Arts Council of Northern Ireland

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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
shanna@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

nmckinney@artscouncl-ni.org

Music

Ciaran Scullion
Head of Music

07500 559 269
cscullion@artscouncil-ni.org

Joanne Wright
ADO Music & Traditional Arts

-07500 559 274
jwright@artscouncil-ni.org

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
ShannonDowney@artscouncil-ni.org

Literature, Drama and Dance

Damian Smyth
Head of Literature/Drama

07500 559 289
dsmyth@artscouncil-ni.org

Caoileann Curry-Thompson
ADO Drama & Dance

07500 559 368
cthompson@artscouncil-ni.org

Julie McBride
AADO Literature/Drama/Dance

07733 151 149
jmcbride@artscouncil-ni.org

Roisin Murray P/T
AADO Literature & Drama

07500 559 291
rmurray@artcouncil-ni.org

Visual Arts

Suzanne Lyle
Head of Visual Arts

-07500 559 292
slyle@artscouncil-ni.org

Patricia Lavery
ADO Visual Arts

07500 559 293
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Joanna Johnston
ADO Visual Arts & Collections Officer

07500 559 349
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Robert Stephenson
ADO Visual Arts

rstephenson@artscouncil-ni.org

Beverly Coomber
AADO Visual Arts P/T

07385 463 669
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Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection
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Operations

Maria Lynch
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Andrea McKittrick
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Joanne Forsyth
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Karly Greene
Director of Strategic Development & Partnerships

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Graeme Stevenson
Research & Policy Officer

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Ashleigh Lilley
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Orla Murphy
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Matthew Malcolm
Creative Industries Development Officer

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Javier Stanziola (Temp)
Economist

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Community Arts & Education

Gilly Campbell
Head of Community Arts & Education

07500 559 308
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Lorraine Calderwood
ADO Programmes Officer

07500 559 313
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Gavin O'Connor
ADO Youth Arts

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Anne Shipton
AADO Community Arts

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Lizzie Devlin
ADO Community Arts P/T

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Sonya Whitefield
ADO job-share Festivals/Venues/International

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Siobhan Molloy
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02892 623553
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Out of Hours Media Contact
Angela Warren

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Sarah Coburn
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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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DU Dance and Beyond Skin to take part in UK-Germany international collaboration programme

Thursday 18th November 2021 at 2pm 0 Comments

Two community arts organisations from Northern Ireland, Beyond Skin and DU Dance, will collaborate with German community arts organisation, Die Villa, based in Leipzig, to develop a youth cultural exchange project entitled, Ode to Earth, based around the theme of environmental issues.

The project is one of seven recently announced as part of Cultural Bridge, a new pilot funding programme co-produced by Fonds Soziokultur, Germany, in partnership with the British Council, Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales/Wales Arts International, Creative Scotland, and Goethe-Institute London, which advocates bilateral community arts collaboration.

The programme aims to enable social change through the medium of diverse art forms and community arts practices. It promotes cross-border cooperation between the UK nations (Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England) and German cultural institutions in various disciplines and participative methods.

Cultural Bridge celebrates bilateral partnerships between the UK and Germany through the collaboration of all UK arts councils and leading German cultural institutions. The programme aims to act as a platform of exchange, enabling others to discuss social issues, strengthen the exchange between the UK and GER, and foster artistic collaboration and cultural democracy.

The seven awarded projects will receive funding of up to £20,000 each and will work in partnership with at least one participating German organisation and one from the four UK countries to implement their socially engaged practice.

Mechthild Eickhoff, Managing Director Fonds Soziokultur, commented,

“The types of projects and activities that will be funded are set out to strengthen the important bilateral relationship between the UK and Germany. This large-scale arts project will support socially engagement artistic practice leveraging friendly exchange and creative collaboration thus enhancing mutual cultural understanding.”

Roisín Mc Donough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to partner with Fonds Soziokultur and our arts funding colleagues across these islands in this terrific pilot Cultural Bridge programme. This important initiative offers a valuable opportunity for our artists to engage with their counterparts in the UK and Germany with the aim of using the arts to connect communities, develop shared understanding and facilitate social change through the creation of new work.”

Beyond Skin and DU Dance will collaborate with Die Villa, an arts organisation from Leipzig, Germany, to plan a youth cultural exchange around the theme of environmental issues. The exchange will see young people from Beyond Skin, Die Villa and DU Dance engaging, networking and sharing skills with the common aim of building a dynamic and creative environmental campaign.

Through both virtual and in-person exchanges (including travel to Leipzig and Belfast), they will connect a team of 12 Northern Irish and German youth who are passionate about activism and the arts. The project will culminate in a multi-arts awareness campaign combining music, dance, and advocacy, created by the participants and directed by their vision. The campaign will allow the young participants to reach out further across Europe and the UK to other young people from diverse communities and engage them in creative social development.

Kira Topalian, Beyond Skin Project Manager, said,

"I am very excited to embark on this project and I am looking forward to seeing where this new partnership leads. This project is a great opportunity to engage the community in environmental issues, as well as connect our youth to their global neighbours."

Mags Byrne, DU Dance, added,

"At this time of climate emergency I am more than pleased to hear the news that members of our Youth Steering Group will have the opportunity to engage and create work on this important issue during our project - Ode to Earth. Thank you to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for putting us forward for the Cultural Bridges programme. Looking forward to partnering with our old friends at Beyond Skin and to forming new friendships with Die Villa, in Leipzig.”

The seven successful projects includes:

  • ENTER - Kulturvilla Nellie, Lörrach, Baden-Württemberg + Creative Black Country, West Bromwich, Birmingham (England)
  • STAGING THE HIDDEN WORDS - Sommerblut Kulturfestival, Cologne + Writing on the Wall, Liverpool (England)
  • BRIDGIT ‘Building Better Bridges’ - Fine Arts Institute Leipzig (FAIL), Leipzig + Folkestone Fringe, Kent (England) and Alchemy Film & Arts, Hawick (Scotland)
  • NORTHSEA NEIGHBOURS - Das Letzte Kleinod, Schiffdorf, Niedersachsen + Shetland Arts, Shetland Islands (Scotland)
  • ENSEMBLE UPVENTION - S27, Berlin + Govanhill Baths, Glasgow (Scotland)
  • ODE TO EARTH - Die Villa, Leipzig + Beyond Skin and DU Dance, Belfast (Northern Ireland)
  • MIND THE GAP - University of Music Lübeck and Emanuel Geibel-Schule + Valleys Kids, Penygraig (Wales)

Follow all of the projects’ progress and latest updates on Twitter and Instagram using #CulturalBridge

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New report highlights impact of Covid pandemic on arts sector

Thursday 18th November 2021 at 9am 0 Comments

Findings from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Annual Funding Survey* published today highlight the stark pressures placed on the arts sector as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Employment levels and income generation have experienced substantial shifts and major changes were reported on how audiences access arts programming, as more activities moved online.

This year 97 organisations completed the Arts Council’s Annual Funding Survey. All the organisations surveyed received funding from the Arts Council’s Annual Funding Programme (AFP), the largest financial awards made to key arts organisations every year to support year round running costs and programming**.

The survey collects data on financial statements (income and expenditure), numbers of performances, participation based events, exhibitions and festivals. It also records details of known and estimated audiences. This year, for the first time, an additional section was added looking at the impact COVID-19 has had on operations. Workforce employment descriptors have also been extended within the survey to reflect changes in gender identity and sexual orientation classifications, with data gathered across all employment areas, including board members.

The survey shows the impact of the enforced lockdown in March 2020 and subsequent restrictions on the operation and management of all of the Arts Council’s core funded arts organisations, with many having to develop new business models to reflect changes to their operating environments. The result of these changes, for example the shift from in-person to digital forms of output and changes to staffing levels, are reported within the survey.

Key findings:

  • 97 organisations received £12.9m in grants from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Annual Funding Programme in the 2020/21 financial year through its Exchequer and lottery resources. This represented the same amount awarded to 97 organisations in the previous financial year (2019/20).
  • Total income fell by 9% (£4.5m) compared to 2019/20. Earned income fell by £16m (69%) compared to 2019/20. This loss was offset, to an extent, by increases in income from public sources, including the Arts Council’s Emergency Funding Programme and contributed sources, both of which increased by 22%.
  • 2020-21 saw a 99% reduction in income generated from ticket sales in 2020/21 (£188,479).
  • 4,800 people were employed by core arts organisations last year (those in receipt of Annual Funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland). This represented a 25% reduction year on year. There was a 27% decline in contract/freelance staff employed and a 9% reduction in permanent staff.
  • The combined audiences for on-line and digital activity in 2020/21 was an estimated 15m. Although there was a marked increase in the production of digital content and viewing audiences, only 59 physical (in person) activities took place in 2020/21, a large decrease from 67,000 in 2019/20.

Karly Greene, Director of Strategic Development and Partnerships, commented:

“The Annual Funding Survey gives us a real insight into the arts sector in Northern Ireland, providing vital information on finances, employment levels, arts activities and audience engagement. This year, the survey was expanded to gather additional data on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, how our key arts organisations have adapted their business models and the continued financial pressures they face.

“The results of this year’s survey are hugely informative and demonstrate the enormous changes that have taken place. Online audiences grew, as arts organisations diversified their offering, seeking new ways to engage and present their work. However, the online model was no replacement for income generated by live events and we can see that, despite the furlough scheme and emergency funding programmes, the workforce has sadly contracted by a quarter, as income levels and ticket sales fell. Small arts organisations were particularly hard hit last year, placing these groups under significant stress.

“While we don’t yet know the long term impact these changes will have on the sector, this survey highlights a need for ongoing financial support and will be an important tool in helping us to strategically plan for the future.”

The Annual Funding Survey is used to provide evidence of the use of funding for reporting to Government and other key stakeholders and it also helps support the Arts Council’s detailed understanding of grant recipients, informing future planning and policy development.

In addition to the report, a data table has been created allowing the interrogation of data by artform type and organisation size (as determined by income). This valuable resource will enable arts organisations to benchmark their activity at a sector level.

To access the report and data tables go to: http://artscouncil-ni.org/research-and-development/research-publications

*Please note, the reporting period for this survey is 1st April 2020-31st March 2021.
** The Arts Council of Northern Ireland offers a range of funding programmes annually for artists and organisations through its exchequer and National Lottery funds. The organisations surveyed for the Annual Funding Survey are those which have received grants through the Annual Funding Programme, the largest financial awards made by the Arts Council to arts organisations across all artform areas including festivals and venues.

Notes to editors

  • The report contains analysis on the financial, operational and artistic activities of funded organisations and is being released by the Arts Council under its capacity as a producer of Official Statistics.
  • For more information on the survey please contact Graeme Stevenson by e-mail at gstevenson@artscouncil-ni.org

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Ivor Novello-nominated composer, Conor Mitchell, premieres large-scale symphonic audio-visual work

Tuesday 16th November 2021 at 2pm 0 Comments

Outburst Arts and The Belfast Ensemble, in partnership with the Ulster Orchestra, present MASS, a large-scale, symphonic audio-visual work due to be performed on 17-18 November at the iconic Telegraph Building in Belfast, supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

MASS will be performed by 64 musicians of the Ulster Orchestra and six queer international filmmakers to present an epic evening of sacred, modern classical and queer ceremony. The production takes the time-honoured ceremonies of Christian faith that have been performed over centuries, and creates a new place of connection and celebration where all are welcome. Part classical oratio, part rave, audiences will be able to walk freely around the space to view the central orchestra and six films projected in cinematic scale onto the walls of the old newspaper building, visually responding to the movements of a mass through different queer lenses from around the globe.

The specially commissioned visuals for MASS are by queer film makers, Madonna Adib (Syria), Paulo Mendel & Vi Grunvald (Brazil), Mariah Garnett (USA), Simone Harris (Jamaica), Mohammad Shawky Hassan (Egypt), and Debalina Majumder (India). The evening also features world-class NI opera singers including, international soprano, Giselle Allen, mezzo, Sarah Richmond, baritone, Christopher Cull and tenor, John Porter.

The new work is composed by multi-award winning and Ivor Novello-nominated composer Conor Mitchell. Conor who is also an Arts Council of Northern Ireland Major Individual Artist (MIA) award recipient, recently received his second nomination for the prestigious Ivors Composer Awards for his large-scale composition for symphony orchestra and electronics, Democratic Dances. The Ivors Composer Awards celebrate the best new works by composers writing for classical, jazz, and sound art and Conor finds out December if he wins.

Conor Mitchell, composer and Artistic Director of The Belfast Ensemble, said,

“This epic new work will support queer people to reclaim a space for faith. This puts queer contemporary music on the orchestral agenda, and bang in the heart of a war scared city. For me, this is symphonic 'activism'; smashing faith, our Northern Irish religious contentions and queer identity together. Northern Ireland is the centre point here, leading from a place of historical marginalisation, religious discrimination and queers 'fighting back'.”

MASS headlines this year’s Outburst Queer Art Festival which runs from 12th – 20th November.

Ruth McCarthy, Artistic Director of Outburst Arts said,

“Working with Conor again, this time with the Ulster Orchestra and some of the most vital queer artists in the world, is incredibly exciting. At a time when global LGBTQ+ solidarity is critical, we are proud to present a work that is both deeply contemplative and also a radical act of collective queer joy.”

MASS was commissioned by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music and Opera, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is enormously proud to support this hugely exciting new work of impressive global scale and delivery, thanks to The National Lottery Players. MASS promises to be a thrilling cultural experience like no other and I’m delighted to see this come to life through an inspired collaboration between three of the Arts Council’s funded clients, The Belfast Ensemble, Ulster Orchestra and Outburst Arts; proving that tremendous things can happen when great minds and talents join together. A hearty congratulations to all involved.”

Outburst Queer Arts Festival is an annual celebration of queer art and performance in Belfast. It showcases great local and international queer work and support the development of queer arts at home and internationally. The 15th Annual Outburst will take place 12-20 November 2021. To book tickets for MASS and to view the full Outburst Festival programme, visit www.outburstarts.com

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Arts Council announces twenty seven new awards for minority ethnic artists

Monday 15th November 2021 at 5pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today announced details of awards worth £107,000 made to 27 minority ethnic artists and creative practitioners for mentoring or residency opportunities.

Thanks to funding for good causes from the National Lottery, the awards made through the Arts Council’s Minority Ethnic Artists Mentoring and Residency Programme are worth up to £5,000 each and will create opportunities for specialised training, research, cultural exchange, networking and learning for individual artists, creative practitioners and arts administrators

The programme was set up initially as a pilot scheme, informed by the Arts Council’s Intercultural Arts Strategy and aims to help individuals at every stage of their career; supporting skills development and career pathways, inspiring excellence and increasing opportunities for young and emerging minority ethnic artists and creatives.

In addition to creating the new funding awards for Minority Ethnic artists, the Arts Council has also established a Deliberative Forum to generate an improved understanding of needs and to inform future decision making.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Art Council of Northern Ireland, explained:

“Thanks to National Lottery players who raise £30 million for good causes in the UK every week, we are very pleased to announce these new awards, as the first step in addressing the barriers to access and participation which minority ethnic artists face.

“We made 27 individual awards today to artists from a range of disciplines including music, visual arts, dramas, poetry and dance. We look forward to seeing the proposed projects develop over the coming weeks and months and hope this vital funding will help increase the visibility of work created by minority ethnic artists living and working in Northern Ireland.

“Indeed we were pleased by the level of strong applications for mentoring or residency opportunities and we were fortunate to be able to find additional Lottery resources so that in this pilot year of a new and innovative programme we could support as many viable applications as possible.

“It is imperative that we develop greater diversity across all our art forms in Northern Ireland. Providing more funding opportunities like this one, for as many as possible, in order to create new and significant art that reflects our society, is strategically important to the Arts Council”.

Justin Kouame is one of the artists who will benefit from the scheme; he hopes to secure mentoring support and develop his body of work as a visual artist. This is the first time he has applied to the Arts Council for a grant to support his work. He sought asylum in Northern Ireland from the Ivory Coast back in 2009 and says the grant will help him to integrate into the artist community here, enable him to purchase quality materials and equipment, and allow him to commit more time to his practice.

Justin Kouame said

“I am delighted to receive this award from the Arts Council’s National Lottery funds because it means that I can at last give myself the time and the materials I need to develop as a visual artist. I have so many ideas for my work - I combine painting, drawing, photography and installation, and I just want the chance to keep building my skills.

“I am really looking forward to working with my artist mentor, Yvonne Keenan. This award will provide the time for our tutorials, research, visiting galleries and creating new work. I hope to grow my skills in portraiture and produce work that I can exhibit to encourage other asylum-seekers and minority ethnic artists to develop their talents and self-esteem - for me, making art is not just a livelihood, it is therapy”.

Click here to view the list of awards made

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‘Old Friends and Other Days’ a film by Northern Ireland Opera premieres at the Belfast Film Festival

Thursday 11th November 2021 at 5pm 0 Comments

Northern Ireland Opera’s new film, ‘Old Friends and Other Days’ recently premiered at the Strand Arts Centre as part of the 2021 Belfast Film Festival.

Old Friends and Other Days is an enchanting 45-minute cinematic experience which draws the viewer in from the moment a lone voice starts a hauntingly beautiful lullaby. The breathtaking film was created in Belfast back in March 2021 during lockdown and is supported by the Department for Communities through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

With an original concept and direction by Northern Ireland Opera’s Artistic Director, Cameron Menzies, ‘Old Friends and Other Days’ takes the music of Irish classical composer William Vincent Wallace and one of his contemporaries William Balfe and theatricalises each piece into epic storytelling through song. Four of Northern Ireland’s shining lights in opera are featured in the film including, Carolyn Dobbin, Mary McCabe, Emma Morwood, and Sinéad O’Kelly plus a cast which includes dancers and actors from across Northern Ireland.

NI Opera Artistic Director and film director on Old Friends and Other Days, Cameron Menzies, comments

‘’Without funding from the Arts Council, this cinematic project would not have been possible. It allows us to take Irish Art Song and storytelling into the realm of cinema, to a potentially global audience, enabling us to showcase some of Northern Ireland’s finest talent worldwide.’’

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said

‘The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support this wonderful new work from Northern Ireland Opera who have developed this stunning new film featuring some of the finest voices in the region. Congratulations to all those involved in creating ‘Old Friends and Other Days’, which is certain to enchant and delight all who experience it as this year’s Belfast Film Festival.”

Producer Chris Patterson, Causeway Pictures Ltd, said:

‘‘Causeway are proud to have been part of this visionary work which was filmed during lockdown. In a time when the arts are struggling we hope this film shows that talent will not be constrained and that entertainment remains important to the public psyche.”

It is hoped that the film will be made available in the future for public viewing. Keep up to date with what else is on at Northern Ireland Opera by visiting www.niopera.com

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St Colm’s Pupils Launch Anthology Reflecting on Life in Lockdown

Thursday 11th November 2021 at 4pm 0 Comments

St Colm’s High School in Belfast hosted a special event on Wednesday 10th November to celebrate the launch of a new poetry and photographic anthology, created by pupils, entitled ‘The Times That Shape Us’.

In attendance were First Minister Paul Givan and Junior Minister Declan Kearney, who gave their full support to arts in education, welcoming the students’ publication, commending the pupils and staff and the Creative Schools Partnership Programme which ignited the project.

The Creative Schools Partnership is a pioneering initiative supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funding, the Executive’s Urban Villages Initiative, and the Education Authority. It brings professional artists into classrooms to teach students creative skills, linked to the school curriculum, to improve educational outcomes for young people.

The school’s focus from the outset was improving mental health and wellbeing through the mediums of poetry, photography and music, and students worked with a range of artists including the poet Danielle Carragher on this year-long project. The poems composed by the young people reflect their time in lockdown and how this period affected their mental health. Pupils also produced a collection of photographs, which depict snapshots of what mattered to them during this pivotal point in their history.

Adrian Walsh, Principal of St Colm’s said he is extremely proud of the achievements of this group of young people.

“These students have participated in the Creative Schools Partnership Programme with enthusiasm and positive energy. It has been wonderful to watch their self-confidence and self-esteem grow as they enjoyed new experiences through engagement with the arts and the opportunity to meet a variety of people from different backgrounds and cultures. It has been inspirational to witness how they channelled their experiences of the pandemic and lockdown into poetry, photography and music. There is no doubt about the immense benefits of this programme for our young people.”

Mr Walsh continued:

“These young people come from an area with many socio-economic problems and challenges, and here at St Colm’s we have seen an acute rise in young people with anxiety and other mental health issues since lock down and the subsequent return to school. They are a wonderful group of young people who are extremely proud of what they have achieved, and as such it is fantastic to share and acknowledge their success.”

First Minister Paul Givan, Junior Minister Declan Kearney and the Belfast deputy Lord Mayor, Tom Haire joined students, teachers, parents and many others, at the school on Wednesday 10th November; to celebrate the pupils’ achievements and hear some of the poems they had written.

First Minister, Paul Givan said,

“This is a positive and successful collaborative cross Government partnership programme, and is based on research, which indicates that access to quality arts experiences in school can benefit all aspects of learning. This includes better engagement and attendance levels, improving results in other school subjects, increasing confidence and promoting positive mental health through the mediums of art and creativity.

“I am so impressed with the young people I have met at the launch today. The poetry anthology and photographic exhibition that they have created are excellent. The students have expressed their journey through Covid so well; this is not only a wonderful expression of creativity, it is literally a snapshot, it has captured a moment, recording a short social documentary of life in a pandemic.”

Junior Minister, Declan Kearney commented,

“It has been my pleasure to be able to attend this event today and to meet, and hear from, the students who have created these truly inspiring words and images, capturing their experiences of lockdown and the impact the pandemic has had on them and the lives of those around them.

“I am really impressed with how this programme has taught these young people new skills and encouraged their creativity, helping them build their self-esteem and confidence and improving their mental health and wellbeing.

“The incredible young people that we heard from today, and the others who contributed to this book and exhibition, are the influencers and change makers of the future. They should be very proud of what they have achieved. Their efforts will not only benefit their lives, but also those of their peers who have been through similar experiences during the pandemic.”

Senior Teacher and Creative Schools’ Coordinator Ursula Mackel stated:

“It has been a privilege to work with this group of young people on The Creative School Partnership Programme. The disruption of the educational journey of our students and their subsequent return to some sort of “normality” gave us the impetus to pursue our ambition of the publication of an anthology of their work in poetry and photography. The fact that they have lived through what will be known as a significant point in history enthused and encouraged them to share their experiences and we are delighted with the finished project.”

St Colm’s is one of 11 secondary schools currently engaged in the Creative Schools Partnership Programme.

Roísín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland explained:

“Thanks to support from the Arts Council’s National Lottery funds, the Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative, the Creative Schools Partnership Programme is bringing professional artists into the classroom to create new learning experiences for students.

“This is an inter-governmental programme that recognises the importance of the arts, and the skills of our artists, in giving a voice to our young people in a hugely challenging time. The students at St Colm’s have created a unique record of this pandemic, and of the impact of lockdown on their lives. The artists and teachers involved have introduced them to new ways of creative thinking and expression; that has been our goal throughout this programme and it’s just a joy to see it realised in this remarkable publication today, and fully supported by the NI Executive. Well done St Colm’s!”

Barry Mulholland, Chairperson of Education Authority, said:

“These students have created a very poignant and significant record of their experience during lockdown. Through poetry and photography, they have expressed their emotions and given us a visual diary of their experiences during this extraordinary time. They should be very proud of what they have created and achieved.The Creative Schools programme recognises that creativity is an essential component of education, contributing to the mental health, wellbeing, and the development of our young people.”

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‘BIND’ celebrates the Armagh Robinson Library in poetry, dance and film

Thursday 11th November 2021 at 3pm 0 Comments

‘BIND’, an innovative contemporary dance and poetry film celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Armagh Robinson Library, will receive its premiere screening at the Market Place Theatre Studio on Thursday 25 November at 8.30pm.

Taking place as part of the Armagh Georgian Weekend, ‘BIND’ reunites poet Maria McManus, choreographer Eileen McClory and filmmaker Conan McIvor, who were part of the successful team behind the recent sell-out screenings of ‘Epilogue’ at Belfast International Arts Festival.

When he died, Archbishop Robinson, the founder of the Armagh Robinson Library, requested that all his personal correspondence be burned and destroyed. In 2019, Maria McManus ran an international letter-writing campaign to 'fill the void' left behind, with new letters.

Hundreds of letters were received from people of all ages, and from across the globe. The subjects written about included contemporary issues, as well as letters to the dead, the lost, the imagined, to the future, to the past, to the inner self, and to public figures.

Maria McManus from Quotidian - Word on the Street, the creative arts production company behind the film, takes up the story:

“The Armagh Robinson Library has become a home for these new letters in the present, binding the past, the future and the sense of place. This year the creative team revisited the correspondence received and selected a handful of poignant lines to devise this beautiful homage to the legacy of the 'healing place of the soul', celebrating it in poetry, and movement.

The film explores the theme of 'binding' in several ways - the binding of books, as bonds across time and generations, in the costumes and metaphorically linking corsetry to constraints on women and access to education and expression of the body, written and spoken words. The Robinson Library is also a character in the film, which was recorded there earlier this year.”

‘BIND’ also features the talents of composer Katie Richardson, costume-maker Una Hickey and dancers Ryan O'Neill, Clara Kerr and Rosie Mullin. The poet Bebe Ashley translated the chosen lines from the correspondence into sign language which formed the basis for development of the movement sequences and voiceover is by the actress Roisín Gallagher.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support this terrific initiative, led by Quotidian, thanks to The National Lottery players. BIND demonstrates the true power of the arts in bringing people and communities closer together. It also highlights the value of using the arts as a tool to create a sense of place through imaginative storytelling, which in this instance, combines poetry, music and dance. Congratulations to all involved!”

Andrew Hetherington from Business to Arts said:

"We are proud to support BIND, a project that was funded as part of round one of the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund in partnership with Business to Arts. The Begin Together Arts Fund is a vital source of private sector funding for the arts. Business to Arts is proud to work in partnership with Bank of Ireland as we progress the fund, reach more communities, and help realise quality arts experiences for people across the island of Ireland."

Tickets for the film premiere of ‘BIND’ at the Market Place Theatre Studio on Thursday 25 November at 8.30pm are *free* and can be booked online now at https://armagh-navancentre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873621756

The screening of ‘BIND’ lasts approximately 25 minutes.

The project is supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland through Exchequer and National Lottery Funds and by Bank of Ireland, Begin Together Arts Funds in partnership with Business to Arts. Bebe Ashley's contribution was supported by her receipt of a grant from the Santander Freelancer's Scheme.

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Arts & Business NI Open Applications for Cultural Sustainability Programme ‘Blueprint’

Wednesday 10th November 2021 at 4pm 0 Comments

Arts & Business NI have opened applications for their ground-breaking cultural sustainability programme Blueprint. Blueprint is a pioneering 5-year financial growth programme which will enable small to medium-sized cultural organisations in Northern Ireland to take a more long-term approach to their income generation. 

Blueprint is informed by five years of research and development led by the team at Arts & Business NI (A&BNI) and is supported by a cohort of public and private funders. These funders will work together across the period of the programme to share strategies on taking a longer-term approach to building long-term financial strength within the arts and cultural sector.

The public and private funders supporting Blueprint include two UK foundations: Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, alongside The National Lottery Community Fund NI, Department for Communities NI, Arts Council Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

The programme will span a five-year period, supporting and developing a cluster of arts organisations to identify opportunities for income growth. In addition to training and mentoring, the programme will include a range of investment grants that will help organisations free up capacity, test new income generation ideas and invest in and incentivise financial growth.

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey said:

“The product of the creativity and hard work of people across the arts and culture has a critical role in the quality of life here but it also has the potential to make a significant contribution to the creation of a stronger economy that will benefit us all. Blueprint is a truly innovative approach to providing the skills and foundations that will support and sustain the practical expression to the talent and creativity we know is here in abundance and I look forward to seeing the lessons we can draw from it.”

Speaking about the programme, Mary Nagele, CEO of Arts & Business NI said:

“At Arts & Business NI we are excited by the potential of this Blueprint programme that will seek to encourage investment in long-term growth and allow its participants to find their unique route to greater financial security, and ultimately, more artistic freedom.”

Thanking funders the chair of A&B NI Martin Bradley MBE said:

“We are so grateful to all the funders who made this possible, shared our vision and supported us along the way. Having such a cohort of public and private funders invested in the programme can help us affect real transformational change.”

Blueprint will pilot a new approach to ‘capitalising’ organisations, with funders and arts organisations working together to building long-term financial strength. Blueprint has attracted the support of a broad collection of public and private funders: this widespread support demonstrates the collective belief in the ambition of the programme, and the transformational change that it seeks to achieve for the arts and cultural sector in NI.

Funders of the programme spoke about why they were excited by Blueprint:

Kate Beggs, The National Lottery Community Fund’s Northern Ireland Director, commented:

“We were delighted to fund Blueprint through the first strategic grant from Dormant Accounts Fund NI. This is a real game changer to not only help the long-term sustainability of individual arts and cultural organisations, but create transformational change and build long-term financial strength in the NI cultural sector.

“From the beginning we could see how the project was a close fit with what we wanted to achieve through the strategic element of Dormant Accounts – enabling collaboration and developing new approaches to sustainability across the sector.

“We are excited to see Blueprint open for applications and know the learning around collaboration between funders will be instrumental in strengthening the voluntary the community sector overall.”

Régis Cochefert, Director of Grants and Programmes at Paul Hamlyn Foundation said:

“Paul Hamlyn Foundation has been supporting arts and cultural organisations – and the wider voluntary sector – in Northern Ireland for decades and we care very much about supporting these local communities, both in urban and rural settings. We have supported Blueprint since its inception, as we could see the change that this capacity-building programme could bring about across Northern Ireland. The last 18 months has demonstrated how vital this key investment has become. We are delighted that so many other bodies joined our ranks as funders of this important initiative and we look forward to seeing the impact of the programme over time.”

Representatives from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation commented:

“We are delighted to be part of Blueprint and to help support the aspirations of the programme to bring transformational change. Northern Ireland’s rich and complex network of arts organisations is vital for nurturing, showing and sustaining the many talented artists who make their home here. We would like to thank Arts & Business NI and their partners for their vision and drive in making this ambitious strategic programme a reality.”

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

“Blueprint represents a strategically important step in strengthening the long-term sustainability of Northern Ireland’s arts and cultural sector. It forms part of the Arts Council’s own five-year development plan for future proofing the arts and, with one of our key clients, Arts & Business Northern Ireland, in the driving seat, alongside the cohort of partners and investors that they have brought on board, we have every confidence that Blueprint will deliver significant and lasting benefits to the local arts.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl stated:

“If we want a truly culturally vibrant city – then we need to help our arts organisations become more financially secure. And that’s why we’ve invested in supporting Arts & Business to deliver this pioneering programme, Blueprint.

“As we continue on our post-Covid journey, the ambition set out in our cultural strategy is taking on an even greater significance, with the arts playing a vital key role in the city’s recovery and well and truly setting the scene for our upcoming ambitious plans to celebrate culture in the city.”

Arts organisations interested in hearing more about the programme can watch the Blueprint Launch Film https://vimeo.com/643599223/21a1ea85c3

More details on the Blueprint programme and how to apply are available on the Arts & Business NI website here: https://www.artsandbusinessni.org.uk/arts-membership/blueprint-programme

The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Wednesday 1 December 2021.

Should an applicant have any queries about their application they should contact Brona Whittaker, Head of Arts 028 9073 5155 | b.whittaker@artsandbusinessni.org.uk

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The Playhouse Derry/Londonderry to stage new drama fifty years on from Bloody Sunday

Monday 8th November 2021 at 5pm 0 Comments

To mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, The Playhouse Derry/Londonderry will present The White Handkerchief, a major new drama taking place in the building that was the intended destination of the protest march through the city on 30 January 1972. The play’s title is inspired by the enduring image of Father Edward Daly, waving a blood-soaked handkerchief as he led a group of people attempting to escort a young victim to safety. Broadcast across the world as part of global commemorations of Bloody Sunday, the play will be performed by the people of Derry, following the creation of The Playhouse’s new musical theatre academy.

Written by Liam Campbell, The White Handkerchief will premiere on 30 January 2022, the 50th anniversary of the day on which 14 unarmed civilians were killed by British soldiers during a protest march against internment without trial. The play will tell the stories of the lives of the victims, their families and those affected by the terrible events of the day. It will be performed inside the Guildhall in the centre of the city, the building protesters were unable to reach as their way became blocked, their march re-routed and the appalling events unfolded.

Playhouse director, Kieran Griffiths, said,

“This piece is a sensitive honouring of the lives of those lost, a commemoration that does not diminish the horror of that day. It will be an elegy- a piece that marries dramatic narrative with a reverent musical score to give space for previously unexplored moments in history.

“It is essential to us that this production features a completely local cast and we are very proud to have set up a new educational programme to feed into the production, giving a worldwide platform to the incredible talent of this city.”

The production has the support of many Bloody Sunday families and wounded. Julieann Campbell, a former Chair of the Bloody Sunday Trust and an award-winning author on the subject, has supported the project since its inception. Her uncle Jackie Duddy was the first person killed. The Duddy family still possess Bishop Daly's white handkerchief, which came home with Jackie's belongings in 1972.

"It's incredible to think that fifty years after Bloody Sunday, these events can still be overwhelming. Derry's Playhouse has achieved something truly unique in this production. I remember watching my older relatives - Jackie's brothers and sisters - mesmerised at the preview performance. It was so emotional, and we cried so much seeing it all unfold and hearing the stunning music. The Playhouse has done our family proud and Derry proud. I can see The White Handkerchief on the West End stage and Broadway. It's just amazing."

For the play’s premiere, the handkerchief which inspired its title will be displayed in the Guildhall. The bloodstained handkerchief was held and waved by Fr. Edward Daly as he helped to move wounded 17-year-old boy John ‘Jackie’ Duddy to a place of safety. Jackie Duddy was to die on Bloody Sunday, becoming the first victim. Fr. Daley administered the last rites.

Writer Liam Campbell said,

" I am honoured and humbled to be part of the creative team along with composer Brian O Doherty and director Kieran Griffiths delivering this elegy: this observance to tragedy and bravery and innocence, this landmark piece of theatre."

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

“This production and its accompanying educational programme, demonstrates the power of using the arts as a peacebuilding tool to create open dialogue around challenging and sensitive subjects.

The Arts Council is committed to supporting work that offers career development and performance platforms for local artists and it’s terrific to see an all local cast take to the stage through The Playhouse’s Musical Theatre Academy. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to fund The Playhouse through National Lottery funding.”

Launched in May 2021, The Playhouse Music Theatre Company offers world class music theatre training to those from the city who are strong theatre performers; the company will provide the ensemble in The White Handkerchief, with performers also auditioning for major roles.

Over the past eighteen months, the theatre’s online broadcasting programme has featured features concerts, events, workshops, a major Peacebuilding conference, a Digital Arts Festival for 4-7-year-olds, and the online live premiere of several new pieces of live theatre – including Proud to Be/Beyond The Labels of Me by Mel Bradley, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN 1972: Voices from the Heart of The Troubles by Damian Gorman and Nutcase by Colin Bateman. All Playhouse productions are broadcast live, online, across the world, as well as to audiences in the theatre.

Kieran Griffiths said,

“When we embarked on a new digital journey for The Playhouse in August last year, we had no expectation of the fantastic response we would receive, or the support that would reach us from around the world. We’re so pleased that a legacy is now in place for our productions to be broadcast live, online, across the world, expanding our audience greatly. We are also extremely grateful to the Garfield Weston trust and the Arts Council for helping us to realise this important work”

The White Handkerchief will premiere on Sunday 30 January 2022.

Dates: 30 January to 5th Feb
Venue: Guildhall, Guildhall Square, Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. BT48 7BB.

The premiere will be broadcast live via derryplayhouse.co.uk and available to stream afterwards.

Tickets at derryplayhouse.co.uk

Book and lyrics by Liam Campbell. Music by Brian O’Doherty. Design by Ryan Griffiths. Directed by Kieran Griffiths. Produced by the Playhouse.

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COMPETITION: WIN ONE OF TWO PLACES FOR NI WRITERS ON EXCLUSIVE WRITING COURSE

Wednesday 3rd November 2021 at 1pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has teamed up with book industry experts, Writers and Artists, and Bloomsbury Publishing, to offer two free places on an upcoming, exclusive Finding Your Voice writing course.

The course, targeted at helping new writers build their confidence and explore their personality on the page, will be led by top creative tutors Natalie Young and Alex Hammond.

Up to 20 places are available on the six week programme, and no previous formal writing experience is required to sign up. Two free places will be made available to writers from Northern Ireland.

To enter the Find Your Voice Competition, you must send either 1000 words of original fiction, creative non-fiction, or 10-15 lines of poetry. Your submission could be something in development or a piece that shows your writing at its best. Entrants will be judged by award winning writer and the Arts Council’s Acting Head of Literature Paul McVeigh.

Speaking about the competition Paul said:

“This course is a brilliant opportunity to learn some new skills that will really help to elevate your writing and also gain insight into the publishing world. We are delighted to be working with Bloomsbury Publishing and the organisation Writers and Artists, who produce the industry bible, the ‘Writers and Artists Yearbook’. This offer of two free course places for writers from or based in Northern Ireland really is an exceptional opportunity to benefit from the experience and knowledge of first-class tutors. The Arts Council wants to help all writers develop their careers, and in particular, this opportunity allows us to support those at the very early stages of their writing life. We are accepting entries across all genres and I’m very much looking forward to reading the submissions.”

Finding Your Voice has been designed to offer creative support and is suitable for writers of fiction and creative non-fiction. All participants will be provided with a collaborative space in which to develop individual writing styles and book ideas, with the course therefore perfect for writers either in the embryonic stages of a writing journey, or for those with a completed draft but aware of the need to further interrogate their work and/or regain creative momentum.

With help from a diverse list of contemporary authors including Toni Morrison, Elizabeth Strout, Guy Gunarante, Claire-Louise Bennett, Owen Sheers, Yann Martel, Stephen King and Ocean Vuong, as well as a live Q & A with award-winning London-based novelist, Ayisha Malik, participants will work with the creative tutors to develop their writing and shaping their identity on the page.

Students will be encouraged to write as much as they can, both in the form of free-writing and through structured writing tasks, to be used as a starting point for further workshop discussion. Each evening session will run from 7-9pm, making it ideal for those with full-time jobs and other commitments.

Judge: Paul McVeigh
Paul McVeigh recently edited The 32: An Anthology of Irish Working-Class Voices, a collection that brought together 16 published writers and 16 new voices to write about their experience of being working class in Ireland. His novel The Good Son, won The Polari First Novel Prize and he is twice winner of The McCrea Literary Award. He wrote plays and comedy, with his shows touring the UK and Ireland including the Edinburgh Festival and London's West End. His short stories have appeared in The Irish Times, Faber's Being Various and Kit de Waal's Common People anthologies, on BBC Radio 3, 4 & 5 and Sky Arts. Paul was fiction editor at the Southword Journal, co-edited the Belfast Stories anthology and co-founded the London Short Story Festival.

Course Tutor: Natalie Young
Natalie Youngwas born in London. Her first novel, We All Ran Into the Sunlight, was published by Short Books in 2011 while Natalie was working as the Arts editor for Prospect magazine. Before that she was a journalist with The Times. Her second novel, Season to Taste or How To Eat Your Husband, was published by Tinder Press in the UK in 2014 and by Little Brown in the US and was translated into several languages. Natalie toured with the book in the UK and in New York and took part in the Edinburgh and Cheltenham Literary Festivals. Season to Taste is now being adapted for film. Since then Natalie has worked as a literary consultant, editor and mentor, and works with Bloomsbury through the Writers & Artists website, and also as the facilitator for the SO:WRITE Women Writers group with Artful Scribe. She continues to explore new forms in her writing and has been the recipient of a grant from the Royal Literary Fund and two awards from Arts Council England. Most recently she received a Work in Progress award from the Society of Authors and the Authors Foundation for her third book. She loves the process of developing works in progress and is comfortable working with writers across all genres with a particular interest in adult literary long fiction, novellas, short stories and the prose poem.

Course Tutor: Alex Hammond
Alex Hammond has worked in publishing for most of his professional life, and there's nothing he likes more than talking to an author about their book, diving into the pages, and helping them identify any issues that might be holding their story back.

Alex holds a BA (Hons) in American Literature with Creative Writing from UEA, an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Lancaster, and is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Southampton. After completing his MA, Alex worked at Rogers, Coleridge & White literary agency, working with authors such as Zadie Smith, Philip Hensher, Nick Hornby, Sandi Toksvig and Joe Dunthorne.

Alex joined Cornerstones Literary Consultancy in 2014, managing editors, assessing new author enquiries, and scouting for agents. He maintains a close relationship with Cornerstones, and also works directly with authors at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Conferences, and at A Chapter Away writers’ retreats.

Guest Writer: Ayisha Malik
Ayisha Malikis author of the critically acclaimed novels, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, The Other Half of Happiness, and This Green and Pleasant Land. She was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick and Sofia Khan has been a CityReads London book. Her children’s books include a re-telling of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and The Seven Sisters. Ayisha is winner of The Diversity Book Awards and has been shortlisted for The Asian Women of Achievement Award, Marie Claire's Future Shapers' Awards and the h100 Awards. Her fourth adult novel, The Movement, is to be published in spring 2022.

Full terms and conditions as well as details of how to enter can be found at: https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/competitions/find-your-voice

Please note, entrants must be born or reside in Northern Ireland. The closing date for entries is midnight on Sunday 5th December, 2021 and winners will be announced no later than week commencing 20th December, 2021.

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One week left to view the Portrait of Northern Ireland exhibition at Golden Thread Gallery

Friday 29th October 2021 at 12pm 0 Comments

The ‘Portrait of Northern Ireland - Neither an Elegy nor a Manifesto’ Exhibition, supported by the Northern Ireland Office as part of its Centenary programme, remains open to the public until 4 November at Belfast’s Golden Thread Gallery. This major art exhibition showcases over 100 pieces of art, featuring the people and places that have defined Northern Ireland over the past 100 years.

A number of the works on show have been borrowed from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Contemporary Collection including works by Carol Graham, Ursula Burke, Colin Davidson, Ian Cumberland, Emma Connolly, Donovan Wylie and Brendan Jamison among others.

Showcasing art from the 1920s to the present day, the exhibition demonstrates the diversity and quality of art from Northern Ireland and represents artists’ responses to our geographical, social and political landscape.

Taking its subtitle from curator John Hewitt’s poem, neither an elegy nor a manifesto, this exhibition is neither a lament for nor a celebration of Northern Ireland. Instead, it shows how the artists who were born or have worked in this part of the world have responded to the particular and universal experience of the people who live here. The exhibition demonstrates how visual representations of the narratives of Northern Ireland can alter our own perceptions of the landscape and of ourselves.

Visitors will also be able to view an extraordinary array of works by artists including Paul Henry, William Scott, Joy Gerrard, Willie Doherty and Susan McWilliams, with Turner Prize nominees included alongside emerging artists from Belfast School of Art. Many of the works in the show have not been available for public view for many years.

Curated by Shan McAnena, the Portrait of Northern Ireland exhibition is a collaboration between the Northern Ireland Office, the Government Art Collection, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Ulster University Belfast School of Art as part of the wider cultural programme of the Northern Ireland Centenary.

An expert panel of representatives from these organisations and many of the leading Northern Ireland galleries, has ensured that the exhibition features an inclusive and varied range of artwork and exhibits.

Curator Shan McAnena said,

“It has been a privilege to bring together these beautiful and profound works and acknowledge the contribution of many of the key artists who have emerged from this part of the world over the past 100 years.

"The works in the exhibition give a sense of the development of fine art practice here since the 1920s and capture artists’ responses to the landscape and experience, both particular and universal, of the people who have lived in this place and who continue to make Northern Ireland their home.”

Head of Belfast School of Art, Louise O’Boyle, added,

“This exhibition is a great introduction to artworks created in Northern Ireland past and present. Indeed, the emerging artists’ work from Belfast School of Art graduates on show demonstrates just how vibrant and intriguing the current contemporary art scene is here. Local, but very much with national and global impact and reach!”

Dr Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“The Arts Council of NI began collecting in 1943 and has watched the development of artists living and working in Northern Ireland since then. Many things have changed in our society over the years, but the importance of purchasing contemporary work as a means of supporting artists and developing a culture in which visual art is appreciated remains the same. This exhibition is a rich visual treat for viewers because such a range of work is brought together and we are delighted that many works from our Collection are on show as part of this wider exhibition. I would encourage everyone to go along.”

The exhibition continues until Thursday 4th November, with late opening on the final evening for Late-Night Art Belfast.

Find out more at www.goldenthreadgallery.co.uk

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Arts Council and the British Council reaffirm commitment to showcasing Arts from NI internationally

Friday 29th October 2021 at 11am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council have announced a continuation of their joint commitment to developing and showcasing artistic excellence from Northern Ireland on an international stage, up to 2024.

This vital strategic collaboration enables the Arts Council and the British Council to support artists and arts organisations from Northern Ireland to showcase their work with agencies, festivals and residencies internationally including those in India, Germany, Paris and other areas of Europe and the UK. With challenges and pressures on artists in developing, showcasing and touring work as a result of the Covid-19 and Brexit, this support is now more important than ever.

The partnership, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary, has previously supported international showcasing activity, including:

  • The Artist Development Fund, a £50,000 annual programme which aims to support individual international developmental opportunities for exceptional artists based in Northern Ireland.
  • Attendance in 2020 at the IPAY Showcase (International Association for Performing Arts for Youth) in Philadelphia USA featured five of Northern Ireland’s leading theatre and dance companies including, Prime Cut Productions, Replay Theatre Company, Maiden Voyage Dance, Cahoots NI and Young At Art. Attendance enabled these organisations to showcase their work and network with international touring agents, festival organisers, artists and other theatre professionals, with a view to touring their work internationally.
  • In March 2020, the Arts Council attended the OUTSIDE THE BOX: Public Art in Qatar Forum in Doha with the British Council to explore the meaning and power of public art, how public art helps people experience cities, and its ability to create dialogue and broaden perceptions.
  • Centre Culturel Irlandais (CCI) in Paris offers opportunities and residencies for artists from NI to showcase their work as part of CCI’s wider annual events programme.
  • A number of bursaries are offered annually to Northern Ireland artists, promoters and arts organisations to attend WOMEX, the leading world music conference which offers performance and networking opportunities with music industry professionals with a view to touring work internationally. The five-day event attracts over 2,250 delegates from over 90 countries, including hundreds of concert and festival bookers, labels, publishers, distributors, managers and the world's media.
  • In August 2019 The Arts Council and the British Council supported three Northern Ireland theatre and dance organisations to perform at Edinburgh’s International and Fringe Festivals, and the inaugural launch of the first ‘Spotlight on Theatre and Dance from Northern Ireland’ also took place. Following this ten major works were showcased at other special online industry events organised by Edinburgh Fringe in both 2020 and 2021.
  • India. Over the last three years the partnership has provided residency opportunities for artists at the Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi and the Shruti Foundation Vedaaranya residency in Ramgarh Shekhawati, Rajasthan. A number of writers from Northern reland have also been supported to attend the world-famous Jaipur Literature Festival and in 2019 this festival held one of their satellite festivals in Belfast. The inaugural JLF Belfast was an international celebration of literature, creativity and music and brought together a wealth of distinguished speakers and cultural thinkers from across the world to packed audiences at The Lyric Theatre and Seamus Heaney HomePlace.
  • British Council UK/Italy and UK/Australia Seasons. The Arts Council is represented on the governing board of the British Council UK/Italy Season 2020 and currently the board for UK/Australia Season 2022. Due to the pandemic the UK Italy Season programme was reimagined for presentation online and the Willie Doherty Dove/Where Exhibition was toured to the Ulster Museum in July 2021 . The UK/Australia Season will celebrate and strengthen the partnership between Australia and the UK.

Skinder Hundal, British Council Arts Director, commented,

“We are delighted to continue our partnership with the Arts Council in Northern Ireland. Together over the past nine years, we have increased the number of cultural connections between Northern Ireland and the rest of the world, developing vital long-term partnerships.

“As we face global challenges over the next ten years, it is more important than ever that we secure a positive future for the arts. This MOU is testament to the strong international ambitions of Northern Ireland’s creative arts sector and maps out a clear framework for continued international cultural dialogue and exchange.

“There is so much to celebrate, and I look forward to working together with the Arts Council in our 10th year and beyond, showcasing and connecting Northern Ireland’s creativity with the world.”

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

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is hugely proud to partner with the British Council in our joint commitment to showcasing great art and artists from Northern Ireland on an international stage. The value of a partnership such as this cannot be overstated and it’s vital that world-class work created here has the opportunity to be seen outside of the region. It is also enormously important that our artists get the chance to take part in inspiring and career-enhancing international residencies. The arts are without boundaries and help us tell our stories, seek out and engage wider audiences and this partnership enables that. We thank the British Council for their continued support and look forward to working together in the future to put Northern Ireland Arts on the world stage for all to see, experience and celebrate.”

For details on all funding opportunities for artists and arts organisations visit www.artscouncil-ni.org

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Belfast Movement Choir aims to get the city dancing!

Thursday 28th October 2021 at 4pm 0 Comments

Maiden Voyage Dance is inviting women across the city to get their dancing shoes on with the launch of the second year of its Belfast Movement Choir.

Funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Maiden Voyage Dance Belfast Movement Choir is an intergenerational project which focuses on movement for health and wellbeing for women across Belfast.

Despite their name, Movement Choirs are not about singing - they aim to bring groups of people together through dance, in one communal, celebratory, cultural activity.

The Belfast Movement Choir will see groups of 12 women aged 18 - 80+ begin their autumn term in person in North, South, East and West Belfast as well as on Zoom, from the start of November. There will be an autumn, winter and spring term for the Choir over a period of six months, ending with an outdoor event performance or filmed performance in spring 2022.

The Choir is being spearheaded by Sandy Cuthbert, Dance Engagement Coordinator with Maiden Voyage Dance and one of the stars of ‘Epilogue’, the company’s recent sell-out film installation at the Belfast International Arts Festival. Sandy says:

“The Belfast Movement Choir is a celebration of the joy of creativity and moving together. It is accessible for women with all levels of dance experience and for those with none. We do not teach a particular style of dance, but rather support participants to express their own creativity with movement.

Choir participants are all shapes and sizes and that is something that we celebrate, in a totally safe and non-judgemental space. A number of our participants are mature and older women.

The movement is not high impact and the facilitator will only deliver what is appropriate for each group and is sensitive to each individual within that group. Each participant is supported to work at their own pace while they build their confidence and comfort level.”

There are a number of benefits in taking part in dance at any age, including building mental and physical agility, increasing movement memory and alertness, working in collaboration and developing your creativity, self-confidence and self-esteem.

Finn O’Gorman took part in the first year of the Belfast Movement Choir and found that it opened up lots of new possibilities for her:

“At an age where my movements were becoming restricted and the future seemed defined by limitation, Belfast Movement Choir introduced me to a world I had never imagined.

Here was an arena where motion was redefined and expanded. Any and all parts of the body could be enlivened by expression; parts previously abandoned were brought back into the fold.

I developed a new relationship, a new conversation with my own body which is informing every aspect of my life, this new life - no longer defined by limitations, but by potential and possibility.”

Taking part in the Maiden Voyage Dance Movement Choir is free and you don’t need any previous dance experience. Just email Sandy at sandy@maidenvoyagedance.com with your name and preferred venue and they’ll be in touch with further information.

Belfast Movement Choir - venues:

North Belfast -The Duncairn Arts Centre-Venue-McClory Hall
Week Beginning-8th November Thursday 7.30-9.30pm

Adult Group
Facilitator Sandy Cuthbert
Number of places available: 9

South Belfast-The Crescent Arts Centre-Venue-Helen Lewis Dance Studio
Week Beginning-8th November Monday 10am-12 Midday

Adult Group
Facilitator-Jane Mooney
Number of places available: 3

West Belfast-The Spectrum Arts Centre-Venue-Dance Studio
Week Beginning-8th November Thursday 11am-12 Midday

Adult Group
Facilitator-Anna Treanor
Number of places available: 12

East Belfast-Vault Studio-Venue-Dance Studio (autumn term)
Week Beginning-8th November Wednesday 5-6pm

Young Adults (13-18 years)
Facilitator-Rosie Mullin
Number of places available: 12

Zoom group For those not confident about returning to face-to-face sessions
Week Beginning-1st November Wednesday 10.00-11.30am

Adult Group
Facilitator-Anna Treanor & Rosie Mullin
Number of places available: 10

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Arts Council survey reveals Digital Ambitions of NI’s creative sector

Friday 22nd October 2021 at 11am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (22nd October 2021) published the findings of its survey on the online and digital ambitions of Northern Ireland’s arts and creative sector.

The survey provides a snapshot of current use, including the impact of the pandemic on online audience engagement; and it considers the future needs of the sector and the challenges of realising the potential of the new technologies, including monetising online content.

Chief among the survey findings is that, while digital and online technologies are widely perceived to create exciting new possibilities for artists and organisations to make work, innovate, and reach wider audiences, digital is not seen as a replacement for live, in-person arts.

“The past 12 months has highlighted quite dramatically the absolute necessity of integrating digital technology into, and encouraging digital engagement with, the arts.”

“We must recognise and embrace Digital Technology as an Equality of Access requirement for future generations.”

Key findings:

Engaging with audiences:

  • Audiences, especially younger audiences, are engaging differently with the arts, with more art being consumed on digital devices. It is crucial for arts organisations to keep pace with change.
  • Social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic provided the catalyst for many arts organisations to adapt their work for online audiences. There were many notable successes, but also concerns that quality could suffer in the rush to ensure that audiences were engaged.
  • The online audience is potentially global; however, this creates new challenges for local arts organisations, attempting to compete in the online arena with worldwide organisations.
  • Online content is increasing access to the arts for marginalised communities, people with mobility issues and people living in rural locations.

Monetising Digital:

  • Organisations face a number of barriers to successfully monetising digital content, notably staff capacity and persuading audiences to pay appropriately. During the pandemic, paid-for online content generated significantly less income than would have been possible through live in-person ticketed events.
  • The two methods of monetisation that show the greatest opportunity for growth are ‘online sponsorship / donation’ and ‘paid content for streaming / online distribution.’
  • To date, these methods of monetisation have been used successfully by less than 20% of the organisations surveyed; however, 60% are keen to test this marketplace.

Funding and support:

  • Delivering digital content is human resource intensive, requiring specialist skills and additional spending commitments, which is particularly challenging for smaller arts organisations.
  • NI arts require investment support if they are to catch up producing high-quality work and competing online with other UK and European regions.
  • There is currently a skills gap in NI, with many artists and organisations ‘learning on the job’.
  • Provision of specialised training would have a significant impact on the sector’s ability to deliver high-quality digital content and propel their work to greater audiences.
  • There is strong support for the formation of digital hubs, providing shared facilities, equipment, skills, knowledge and resources.

Future ambitions:

  • 82% of survey respondents believe that digital technology will enable them to distribute their creative content more widely.
  • 81% believe that it will generate an additional source of revenue.
  • 79% believe that it will improve the quality of their services to audiences.
  • With technological changes, exacerbated by the events of 2020, the arts audience has been changing; artists and organisations need to design ahead for the evolving market.

To read the Arts Council’s ‘Digital Ambitions Survey Findings’, click here: email: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-Digital-Ambitions-Survey-Findings-Report-October2021.pdf


The Art Council’s Strategic Development Department conducts a programme of research and evaluation to provide evidence and intelligence that supports arts and culture organisations to improve their practice and to demonstrate their impact. Designated as a producer of Official Statistics, we produce a range of annual and stand-alone reports to inform art and culture policy and demonstrate alignment to government’s key targets as set out in the Programme for Government. For further information, email: strategy@artscouncil-ni.org

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South African born poet to represent NI at multilingual poetry festival in Brussels

Wednesday 20th October 2021 at 8am 0 Comments

Poet, storyteller and playwright Nandi Jola is representing Northern Ireland at the 11th TRANSPOESIE festival in Brussels.

Her poem Entomology has been translated into French and Dutch and is currently on display in public spaces and parks around the Belgian capital. Nandi was selected to be a part of the international project by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels and will present her work at a special virtual event at the Listz Institute on October 21st.

Launched in 2011, TRANSPOESIE is an annual poetry festival organised by EUNIC Brussels (the local network of European Union National Institutes for Culture) and its partners. It was inspired by the successful and long-standing Poems on the Underground in London and Wiersze w Metrze in Warsaw, as well as similar projects run in various capital cities all over the world such as Paris, New York and Montreal.

The festival celebrates multilingualism by bringing poetry in as many languages as possible to Brussels.

Sonya Whitefield, Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Nandi to see her work translated into other languages and be put on public display alongside other poets from across the world. She follows in the footsteps of Stephen Sexton and Máire Zepf who have previously represented Northern Ireland at the festival and we very much look forward to seeing Nandi present her work at the virtual TRANSPOESIE event on October 21st.”

Lynsey Moore, Director of the Northern Ireland Executive Office in Brussels added:

"The Brussels Platform continues to provide the ideal opportunity to showcase our talent on a European stage and to highlight the region's ever growing reputation as a centre of excellence in the arts.”

Born in Gqeberha, South Africa, Nandi grew up under the apartheid regime and began writing poetry at the age of fourteen. At 21 she left home to come to Northern Ireland and her work reflects both Belfast and South Africa and the many connections that the people have in common.

Speaking about TRANSPOESIE Nandi said:

“I just wanted to thank the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Queens University Belfast for opening doors to opportunities, thank my publisher Doire Press and raise a glass to ABC Council Area, my County Armagh for making the Longlist to the bid for City of Culture 2025. I will to be their first Black Poet in Residence in 2022.”

About the artist:

Nandi Jola an active member of the Northern Ireland arts community, working as a writer, cultural schools ambassador, artist and facilitator.

In 2010, she founded the ‘nandijproject’, with the intention to tackle women trafficking and sexual exploitation and has been a key figure in many significant arts projects including the Irish Writers Centre XBorders project, Same/Difference project, the Poetry Jukebox, the Sky and You Are Too Big poetry collective. Her play “The Journey” opened the prestigious International Literature Festival Dublin in October 2020 and in 2021 she was selected to take part in the BBC’s Writers Room project.

Her debut poetry collection, Home Is Neither Here Nor There will be published in Spring/Summer 2022 with Doire Press.

Entomology

Our bodies are wiretaps
Carried by a cuboid vessel
Into the viscera of sphere
Like weevils bare to illumination
Leaning on the nearest thing
The thing that is itinerant
Of two dimensions at the speed of light.
Transporting us through quotidian noise

For more information on the TRANSPOESIE Festival go to www.transpoesie.eu .

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Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich partner with Coláiste Feirste to showcase the work of Art Students

Tuesday 19th October 2021 at 1pm 0 Comments

It’s out of the art room and into the gallery for the GCSE and A-Level Art students at Coláiste Feirste who make a welcome return to the annual Coláiste Feirste art exhibition hosted by Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich on the Falls Road, Belfast. The free exhibition, supported by National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, is presented in Dánlann Dillon, The Dillion Gallery and is now available to view, continuing until 25th November.


Every year the team at Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich invite young, dedicated artists from Coláiste Feirste to showcase their artwork to the public. The pieces presented this year include artworks from A-Level and GCSE students across a range of mediums.

Gráinne Ní Ghilín, Director, Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich, commented,

“Everyone at Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich is absolutely delighted to once again host this exhibition from the talented students at Coláiste Feirste. The artwork on show gives us an insight into the young people in our community and the subjects that inspire them to create their art. We are especially delighted to celebrate the fantastic artistic ability in our community this year as we celebrate thirty years since Cultúrlann first opened and was the initial home of Meánscoil Feirste. I’m so proud of the students that are taking part and I would encourage everyone to come along and experience this wonderful exhibition.”

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education, Arts Council of Northern, added,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support Cultúrlann Mc Adam Ó Fiaich thanks to National Lottery players. Cultúrlann excel at engaging with the local community and we are really proud to see them partner with local secondary school, Coláiste Feirste, to present this wonderful exhibition of work from GCSE and A-Level Art students.”

For most of the students this is their first experience of having their work featured in a professionally presented public exhibition. Former Coláiste Feirste student Shakirah Ní Bhriain, who is now studying at the Belfast School of Art – Ulster University and whose A-Level work features in the exhibition commented,

“Having my A-Level piece on display is really surreal as it was such a difficult thing to do, especially during the pandemic. My ceramic piece is called, Hanging On, and deals with issues around mental health and wellbeing. With all the hard work that has gone into it, it’s just so great to see it on public display, a real reward at the end of all the hard work.”

For full details of Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich’s autumn Samhain events programme, visit www.culturlann.ie

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Second NI Writers Day Will Celebrate Contemporary Voices In Literature

Thursday 14th October 2021 at 12pm 0 Comments

The Royal Society of Literature (RSL) and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, with support from the National Lottery, are inviting booklovers and writers to join them for a series of free online events later this month.

NI Writers Day 2 will take place on Wednesday 27th October. It follows on from the first hugely successful NI Writers Day in March 2021 and is part of a drive by the Royal Society of Literature to celebrate literary talent across all regions of the UK.

The October session will feature a mix of speakers, shining a light on some of Northern Ireland’s most outstanding writers working across a range of genres today, including drama, sci-fi, crime fiction and Irish language. Award-winning writer and RSL Fellow Lucy Caldwell will return to her Northern Ireland roots to host the day.

The event will open with a lunchtime workshop led by Lucy and fellow East-Belfast author Glenn Patterson, who together will deliver a free hour-long workshop exploring the joys, possibilities and challenges of working across form. Open to all, whether you’ve recently started writing or are a master of your chosen genre, this session will encourage writers to experiment with the written word.

In the afternoon, Royal Society of Literature Chair and acclaimed poet Daljit Nagra will interview Inua Ellams, a poet playwright and artist whose work has been heavily influenced by Seamus Heaney. In this special event he will talk about his poem Wood Work for Seamus Heaney and Peter Edwards, which was commissioned by the Royal Society of Literature and written in response to a portrait of the Nobel Prize winning poet held in the National Portrait Gallery.

The event will come to a close with a panel discussion featuring some of the finest Northern Irish writers working across form and genre today. Led by RSL Fellow Lucy Caldwell, sci-fi novelist Ian McDonald, Irish language children’s writer Máire Zepf, performance poet Abby Oliveira, and crime writer Steve Cavanagh will discuss their work, routes into writing and the Northern Irish literary scene.

Director of the RSL, Molly Rosenberg, explained:

“The RSL is thrilled to be working with the Arts Council on this second Northern Ireland Writers Day collaboration of 2021. Throughout the day, we'll be celebrating the remarkable work and influence of Northern Irish writers of the past, as well as the extraordinary range, quality and significance of Northern Irish writers working today. All at the RSL are excited to be part of this special set of events, and to continue this programme of work with writers across literary forms and across Northern Ireland."

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

“We are delighted to be working in partnership once again with the Royal Society of Literature to help raise the profile of writers from NI and showcase the wealth of talent we have here. This will be a great day of discussion, celebrating all varieties of literature, from across the genres, with three events that are sure to capture the imaginations of readers and writers.”

Tickets for NI Writers Day are free and can be booked via the RSL website. Go to www.rsliterature.org/whats-on

Please note, numbers are strictly limited for the writing workshop with Lucy Caldwell and Glenn Patterson. To apply for tickets for this event only email library@artscouncil-ni.org before 5pm on Thursday 21st October 2021. Tickets will be allocated on a discretionary basis with priority given to writers from Northern Ireland who did not attend the poetry workshop with Daljit Nagra in March at the first NI Writers Day.

Biographies

Born in Belfast in 1981, Lucy CaldwellFRSL is the award-winning author of four novels, several stage plays and radio dramas, and most recently two collections of short stories: Multitudes and Intimacies. Her latest novel These Days will be published by Faber in March 2022. She is also the editor of Being Various: New Irish Short Stories.

Ian McDonald lives in Holywood, Northern Ireland and is best known for his science fiction works. His first novel Desolation Road was published in 1988, his most recent, the final part of the Luna trilogy, came out in March 2019. He's written twenty-five novels, four novellas and four story collections and has been nominated for every major genre award. His work is translated into fifteen languages.

Máire Zepf has written 12 books for children, from picture books to a YA verse novel. Winner of the KPMG Children’s Book of the Year, the Réics Carló Award and a White Raven in 2020, her books appear in 10 languages worldwide. The Co. Down author was the first Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland, based at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at QUB (2017-19). She is Artistic Director for Quotidian – Word on the Street.

Abby Oliveira is a writer, performer, lyricist, and theatre-maker based in Derry. She has been an eminent member of the Irish spoken-word scene for over a decade. She performs regularly at events and festivals throughout the UK, Ireland & abroad and has toured work in Australia, New Zealand (via support from Arts Council NI), and Singapore. She has had work commissioned by BBC Radio 4 and Foyle, RTE radio, and more.

Steve Cavanagh is the critically acclaimed, Sunday Times best-selling author of the Eddie Flynn series, and a standalone novel, Twisted. His books have sold over a million copies in the UK alone. Every novel has either won or been nominated for a major award. His third novel, The Liar, won the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the year 2018. Thirteen won the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime novel of the year 2019. FIFTY FIFTY was a Richard and Judy Book club choice, and the BBC Between The Covers book club choice. His latest novel, The Devil's Advocate was an instant Sunday Times Bestseller and The Times and Telegraph crime novel of the month. His work has been translated into 26 languages. He lives in Northern Ireland with his wife and two children.

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British Council launches open-call for inaugural International Collaboration Grants

Thursday 14th October 2021 at 10am 0 Comments

The British Council has announced an open call for applications for its new International Collaboration Grants to enable Northern Ireland, UK and global organisations to collaborate on digital, face to face and hybrid artistic projects.

The £3.5M fund is designed to support artists to make and develop creative artwork with their international peers and encourage new international partnerships and innovative ways of collaborating.

Small grants of £5-20k and large grants of £20-75k are available now to UK organisations for projects which offer explicit benefit for individual artists and international partners. The grants build on the success of the British Council’s 2020 pilot Digital Collaboration Fund, which supported organisations to sustain international collaborations digitally during the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In Northern Ireland, three organisations secured funding through the Digital Collaboration Fund, with music collective Bounce Culture, working with arts venue Black Box Belfast, and Outburst Arts, Northern Ireland’s annual Queer Arts Festival, awarded grants of up to £50,000.

To continue to support the sector to collaborate internationally, each International Collaboration Grant recipient must have at least one UK and one overseas partner. The British Council is particularly keen to receive applications from across the UK and from organisations they haven't worked with before.

The International Collaboration Grants are aimed at UK organisations working in partnership with counterparts from one or more of the following countries:

Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, South Africa, Sudan, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine and Vietnam.

Applicants will be required to demonstrate genuine international collaboration with long-term ambition, and projects are encouraged to address significant contemporary themes, such as equality and inclusivity, and/or global challenges, such as climate change.

The grants are open to arts and culture organisations, or higher education and research organisations with an arts and culture focus. Although applications must be completed through an organisation, the grants are designed to benefit the wider artistic community and projects that show clear benefits to individual artists and practitioners will be prioritised.

Applications from organsations exploring new and innovative projects are particularly encouraged. This includes projects that demonstrate new forms or content; that work with a new partner, or in a new country; or that approach audiences in a new way.

The International Collaboration Grants continue the British Council’s mission to create global opportunities via its work across arts and culture, education and English language teaching. The grants are intended to foster new international connections and strengthen relationships between arts and culture sectors in the UK and overseas and have been made possible using funding from the UK Government and additional private sponsorship.

Grant applications will be assessed by a team of British Council staff from across its global network, alongside a pool of external assessors made up of cultural sector professionals from across all four nations of the UK. The results of applications will be made available in early 2022.

Applications to the fund close on Thursday, 4 November. To find out more and apply: www.britishcouncil.org/arts/international-collaboration-grants

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ACNI announce £750,000 Health & Safety Capital Programme to support the sector to safely reopen

Wednesday 13th October 2021 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has today (13th October 2021) opened applications, on behalf of Department for Communities (DFC), to the Health and Safety Capital Programme. The programme, worth £750,000, aims to support organisations to reopen their creative spaces safely. Applications will close at 12noon on Friday 5th November 2021. To make an application visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/health-and-safety-capital-programme

The programme will support 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. Examples of eligible costs include but are not limited to the following:

  • Reworking of an area to allow social distancing
  • New equipment / structures to enable delivery of projects outdoors
  • IT equipment to address the new working environment
  • Software
  • Accessibility equipment and minor works
  • Works in relation to upgrading and maintaining existing systems
  • Transport

The Arts Council welcomes applications from the widest possible range of organisations and in particular, from those whose projects benefit individuals categorised under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. Applicants do not have to be primarily an arts organisation, (for example, community groups may apply to the scheme), however the purpose of the requested equipment or minor works must be clearly focused on the arts.

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“The Arts Council welcomes this funding for the arts and culture sector. This 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 great art that inspires us, improves our wellbeing and supports our local economy. The Health and Safety Capital Programme funding will ensure that organisations have proper measures in place to welcome the return of their staff, artists and audiences.”

Online application are now open and will close at 12noon on Friday 5th November. For full guidance notes and to make an online application visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/health-and-safety-capital-programme. Decisions are expected in mid-January 2022.

Guidance Notes are available on request in large print format and disk, and also on the Arts Council’s website here: http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/health-and-safety-capital-programme

If you have any queries about the programme or need any help or advice completing the application, please contact the Arts Council. A list of staff can be accessed at http://artscouncil-ni.org/contact-us.

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WOMEX World Music Expo 2021 - Arts Council bursaries now available

Monday 11th October 2021 at 1pm 0 Comments

WOMEX World Music Expo will take place in in Porto, Portugal from 27th to 31st October 2021. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is now welcoming applications from artists for bursaries to attend. Four bursaries of up to £400 each are available and online applications are now open and will close at 12noon Monday 18th October. Apply now at http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/womex-2021-bursaries

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland will offer a maximum of four bursary awards for WOMEX 2021. The award of £400 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 seventh occasion of the Arts Council’s support for attendance at WOMEX which has fast become the most important international professional market for world music including folk, roots, ethnic and traditional music. The five-day event attracts over 2,250 delegates from over 90 countries, including hundreds of concert and festival bookers, labels, publishers, distributors, managers and the world's media.

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

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to make four bursaries available to artists from Northern Ireland to attend WOMEX. Attendance at WOMEX offers artists the vital opportunity to network and promote their work to music industry professionals and promoters from across the world. Successful delegates will also receive the full backing of Horizons who will be attending WOMEX to promote artists from across Ireland and the UK. I would encourage those interested to apply soon.”

This year, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland will host a combined stand located within the Horizons section of WOMEX. 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 on Monday 11th October and will close at 12noon Monday 18th October. To view the guidance notes and make an application visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/womex-2021-bursaries

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