and should be at least 30 days prior to entry to the venue but no more than 180 days prior

Find out more about COVID-19 Testing, including how to get tested on nidirect at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-testing

Workforce testing for COVID-19 https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-workplace-covid-19-testing

Current COVID-19 regulations and guidance:what they mean for indoor visitor attractions

Indoor visitor attractions must:

  • Require wearing of face coverings;
  • Record visitor and attendee information; and
  • Perform a risk assessment and produce it if requested

Venues are required to collect customer details to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme. Customer details will include the:

  • name and telephone number of each visitor over the age of 16; and
  • date and time of their visit

Recommended mitigations

Indoor attractions and venues must take reasonable measures to help to reduce the spread of COVID-19, this includes:

  • hand sanitiser stations
  • use of protective screens
  • good ventilation
  • use of one way systems (if possible)
  • minimising close face to face contact
  • regular cleaning especially for high contact areas like card machines

Current regulations do not require social distancing in indoor visitor attractions or outdoor venues. However, social distancing remains strongly advised where possible, and should be considered alongside other risk mitigations to limit the risk of transmission.

Areas of indoor visitor attractions which sell or provide food or drink come under the hospitality regulations. In these areas social distancing of 1m continues to be a legal requirement.

Risk mitigations should be detailed in your risk assessments.

Useful links



Updated: 28 September 2021

Statement on Executive decisions - social distancing

The Executive has considered the existing regulations and has agreed to remove the legal requirement to socially distance in retail and indoor visitor attractions.

The Executive has also decided to remove the requirement to socially distance in indoor seated venues such as theatres, concert halls and cinemas. They advise that additional mitigating measures are utilised, including proof of being fully vaccinated, or proof of a negative lateral flow rapid test, or proof of natural immunity from a positive PCR test undertaken in the previous 30-180 days.

Find out more: https://www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/news/statement-executive-decisions-social-distancing

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has welcomed the NI Executive's decision to remove the legal requirement to socially distance in indoor visitor attractions.

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council said,

"The Arts Council of Northern Ireland welcomes the announcement that social distancing restrictions are to be lifted. This is such an important step forward and will enable our arts organisations and arts venues to operate at full capacity again. This really is a very positive sign that the wider arts and culture sectors in Northern Ireland are now on the journey to recovery at last. Indeed I know all those working in and around the arts sector will continue to enact every safety measure needed to welcome back audiences, they have been much missed."



Updated: 2nd August 2021

Letter from Deirdre Hargey MLA, Minister for Communities:

Social Distancing at Outdoor Events and Gatherings

The Executive announced a number of changes to the current Covid-19 restrictions on 29 July. These included a number of changes to the guidance on social distancing at outdoor gatherings which will have implications for those planning outdoor arts events and festivals.

The Executive has therefore decided that:

For outdoor venues, the guidance will continue to note the health benefits of 2 metres social distancing;

The guidance will further advise that social distancing requirements are strongly advised but are not a requirement; and

Where possible, those organising events and venue operators, should maintain a minimum of 1 metre social distancing and ideally 2 metres.

It is important to note that the Executive remains concerned about the spread of the virus and its transmissibility.

Event organisers and venue operators should continue to consider appropriate mitigations that will help reduce the risk of the virus spreading at large gatherings as part of the risk assessment process.

The Executive has also announced a number of changes to the arrangements relating to international travel. Again given the fluid situation, it is essential that those involved in planning events that require inbound or outbound international travel keep up to date with the travel regulations.

In recent days, my Department has received a number of travel exemption requests in respect of the current Covid regulations for upcoming events and I fully expect that other exemption requests will materialise over the next period. I would ask that event organisers submit any requests for travel exemption well in advance of when travel arrangements need to be confirmed.

I can confirm that officials are committed to providing assistance where they can but the onus remains on those involved in organising events to keep themselves fully informed of the current guidance and to have contingency plans in place given that the situation remains fluid and uncertain.

The latest public health advice and updated regulations continue to be available on NI Direct.

I trust this information is helpful.

Is mise le meas,

Deirdre Hargey MLA

Minister for Communities

Updated: 26 July 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance

The Northern Ireland Executive agreed on 26th July that theatres and indoor concert settings can reopen to audiences from 6pm on Tuesday 27th July. Live music will be permitted for rehearsals and performances with no restriction to background ambient levels of volume. Audience members must purchase tickets in advance, must have allocated seating and social distancing of 1m will be required.

For more information on the regulations, visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you

Arts Council NI guidance on safe reopening of performance venues: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/In-the-Bubble-of-Our-Making-Reopening-the-Arts-in-Northern-Ireland-July-2020.pdf

 

 

Updated: 23July 2021

Risk assessment template

The NI Executive has published updated guidance and a risk assessment template for events and gatherings. Under current coronavirus restrictions, if you're organising or operating an indoor gathering of more than 15 people or outdoor gathering of more than 30 people you must carry out a risk assessment. You must also take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of coronavirus transmission.

Find out more visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-risk-assessments-gatherings-and-events-guidance

 

 

Updated: 9 July 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance

An indicative date of 26 July has been set for the reopening of theatres and indoor seated venues for performances, the return of conferences and exhibitions and the return of live music indoors with no restrictions on sound levels.

Entry to theatre, concerts and other types of performances will be by ticket only, bought in advance.

Audiences for indoor events must have allocated seating and guests must stay seated (unless using facilities). Social distancing of one metre required.

Dancing is not permitted for audience members.

The indicative date of 26 July is subject to review on 22 July.

For more information on the regulations, visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you

Arts Council NI guidance on safe reopening of performance venues: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/In-the-Bubble-of-Our-Making-Reopening-the-Arts-in-Northern-Ireland-July-2020.pdf

 

 

Updated: 2 July 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance

Outdoor and indoor visitor attractions are permitted to open (theatres and concert halls are not included) and are subject to the requirements on gatherings to determine the maximum numbers permitted access.

You must wear a face covering when you go to any indoor public space, unless exempt.

Venues will be required to collect customer details to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme.

Customer details will include the:

  • name and telephone number of each visitor over the age of 16
  • date and time

 

An indoor attraction including an amusement arcade, a bingo hall, a museum, a gallery or a cinema must take reasonable measures to ensure that social distancing measures are maintained at all times to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

From 5 July
From 5 July live music will be permitted at outdoor events, without restriction to volume.

Social distancing is advised for all outdoor events and COVID-19 testing should be considered in advance of large events.

Live music will also be permitted in licensed and unlicensed premises. Music must be at ambient levels that permit normal conversation and with suitable mitigations in place.

For more information on the regulations, visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you

Arts Council NI guidance on safe reopening of performance venues: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/In-the-Bubble-of-Our-Making-Reopening-the-Arts-in-Northern-Ireland-July-2020.pdf

 

 

Updated: 18 June 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance

Entertainment, leisure activities and cultural attractions

Outdoor and indoor visitor attractions are permitted to open (theatres and concert halls are not included) and are subject to the requirements on gatherings to determine the maximum numbers permitted access.

You must wear a face covering when you go to any indoor public space, unless exempt.

Venues will be required to collect customer details to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme.

Customer details will include the:

  • name and telephone number of each visitor over the age of 16
  • date and time

 

An indoor attraction including an amusement arcade, a bingo hall, a museum, a gallery or a cinema must take reasonable measures to ensure that social distancing measures are maintained at all times to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

Indicative date
An indicative date of 5 July has been set for the return of audiences in theatres, concert halls and other venues, as well as the return of conferences and exhibitions.
Live music will be permitted, without restriction to volume, for rehearsal, recording or performance purposes in concert venues, theatres and other indoor venues which, for the duration of the rehearsal, recording or performance are set aside for that purpose.

Live music events must be effectively controlled and managed. If the event is taking place in a venue that is part of larger premises (such as a hotel) it must be sufficiently isolated to ensure the volume of music in the venue does not breach ambient levels in other parts of the premises. Dancing is not permitted for audience members.
Entry to performances will be by ticket only, purchased in advance.

Audiences for indoor events must have allocated seating and guests must remain seated, (unless using facilities).

A maximum of six people can be seated together. Children aged 12 and under are not counted in the total.

An indicative date of 5 July has also been set to allow live music and dancing at outdoor events, without restriction to volume.

Social distancing at a minimum of one metre will be required for live music-related activity in indoor seated venues and will be advised for all outdoor events.

The indicative date of 5 July is subject to review on 1 July.

 

 

Updated: 14 June 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance

Outdoor and indoor visitor attractions are permitted to open (theatres and concert halls are not included) and are subject to the requirements on gatherings to determine the maximum numbers permitted access.

You must wear a face covering when you go to any indoor public space, unless exempt.

Venues will be required to collect customer details to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme.

An indoor attraction including an amusement arcade, a bingo hall, a museum, a gallery or a cinema must take reasonable measures to ensure that social distancing measures are maintained at all times to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

Indicative date
An indicative date of 21 June has been set for the return of audiences in theatres, concert halls and other venues, as well as the return of conferences and exhibitions.
Live music will be permitted, without restriction to volume, for rehearsal, recording or performance purposes in concert venues, theatres and other indoor venues which, for the duration of the rehearsal, recording or performance are set aside for that purpose.

Live music events must be effectively controlled and managed. If the event is taking place in a venue that is part of larger premises (such as a hotel) it must be sufficiently isolated to ensure the volume of music in the venue does not breach ambient levels in other parts of the premises. Dancing is not permitted for audience members.
Entry to performances will be by ticket only, purchased in advance.

Audiences for indoor events must have allocated seating and guests must remain seated, (unless using facilities).

A maximum of six people can be seated together. Children aged 12 and under are not counted in the total.

An indicative date of 21 June has also been set to allow live music and dancing at outdoor events, without restriction to volume.

Social distancing at a minimum of one metre will be required for live music-related activity in indoor seated venues and will be advised for all outdoor events.
The indicative date of 21 June is subject to review on 17 June.

For more information on the regulations, visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you

Arts Council NI guidance on safe reopening of performance venues: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/In-the-Bubble-of-Our-Making-Reopening-the-Arts-in-Northern-Ireland-July-2020.pdf

 

 

Updated: 14 May 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance

An indicative date of 24 May has been set for the reopening of indoor visitor and cultural attractions, such as museums, galleries and cinemas (music venues are not included). Libraries will also be permitted to fully reopen.

You must wear a face covering when you go to any indoor public space, unless exempt.

Venues will be required to collect customer details to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme.

Venues must have carried out a risk assessment and take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

An indicative date of 21 June has been set for the return of audiences in theatres, concert halls and other venues, as well as the return of conferences and exhibitions.

The indicative date of 24 May is subject to review on 20 May.

For more information on the regulations, visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you

Arts Council NI guidance on safe reopening of performance venues: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/In-the-Bubble-of-Our-Making-Reopening-the-Arts-in-Northern-Ireland-July-2020.pdf

 

 

Updated: 16 April 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance

Currently:

  • Leisure and entertainment venues, including theatres, concert halls, cinemas, indoor museums, galleries, visitor and other cultural attractions are not permitted to open.
  • Outdoor visitor attractions are not permitted to open.
  • Theatres and concert halls are permitted to open for rehearsals or a live recording without an audience.

 

From 23 April:

  • Outdoor visitor attractions and activity centres may reopen. This includes drive-in cinemas and performances.
  • Outdoor static band practice/rehearsal permitted

 

From 24 May (Indicative date only):

  • Indoor visitor and cultural attractions can reopen - subject to review.

 

The current regulations will be reviewed on 13 May 2021.

For more information on the regulations, visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you

A summary guide outlining what the coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Protection regulations mean for you is available to view from https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/Restrictions-April-May-2021.pdf

 

Updated: 21 December 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance

Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, additional restrictions will be introduced for people in Northern Ireland on 26 December. These new restrictions are being put in place to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Entertainment and cultural attractions
Leisure and entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, indoor museums, galleries, visitor and other cultural attractions are not permitted to open.

Outdoor visitor attractions are not permitted to open, along with drive-in events.

Community halls are allowed to remain open, but must adhere to current guidelines.

Theatres and concert halls are permitted to open for rehearsals or a live recording without an audience.

For more information on restrictions, visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you
 

 

Updated: 11 December 2020

From Friday 11th December, singing groups and bands in Northern Ireland are permitted to rehearse with others and perform outdoors.

This relaxation of restrictions by the NI Executive brings Northern Ireland into line with current practice in England.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is revising its guidance on Reopening the Arts in Northern Ireland (pp.29-30), as follows:

The core points when playing brass/wind would be the same as for any other instrument and would include:

  • Observing social distancing at all times whilst playing.
  • Group size would be governed by the regulations in place at the time.
  • For professionals (i.e. for work purposes) where social distancing is not possible, using fixed teams which are positioned socially distanced from any other fixed team or anyone else. Note that this fixed team approach is not recommended in non-professional environments unless all the members of the fixed team are part of the same household or support bubble. It is also unlikely that this fixed team approach will be feasible where professional performers work with more than one group or organisation simultaneously.
  • Using back-to-back or side-to-side positioning (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.
  • Playing outdoors wherever possible.
  • If playing indoors, limiting the numbers to account for ventilation of the space and the ability to social distance.
  • Considering using screens or barriers in addition to social distancing.

 

For singing, professional and non-professional, the guidance would adopt the suggested principles of safer singing, the core points of which would be:

  • people with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, or who are known to have been in recent contact with others who have COVID-19, do not participate in singing or attend singing events.
  • Singing takes place only in larger well-ventilated spaces, or outdoors.
  • Performance or rehearsal is for limited periods of time at a reduced level of loudness, using microphones for amplification if available.
  • Maximum group size would be governed by the regulations in place at the time and limited numbers of people sing together.
  • Singers are spaced at least 2 metres apart in all directions

 

Updated: 2 December 2020

Ní Chuilín allocates further funding for individuals in the arts and creative economy

Individuals who work across the arts and wider creative economy are set to benefit from a further £3.25million of funding, Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has announced.

Ní Chuilín allocates further funding for individuals in the arts and creative economyNí Chuilín allocates further funding for individuals in the arts and creative economy
At a meeting with the sector this afternoon, the Minister outlined a further round of the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP) will open for applications on December 17.

Applicants experiencing financial hardship as a result of Covid-19 will be able to apply for support of up to £5,000 - or £7,500 for disabled individuals with support costs.

This is the third emergency programme targeted directly at individuals and will be delivered by Arts Council NI on behalf of the Department. Information on eligibility and guidance is now available from http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/individuals-emergency-resilience-programme-2

Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 30th November 2020

D/deaf and Disabled Artists Support Fund 2020/21

The D/deaf and Disabled Artists Support Fund 2020/21, which is now open for applications, is managed by the University of Atypical on behalf of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities.  The Fund aims to provide much-needed financial support to D/deaf and disabled artists at a time when their potential to generate income has been seriously impacted by the closure of art galleries, theatres, music venues and other creative outlets due to Covid-19.

Through the University of Atypical's support, disabled/deaf artists have developed unique artwork of extremely high artistic quality. Many artists have gone on to attract other types of funding, some to the level where international recognition has been achieved.

  • D/deaf and disabled Artists can apply for awards of £2,000.
  • Advice clinics available until 11th December.

 

Application deadline: Friday 18th December at 4pm.

 

Updated: 11th November 2020

Lyric Theatre, Crescent Arts Centre, Ulster Orchestra and the MAC set to receive Funding Lifeline

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has confirmed that four flagship arts organisations have been offered additional funding support totalling almost £620,000.

Money has been awarded to The Lyric Theatre, the MAC, Crescent Arts Centre and the Ulster Orchestra to help them prepare and plan for reopening, following closures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The funding, which will be administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, is part of a range of measures supported by COVID emergency funding from the Department for Communities to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors, which have been severely impacted by the pandemic.

Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 9th November 2020

Communities Minister announces almost £1.5million funding towards Renewal Projects

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has announced a further £1.465 million funding stream for arts, culture and heritage Renewal projects. This funding forms part of the £29 million Covid-19 Culture, Languages, Arts and Heritage Support Programme 2020/2021. The funding includes:

  • £15,000 to the Arts Council to develop digital skills and knowledge of artists with disabilities.
  • £500,000 to NI Screen to deliver through their Creative Learning Centres digital film archive projects, a range of skills development projects and support to the Amma Centre, Cinemagic and local film festivals.

 

Read the full news release here


Updated: 6th November 2020

Funding to help musicians purchase new instruments announced

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is offering a number of funding opportunities under its Musical Instruments Scheme. Thanks to capital investment of £300,000 from the Department for Communities three funding programmes have opened offering support for artists and groups to purchase instruments up until March 2021.

The scheme is good news for marching bands, non-professional and professional performing groups, community groups, professional musicians and schools that may be eligible to apply to purchase instruments and music-making equipment. The Musical Instruments Scheme is designed to increase the quality of music-making in Northern Ireland and to ensure as many groups and individuals as possible have an opportunity to purchase new instruments.

Read the full news release here

 

Arts Council awards £900,958 emergency funding to 62 cultural organisations across Northern Ireland

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has awarded, on behalf of the Department for Communities, £900,958 emergency financial support to 62 arts and cultural organisations to help them recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Through the Organisational Emergency Programme (OEP), 62 organisations are set to benefit from grants of up to £25,000 each to help them respond to the immediate impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, including helping them to continue producing creative work, assist with operational costs and to help plan for recovery in the long-term.

The OEP provides much-needed financial support, a lifeline to arts organisations, at a time when essential elements of the arts sector have been decimated due to venue and gallery closures, festival and event cancellations and the disappearance of live audiences.  This is the second round of the OEP which to date has supported 212 organisations with a total of £2,850,071 emergency funding.

Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 3rd November 2020

New £2m Community Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund now open

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has announced a new £2 million fund for community based culture, arts and heritage projects in response to Covid-19.

The Community Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund will be distributed by the Community Foundation NI and will prioritise projects which support people with disabilities and those who are vulnerable.

This forms part of the overall £29m Executive funding for the Department for Communities’ Covid-19 Culture, Languages, Arts and Heritage Support Programme.

This new £2m Community Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund is open to all community organisations which can deliver new projects as part of the programme’s renewal strand. Any constituted organisation can apply and their primary purpose need not be related to arts or heritage. Groups can apply for awards from £2,000 to £20,000 for expenditure up to 31 March 2021 for a wide range of projects related to culture, arts, creativity and heritage.

For information and application details visit https://communityfoundationni.org/grants/the-arts-culture-and-heritage-challenge-fund/
 
Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 28th October 2020

£7.75m programme to support arts and cultural organisations

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland to distribute grants on behalf of Department for Communities.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland will deliver, on behalf of the Department for Communities, a £7.75m programme of support, aimed at helping arts and cultural sector recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Through the Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations, grants of up to £500,000 will be available to organisations working in the arts and cultural sector to help them respond to the immediate impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, including help with re-opening, adapting and stabilising their organisations in the long-term

The Stability and Renewal Programme is part of the £29 million Executive allocation that was made to DfC to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors which have been severely impacted by Covid-19.

Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 26th October 2020

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has given the green light for financial support to be released this week to support the creative and heritage sectors.

The Covid support funding will be distributed by Arts Council NI (ACNI), and partner bodies in the heritage and indigenous language sectors.

Full details of the £15.75m will be announced on Wednesday by the Department’s delivery partners:

  • £7.75m will be made available to arts organisations through the Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations, administered by ACNI
  • £5.5m is being provided for a Heritage Recovery Fund
  • £2.5m will be shared among the Irish Language, Ulster Scots and Sign Language sectors

The aim is to stabilise these sectors and preserve the vibrancy and important benefits delivered by organisations and individuals working in culture, languages, arts and heritage.

Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 23rd October 2020

European Investment Bank Institute 2021 Artists Development Programme

The European Investment Bank (EIB) Institute is looking for emerging European artists and collectives to join the 2020 edition of its Artists Development Programme (ADP), a 6-8 weeks long residency programme in Luxembourg, under the mentorship of renowned Finnish photographer Jorma Puranen.

The EIB launched two calls for applications targeting visual artists (EU nationals, aged less than 35) with a thematic focus on:

The deadline for applying is 10 January 2021 at midnight (GMT+1).
For more information about the programme visit https://institute.eib.org/whatwedo/arts/artists-residencies/

 

Updated: 20th October 2020

Arts Council announces £3.8m emergency funding to support 1089 individuals in the Creative Economy

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland on behalf of DfC and in collaboration with Future Screens NI, has announced details of 1089 individuals, working in the Creative Economy, who are set to benefit from £3,852,000 of emergency funding as part of part of the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP).

More than £3m of this funding is coming from the £29m Executive allocation that was made to the Department for Communities to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors which have been severely impacted by Covid-19.

The IERP is designed to support those working in the Creative Economy including freelancers, musicians, actors, artists and craft workers during the COVID-19 crisis.  The IERP, worth £3,752,000 from the Department for Communities and £100,000 from Future Screens NI, offered individuals the opportunity to apply for grants of £1,200, £3,000 or £5,000 each.

Read the full news release here.

 

Updated: 19th October 2020

Individual artists first to benefit from £29m funding package

Arts Council Chief Executive, Roisin McDonough, welcomes today’s news of extra funding to support individuals working in the creative sectors and thanks the Minister for Communities and her Department.

Thanks to today’s announcement of an extra £3m of public funding for individuals, we are now able to provide IERP funding of £3,852,000 to all eligible applicants, reaching 1,089 people within these sectors and offer them the support to develop new skills and create new work. Offers of IERP awards will be communicated this week.

Read the full news release here

 

Under the new Health Protection Regulations approved by the NI Assembly which came into force on Friday 16th October, Businesses subject to immediate closure include:

‘museums and galleries’;
‘cinemas (but not cinemas at which visitors remain in a vehicle)’; and
‘indoor visitor attractions’. 

‘Dance’ has been specifically added to the list of activities which are restricted with immediate effect during the current restriction phase. The new regulations define a sporting event as: “Sporting event” means a gathering for the purpose of exercise, competitive sport, recreational sport or sport training, and “dance of any type shall be deemed to be a form of exercise or sport for the purposes of this schedule”.

The restrictions that now apply as a result of the regulations are set out below:

Restrictions on sporting events
(1) A person shall not organise, operate or participate in an indoor or outdoor sporting event.
(2) Sub-paragraph (1) shall not prohibit or prevent a person from organising, operating or participating in—
(a) an indoor sporting event if all participants are elite athletes;
(b) an indoor sporting event if the participants are one individual and one coach or trainer and there is no contact between participants who are not members of the same household;
(c) an outdoor sporting event, provided all participants are elite athletes; or
(d) an outdoor sporting event if there is no contact between participants who are not members of the same household, provided that the gathering consists of no more than 15 persons.

For more information on restrictions, visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you 

 

Updated: 12th October 2020

New Conversations 2020

UK-Canada artistic partners are invited to apply for funding of up to £3,500 GBP / $6,000 CAD to explore how they can develop new creative ideas, exchange knowledge and practice without meeting in person. The fund is open to Canada and UK-based individual artists, collectives, independent companies and organizations of theatre and dance. Cross art form collaborations are also welcomed. Deadline: 27 November 2020. http://theatre.farnhammaltings.com/portfolio/new-conversations/

 

Open Call for Commissions for Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement

Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company is planning the next edition of its annual festival of dance and movement, which will run 20th - 27th February 2021. As part of the programme, the company will award three small commissions for works that are 'adaptable' to Covid-19 circumstances and restrictions. The work should be created on the island of Ireland and creation and performance of it should not involve any international travel which might put the project at risk should restrictions apply. https://echoechodance.wordpress.com/2020/10/06/open-call-for-commissions-for-echo-echo-festival-of-dance-and-movement-february-20th-27th-2021-derry/

Application deadline: Friday 23rd October.

 

Updated: 29th September 2020

Freelands Foundation Emergency Fund
For artists and freelancers in Northern Ireland in partnership with a-n The Artists Information Company. The Freelands Foundation Emergency Fund is supported by the Freelands Foundation, as part of a landmark commitment of £3m towards emergency funds for artists and freelance creative practitioners across the UK affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Funds will be available for Northern Ireland based practitioners. Applications opened on Friday 25th September 2020.

Who can apply: Freelance creative practitioners based in Northern Ireland who work in the visual arts and are experiencing severe financial hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
What: Grants of £1,500 – £2,500
Deadline for applications: Applications are accepted from 2:00pm on Friday 25th September 2020 and decisions will be made on a monthly basis. You can apply at any time. Applicants will be informed of decisions within approximately 5-6 weeks of submitting an application. We encourage applicants to make a submission early due to the limited funds available.

Enquiries: emergencyfund@a-n.co.uk
https://www.a-n.co.uk/about/freelands-foundation-emergency-fund-2/

 

Updated: 24th September 2020

Allocation of funding to arts and culture

The Arts Council welcomes news from the NI Executive that £29m has been allocated to help the arts and cultural sectors in Northern Ireland endure the Covid-19 pandemic.
There have been devastating financial consequences for all working in and around the arts because of venue closures, the restrictions of social distancing placed on audiences and staff, and the massive loss of earned income since lock-down began.

We are heartened to see that the majority of the funding announced today is aimed at helping our core arts and cultural organisations, as well as artists and creative practitioners, get through this crisis to year-end, in the hope we can press a reset button and open our venues, festivals and cultural activities safely to the public as quickly as possible.

Read full news release here

 

Updated: 21st September 2020

The Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund, in partnership with Arts & Business Northern Ireland, was launched today, 21 September. The Fund will distribute a total of £840,000 between 2020 and 2022, and is designed to support artists and arts projects across the island of Ireland.  Today’s announcement brings the Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together community investment to €3million. 

The Arts Fund will support or commission artists and arts organisations to develop arts projects, enhancing the wellbeing of the participants, audiences and communities involved. All art forms are eligible and the aim is for the projects to benefit a range of audiences. The Fund will also support arts projects that have been adapted due to COVID-19, or are inspired by / respond to COVID-19.

Applicants can request funds between c. £2,500 – £8,400, and average grants will be £4,200, with maximum grants of £8,400. Arts projects with larger budgets that have secured funds elsewhere are encouraged to apply. With each grant round, the Fund aims to provide funding to an arts project in each county on the island of Ireland.

Closing date for the first round of applications is Wednesday, 4 November at 5pm. The second round will open in April 2021. Go to www.businesstoarts.ie/artsfund/bank-of-ireland for information on the application process and to complete the online application form.

 

Updated: 21st September 2020

£25 million Weston Culture Fund to open on 5th October.

The Garfield Weston Foundation is finalising details of a one-off Weston Culture Fund, to launch on 5th October. This £25 million fund will support mid- to large-scale cultural organisations in the UK to restart work, re-engage with audiences, adapt to changed circumstances and generate revenue. The fund is specifically for charitable organisations with a pre-Covid regular annual income of £500,000 or greater; smaller organisations will be able to apply for the Foundation's regular grants programme via its website as usual. Closing date for applications will be 9th November and decisions will be announced by the end of January 2021.

Further details: https://garfieldweston.org/new-weston-culture-fund-coming-soon/

 

Updated: 10th September 2020

£500,000 fund to support the safe re-opening of the arts and culture sectors

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (Thursday 10th September 2020) opened the Health and Safety Capital Programme, a new fund, worth £500,000, designed to support arts and culture organisations as they prepare to re-open after the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Health & Safety Capital Programme is open for online applications and will close at 4pm on October 1st 2020. To be eligible, organisations must demonstrate the purpose of the requested equipment or minor works to be clearly focused on the arts.   For further information on eligibility, guidance notes and to apply, please visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/health-and-safety-capital-programme

Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 3rd September 2020

Arts Council re-opens Organisations Emergency Programme for applications

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has opened the Organisations Emergency Programme (OEP) in a second call to arts and cultural organisations across Northern Ireland.

The fund allows those organisations which did not receive support in the first call made in June, to apply for grants of up to £25,000 each. It is hoped this support may help alleviate the significant financial pressures they are facing as result of Covid-19, while preparing to re-open safely and contribute successfully to the economy.

The Organisations Emergency Programme is one element of the wider £5.5 m Creative Support fund supported by the Minister, the Department for Communities and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; the priority is to protect the arts and wider cultural sectors from the impact of the current pandemic.

Closing date for applications is 4pm on Thursday 17th September 2020. Further information at http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/organisations-emergency-programme

 

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Arts Council Chair Reflects on Pandemic and Pays Tribute to Resilient Sector

Monday 20th December 2021 at 5pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland invited representatives of the arts sector to come together recently to meet the Chair and Board Members and to mark the launch of a new publication, The Arts in Lockdown - Bright Lights in a Dark Year, celebrating work produced during the first year of the Covid pandemic.

The event, held at the MAC in Belfast, provided an opportunity to pay tribute to the artists and arts organisations who continued, against the odds, to produce new work for arts audiences. Among those in attendance were the Array Collective, winners of The Turner Prize 2021, and many of Northern Ireland’s leading arts organisations and individual artists, including award-winning composer, Conor Mitchell, and Derry Girls Actor, Tara Lynn-O’Neill.

Guests enjoyed music from multi-instrumentalist Jack Warnock and a Latin American music and dance performance by Mayte Segura and Victor Henriquez.

Chair of the Arts Council Liam Hannaway, appointed to his role only ten months ago in February 2021, took the opportunity to congratulate the audience on their amazing achievements during one of the most challenging 18 months on record, in a sector that was one of the first to be locked-down and one of the last to reopen. He was joined by Vice Chair William Leathem and other new Arts Council Board Members, all of whom were meeting their sector members for the first time, in-person.

Speaking at the event, the Chairman said:

“This new publication, The Arts in Lock-down - Bright Lights in a Dark Year, captures the remarkable story of the first year during lockdown, when back in March 2020, almost overnight, our theatres, galleries and venues shut down, and artists found their livelihoods at risk. In the most challenging of circumstances, we saw how the arts sector created, improvised and innovated, developing new work and finding new ways to reach their audiences.

“Emergency arts funding programmes have been a vital lifeline for many, and we are immensely grateful to Minister Hargey and her Department for making the case for the arts and creative sectors supported by our evidence and research. It has been heartening to see audiences develop a renewed appreciation for their work, with an uplift in online audiences and many saying they turned to the arts during lockdown for solace and relief*.

“These remain extraordinary times and we can feel enormous pride in the extraordinary resilience and determination the arts sector, and of course the many creative individuals working within it, has demonstrated throughout the pandemic.”

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“It was a pleasure to be able to invite people along to this event to reconnect and share their stories. The arts sector has undoubtedly been hit hard by the pandemic and that can be seen reflected in the publication and the extensive research and analysis we’ve drawn together in this document.

“We are living in unprecedented times and there will be many more challenges ahead, which makes it all the more important to take a moment to remember the many bright lights the arts have brought into our lives over these past two years.”

To access an online version of the publication go to: www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-Arts-in-Lockdown.pdf

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Arts Council asks organisations to get ready for Covid Recovery Programme, opening January 2022

Friday 17th December 2021 at 4pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, on behalf of the Department for Communities (DfC), will open online applications to a Covid Recovery Programme for Arts Organisations (CRPAO), from 2pm on Friday 7th January 2022.

The CRPAO programme is open to arts and cultural organisations across Northern Ireland and applications will close at 12noon on Friday 28th January 2022, with decisions expected by the end of March 2022.

The new programme aims to reduce or remove operating deficits in eligible arts and cultural organisations. These are deficits which have arisen in the 2021/22 financial year because of the long period of lockdown experienced by the sector during the pandemic. It is hoped this support may alleviate the significant financial pressures they face, helping them to continue to contribute to the NI economy.

The Arts Council is asking organisations to get ready for the application process, gathering the following information that is required to be eligible for assessment:

  • Constitution and/or Memorandum and Articles of Association (if not uploaded to the Government Funders Database)
  • Financial accounts for the years ended 31 March 2020 (if not uploaded to the Government Funders Database)
  • Financial accounts for the years ended 31 March 2021 (if not uploaded to the Government Funders Database)
  • Management accounts 1st April to 30 November 21 (or most recent if available)
  • Projected management accounts 1st December 2021 to 31st March 2022.
  • Reserves Policy Statement
  • Bank statements
  • Details of actual and projected deficits: details of your operating deficit from 1 April 2021 to 30 November 2021 and projected operating deficit from 1 December 2021 to 31 March 2022 because of Covid.
  • Any other evidence deemed appropriate to make a reasoned assessment of entitlement.

Please note this list is not exhaustive, other information may be required which will be detailed in the Guidance Notes and application form when the fund opens on Jan 7th 2022.

The Council’s offices will be closed for Christmas and New Year from Dec 24th and the Arts Council requests that individuals only make contact with staff from Jan 7th when the programme opens. At that point in January, please use the contact enquiries@artscouncil-ni.org. Details of funding webinars for CRPAO will be announced in the New Year and will be hosted by NICVA on behalf of the Department for Communities.

Further funding details, including guidance notes, eligibility information and FAQs, will be available when the CRPAO programme opens on Jan 7th 2022 at 2pm. Check our website and social media channels for more information on the CRPAO fund on that date. www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding.

We wish everyone a very safe and Happy Christmas.

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Christmas Reads 2021

Friday 17th December 2021 at 2pm 0 Comments

If you are still looking for that last minute stocking filler, a book by one of our best local writers could make the perfect present.

As part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Welcome Back! campaign, we asked independent book store No Alibis to select their top books of 2021, plus an insight into what’s to come in 2022.

The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac
Louise Kennedy
Bloomsbury
(April 2021)

The End of the World is a Cul de Sac was an early contender for our favourite book of 2021 at No Alibis. Louise Kennedy had been on our radar for a few years as a contributor to magazines like The Tangerine and The Stinging Fly and we knew that the publication of her first book would be a momentous event: we would venture that nobody will have been disappointed by it. Side-splitting in its humour and heart-breaking in its honesty, this book throws into stark relief the brutality of human relationships: to the land, to the country, to each other.

Northern Protestants: On Shifting Ground
Susan McKay
Blackstaff Press
(May 2021)

Two decades after the publication of Northern Protestants: An Unsettled People Susan McKay again turns her attention to the people she 'uneasily' called 'her own'. The book is the outcome of a meticulous process of interview and analysis with a wide range of people from across Northern Ireland. The result is enlightened and enlightening, iconoclastic in its breaking-down of stereotypes. This is a must-read for anyone wishing to go much deeper than binary narratives. Questions of identity, social justice, party politics and personal politics all feature from myriad voices.

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?
Seamas O'Reilly
Fleet
(July 2021)

Seamas O'Reilly will have come to the attention of many people through a series of viral tweets about an evening involving an unexpected shift in a music venue, the President of Ireland and an illicit cat tranquiliser. His family memoir is a world away from that story. Instead, it is a heartfelt paean to family and familial love in the face of tragedy. With a great deal of humour, Seamas O'Reilly charts the journey of a family of ten children and the father who took care of them.

The Last Weather Observer
Matthew Rice
Summer Palace Press
(March 2021)

A debut collection from Matthew Rice, The Last Weather Observer gathers together the resultant work from years of contemplation. Poems in this book respond to cinema, music and visual art in a way which is in turns autobiographical and full of lyric imagination. It announces a distinctive and assured poetic voice with an eye for detail and a keen sense of understated musicality.

Queering the Green: Post-2000 Queer Irish Poetry
Edited by Paul Maddern
The Lifeboat Press
(December 2021)

This is the first book from Belfast-based poetry publishers The Lifeboat Press. Edited by Paul Maddern, Queering the Green collects thirty-one LGBTQIA+ poets from the last two decades. Equal space is given to esteemed writers like Colette Bryce and poets whose work is being published for the first time. Northern highlights include Padraig Regan, Paula Cunningham and Mary Montague. The Lifeboat Press has been establishing their name as a publisher of consistently interesting poetry: Queering the Green cements that reputation.

December Stories II
Ian Sansom
No Alibis Press
(November 2021)

We don't play Christmas music in the shop. We might—just might—put a wreath on the door. And yet here we are, as No Alibis Press, publishing a second festive collection of short stories. Don't expect silent nights; do expect a non-vegan vegan boyfriend coming round for Christmas dinner. Don't expect glad tidings; do expect arguments about decorations (that aren't really about decorations). These are short tales with an oblique, ironic sense of morality: imagine if Charles Dickens had been trapped indoors with 24-hour rolling news. More than anything, December Stories II is proof that the depths of Ian Sansom's imaginative idiosyncrasies are as yet unplumbed.

There's a Ghost in this House
Oliver Jeffers
HarperCollins
(October 2021)

Not many authors would be granted the liberty to have production values as high as those of There's a Ghost in this House, but not many authors are like Oliver Jeffers. There's a Ghost in this House is a unique interactive experience that makes use of transparent pages to take you on an adventure around a haunted house with a girl who lives there but has never seen a ghost. Our phone would not stop ringing when Oliver Jeffers announced that he would be signing copies of this book for us before Christmas, and if you're quick, you might be able to reserve one for yourself.

The Raptures
Jan Carson
Doubleday
(forthcoming January 2022)

Jan Carson's follow-up to The Fire Starters (2020) begins with a mystery illness starting to infect the children of a village. With her trademark ability to create multi-dimensional characters and make them interact with each other in profound and expected ways, The Raptures restakes Jan Carson's claim as our chief chronicler of the magical and the real.

Dance Move
Wendy Erskine
The Stinging Fly
(forthcoming February 2022)

More than one customer has gasped when they've seen the black and white proof copy of Dance Move behind the counter of the shop and their disappointment has been palpable when we've had to refuse to hand it over. And for good reason. Wendy Erskine's first collection of short stories, Sweet Home, has been a perennial best-seller since its publication in 2018 and this follow-up is sure to be the same. Her mixture of acerbic wit, generosity and an exceptional ear for the rhythms of speech make her a firm favourite of everyone at No Alibis.

This Train is for
Bernie McGill
No Alibis Press
(forthcoming June 2022)

For the reader who's read everything, sometimes the only option is the book that isn't published yet. This is one for next year's wish list rather than this year's Christmas list, but is worth the wait. Bernie McGill is the acclaimed author of novels The Watch House and The Butterfly Cabinet, as well as the short story collection Sleepwalkers. This Train is for is her second collection of short stories, and the first since 2013. With a well-deserved reputation as a writer of great elegance and precision, we are delighted to be working with her at No Alibis Press.

The Arts Council’s Welcome Back Campaign is encouraging people to support local arts this Christmas. #SpendLocal

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Arts Council announces £2.7 million recovery funding to support individuals in the Creative Economy

Friday 3rd December 2021 at 10am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, on behalf of Department for Communities (DfC), has today (Friday 3 December) announced details of £2,711,816 of recovery funding for 1,433 individuals working in the Creative Economy across Northern Ireland.

The Creative Individuals Recovery Programme (CIRP), was designed by the Department for Communities and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and was launched by Minister Hargey in September. The programme offers grants of up to £2,000 each to help creative individuals to undertake activity linked to their practice or art form.

The objective of the programme is to help artists and individuals deal with the costs involved in maintaining and enhancing their creative trade, vocation or profession. The strategic aim however, is to prevent NI talent from leaving the creative economy, and instead, encourage individuals to stay and grow their practice while contributing to the health of our social and economic eco-system.

The CIRP fund supports one-off costs associated with their arts practice, and funding to build their professional and technical skills, particularly as so many have been negatively impacted as a result of lockdown and the pandemic restrictions.

Recent research from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland* (*New report highlights impact of Covid pandemic on arts sector | Arts Council of Northern Ireland (artscouncil-ni.org)) shows evidence that the creative sector in NI relies heavily on self-employed and freelance individuals, and that many have already left the sector because of the pandemic. Evidence showed that for those remaining, they face unaffordable costs associated with re-establishing or developing their creative practice.

Roísín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Arts Council is today offering 1,433 awards to creative individuals across Northern Ireland totalling £2,711,816. Today’s announcement is welcome news, and we thank the Minister for making this funding available. The Minister’s funding initiative was designed to help individuals to continue with a creative career in Northern Ireland, to carry on developing important skills, many of which have taken years to develop.

“Indeed research demonstrates there is currently a significant risk that the talent pool of artists and creatives we need in Northern Ireland to support our creative ecosystem, will disappear as individuals leave to find alternative work. That would take NI years to recover from, as these freelancers, artists and individuals are essential to the success of our creative industries.

“CIRP funding will help our creative individuals to positively contribute, as they did before the pandemic, to the significant cultural value of Northern Ireland as a great place to work, live and invest.”

Minister, Deirdre Hargey, Department for Communities, said,

“I am delighted that my Department, through the Arts Council, will be awarding grants to 1,433 individuals to help encourage them to remain within the creative sector here.

“This sector has been seriously impacted by Covid restrictions as it relies heavily on people’s ability to get together. We cannot afford to lose our creative talent and it is vital that we safeguard the sector for the future.”

Among those individuals offered funding are:

Sarah Carey, Costume Assistant and Textile Artist
CIRP funding award offered: £2,000
CIPR project: Training in shoemaking

Sarah Carey, based in Newtownabbey, is a freelance Costume Assistant and textile artist for film and theatre. Her work includes the creation of costumes, alterations and contributing to the back-stage operations of many productions. Sarah has worked in film too, including Dungeons and Dragons, The Northman and Ordinary Love, as well as working with live theatre shows at the Lyric Theatre Belfast (Good Vibrations, Aladdin, Sweeney Todd and Three Penny Opera among others).

Sarah returned to Northern Ireland following graduation and saw a gap in the theatrical costume industry for shoemakers, a niche aspect of costume work that is often outsourced. As a result Sarah will use her CIRP award to train with an expert in shoemaking with the aim of creating further employment opportunities through a business start-up; while keeping the role of shoemaking within the Northern Ireland Creative Industries sector.

Matthew Whiteside, Composer
CIRP funding award offered, £2,000
CIRP project: Instagram Opera

Matthew Whiteside, based in Lisburn, is a highly respected composer, collaborator, sound designer, concert promoter and artistic director whose recent career highlights include: commissions from Crash Ensemble (New Music Dublin 2020), the Institute of Physics for the 2018 NI Science Festival, and work for Scottish Opera. He also scored Michael Palin’s, Quest for Artemisia, for BBC4. In 2019 he released his second album, Entangled, to critical acclaim.

With his CIRP award Matthew will develop an Instagram Opera made up of multiple short segments for initial release on Instagram Reels, and/or TikTok. He intends to create a work of 30 minutes for solo soprano, chamber ensemble and electronics accompanied by abstract visuals for digital release and possible live performance too.

Anna O’Kane, Community Visual Artist
CIRP funding award offered: £1,955
CIRP project: Mixed mosaic community arts project

Anna O’Kane, based in Belfast, is a highly experienced community visual artist who makes a significant contribution to the arts, arts in health, and formal education sectors in Northern Ireland. She has engaged with all age groups over her career but is specializing in working with older people through the PRW Creative Ageing programme and Arts Care’s ‘Here and Now’ programme.

Anna will use her CIRP funding to work with local communities in the creation of mixed media mosaic panels that reflect their collective experience of the pandemic and their community resilience. The completed artwork will be installed permanently at a community/health venue.

For a list of all those offered funding visit http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-CIRP-Awards-December2021.pdf

For a list of all those accepted funding visit http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-CIRP-Awards-December2021(updated).pdf

The CIRP is now closed, with all available funds allocated. Keep up to date with funding opportunities at http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding

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Belfast-Based Array Collective win 2021 Turner Prize

Thursday 2nd December 2021 at 5pm 0 Comments

Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Art at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, congratulates Array Collective on winning the prestigious Turner Prize 2021.

“This is the first time the Turner Prize has been won by artists in Northern Ireland and the international recognition of this award will shine a light on our vibrant visual arts community.

“The Arts Council was delighted to be able to secure funding from the Department for Communities so that Array Collective could create and develop their installation and exhibit their work in Coventry.

“We send everyone at Array Collective our most sincere congratulations and we very much look forward to seeing what they do next.”

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Good luck to Array Collective who are finalists in #TURNERPRIZE2021

Wednesday 1st December 2021 at 2pm 0 Comments

Good luck to Array Collective who are finalists in #TURNERPRIZE2021 with their new work, The Druithaib’s Ball, currently on display as an immersive installation at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Cultural Space Coventry.

Established in 1984, the prize is named after the radical British painter JMW Turner (1775-1851). The announcement of the winner takes place on 1st December and the overall winner will be awarded £25,000 with £10,000 going to each of the other shortlisted nominees.

Array are a collective of artists and activists rooted in Belfast. Array reclaim and question traditional identities associated with Northern Ireland in playful ways that merge performance, protest, ancient mythology, photography, installation and video.

The Druithaib’s Ball, a new work for Turner Prize 2021, has been realised twice over. In Belfast it was a wake for the centenary of Ireland’s partition in the Black Box (grassroots venue), and was attended by semi-mythological druids along with a community of artists and activists wearing hand-made costumes.

At the Herbert, the event has been transformed into an immersive installation. An imagined síbín (a ‘pub without permission’) hosts a film created from the Belfast event, and a TV showing Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive. A large canopy styled from banners provides a floating roof. The síbín is approached through a circle of flag poles, that references ancient Irish ceremonial sites and contemporary structures, and is illuminated by a dusk-to-dawn light.

Array invite us into a place of contradictions where trauma, dark humour, frustration and release coexist. It is a place to gather outside the sectarian divides that have dominated the collective memory of the North of Ireland for the last hundred years.

Array have also intervened in the Herbert’s collections, inserting an etching of The Druithaib’s Ball, into Gallery 2.

Read more about The Druithaib’s Ball at https://culturespacecoventry.com/turner-prize-2021

Hear more about Array Studios from its members at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLU1P23s2HI

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Belfast Community Circus School Rebrands To Circusful

Tuesday 30th November 2021 at 10am 0 Comments

Following almost two years of intensive consultation and evaluation Belfast Community Circus School has today rebranded to become Circusful.

Launching their new website and brand today November 30th, chief executive Jenna Hall said it is an “important and exciting moment” for the charity.

The organisation has been in operation since 1985, offering training, workshops, classes, performances and more. The team work in and with communities right across Northern Ireland and have brought many thousands of people through its doors in Gordon Street in the city’s Cathedral Quarter.

Set up by Donal McKendry and the late Mike Moloney, and taken forward by the late Will Chamberlain, the rebrand comes as part of a larger strategic review of the whole organisation and associated companies. During the time Will Chamberlain led the Circus School he secured the building in Gordon Street and established two associated companies, Premiere Circus, a professional performance agency and Festival of Fools, a May Bank Holiday weekend favourite and the largest festival of its type on the island of Ireland.

Now known as Circusful, the charity have also revealed their renewed mission, vision and values which Jenna said include and embed the core ethos and values of why the organisation was set up 35 years ago.

She added: “We are absolutely committed to building on all that has gone before. During the rebrand we reviewed all aspects of the work we do and have done. The circus school has grown substantially over the years and it was important to make sure that how we operate, look and what we are called keeps up with this growth. We hope the new website, circusful.org, captures both what has been achieved before and what is to come.

“We have invested heavily in the process of consultation with our stakeholders, staff, volunteers, attendees, parents and wider circus family, their voices are really important to us.

“A key part of the strategy is to celebrate and retain the original ethos of the circus school as founded and to build upon that. We are doing more outreach work than ever, with over 1,300 children engaged since April alone and work with hundreds more in central Belfast each week.”

Going forward, Circusful will incorporate the work of Belfast Community Circus School and its agency arm Premiere Circus, whilst Festival of Fools will remain a separate entity, its connection to Circusful will be clear.

Jenna added: “It is our mission to support people of all ages and abilities to surprise themselves through circus. We meet people where they are, have fun and create a community together.

“We want to continue to enrich people’s lives through circus experiences, create curiosity and help people feel part of a community. We know our work provides people with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to thrive in the 21st Century.

“We believe the new brand and vision will embody this, retaining all the magic of the circus but conveying much more clearly what we are about and how positively we impact lives across Northern Ireland and further afield.

“As a result of the new strategy, Circusful is planning to re-start its world-wide exchange programmes in 2022. These provide opportunities for young people from Northern Ireland to learn new skills, travel the world and create new connections within the international circus family. The new merchandise available to buy on the website will help raise vital funds for our charity.

“Our new values will ensure we remain curious, playful and persistent, we will always collaborate, put our circus family first and share leadership across the team and those we work with.

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “Congratulations to the team at Circusful on this exciting new chapter.

“Since it opened its doors in 1985, this company has gone from strength to strength, bringing awe-inspiring circus to the streets to be enjoyed by thousands of people, as well as offering vital professional development opportunities for the next generation of circus artists. “The work of Belfast Community Circus, now Circusful, truly demonstrates the value of the arts in bringing people and communities closer together, inspiring us all through a shared love of creativity, culture and the Arts.”

Studio Texture, a small London based brand agency specialise in strategic brand and campaign projects with not for profits. They worked extensively with the steering group which was made up of performers, trainers, parents, staff and trustees.

Circusful have also worked closely with Ronan Lunney of Belfast based graphic design studio, TwoDigs, who built the new website. The copy was written by Laura Haydon, who has been connected with the circus family since the early 1990s.

Jenna said “Ensuring an ongoing and deep connection with those who’ve been involved in our work from the very beginning is really important to us and to our future success.”

For more information about Circusful go to circusful.org

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Eleven schools receive specialist funding to develop bespoke creative learning projects

Friday 26th November 2021 at 1pm 0 Comments

Eleven post-primary schools in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry have been offered grants of up to £15,000 each to develop landmark arts projects over the next two years.

Recognising the importance of bringing more arts into the classroom, the funding will enable schools to work with professional artists to teach students new skills and to build their self-esteem, which will enhance their learning across key subjects.

The funding has been awarded by the Creative Schools Partnership, a cross-departmental fund backed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery funds, the Executive’s Urban Villages Initiative and the Education Authority.

The schools, located across Urban Village areas in Belfast and Derry~Londonderry, have each developed their own project proposals and will take part in a range of activities including screenwriting, dance, journalism, photography, film-making, music composition and visual arts.

All of the projects will have a strong community focus, building connections with local community groups, care homes and families, and many will focus on mental health themes, building self-confidence, motivation and resilience.

First Minster Paul Givan said:

“This successful partnership has already seen hundreds of children engage with the programme within post-primary schools in Urban Villages areas. The young people have benefitted from this innovative arts-based approach, which has supported curriculum learning and improved their educational outcomes. I’d like to thank all the programme partners for their efforts and congratulate the young participants on the amazing creativity and artistic talent they have shown through the various projects to date. The feedback from this programme has been overwhelmingly positive and I am confident that this latest tranche of funding will bring significant benefits for many more young people.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said:

“It has been really heartening to see how the Creative Schools Partnership programme has benefitted so many young people across Urban Villages areas. Their involvement in the creative arts has had a positive impact on their self-esteem and self-confidence, helping to improve their mental health and wellbeing. The programme is also playing a key role in reducing educational inequalities and improving community cohesion by strengthening connections between the young people, their schools and local communities. This latest funding will help continue that important work and I wish all the young people, teachers and artists involved every success with developing their projects over the next two years.”

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“Thanks to National Lottery players and money set aside for good causes, the Art Council is pleased to continue to fund this important programme. Working in partnership with the Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative, today’s announcement sees grants awarded to eleven schools, providing teachers with the support they need to explore new creative ways to engage classes and help pupils achieve their potential. We very much look forward to hearing how the schools develop their projects over the coming months.”

Chairperson of The Education Authority Barry Mulholland, said:

“The Education Authority is delighted that the schools in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry have been given the opportunity to continue to engage with the Creative Schools programme, especially during a time where the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on the mental health and wellbeing of our young people.

“The Creative Arts play a pivotal role within education, enabling the young person to experience a sense of freedom, expression and enjoyment, all of which help to contribute to good mental health. The Creative Schools programme has been recognised as a highly effective collaborative approach which harnesses the power of creativity to support learning and well-being. We look forward to seeing its continued positive impact in the lives of the young people who participate this year.”

The Creative Schools Partnership was launched in 2018 in support of the Urban Villages Initiative, a good relations programme and headline action of the Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) strategy. The collaboration between the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Executive Office, and Education Authority is supporting post-primary schools serving Urban Village areas. These are places spanning Belfast and Derry~Londonderry which have a history of deprivation and social tension.

The schools awarded funding are:

  • Ashfield Girls High School, Belfast
  • Belfast Boys Model
  • Belfast Model School for Girls
  • Blessed Trinity College, Belfast
  • Lisneal College, Derry/Londonderry
  • Malone College, Belfast
  • Mercy College Belfast
  • St Cecilia’s College, Derry/Londonderry
  • St Colm’s High School, Belfast
  • St Joseph’s Boys’ School, Derry/Londonderry
  • St Vincent’s Centre, Belfast

Case Study

St Joseph’s Boys School, Derry/Londonderry
St Joseph’s Boys School has been awarded £15,000 from the Creative School’s Partnership. Their proposal is for four artists to work with 30 students on a new music project. Working in partnership with St Columb’s School of Music, the project entitled ‘Joes Musical Maestros’ will offer students extensive tuition across a range of instruments to creative a collective ensemble.

Pupils will look at music across different traditions and cultures and will have the opportunity to compose their own pieces. The project links to the school developmental plan, including KS3 Thinking Skills, Personal Capabilities and Raising Standards.

Over the two years of the project, the school plans to link with local community groups and stage concerts in St Columb’s and St Eugene’s Cathedrals to celebrate students’ achievements.

Case Study

Malone College, Belfast
Malone College was awarded £15,000 from the Creative Schools Partnership for its two year project. In year one, Art, Drama and English departments will collaborate with artists to work with a group of year 9 pupils from a range of backgrounds and abilities to produce a visual and performance based art project. In year two, the school plans to expand the project to involve more subjects such as Music, PE and MIA.

The project will support school development plans in improving student’s literacy, thinking skills, communication skills and mental health.

Case Study

St Colm’s High School, Belfast
St Colm’s High School in Belfast has been awarded £15,000 from the Creative Schools Partnership. The English, Music and Drama departments at St Colm’s will work with a group of 28 pupils from Year 9 and focus on the development of their musical and literacy skills. Pupils will experiment with African drumming and the bodhran and hope to have an intergenerational element to the programme, involving parents and grandparents. The development of these skills is in line with the priorities expressed in their School Development Plan, with a focus on improved levels of literacy, self esteem and mental-wellbeing.

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Arts Council announces funding for 24 bands to purchase new instruments

Thursday 25th November 2021 at 11am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today announced details of 24 bands awarded funding through its Musical Instruments for Bands (MIB) Programme.

Thanks to capital investment from the Department for Communities, the Programme is designed to help bands across Northern Ireland upgrade worn out instruments and purchase new ones.

The Programme provides grants of up to £10,000 for the purchase of instruments for bands based in Northern Ireland, which are formally constituted, including marching, accordion, brass, concert, flute, pipe and wind bands.

Among the 24 bands to receive funding this week is CWA Brass Band in Carrickfergus. Lead and conducted by Gary Proctor, the band offers learning and development opportunities for players of all ages and is the current 2021 North of Ireland 2nd Section Champions, also winning Best Cornet Section and retaining Best Bass Section. CWA’s grant of £9,995 will be used to purchase three new instruments – a silver plated cornet, a flugel horn and a euphonium.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“Thanks to this funding, bands in communities across Northern Ireland will be able to purchase new instruments. These bands provide an important training ground for musicians at all levels, from those starting out learning an instrument, to those wishing to play regularly and develop their skills.

“Music has a powerful capacity to enrich lives, to bring people together and break down barriers to communication. This funding will go a long way in supporting this important sector, helping to improve opportunities for participation and the quality of music-making across all communities.”

*Please note, that on Wednesday 1st December, letters of offer were issued to a further 10 bands, following the approval of additional budget for the Musical Instruments for Bands Programme by the Department of Communities. A full list of awardees for this programme can be found here: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-MIfB-Awards-December2021.pdf

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Arts Council announces £85,688 for innovative Digital Arts projects

Tuesday 23rd November 2021 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, in collaboration with Future Screens NI, today (23 November 2021) has announced funding of £85,688 to support nine individual artists from Northern Ireland in the creation of a number of exciting, high-quality arts projects using innovative digital technologies.

The funding is part of the Arts Council’s Individual Artists Digital Evolution Awards, a brand new funding programme supported by The National Lottery and Future Screens NI, which offered artists, across all art forms, the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £10,000 each. In addition to the funding support, recipients will also receive expert technical guidance throughout the development of their digital artwork.

The Individual Artists Digital Evolution Awards aims to support those artists who are making digital art for the first time or are working with digital or immersive technology in a novel or innovative way. Those awarded funding includes:

Artist: Bethany Ashley
Project Title: Confetti

Artist: Sarah Lyle
Project Title: Reimagining 21st century puppetry for the digital space - Live and interactive VR

Artist: Gwen Stevenson
Project Title: The Earth Is Not A Screen

Artist: David Haughey
Project Title: Every Square Meter, Every Hour

Artist: Eoin Cleland
Project Title: Able

Artist: Louise Taylor
Project Title: Reinventing the Wheel - AI solution to a traditional craft

Artist: Victoria McFarland
Project Title: Immersive Storytelling Animation Project

Artist: Robert Kelly
Project Title: Markov

Artist: Deepa Mann-Kler
Project Title: The Metaverse & Me

Bethany Ashley is one of nine artists supported through the scheme who will create an artwork entitled, Confetti. The project will involve the artist using 3D printing technology to manufacture lines of poetry which will be printed in Braille. The aim of the project is to make poetry more accessible to those who have a visual impairment and who previously may have faced barriers to enjoying this great art form. The project also aims to introduce Braille to a new audiences. The artwork will be presented as an interactive gallery installation whereby poetic lines can be moved to create new poems.

Another artist supported through this programme is Sarah Lyle who will develop a project entitled, Reimagining 21st century puppetry for the digital space - Live and interactive VR. In collaboration with digital specialists, RETìníZE, the artist will research and develop a process of transforming a children’s puppet show into live, real-time animated performance; integrating theatrical quality and digital VR technology. The team will undertake a pilot event delivered live by two performers wearing VR headsets which will in real time be transformed into animated characterisation through the RETìníZE Animotive software. The pilot will be live streamed to a test group of children across Northern Ireland via a digital engagement platform.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“Today’s announcement of the Individual Artists Digital Evolution Awards is welcome news and we are delighted to partner with Future Screens NI on this exciting programme. The programme will support these nine artists in the creation of art using digital and immersive technologies, and will also help artists develop skills in the use of these new technologies. This programme reflects the Arts Council’s commitment to encouraging innovative practices that cross artform boundaries and build digital capabilities within the Northern Ireland arts sector. I look forward to experiencing these exciting projects as they develop.”

Professor Paul Moore, Director Future Screens NI, said,

“As we continue to experience transitions associated with Covid-19 it is essential that we support artists to develop the skills required to benefit fully from new, emerging and immersive technologies. Future Screens NI is privileged to partner with Arts Council NI to deliver the Individual Artists Digital Evolution Awards which will enhance the ability of artists to develop ambitious creative projects employing new technologies and to develop specialist skills required to sustain the future of the creative industries”

For details on all funding opportunities visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding

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ACNI highlights need for strategic investment in talent development, in response to Taskforce Report

Tuesday 23rd November 2021 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today welcomed Minister Hargey’s support for the recommendations made by her Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce. The Arts Council endorses the published recommendations which seek additional resources and new partnerships across government to bring the arts and culture sectors back to good health. The Council also highlighted the urgent need for strategic investment in talent development in NI post-covid.

Roisín Mc Donough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said,

“I greatly welcome the Minister’s endorsement of the massive contribution our arts and cultural sectors make to the social and economic life of Northern Ireland and to our collective wellbeing.

“The nine recommendations made by the Taskforce and supported by the Minister, are each individually important. The need for financial support for both individuals and organisations are areas that were well-evidenced and supported by Arts Council official research which we published in 2020. Consequently our recent recovery programmes, designed with the Department for Communities, go some way to addressing that need and we look forward to rolling out the final organisations recovery fund in December.

“However, it is the area of Talent acquisition, retention and development, listed within today’s report that remains a particularly big challenge. The Arts Council’s recent research (Nov 2021)* demonstrated clearly that the arts sector in particular, has been haemorrhaging talent during the pandemic ; the workforce contracted by a quarter in 2019/20, as income levels and ticket sales collapsed during lockdown.

“Indeed, a diminished workforce was an issue of concern to the Arts Council pre-Covid, but has now become an area of strategic importance. The development of creative talent and the attraction of new talent to the arts and cultural sectors here needs urgent investment and is of critical significance to the long-term sustainability of the entire arts sector.

“I also want to highlight the recommendation on Strategic culture, arts and heritage partnerships with councils; the need for more strategic investment in this area will undoubtedly be beneficial, enhancing job and investment opportunities, promoting place-making, improving community cohesion and growing cultural tourism.

“In fact, the perfect example of how local government can indeed benefit from the strength of a rich arts and cultural offering in Northern Ireland can be seen in the recent success of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon District Council, which made the long list for the coveted title of UK City of Culture 2025.

“The Arts Council will continue to play its part in building cultural bridges between local government and the arts and cultural sectors, just as it will play its role in supporting the Minister’s remaining recommendations in today’s report.”

Read the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce Report at https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/publications/art-recovery-survive-stabilise-strengthen

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