Arts Council of Northern Ireland

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for The Arts in Northern Ireland

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Arts Council announces £40,000 for innovative Digital Arts projects supported by National Lottery

Tuesday 6th December 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced funding of £40,000 to support five individual artists from Northern Ireland in the creation of a number of exciting, high-quality arts projects using innovative digital technologies. The five artists include, Csilla Toldy, Michael McEvoy, Michael Speers, Peter O’Doherty and Rueben Brown.

The funding is part of the Arts Council’s Individual Artists Digital Evolution Awards, a programme supported by The National Lottery, which offered artists across all art forms the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £10,000 each.

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.

Each artist will now go on to develop a digital work:

Csilla Toldy
Funding award offered: £7,812
Project title: Ec(h)o

Csilla Toldy, based in Rostrevor, will develop a project entitled Ec(h)o, an immersive art piece of four digital film poems screened in a loop that together create a visual haiku featuring soundscape, animation and a multisensory element presented in a black box. The project will offer the artist the opportunity to learn about animation, sound design and back screening aswell as new technologies including drones and 360-degree shots and screening.

Michael McEvoy
Funding award offered: £10,000
Project title: A Kiss for a Kiss

Michael McEvoy, based in Saintfield, will develop a project entitled, A Kiss for a Kiss, a contemporary dance-based project that delves into the world of digital creation, animation and virtual reality. The project will be narrative driven featuring a duet between a dancer in the real world and an avatar in animation. What is unique to the project is the capture of movement and qualities through motion capture suits. The artist will use transfer this data into a digital format using augmented reality technology and then filming the process, allowing the artist to present a short film showcasing the way in which dance and technology can collaborate.

Michael Speers
Funding award offered: £10,000
Project title: Ground Drum

Michael Speers, based in Newtownardswill develop Ground Drum, a project which sees the artist designing a digital musical instrument, based on the earliest known form of drum, of the same name. The project will create an instrument that sensitively integrates with and learns from a natural environment. The project will enable the artist to develop their practice as a musician, composer and researcher of sonic arts, by working under the mentorship of Prof. Paul Stapleton at the QUB Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC), in Belfast.

Peter O’Doherty
Funding award offered: £4,589
Project title: Cartographies of resistance VI: a deeply mapped 3D space

Peter O’Doherty, based in Derry-Londonderry, will create a project entitled Cartographies of resistance VI: a deeply mapped 3D space. The project will explore connections between sound, music and space and will research new spatial musical ideas that expand the traditional boundaries of composition, to include the spatial experience. The deep (audio) map will make use of data from a range of sources, which will be sonified to form the basis of 3D audio artwork. The project will culminate in a final 3D audio composition/performance, which will be performed on a spatial array in Derry-Londonderry at the end of the project.

Reuben Brown
Funding award offered: £7,599
Project title: Interactive, Ephemeral, (Hyper)Real Installation

Rueben Brown, based in Banbridge, will develop a project entitled, Interactive, Ephemeral, (Hyper) Real Installation, an ambitious large-scale interactive installation combining sculpture, with 3D-CG (computer-generated) animation, ephemeral architecture, lighting and sound engineering, robotics and virtual reality game design.

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

“Today’s announcement of the Individual Artists Digital Evolution Awards is welcome news and we are delighted support these five artists through this programme, thanks to The National Lottery players. The programme will support these artists in the creation of art using digital and immersive technologies, and will also help them develop skills in 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 and I look forward to experiencing these exciting, ambitious projects as they develop.”

For details on all funding opportunities visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding

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Hugh O’Donnell, Artist

Tuesday 29th November 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with sadness of the death last Friday (25th November 2022) of the Belfast-based artist, Hugh O’Donnell.

Hugh O’Donnell graduated in 2002 from the University of Ulster with a degree in Fine and Applied Art, followed in 2006 with a Masters degree in Fine Art. A full-time performance-based artist, he was actively involved in the Belfast arts scene, including several years serving on the committee of Bbeyond and, from 2013-19, as Creative Outreach Officer at the University of Atypical. He was lead curator of the 2013 ‘Duo Days’ International Performance Art Festival in Belfast and the University of Atypical’s performance artist in residence during the first Covid lockdown of 2020.

Originally based in Platform Arts Studios, Hugh moved his practice to Flax Art Studios in Belfast, where he remained a long-standing studio holder, making a valuable contribution there for many years. Hugh, who identified as disabled, had an exhibition and curatorial track record of more than fifteen years. He performed nationally and internationally in key gallery spaces, including Tate Modern, with exhibitions in Austria, Poland, Germany, France and USA. Recent performances included the Belfast International Festival of Performance Art in 2020, LAB Gallery Dublin in 2020, and Bbeyond’s 20th anniversary celebrations in 2022.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland was pleased to have been able to support Hugh on a number of occasions, including a funding award through our Support for Individual Artist Programme earlier this month.

Our thoughts are with Hugh’s family and his sister Sinead at this sad time.

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Funding announced for 11 schools to place creativity at the heart of learning

Monday 28th November 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Education Authority and the Urban Villages Initiative have today announced funding for the continuation of the Creative Schools Programme in 11 secondary schools.

The pioneering cross-government programme targets schools located within Urban Village areas and encourages them to think outside of traditional learning approaches, by bringing professional artists into classrooms to build student confidence, make community connections and teach new skills.

Last year schools were invited to apply for up to £15,000 each to develop a bespoke project for their students, and today’s announcement will guarantee funding to support the programme throughout this academic year.

The schools allocated funding are: Lisneal College, Belfast Boys’ Model School, St Joseph’s Boy’s School, Blessed Trinity College, Ashfield Girls’ High School, St Cecilia’s College, Mercy College Belfast, St Vincent’s Centre, Belfast Model School for Girls, Malone Integrated College, and St Colm’s High School.

The 11 schools now have the opportunity to shape their own projects and have outlined their plans to work with artists on a range of creative skills including music production, journalism, photography, film-making, animation and scriptwriting.

Initially launched as a pilot scheme by the three partners in 2017, so far 1,000 pupils have benefitted from the programme, which places a focus on improving educational outcomes for children across all subjects by opening up new learning experiences which allow students’ individual talents to shine.

The Arts Council is investing £100,000 from its National Lottery funds to support the scheme. Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “The Creative Schools Programme is a landmark arts and education project. It brings professional artists into the classroom to deliver practical and creative lessons that broaden learning opportunities for our young people, opening up creative career pathways.

“We are now entering the second year of this current phase of the programme and it has been wonderful to hear lots of feedback from senior teachers, and the pupils themselves, about the many benefits which participating in the Creative Schools Partnership has brought into their classrooms. Thanks to funding for Good Causes from the National Lottery, we are delighted to be working with the Education Authority and the Urban Villages Initiative again this year to offer even more pupils the opportunity to take part in this very special programme.”

Chairperson of The Education Authority Barry Mulholland, said: “The Education Authority is delighted that these 11 schools have been given the opportunity to continue to engage with the Creative Schools programme for another year, and reap the many benefits it offers to support their educational attainment and their mental health and well-being.

“The Creative Arts play a pivotal role within education, enabling the young person to experience a sense of freedom, self-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.”

CASESTUDY

Mercy College
Students at Mercy College in North Belfast will work with artist Karen Kinghan to produce a narrative and documentary film reflecting on the school’s 60 year. The film will also reflect on the impact of COVID, on their school and their wider community, adding valuable insight and experience and developing good relations. The project will allow 22 students to develop film making skills, including their own scripts, music and visuals. The project will work across key curriculum subjects including Drama, Art, History and English and focus on building student resilience, confidence and self-esteem.

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Warm Welcome for New Edition of “John Hewitt Selected Poems”

Friday 25th November 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

The John Hewitt Society is delighted to announce the publication by Blackstaff Press, Belfast, of a new edition of John Hewitt’s Selected Poems, edited by the acclaimed poets, Michael Longley and Frank Ormsby.

Born in North Belfast, John Hewitt was perhaps the most significant Belfast poet to emerge before the 1960s generation of Northern Irish poets that included Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon and Michael Longley. His influence on the Arts in Northern Ireland at the time was significant.

In the words of Edna Longley: “His cross-sectarian ideal of Regionalism energised writers, painters and general cultural activity during the post-war period. It recovered ancestral voices and provided some of the basis for a second take-off in the 1960s”.

On Thursday 24 November the editors of this new edition of Hewitt’s Selected Poems, which is now on sale, will read at a special event to mark the publication and the naming of a room named after John Hewitt in the Harrison Boutique Hotel Belfast, a building once associated with the renowned Belfast poet.

Tony Kennedy, Chair of The John Hewitt Society, said:

“Many of those who attend the annual John Hewitt International Summer School in Armagh or Look North - The North Belfast Festival have asked where they can read and appreciate Hewitt’s poetry. Blackstaff Press are to be commended for responding to these requests by producing the new edition of John Hewitt’s Selected Poems.

“In Frank Ormsby’s words, John Hewitt’s “best poems embody the constants and variables of the human condition”. Michael Longley describes him as a poet who “held out the creative hand rather than the clenched fist [and] made himself heard in a land of bellowers without raising his voice”. These attributes are as necessary today as they have ever been and a new generation will now have the chance to read the poetry for themselves.”

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

“This book of Selected Poems of John Hewitt introduced a whole new generation to the work of this important poet when it was first published back in 2007, the centenary of the poet’s birth.

“It is excellent to welcome this reissue of the book in 2022, again guided by two distinguished poets in Michael Longley and Frank Ormsby, as the enduring power of Hewitt’s distinctive idiom is proved again, 35 years after the author’s death.

“How fitting it is that the John Hewitt Society is promoting this event and how wonderful that The Harrison Chambers is dedicating a room to the poet and to Roberta Black (1904-1975), his social activist spouse, in their boutique hotel on 45 Malone Road, on the site where they spent the first months of their married life. Congratulations everyone.”

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Arts Council announces £84,000 National Lottery funding to support 12 exceptional artists

Sunday 20th November 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

12 exceptional artists from Northern Ireland have been announced as the latest recipients of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Artist Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) and are set to benefit from £84,000 funding. ACES is a professional development programme supported by The National Lottery which provides funding awards to Northern Ireland’s most talented emerging and mid-career artist artists; helping them to create new work and develop their professional, artistic careers.

Awards under the Artists Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) are made annually to artists working in music, visual arts, drama, dance, literature and participatory arts, and are among the most prestigious awards offered by the Arts Council. This year’s awardees include three visual artists, four musicians, two drama awardees, two writers and one dancer.

In addition to receiving a bursary of up to £7,000 each to develop new work, many of the 12 artists will partner with a professional organisation or leading artist, at home or abroad. Some of these partners include; Golden Thread Gallery, Echo Echo Dance, Dumbworld and AEMI (Artists Experimental Moving Image).

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

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to award £84,000 to 12 exceptional artists from Northern Ireland, thanks to support from The National Lottery. These artists are already established and highly regarded in each of their fields and the ACES awards are given in recognition of their work to date. The award also provides them with the financial support to take their careers to that vital next level. The ACES programme has been running successfully for a number of years now and addresses the need for on-going skills development and training within the arts sector here. A warm congratulations to all 12 ACES awardees. We’re truly excited to see their ACES projects develop in the year ahead.”

The 12 artists awarded ACES funding 2022-23 includes:

Visual Arts
Alessia Cargnelli
Anushiya Sundaralingam
Dorothy Hunter

Music
Darren Beckett
James Thompson
Peter O'Doherty
Xenia Pestova Bennett

Drama
Dominic Montague
Gavin Peden

Literature
Jamie Guiney
Peter Jordan

Dance
Mrs Suzannah McCreight

The Artists Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) forms part of the wider Support for the Individual Artist Programme (SIAP) which is administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland annually with funding from The National Lottery. As part of its continuing commitment to supporting the development of individual artists, the Arts Council made 262 SIAP awards to individual artists in 2022/23 totalling £985K. Visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding for information on all funding opportunities.

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262 artists receive National Lottery funding to support their work

Thursday 17th November 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council has announced details of 262 artists to receive funding through its Support for Individual Artists Programme (SIAP). The funding package worth £985,000 has been made possible thanks to the National Lottery and will provide vital support to artists working across all disciplines including visual arts, dance and drama, traditional arts, literature, music and participatory arts.

Artists awarded grants through the SIAP programme will receive General Arts Awards worth up to £6,000. This funding will be used to help artists purchase new equipment and develop of new projects, as well as travel grants and residencies.

General Arts Awards are one element of the Arts Council’s Support for Individual Artists Programme (SIAP). Its aim is to support artists living and working across Northern Ireland to create work and develop their practice. Broadly, awards can be for specific projects, specialised research or personal artistic development.

In addition to the General Arts Awards announced today, 10 individual artists and 4 organisations have also been awarded funding through the Artists International Development Fund (AIDF), to the value of almost £64,000. This annual fund, which also forms part of the wider SIAP Programme, is jointly funded by the British Council and Arts Council of Northern Ireland and is open to individual artists and organisations. The awards made will support early stage international development opportunities for individual, freelance and self-employed artists and organisations based in Northern Ireland.

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The 16th Outburst Queer Arts Festival bringing queer magic to Belfast, supported by National Lottery

Wednesday 16th November 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

Outburst Arts, Northern Ireland’s award-winning queer arts organisation, is back with their exciting annual international festival continuing until 19 November in venues across Belfast.


Highlights this year include an artist residency from internationally acclaimed duo Split Britches by Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw, who are this year’s Elders in Residence. Split Britches is an iconic performance art duo based in New York City, and they are sharing their most recent work, Last Gasp, at The MAC on closing night. They are also meeting with artists and activists throughout the week to make all-generation queer space for conversation.

Don’t miss ‘He’s Perfect’ from Belfast’s Conor Cupples on Friday 18 November at The Brian Friel Theatre. Supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s SIAP development funding, the show explores alt-right radicalisation through a queer lens, and is a comedic yet cautionary parable exploring masculinity, body obsession, and belonging in an increasingly alt-world.

Don’t forget to pick up the latest edition of Catflap, Outburst Arts’ recently launched publication which is a vital platform to celebrate and showcase queer writing. Catflap is a beautifully illustrated publication filled with poetry and creative non-fiction, all edited by poet, Mícheál McCann.

Ruth McCarthy, CEO/Artistic Director of Outburst Arts, commented,

“Through the annual Outburst Queer Arts Festival, we have supported the development of cutting edge queer arts in the city to an acclaimed international level, always ensuring that local LGBTQ+ artists, audiences and communities are at the heart of our ambition to make Belfast a leading hub for queer arts, globally.”

Ruth continued, “The incredible artists in this year’s programme all challenge us in their own ways to reflect and reimagine, remember and regroup. From the beautiful sparky energy of emerging voices to the timeless wisdom of creative elders, we hope that Outburst 2022 offers space to lift your hearts and minds in treacherous times: through shared laughter, righteous rage and remembering the power of our collective queer magic.”

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

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to be Outburst’s long-term core funder, thanks to The National Lottery players. This year’s Outburst Festival reminds us once again just what an empowering force the arts can be, as artists transform their experiences into music and story and dance, and we are all invited in. The programme is exactly what you would want from an Outburst festival - strong, confident, bold and challenging – a true reflection of the best of Queer art in Northern Ireland and beyond. Having grown into one of the major showcase events for queer arts on these islands, Outburst has become a champion and an inspiration not just for the arts in Northern Ireland, but for the Queer arts community as a whole.”

The Outburst Queer Arts Festival continues until 19 November 2022. To view the full programme and book tickets visit www.outburstarts.com

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Arts Council highlights cost of living crisis for NI arts sector

Wednesday 9th November 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

A recent assessment by the Arts Council of the impact of rising energy and living costs concludes that the arts sector in Northern Ireland faces additional costs of more than £12 million by the end of this financial year.

The data, collected from across the Arts Council’s portfolio of annually funded organisations, reveals that arts organisations could be facing a 147% increase in the costs of lighting and heating their venues and premises. While there is uncertainty surrounding how energy costs will impact on households and businesses in Northern Ireland, Art Collectives and Studio Groups look particularly vulnerable, with one organisation already spending as much as 35% of their entire budget on heating and lighting.

In addition to rising energy bills, arts organisations will have to cope with increased costs from suppliers and artists as they attempt to offset their own costs, and many smaller organisations will be vulnerable to rent increases. Factoring in other inflationary increases, including rent, salaries, programming costs, materials and insurance, the Arts Council’s estimate of the additional costs to the arts sector of £12 million could be conservative.

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

“We fully appreciate that the rising costs of living affect everyone and that the arts are no exception. But we do find ourselves in a uniquely disadvantaged position in Northern Ireland, as investment in the arts has historically been much lower here than across the rest of these islands. The sector hadn’t fully recovered its earning power to pre-pandemic levels, with box office proving particularly slow to recover, as a result of continuing limited consumer confidence. Although the Arts Council will continue to do everything in our power to mitigate the pain, including being as flexible as possible in our funding support, our artists and arts organisations are really in no condition to absorb further rising costs”.

Ms McDonough also reflected on the impact of additional pressures on people working in the arts:

“Many arts and cultural workers live a fairly hand-to-mouth existence as it is, and this continuous pressure of worrying about how to make ends meet has serious implications for people’s mental health, and indeed for the wider arts sector, as talented and highly-skilled people are forced to leave in search of work elsewhere.

We lost one third of our workforce during the pandemic, and this impacts on important outreach and education services and means fewer people having the opportunity to access and participate in the arts. Many artists and arts organisations will be feeling they are approaching a precipice. If we as a society value our arts and culture, then we need the full support of government at this difficult time.”

Government investment in the arts in Northern Ireland has fallen from £14.1 million in 2011-12 to £10.2 million in 2021-22. When inflation is taken into account, this represents a 40% cut in funding for arts organisations. Where Northern Ireland spends £5.32 per capita on its arts, Wales, for example, invests £10.18 and the Republic of Ireland £26.09. Prior to rising energy costs, the Arts Council had calculated that it would require an additional £16.6 million to fulfil its core functions supporting the arts sector.

The Arts Council presented its evidence on Tuesday 4th October 2022, alongside the Arts Collaboration Network*, to the All Party Group on the Arts at Stormont, and to the Arts Council’s sponsor body, the Department for Communities.

The Arts Council continues to raise awareness and work with the Department for Communities on the impacts of costs of living hikes for the sector, in order to support any future resource made available to the NI executive for additional funding.

* The informal group, known as the Arts Collaboration Network comprising a range of organisations from across the sector, has gathered evidence detailing how the current cost of living crisis and recession are harming arts organisations and artists alike. Their findings capture the negative impact of both reduced income and increased expenses and how organisations and individual artists are facing financial uncertainty and hardship as a result. Members of the group presented their findings to the All-Party Group on Arts at a meeting in Stormont on 4th October 2022. The impact paper has been shared with a wide range of stakeholders, including the Minister and officers in the Department of Communities and others.

To read the impact paper authored by the Arts Collaboration Network, click here.

To visit the All Party Group interim site, go to: https://theatreanddanceni.org/all-party-group-apg/

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Craft makers encouraged to apply for £15,000 Rosy James Memorial Trust Award

Thursday 3rd November 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Rosy James Memorial Trust Award, worth £15,000, is now welcoming applications through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. This unique bursary aims to assist craft makers to develop their careers by creating a new body of work which would otherwise have been unattainable without the funding award.

Administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Rosy James Memorial Trust Award, established in 2014, was established thanks to the generosity of Rosemary James (Rosy), a local patron of the arts. Originally from Belfast, Rosy had a lifelong commitment to the arts and following her death in 2010, bequeathed over £500,000 to help artists and craft makers pursue their careers.

Previous recipients of the prestigious award include glass artist, Scott Benefield (2015), silversmiths, Stuart Cairns (2014) and Cara Murphy (2016) and in 2017 two awards were made to ceramicist, Anne Butler and furniture designer, Brian McKee. In 2018, the award was made to stone sculptor, Sheena Devitt.

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

“The Rosy James Memorial Trust Award demonstrates the power of philanthropic giving to create lasting impact. Rosy James leaves an incredible legacy. Her passion for craft led her to leave the bequest that will allow new work of really high quality, and of international interest, to be produced by local artists. It will give our artists the chance to devote time to their practice over the course of a year and to develop their ideas. We look forward to receiving the next round of applications.”

Applications are now open and will close at 4pm, Friday 20th January 2023. Prior to submission of your application, you may seek advice on any aspect of the form from the Arts Council Visual Arts team. Dr Suzanne Lyle is the Head of Visual Arts and a Rosemary James Trust member and can be contacted at slyle@artscouncil-ni.org

You must apply by email. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland will not accept applications in hard copy. Please send your completed application form and all the requested mandatory enclosures to rstephenson@artscouncil-ni.org

If you feel you have a disability which affects your ability to complete the application form, please contact the University of Atypical (UoA). The UoA will provide tailored advice and support to D/deaf, disabled and Neurodiverse applicants when submitting applications to ACNI Programmes. Visit www.universityofatypical.com

For information on eligibility and to apply visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/rosemary-james-memorial-trust-award

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Leading NI artists honoured with Major Awards by Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Wednesday 26th October 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

Acclaimed artists, opera singer, Giselle Allen, composer, Greg Caffrey, poet and performer, Alice McCullough, dance maker, Eileen McClory and visual artist, Jennifer Trouton, have each been presented with Major Individual Awards (MIAs), worth £15,000 each. Supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funding, these awards are the highest value honour bestowed on artists in Northern Ireland each year.

The prestigious awards are given in recognition of the contribution each of the artists has made to creative life in Northern Ireland, and makes it possible for them to undertake a substantial, ambitious project that will make a significant impact on the development of their artistic careers.

Each of the artists will now use the award to develop a series of new works:

Award-winning visual artist, Jennifer Trouton, has exhibited nationally and internationally in London, New York, Cuba, China and Paris, and she will use her MIA award to create work that explores art and activism. As a feminist response to the scale historically associated with male dominated political art, Jennifer will create her largest painting to date, a 10ft x 5ft diptych that will be displayed as part of an exhibition at the Ulster Museum. To create the works, the artist will deploy a range of innovative methods including designing bespoke wallpaper and fabric utilising symbolic imagery; subverting the traditionally female craft of embroidery in order to convey social and political issues. The new artworks will also feature in a forthcoming publication edited by Dr Mark Benson.

Poet and performer, Alice McCullough, will use her MIA award to develop opportunities in the USA to showcase and tour her work that focuses on disability rights activism and the poet’s perspectives on mental health and disability. Alice will collaborate with other disabled artists and leaders in the field of disability rights activism, including, among others, Andy Imparato and Senator Tom Harkin at The Harkin Institute. As well as continuing to bring her 'Earth to Alice' stage show and TV/film project to stage and screen, Alice will also be working with 1 in 5 Media to document her work and showcase the work of disabled artists.

Soprano, Giselle Allen, has represented Northern Ireland on the international opera stage, and will use her MIA award to take time out to study the challenging operatic roles of Kostelnička, Sieglinde and Brünnhilde. As part of this study, Giselle plans to work with mentors and renowned vocal coaches in Italy and London, including; voice teacher Sherman Lowe, an expert in Italian vocal techniques; Lada Valešová, a conductor at Guildhall, Royal Academy of Music and Royal Opera House; Rahel Wagner a German mezzo-soprano and language specialist, and also Dame Anne Evans, the Olivier award-winning British Wagnerian.

Composer, Greg Caffrey, has won major prizes for his work internationally, and will use his MIA award to make high-quality studio recordings of three of his works. The composer will also use the award to take the time out needed to create a second song cycle on local poetic texts, augmenting his two existing cycles. These cycles will form part of a larger body of vocal work, which includes the existing cycles on poems by Ciaran Carson and Seamus Heaney.

Dance maker, Eileen McClory, will use her MIA award to research an experimental, ambitious, new dance work that will explore topical and social dilemmas, and which will develop the artist’s distinctive choreographic voice. The work will also incorporate interactive technology with the aim of exploring active audience engagement and participation. The dance maker will collaborate with dancer, Ryan O’Neill, video artist, Conor McIvor, a computer technologist and dramaturg Hanna Slättne, to develop the new work that she hopes will premiere at the 2023 Belfast International Festival.

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

“Congratulations to Giselle Allen, Greg Caffrey, Eileen McClory, Alice McCullough and Jennifer Trouton, five immensely talented artists who have already made a significant contribution to the arts in Northern Ireland. Each will benefit greatly from being able to take time out to concentrate purely on these innovative new projects with the financial backing they need to produce work of lasting value. This award, made possible thanks to The National Lottery players, will help to cement their national and international reputations as artists, and strengthen the positive cultural profile of Northern Ireland, both home and abroad.”

The five join a distinguished list of artists who have previously benefited from the Major Individual Artist award, including writers; Susan McKay, Moyra Donaldson, Carol Moore, Rosemary Jenkinson, Malachi O’Doherty, Jimmy McAleavey, Anne Devlin, Carlo Gébler, Damian Gorman, Patricia Craig, Sinéad Morrissey, Glenn Patterson and Owen McCafferty; playwright Shannon Sickles (Yee), performance artist, Sinéad O’Donnell, visual artists, Mairéad McClean, Rita Duffy, Susan MacWilliam and Cara Murphy; composers, Deirdre Gribben, Ed Bennett, Piers Hellawell, Ian Wilson, Elaine Agnew, Conor Mitchell, Neil Martin and Deirdre McKay; musicians, Michael McHale and David Lyttle plus choreographer, Oona Doherty, among others.

Major Individual Artist awards form part of the wider Support for the Individual Artist Programme (SIAP) which is supported with funding from The National Lottery and administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland annually. Visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding for information on all funding opportunities.

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Arts Council announces £500,000 funding to support 73 rurally-based arts projects

Monday 24th October 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

73 Community groups, arts organisations and local authorities in rurally-based communities across Northern Ireland are set to benefit from the Arts Council’s new Rural Engagement Arts Programme (REAP).

The Rural Engagement Arts Programme, worth £500,000, aims to provide an integrated, cohesive approach to the needs of 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 through participation in the arts.

The Rural Engagement Arts Programme is one of the Arts Council’s core National Lottery programme areas and to help develop and design the programme the Arts Council consulted with the Rural Deliberative Forum*and the 10 Local Authorities outside of Belfast.

Liam Hannaway, Chair, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to make this funding available to rural communities and we are grateful to the Rural Deliberative Forum for their input and advice when designing the programme.

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 Chair continued,

“Thanks to The National Lottery players, the 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 wellbeing, confidence and healthy, integrated communities.”

REAP funding has been offered to organisations located in Local Authority Areas across Northern Ireland, with particular focus in some of Northern Ireland’s most rural areas, for example Fermanagh and Omagh, Mid Ulster and Newry, Mourne and Down. Some of those rurally-based communities that have been offered REAP funding includes:

Fermanagh Choral Society - Fermanagh and Omagh
REAP amount offered: £10,000

Fermanagh Choral Society will use their REAP funding to deliver a music project that uses the power of opera and choral singing to enhance the wellbeing of younger and older people in rural Fermanagh. Fermanagh Choral Society will deliver the project in partnership with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, through their Culture and Wellbeing Service, and also Ulster Touring Opera (UTO). The project will include a workshop series for schools in Fermanagh, as well as a concert for both young and older audiences. The workshops will reflect opera as a fusion of art forms and participants will perform a three minute scene based on a section of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.

To target isolation and loneliness, this project will culminate with a concert at the Ardhowen Theatre in Enniskillen. South African baritone Njabulo Madlala and Northern Irish mezzo-soprano Sinéad O’Kelly will perform in the concert, accompanied by Keith McAlister which includes pieces by renowned composers such as Puccini, Verdi and Rossini, and by Northern Irish composers such as Hamilton Harty, Dorothy Park and Enniskillen-born Joan Trimble.

Big Telly Theatre Company - Causeway Coast and Glens
REAP amount offered: £9,908.20

Big Telly Theatre Company will use their funding to create The Dock - an interactive piece of hybrid street theatre, combining live action, a digital interface and smart technology. The Dock is a mobile structure which houses a screen, webcam and remote controlled coffee machine. Audiences interact with and influence characters and stories on screen, some of whom are present in the location and will meet the audience face-to-face, and some of whom will be in remote locations.

The Dock will be transported from location to location popping up in rural areas where it’s needed most and Big Telly will work closely with each rural community to develop and shape a model of connectivity that can best respond to the individual needs of each location. Big Telly will be working alongside their project partners, Aware and Inspire, to optimise the opportunity to address rural needs and start conversations to connect with isolated, vulnerable and underrepresented rurally-based groups.

Music Kin C.I.C – Derry and Strabane
REAP amount offered: £7,325

Music Kin C.I.C will deliver a series of multi-sensory, interactive reminiscence through song programmes. These programmes will be delivered in partnership with Templemoyle Nursing Home, Eglinton and Lettershandowney and District Development Group, reaching out to older people living rurally in Co.Derry, who may be experiencing isolation and loneliness as a result of rural living and the impacts of the pandemic. The programme will bring participants of all abilities together with professional musicians to tackle these issues through the power of group singing and the sharing of songs with personal memories.

Sessions will include, vocal warm-ups, breathing exercises, sing-along sessions with words, performances from musicians, use of visual stimuli such as pictures and videos of recording artists, all to evoke discussion and musical memory. The programme will also feature intergenerational sessions where family, friends and carers will be invited to join in. The programme will culminate in a unique multi-media performance to an audience of family, friends and carers.

Ards and North Down Borough Council - North Down and Ards
REAP amount offered: £10,000
Ards and North Down Borough Council will use their REAP funding towards a project entitled, Large Scale Puppetry Bringing Communities Together. The project will engage with the communities of Donaghadee, Portaferry, Comber, and Holywood through a series of intergenerational reminiscence, puppet sculpturing, puppeteering & movement workshops. Following discussions around the meaning of each place to community participants, large-scale puppets will be collectively created to visually represent the community’s memories, histories, and connection to place. Audio-recordings of the community’s spoken words, collected during reminiscence and puppet sculpturing workshops, will later be transcribed and crafted into a verbatim song by a professional songwriter, in creation of a character song for each puppet, inspired by and reflective of the characteristics of each place and the attached community’s ideas, experiences, memories and connections to it.

Subsequently, a puppeteer and choreographer will work with the community to develop a movement style and dance for their newly created puppet and its song. In the final week, the four participating communities, will come together at the Ards Puppet Festival to showcase their puppets, verbatim songs, and movement-based performance pieces.

BEAMA Education CIC - Antrim and Newtownabbey
REAP amount offered: £9,999

BEAMA is an organisation that offers opportunities for young people to get creative using the latest technologies. BEAMA will use their REAP funding to deliver a series of outreach workshops whereby participants will create a guided visualisation using multi-media arts to address the issues associated with loneliness & social isolation. 135 young people in Pomeroy, County Tyrone, will take part and will include young people who have a learning difficulty or learning disability. The workshops will be focused on using art to build connections, explore emotions and develop strategies to better manage mental health and wellbeing. The project will culminate with a launch party where local people will be invited to view the visualisation and celebrate the achievement of the group.

Loughshore Care Partnership (LCP) - Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon
REAP amount offered: £6,700

Culture and folk history are especially prevalent within rural areas, such as the southern shores of Lough Neagh, and Loughshore Care Partnerships’s REAP supported project will combine aspects of local folklore, willowing weaving, music and performance. The project aims to connect all members of the community whilst also preserving their local culture and heritage. The project will take place in five community halls where the local senior citizen groups meet weekly.

The project will encompass the rural stretch of South Lough Neagh, beginning with interactive storytelling workshops with a professional storyteller and traditional craft workshops using locally sourced willow to create some autumnal decorations. As the workshops evolve, storytelling will provide the pivotal focus for the creative engagement. At the end of the project there will be a celebratory event with an inter-generational workshop with local school children.

Poundbridge & District Community Association - Lisburn and Castlereagh
REAP amount offered: £9,900

Poundbridge & District Community Association will use their REAP funding towards their project, Making Music Together, a series of weekly music classes, for people aged 11 and older, in two rural locations. Instruments on offer will include the tin whistle, fifes, Bb flutes, and drums and classes will be delivered by professional tuturs in the Ballylesson Old Boys Hall and in Drumbo Orange Hall. The project will culminate in a celebratory concert.

Glenlough Community Choir - Mid and East Antrim
REAP amount offered: £9,999

Glenlough Community Choir will use their REAP funding toward their project entitled, Pick-Me-Up Community Chorus to build confidence and encourage isolated older members of their group to return to singing rehearsals following their departure during the pandemic. With support from REAP, Glenlough Community Choir will pilot four weekly, day-time 'Pick-Me-Up' regional choirs in Ballygalley, Broughshane and Carnlough, that are small in size and welcoming, to gently reintroduce participants back to society. They hope to work with 40 older people from a wide, rural geographical area.

Apex Music Centre - Mid Ulster
REAP amount offered: £4,852

Apex Music Centre will use their REAP funding towards their project, Developing an Engaged and Creative Community. The project is aimed at all ages and spans 12 months with 12 workshops that range across artforms to help members of the Mid-Ulster community develop the tools and practices to improve and manage their mental health and general wellbeing. Workshops will cover dance, dj’ing, samba youth, musical theatre, open stage, photography, Christmas crafts, creative writing, exercise and mindfulness in nature, still life drawing and street art. Apex Music Centre will also develop a ukulele choir and a Christmas showcase event.

Magnet Young Adult Centre - Newry, Mourne and Down
REAP amount offered: £9,000

Magnet Young Adult Centre will use their REAP funding towards The Bridge Project which aims to work alongside two groups of young people, aged 11-13 and 14-16, from rural areas in South Armagh and South Down, to address and overcome the barriers associated with social isolation and loneliness by participation in arts activities. This project will involve engaging with young people to enable them to express themselves creatively through combined arts culminating in a celebration event for the two groups to come together and showcase their projects to the wider community.

To view the full list of those offered funding visit http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-REAP-Awards-October2022.pdf

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Arts Council awards £115,000 to fund community projects

Wednesday 19th October 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

TWENTY arts projects have been awarded National Lottery funding totalling over £115,000 as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Small Grants funding programme. The money will be used to support arts initiatives in communities across Northern Ireland, including projects in Belfast, Armagh, Fermanagh, Derry/Londonderry, Fivemiletown, Rosetrevor and Rathfriland.

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

One of the organisations awarded funding is Ulster Touring Opera, which received £8,454 to support a new production of the Barber of Seville. Rehearsals for the Spring production will begin in January at the Marketplace Theatre in Armagh and Rosemary Street Church Hall in Belfast.

Dafydd Hall Williams, Artistic Director of Ulster Touring Opera, said:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has once again provided invaluable support for Ulster Touring Opera. This Small Grant funding will enable the company to continue to tour international-quality opera to local venues across the north of the island of Ireland. Through presenting a fully staged new production of Rossini’s immortal comedy The Barber of Seville in Armagh, Letterkenny, Belfast and Cavan, this funding will make it possible for Northern Irish singers, stage managers and instrumentalists to share our collective passion for bringing opera home.”

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

“Thanks to National Lottery players and money raised for good causes, we are delighted to announce today funding to support twenty fantastic projects, creating more opportunities for people to engage with the arts, from grassroots level projects through to professional productions. This valuable funding programme will support a variety of high quality arts projects in locations across Northern Ireland, including performances, workshops and tuition.”

In September and October Small Grants Awards were awarded to twenty organisations including:

Ulster Touring Opera, awarded £8,454
This project is a touring production of Rossini’s comic opera The Barber of Seville to four venues in spring 2023, featuring an international cast of artists. In January 2023, Ulster Touring Opera will begin two weeks of studio rehearsals in Rosemary Street Church Hall Belfast, followed by a week of production rehearsals in the Market Place Theatre, Armagh. The production will premiere in Armagh on Saturday 4th February 2023, before touring to the An Grianán in Letterkenny on Friday 10th February, the MAC in Belfast on Wednesday 15th February and the Ramor in Virginia, Cavan on Friday 17th February. The production will be sung in English and will be accompanied on piano by Ruth McGinley.

Murley Silver Band, Fivemiletown, awarded £2,475
This funding will help to cover the tuition costs of developing young talent to join Murley Silver band. The 'Bob Hall School of Music' provides tuition for beginner players to get them to the stage of playing music in the Concert Band, which is Murley's junior band. The Concert band is supported by a number of senior players who give of their time to help motivate the children by them being involved in a larger ensemble. The band hope to provide each new person with a music stand and mute.

Foyle Women’s Information Network, Derry & Strabane, awarded £4,501
This funding will help to support the group’s Book Club. The project will engage with women from local communities and organisations, as well as minority ethnic groups. The Book Club will be held in Holywell in Derry/Londonderry. Participants will read one book per month and attend monthly face-to-face meeting in Holywell. Initially books will be chosen by the facilitator to create an awareness of the main literary genres and sub genres. As the group develops the facilitator will seek to empower participants to agree on and select a book of their choice. Patricipants will also have the opportunity to meet some writers.

Association of Contemporary Silversmiths, Belfast, £5,683
This funding will support an exhibition; “Collectables and Curiosities” held in Craft NI Belfast for the Christmas period, 10th November- 30th December 2022. The exhibition is open to those working in the broad areas of Jewellery and Silversmithing. Makers will be invited to submit contextually challenging, well-made work of a high calibre to help promote and raise the profile of Contemporary Craft here in Northern Ireland. Emphasis is placed on showcasing serious contemporary works to new audiences and establishing new connections in the wider community. The goal of this exhibition is to ensure that the craft makers of Northern Ireland are given the incentive and opportunity to produce thoughtful and well developed work, which they can then use as a foundational stepping stone to new national and international opportunities.

Rathfriland and District Regeneration Company, awarded £10,000
As part of the Chandler House Arts Venue launch programme, this funding will support associated costs including stage light and sound equipment. This equipment will ensure the venue can provide a fit for purpose professional quality arts performance space,that will help to attract top-quality performers and also provide a top-quality audience experience. The launch programme will bring together performances featuring a wide range of music genres, film screenings for young people and adults, local artists alongside international artists, participatory inter-generational African drumming workshop, and drama performances.

Rostrevor Community Book Festival, awarded £3,590
The funding will support the Rostrevor Literary Festival - a celebration of the written word through poetry, novel writing, script writing and short story telling. It will take place over a weekend in October (28th–30th Oct). The programme will include a range of guest authors and speakers, plus open mic sessions.

Dunlewey Addition Services, Belfast, awarded £5,680
Dunlewey Addiction Services have been providing services for people who have been affected by substance misuse for over 35 years. The purpose of applying for this funding is to deliver a Creative Art programme for young people affected by substance misuse issues. Through drama, dance, poetry and physical theatre techniques they will explore diversity and acceptance of self and others. They will also explore physical, emotional, and social harm caused by substance misuse.

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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Gifted musicians invited to apply to BBC NI and Arts Council’s Young Musicians’ Platform Award

Tuesday 18th October 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, in partnership with BBC Northern Ireland, is calling for young, exceptional solo musicians from across Northern Ireland to apply for the Northern Ireland Young Musicians' Platform Award, supported by The National Lottery and BBC Northern Ireland. Online applications are now on the Arts Council of Northern Ireland website and will close at 12noon on Tuesday 15 November 2022.

These prestigious biennial awards, aim to showcase and support the development of six exceptional young musicians from Northern Ireland by providing funding awards, worth £5000 each, to three classical musicians, one jazz musician, one traditional musician and one contemporary singer-songwriter. This financial award enables recipients to develop their musical aspirations by spending a sizeable amount of time learning from a master musician, mentor, teacher or composer either in Northern Ireland or abroad.

In addition to this training opportunity, each recipient receives two professional broadcast engagements with BBC Northern Ireland, including one with the Ulster Orchestra. Performances at this level raise not only the professional profile of the young musician but also give a boost to their performance experience.

Highlighting BBC Radio Ulster and Foyle’s commitment to specialist music and developing new musical talent, four presenters from the station will mentor the young awardees, follow their progress on their programmes and help them prepare for performances with the Ulster Orchestra for live broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster. John Toal, a classical pianist and presenter of Classical Connections will mentor the three classical awardees; Folk Club presenter, Lynette Fay, will mentor the traditional awardee, Linley Hamilton jazz musician and presenter of Jazz World will mentor the jazz awardee and Stephen McCauley, presenter of The Stephen McCauley Show, will mentor the singer-songwriter awardee.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, at the Arts Council, commented:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is hugely proud to support the Young Musicians’ Platform Award thanks to The National Lottery players. We are committed to providing valuable, meaningful opportunities for our most exceptional young talent to develop and excel and the Young Musicians’ Platform Award offers a tremendous opportunity for outstanding young musicians to develop their musical skills, learn from the best in their genre and receive experience of playing with the Ulster Orchestra. All of the previous recipients have gone on to have successful, musical careers and I’ve every confidence that their experience received through this award acted as a powerful catalyst in shaping their professional development.”

Paul McClean, Executive Editor, Music, Arts and Events, BBC Northern Ireland, says,

“We truly believe that BBC Radio Ulster and Foyle is ‘Where Music Matters’ and we are dedicated to providing our listeners with the best in specialist music. Nurturing new talent is something we are extremely passionate about and we are delighted to be involved in finding new classical, alternative, jazz and traditional artists. Being able to have our listeners engage in these young musicians’ journey will be incredible to watch as they grow and develop with some help from John, Lynette, Stephen and Linley, all of whom are music evangelists.”

Those eligible to apply include:

  • Individual classical, jazz, traditional and contemporary singer-songwriter musicians who reside in or originate from Northern Ireland;

  • Artists who are at least 18 years old and up to an age limit of 26 for instrumental players, and 29 for singers;

  • Classical, jazz and traditional musicians who have made a meaningful contribution to artistic activities in Northern Ireland;

  • Applicants must have reached a high standard of public performance as indicated within the references and as demonstrated with a solo recording of two (2) contrasting works of no more than eight (8) minutes each

Previous recipients of the Young Musicians’ Platform Award include acclaimed classical pianist, Michael McHale, soprano, Laura Sheerin, harpist, Richard Allen, violinist, Michael Trainor, baritone, Brian McAlea, folk artists, Conor Mallon, Rose Connolly, Martha Guiney and Niall Hanna and jazz musicians, Ed Dunlop and Katherine Timoney plus singer-songwriter, ROE, among others.

Applications will be assessed by a specialist panel and shortlisted applicants will then be invited to audition between 8 and 9 December in Belfast, where they will be asked to perform two contrasting pieces in style and period, one of which will be contemporary.

Online applications for the Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform Awards are open from Tuesday 18 October and will close at 12noon on Tuesday 15 November. For full eligibility and application details visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/young-musicians-platform

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Northern Ireland’s newest live music venue opens its doors in Bangor City

Tuesday 18th October 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

Following seven years of fundraising, lobbying, planning and extensive refurbishment, The Court House on Bangor seafront will finally open its doors to the public on Thursday 20th October.

The first performances will be from up and coming Bangor band The Florentinas, who are championed by Gary Lightbody’s artist development company, Third Bar, alongside Lemonade Shoelace, another local band currently making waves who recently won a prestigious international music contest. Future acts scheduled to perform in the new venue include Dana Masters, Camille O’Sullivan, and Jesca Hoop, with many more to come.

Built in 1866 as a branch of the then Belfast Banking Company, the building became a magistrates court in 1952. When the court was decommissioned in 2013, it was listed as a Grade B2 building on the Heritage At Risk register. Remaining the property of the Department of Justice, it began to fall into disrepair.

In 2015, a local volunteer lobby group Bangor Shared Space (BSS) raised the possibility of acquiring the building via the Community Asset Transfer process for use as a community or creative venue, and invited Open House to join the campaign. The scale of such a transition soon became clear, and BSS ultimately decided to step aside and pass the baton to Open House, who had the capacity to pursue the acquisition and restoration of the building for use as an arts venue for social benefit.

Over the following years Open House worked with several government departments to develop a business plan that showed the potential for the building to become an accessible, multi-purpose arts venue and reflected the social and economic benefits it would bring to the local community. In 2017 they embarked on an initial crowdfunding campaign, hoping to secure £30k to do some urgent works while the major funding application to The National Lottery Heritage Fund was being prepared.

“The response from local people and businesses to our crowd funding campaign was phenomenal, confirming public appetite for a restoration project and validating our vision for the building,” said Open House Director, Kieran Gilmore. “Alongside a charity fund-raising ball organised by Barclays Bank, who also donated £15k match funding, that campaign raised over £70k, triggering an eventual £1.7m of funding from several sources.”

Key funders of the Court House project are The National Lottery Heritage Fund (£977,900) and the Department for Communities NI (£310,000). Contributions have also come from Garfield Weston Foundation, Arts Council NI, Ards and North Down Borough Council, Foyle Foundation, Swire Charitable Trust, Ulster Architectural Fund, Esme Mitchell Trust, and Ulster Garden Villages.

In December 2020, Open House took possession of the building via the first ever Community Asset Transfer in Northern Ireland, with the keys officially presented to Open House founders Kieran Gilmore and Alison Gordon by the Minister for Justice, Naomi Long. Following a tender process, a design team and building contractors were appointed, and the construction phase began in September 2021, finishing in August 2022.

This major extensive work included the removal of walls and some internal re-modelling as well as the restoration of original features such as sash windows and cornicing. A full sound, lighting and audio visual system was installed, as was a professional kitchen and bar. And the building was made fully accessible with the installation of a lift, accessible toilets and automatic door openings.

“The building work was a long stressful process,” explained Kieran, “but the team of specialist architects, and contractors did an exceptional job. There were some wonderful discoveries along the way, such as the original tiled floor that was uncovered in the banking hall come court room that will be our main performance area. And we were able to use two bars and a slate fireplace from the neighbouring Royal and Windsor Hotels, both of which are due for demolition and both of which have a place in the hearts of Bangor people.”

While predominantly a music venue, the new Court House will also host a regular classic film club, literary and spoken word events, comedy, theatre, and talks, as well as pop-up food and drink events. Rachael Campbell-Palmer who has recently joined the Open House team as Court House Director, fresh from running the Black Box in Belfast, said: “I know the fundamental impact an innovative and creative space like the Court House can have on a place, on individuals and communities. The possibilities that The Court House will bring are hugely exciting! This will be a welcoming home for a wide range of Arts programming providing entertainment, employment and vital opportunities for collaboration and creative development.”

Thanking everyone who has helped the organisation reach this momentous moment, Kieran said: “It has taken us seven long years and a great deal of trial and error to get to this stage. We’ve had support and help from so many individuals and organisations along the way – too numerous to mention. But we want to thank every single person who has played their part in making this project a reality, and in bringing the Court House to life. As the third largest city in Northern Ireland, Bangor needs and deserves a dedicated music and arts venue. We’re looking forward to developing an exciting year round programme of events, and working with other local businesses and creatives to draw new audiences into the city centre. We hope this is the start of a new era for Bangor, with arts-led regeneration right at the fore.”

The equivalent of 15 full-time jobs will be created once the venue is operating at full capacity, including bar staff, event managers and security.

Dr Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“Investing in heritage means investing in the community it belongs to, which is why we are proud to support Open House Festival in repurposing the historic bank and former Court House thanks to National Lottery players. The high quality, conservation-led repairs have successfully preserved this important heritage meaning the building is no longer at risk and creating a much-needed cultural venue to be enjoyed by locals and visitors from further afield. The new Court House combined with the passion and commitment of the Open House team will play a significant role in boosting the local economy by creating employment and aiding the wider regeneration of Bangor.”

Welcoming the official opening of the building, Justice Minister Naomi Long said:

“It is great to see the former courthouse being brought back into use through the Community Asset Transfer process. I am sure it will become an iconic arts venue that will make a significant contribution to the city of Bangor. Congratulations to everyone involved in the impressive redevelopment and I wish Open House Festival and all who use the facility every success for the future.”

Siobhán Molloy, Arts Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland commented:

“The launch of the Bangor Court House promises to be an uplifting and joyous experience for everyone. Serving as a permanent base for the Open House Festival team and events, this cultural hub will increase access to the arts, empower local communities, nurture home-grown talent, as well as showcase regional, national and international acts across a range of artistic genres. The official opening will be momentous, as the collective vision to create a fantastic new arts venue for the city becomes reality. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland placed significant investment into the restoration and redevelopment of the building, through a range of funding programmes and we would encourage everyone to avail of, and enjoy, this wonderful arts venue.”

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Obituary: Conrad Atkinson (1940-2022)

Tuesday 18th October 2022 at 9am 0 Comments

Conrad Atkinson (1940-2022)
International artist and activist

“Perhaps art can’t really make a difference, but it can highlight alternative ways of seeing and living” - Conrad Atkinson*

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with regret of the death last week of the artist, Conrad Atkinson, aged 82.

Conrad Atkinson was born in Cleator Moor, a small mining village in Cumbria, but he had strong ties with Northern Ireland, possibly inspired by the historic association between the two places, Cleator Moor having earned the soubriquet ‘Little Ireland’ following an influx of Irish workers in 1931. His experience of growing up in a declining working-class mining community shaped his politics and practice as an artist and activist. His often provocative blending of conceptual art and controversial subject material to highlight social and political issues led to international recognition, and exhibitions from Tate Britain to the White Box, New York. His work is represented in public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art New York, the National Portrait Gallery London, which purchased his portrait of Gerry Adams (2007), and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection, which owns ‘New Northern Ireland Wallpaper’ (2007)’.

Atkinson’s confrontational use of art and political activism meant that he was no stranger to controversy and also left the artist facing difficulty with censorship. This came about most notably in 1978 when his painting on the Troubles, ‘Silver Liberties: A Souvenir of a Wonderful Anniversary Year’, was rejected by the Ulster Museum, along with several other pieces included in the Nicholas Serota-curated ‘Art for Society’ touring group exhibition. A number of staff objected to Atkinson’s painting, which includes portraits of the 13 people killed on Bloody Sunday and which they saw as a pro-Republican statement. The work was censored, resulting the transfer of much of the exhibition to the Arts Council Gallery.

He returned to Belfast in 2006 to complete a commission to create works on the evolving peace and reconciliation process, leading to his 2007 exhibition, ‘Some Wounds Healing: Some Birds Singing’, in the Grand Opera House in Belfast. ‘Silver Liberties’ would be displayed at the Golden Thread Gallery in 2012 and, in 2014, the painting was exhibited at the Ulster Museum as part of their ‘Art of the Troubles’ exhibition.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland first introduced his politically-engaged work to Belfast audiences in the 1975 exhibition, ‘A Shade of Green, an Orange Edge’. This exhibition, part of a series organised by the Arts Council in partnership with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to explore the role of contemporary art in relation to labour, capital, ownership, culture and politics, came at a time when art exhibitions which addressed social problems and issues about violence, counter-violence and injustice were rare in Northern Ireland.

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

“Conrad Atkinson has been described as one of the most thoroughly humanist artists of our time, and his was certainly one of the most urgent voices, compelling, provoking us, to confront the more painful social, political and economic realities of modern life. His work, driven always by a genuine commitment to make the world a better place, showed us the power that art possesses as an instrument for social change, and reminded us that art is not separate from life.”

*Conrad Atkinson in conversation with Sue Hubbard for Artist’s Newsletter.

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Arts Council opens £40,000 Organisations Digital Evolution Awards, supported by The National Lottery

Monday 10th October 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has opened a 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 now open and will close at 12noon on Monday 14th November 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 and 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 is welcome news. Thanks to the National Lottery players, 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 now open for online applications and will close at 12noon on Monday 14th November. To view the Guidance Notes and make an application 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 £50,000 Creative Industries Seed Fund, supported by The National Lottery

Monday 10th October 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has opened a 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 developed and distributed in new and innovate ways. Online applications are now open and will close at 12noon on Thursday 15th December 2022.

The Creative Industries Seed Fund, worth £50,000 from The National Lottery, offers applicants the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £25,000. All the information needed to make an application, including the online application and the Guidance Notes, are now available on the Arts Council’s website.

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 include partnerships between an arts organization or artist and a creative business or academic institution. 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.

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

“The opening of the Creative Industries Seed Fund is welcome news and we are delighted to offer this opportunity thanks to The National Lottery players. The programme will support projects that develop and distribute 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.”

The Creative Industries Seed Fund is now open for online applications and will close at 12noon on Thursday 15th December 2022 for grants up to a maximum of £25,000. To view the Guidance Notes and make an application visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/creative-industries-seed-programme-III

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13 Minority Ethnic Artists Awarded Funding to Support their Careers

Friday 7th October 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today announced National Lottery awards for 13 artists through it Minority Ethnic Artists and Residency Scheme worth £50,000.

The programme, which is part of the Arts Council’s Support for Individual Artists Programme, was launched last year, thanks to funding from the National Lottery, to support the work of minority ethnic artists and creative practitioners living in Northern Ireland. The programme aims to create opportunities for specialized training, research, cultural exchange, networking and learning for individual artists, creative practitioners and arts administrators, with artist receiving grants of up to £5,000 each.

The Minority Ethnic Artists Mentoring and Residency Programme 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. The awards announced today will support a range of artists, at various stages of their carer and working across all areas of the arts, including music, visual arts, community arts and literature.

The creation of the programme has been informed by the Arts Council’s Intercultural Arts Strategy and framed within its current business plan. Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “Thanks to National Lottery Players and the money raised for Good Causes, this important funding programme will directly support our growing community of minority ethnic artists, living and working in Northern Ireland. It will provide the vital support they need to develop their practice, create new creative connections and build future career opportunities.

“Through this programme, we are seeking to create the conditions for the widest variety of art and creativity for both artists and audiences, addressing the numerous and complex barriers to access, progression and representation in the arts encountered by minority ethnic artists.”

CASESTUDIES

Rodrigo Romero Flores, awarded £4,000
Rodrigo is a poet, musician and artist from Osorno, Chile, resident in Northern Ireland. He has undertaken a range of work over the past three years, producing sound and audio visual pieces that have been exhibited and worked internationally. Among his most recent accomplishments in 2022 are an online artist residency in Belgrade Arts Studio in Serbia, Festival Audioblast#10 (France), IV Festival "Sur Aural" (Bolivia) and “Video Sound Archive”. Season 4 (USA). More locally, in 2021 Rodrigo was commissioned by Terranova Productions (Belfast) for their Second Intercultural Cohort Program. The funding from Arts Council will support him to undertake a residency in Iceland, where he will dedicate his time to research, collect, process and create sound pieces from frequencies generated by natural signals tweeks, whistler, sferics, and aurora borealis, captured through an ELF-VLF Receiver. This will be the first opportunity the artist has had to dedicate his time exclusively to a sonic art project and to work with new equipment, in a landscape that is ideal to experiment with these frequencies.

This is the first time Rodrigo has been awarded National Lottery funding from the Arts Council.

Denise Jimena Navarrete Garcia, awarded £2,690
Denise is an early career visual arts facilitator with a formal education background in interior and set design and architectural engineering. This funding will support her to work with a mentor and develop a series of workshops in traditional Mexican visual arts between November 2022 and January 2023, culminating in an exhibition in February 2023.

This is the first time she has been awarded National Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Raquel McKee, awarded £4,000
Raquel is a Caribbean poet, actress, storyteller and singer/songwriter. She will use this funding to work with a mentor to create a piece of writing for mixed media theatre exploring the theme of justice. The impetus for this is the fact that neither UK nor NI are marking the United Nations declared Decade for People of African Descent, 2015 – 2024.

Raquel has received previous National Lottery awards from the Arts Council and was accepted onto the BBC Writer’s Room in 2021. Her work is rooted in the Caribbean but reflects also her unique experience as a migrant to and resident in Northern Ireland.

Elvira Santamaria-Torres, awarded £4,156
Elvira is a performance artist originally from Mexico, who has achieved international recognition for her practice. She has exhibited internationally and her work often has an element of activism and references the politics of the countries she works within.

With this funding, she will undertake a two-month artist residency from March to April 2023 at the Gresol Association in Spain, an organisation supporting female performance artists through residencies and a range of public programming. She will work with a number of mentors, working towards a new project titled ‘The Healing Powers of Creative Processes of Performance Art’, which will lead to a new ‘process art’ performance piece she will capture through video in a forest setting close to the residency centre. She intends to then revisit this work as a chamber performance piece to be presented in Northern Ireland. She has previously received funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to support her work.

View the list of awards here: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-Minority-Ethnic-Artists-and-Residency-Scheme-Awards-22-23.pdf

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Internationally acclaimed Poet Lemn Sissay OBE lights up the Spread the Word Literary Festival

Thursday 6th October 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

The Waterside Theatre’s inaugural literary festival, ‘Spread the Word’ is now on at various venues across the Northwest until Saturday 8th October 2022, supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and Derry City & Strabane District Council.


‘Spread the Word’ is a week-long multi-disciplinary, multi-platform, multi-age, cross-community literary festival that highlights the importance of reading, writing and literature. The Festival has a unique and wide-ranging programme of events that engages all members of our multicultural community, from the mainstream to the marginalised, and attract a wide range of professional writers from across Ireland, the UK and beyond to attend in person or virtually.

Internationally acclaimed, award-winning Poet, playwright and broadcaster, Lemn Sissay, performed to a packed house earlier this week as part of the Festival. Lemn who was the official poet of the 2012 London Olympics read from his best-selling memoir, My Name is Why, a powerful book about neglect, determination and hope.

Iain Barr, Chief Executive, Waterside Theatre, said

“This is the first of what we hope will become a permanent annual literary festival for the region and features a number of highly anticipated events and workshops with Mammy Banter, the marvellous Lemn Sissay OBE, PJ Lynch, Lucy Caldwell and Time for Crime with Garbhán Downey, Claire Allan & Brian McGilloway and much more!

There is something for everyone, with storytelling for the young and old with local storyteller Liz Weir, The Makeyuppers Gemma Walker- Farren & Sorcha Shanahan. There are also artistic development opportunities available through our Comic Book workshops and Memoir workshops. We even have Ekphrastic Writing inspired by the weeklong exhibition of former Laureate na nÓg PJ Lynch’s Pilgrims, Princesses and Beardy Old Men! We’ve been delighted with the audience reaction so far and look forward to welcoming more people to the festival throughout this week and weekend.”

Ray Hall, Board Member at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland added,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted and proud to support the Waterside Theatre’s first-ever Spread The Word Literary Festival, thanks to National Lottery players. This is a significant Festival which has attracted some of the biggest names in literature to Derry-Londonderry, a city which is world-famous for its strong links to literature, music and culture. The team at Waterside Theatre has curated a great programme, and I am really looking forward to spending time with internationally acclaimed writers as well local talents. Congratulations to everyone involved in presenting this impressive literature festival - please come see it, it’s great!”

Remaining Spread the Word events this week will feature Nicola Pierce, Time for Crime with Claire Allan, Brian McGilloway and Garbhán Downey, plus renowned illustrator PJ Lynch, and an event with Dr. Hilary McCollum, Paul Maddern, Mícheál McCann and Daire Ní Chanáin, celebrating the writing of LGBTQIA+ authors plus much more. To view the full programme visit www.watersidetheatreni.com

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New Survey reveals Arts Organisations in NI Remain Under Significant Post-Covid Pressures

Tuesday 4th October 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

Findings from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Annual Funding Survey*, published on Friday 30th September, show how the Covid-19 pandemic continued to have a significant and long lasting impact on arts organisations in 2021/22; from planning and programming through to staffing and finances.

While there was some improvement on the previous year’s report, with a marginal increase in fulltime employment opportunities over the last twelve months, and more performances taking place, the outlook for the current year remains uncertain. Northern Ireland’s key arts companies have reached 45% of audiences levels compared to the pre pandemic year 2018/19, and prepare for another difficult year ahead, amid extraordinary increases in the cost of living.

In 2021/22, 97 organisations received £13 million in funding support from the Arts Council. All the organisations surveyed for this report 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**. There were no changes to the portfolio this year, with 46% of awards going to organisations based in the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland.

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.

Karly Greene, Director of Strategic Development and Partnerships, at the Arts Council commented: “The Annual Funding Survey is a critical tool in understanding what’s happening in Northern Ireland’s arts sector today, providing vital information on finances, employment levels, arts activities and audience engagement. The year under review spanned a period of lockdown from April-July 2021, when venues remained shut, only reopening thereafter to restricted audiences and a reduced programme of activities. The impact of this is evident in the data, with earned income at the box office remaining far below pre-pandemic levels and audience figures down to 2.2million – 45% of 2018/19 levels.

“Core costs are rising, volunteer levels are still less than half of pre-pandemic levels and there were over 40,000 fewer face-to-face activities in the form of performances, participation-based events, exhibitions, festivals and cinema screenings, compared to 2018/2019.

“Looking ahead, arts organisations are facing another hugely difficult year. The sector still hasn’t recovered from Covid and combined with current steep rises in living costs and mounting financial pressures for all, this survey highlights a need for ongoing financial support, if the arts community is to survive and thrive in the future.”

Key findings:

Workforce

  • Workforce levels remain suppressed with a 5% increase in overall staffing levels compared to the previous year. Compared to pre-pandemic levels (2018/19), overall employment remains 33% lower.
  • Significant increases in the full-time employment of contract staff (up 65% on last year), suggests more hiring of artists by producing organisations, but this is tempered by a lack of movement in the part-time contract market, which did not change year-on-year.
  • Females (including trans women) comprise 66% of those employed as ‘specialists’ and 59% of those employed in managerial capacities.
  • Eleven per cent of the workforce reported a disability in 2021/22, an increase of 3 per cent compared to the previous year. This is more likely to reflect improved confidence by individuals reporting their disability rather than an actual increase in the number of disabled people employed.
  • The portfolio remains predominantly heterosexual, comprising 86% of the overall workforce. There was a marginal 0.6% increase in the employment LGBTQ+ groups and artists were the most diverse group by employment type.
  • The age profile of managers is getting older, with the proportion of those aged 55-64 increasing by 8% compared to 2018/19. Those employed as artists and in specialist capacities tend to be younger. 36% of specialists are aged 25-34, compared to 15% of managers.
  • Five percent of the workforce was from an ethnic minority background. Artists were the most diverse group based on ethnicity, with 7% being from an ethnic minority background.
  • Volunteering levels increased compared to the previous year but were still less than half that of pre-pandemic levels. Each individual volunteered an average 18.2 hours in support of a portfolio organisation.

Income and expenditure

  • Earned income remains significantly lower than pre-pandemic, recovering to 72% of 2019/20 levels. Box-office income seems particularly slow to recover, the result of continued, limited consumer confidence. Income from ‘professional services’ increased by 22% compared to 2019/20 as organisations seek to generate income from alternative earned sources.
  • Income from public sources is up 30% on 2019/20, with government departments contributions (up 27%) and other UK public sources (up 95%) – this is also likely to represent a legacy from the emergency pandemic support.
  • Income from contributed sources, such as sponsorship, remains low as smaller audience levels attract fewer commercial sponsors.
  • Core costs continue to rise, up 30% on 2019/20. Salary costs have increased by 24% compared to 2019/20 and are likely to increase further this year as a consequence of inflationary pressure. Core maintenance and security expenditure jumped by over two-thirds over the same period, possibly reflecting the cost of maintaining the aging arts infrastructure.
  • Limited levels of in-person performances and productions resulted in reduced programming costs in 2020/21. Artist and marketing costs were still below 2019/20 levels but equipment and material costs increased by 13% to £2.0m overall. This is likely to reflect the increasing cost of raw materials.

Physical engagement

  • As reflected in the financial data, activity levels remain 58% lower than in 2018/19. That equates to over 40,000 fewer face-to-face activities in the form of performances, participation-based events, exhibitions, festivals and cinema screenings.
  • As a consequence of lower activity levels, physical audiences were reduced. At 2.2 million, they were only 45% of 2018/19 levels.

Digital output

  • The use of technologies to deliver live artistic and cultural experiences continues to rise, with the number of new online activities delivered increasing by 43% compared to the previous year. As a consequence the number of online interactions increased by 83% over the same period.

Accessibility and engagement

  • AFP organisations employ a range of accessibility methods, to create more inclusive spaces for disabled and neurodivergent people. In 2021/22, physical access methods, in the form of wheelchair access and accessible toilets were reported as provided ‘all of the time’ by over half of the portfolio. Conversely, communication methods, including captioning and audio-description were only provided by a minority of organisations ‘some of the time’.

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.

This is the second full year of the current survey format which was revised to reflect changes in delivery methods introduced by clients during the pandemic. Gender, disability and sexual orientation classifications were also updated in 2020/21.

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 2021-31st March 2022.

** 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.

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Winners unveiled at the Arts & Business NI Awards 2022, in partnership with Forestside

Monday 3rd October 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

Arts organisations, businesses and individuals were celebrated at this year’s Arts & Business NI Awards 2022, in partnership with Forestside Shopping Centre, with winners announced across 11 categories.

The ceremony brought together the cultural and private sectors, to celebrate the best in creative partnerships and also recognise the achievements of outstanding individuals.

The acclaimed Arts Organisation of the Year 2022 award, which comes with a £3000 cash investment from Forestside, went to Belfast Exposed, “for their pioneering creative partnerships, which have helped to create change across the community”. The leading photography organisation also took home the New Sponsor Award, for their partnership with Translink on the ‘Natural Connections’ photography competition and exhibition.

The Business of the Year Award 2022 went to The American Bar. The judges were impressed by owner Pedro Donald’s “commitment to creativity and culture and his passion for the regeneration of the Sailortown area, in which The American Bar is located.”

Arts & Business NI, CEO Mary Nagele said: “Our award winners are shining examples of the amazing benefits of collaboration between the Arts and businesses. We have a cultural sector to be proud of, and at a time when all sectors continue to face unprecedented challenges, it is hugely important we showcase the value of working together and the amazing things that can happen when we do.”

Other winning partnerships on the night included, Cahoots NI & Savills, Arts Care & Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Young at Art & U105 and Millennium Forum & Specsavers. Each winner took home a specially commissioned piece of artwork created by Sasha McVey Ceramics, which was sponsored by Bank of Ireland.

Lee Cutler, Forestside Centre Manager and Principal Sponsor commented: “We were delighted to sponsor the Arts & Business NI Awards for the second year running. The awards are a chance to shine a light on the past year’s successful creative partnerships which have helped to make Northern Ireland a more vibrant place, in which to live and do business.”

Arts & Business NI Awards have been celebrating and inspiring connections between the cultural and commercial sectors in Northern Ireland for over 20 Years. To read the full list of Award winners go to https://www.artsandbusinessni.org.uk/news/2022/september/winners-announced-for-abni-awards-2022-in-partnership-with-forestside or read below.

Full list of Winners and Highly Commended from the Arts & Business NI Awards 2022, in partnership with Forestside

Creative Community Engagement Award 

Winner: Cahoots NI & Savills

Highly Commended: Millennium Forum & Specsavers

Staff Engagement Award

Winner: Arts Care & Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

Brand Storytelling Award

Winner: Young at Art & U105

Highly Commended: The Playhouse & The Guildhall

New Sponsor Award 

Winner: Belfast Exposed & Translink

Highly commended: Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival & The American Bar

Commitment to Diversity Award

Winner: Millennium Forum & Specsavers

Highly commended: Kabosh & Cara Friend

Inspirational Trustee Award 

Winner: Bernie Shiels, Stage Beyond

Highly Commended: Maria Lee, Young at Art

Arts Organisation of the Year

Winner: Belfast Exposed

Business of the Year

Winner: The American Bar

Arts Innovator Award

Winner: Stephen Kelly, c21 Theatre Company

Above and Beyond Award

Winner: Jenni Barkley, Belfast Harbour

Forestside Choice Award

Winner: Jennifer Willis, photographer for the ‘Seen to be Heard’ project

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Third NI Writers Day Takes Place at the Lyric

Wednesday 28th September 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

The third NI Writers Day took place on Monday 26th September at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

Hosted by the Royal Society of Literature (RSL) and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland the event focused on writing for stage and screen, showcasing writers who have enjoyed success in TV, film and theatre.

The event unfolded in two parts, opening with an intimate lunchtime writing workshop for 10 up and coming scriptwriters with critic and playwright Bonnie Greer.

The evening event featured a panel discussion lead by Bonnie, with an introduction from Irenosen Okojie, writer and Vice-Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, and highlights from a specially recorded interview with Declan Lawn (BBC’s Salisbury Poisonings, Netflix’s Rogue Agent), who shared his tips and insights into the writing and commissioning process, in conversation with Aine Toner, Features Editor of the Belfast Telegraph.

Bonnie Greer is a Chicago born writer, playwright and critic. She studied with David Mamet and Elaine Kazan, taught playwriting to students and formerly incarcerated women, and has seen her plays performed to great acclaim around the world.

Joining her on the NI Writers Day panel was writer and theatre director Fionnuala Kennedy whose play, Removed, produced by Prime Cut Productions, in partnership with Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC), won the 2020 Zebbie award for Best Play and is set to tour internationally in 2023.

Director and performer Stacy Gregg, also shared their experiences of the industry, having written extensively for television and worked with global broadcasting platforms. Most recently they directed a block of The Baby (Sky/HBO) and wrote and directed the feature film Here Before, which premiered at South by Southwest.

Paul McVeigh completed the line-up. A multi-award winning author, Paul has written comedy, essays, flash fiction, a novel, plays and short stories. His work has been performed on radio, stage and television, and published in seven languages. Paul most recent work for stage, Big Man, will premiere at the Lyric Theatre next month.

This event marks the third Arts Council and RSL NI Writers Day collaboration and the first in the series to take place live.

Director of the RSL, Molly Rosenberg, explained:

“The RSL is really happy to be working with the Arts Council in collaboration on the third instalment of Northern Ireland Writers Day. This year our day celebrates the work of writers beyond the page, across screen, theatre and performance. We hope that the workshop and evening discussion this year will inspire even more connection between writers across forms and across Northern Ireland.”

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council, said:

“Once again the Arts Council is working in partnership with the Royal Society of Literature to help raise the profile of writers from NI and highlight the range of skills writers bring to the contemporary scene. It’s a particular joy to welcome Bonnie Greer, whose wisdom as a writer and thinker has influenced so many.”

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Multi Award-Winning Screenwriter Declan Lawn Joins Line-up for Third NI Writers Day

Friday 23rd September 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

The countdown is on third NI Writers Day (Monday 26th September, Lyric Theatre, Belfast).

Hosted by the Royal Society of Literature (RSL) and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland on Monday, 26th September, the event will focus on writing for stage and screen, showcasing writers who have enjoyed success in TV, film and theatre.

The event will unfold in two parts, opening with an intimate lunchtime writing workshop for 12 up and coming scriptwriters with critic and playwright Bonnie Greer.

The evening event will feature a panel discussion lead by Bonnie, with an introduction from Irenosen Okojie, writer and Vice-Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, and highlights from a specially recorded interview with Declan Lawn (BBC’s Salisbury Poisonings, Netflix’s Rogue Agent), who will share his tips and insights into the writing and commissioning process, in conversation with Aine Toner, Features Editor of the Belfast Telegraph.

Bonnie Greer is a Chicago born writer, playwright and critic. She studied with David Mamet and Elaine Kazan, taught playwriting to students and formerly incarcerated women, and has seen her plays performed to great acclaim around the world.

Joining her on the NI Writers Day panel writers will be writer and theatre director Fionnuala Kennedy whose play, Removed, produced by Prime Cut Productions, in partnership with Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC), won the 2020 Zebbie award for Best Play and is set to tour internationally in 2023.

Director and performer Stacey Gregg, will also share their experiences of the industry, having written extensively for television and worked with global broadcasting platforms. Most recently they directed a block of The Baby (Sky/HBO) and wrote and directed the feature film Here Before, which premiered at South by Southwest.

Paul McVeigh will complete the lineup. A multi-award winning author, Paul has written comedy, essays, flash fiction, a novel, plays and short stories. His work has been performed on radio, stage and television, and published in seven languages. Paul most recent work for stage, Big Man, will premiere at the Lyric Theatre next month.

This event marks the third Arts Council and RSL NI Writers Day collaboration and the first in the series to take place live.

Director of the RSL, Molly Rosenberg, explained:

“The RSL is really happy to be working with the Arts Council in collaboration on the third instalment of Northern Ireland Writers Day. This year our day celebrates the work of writers beyond the page, across screen, theatre and performance. We hope that the workshop and evening discussion this year will inspire even more connection between writers across forms and across Northern Ireland. This day is open to everyone, including those who have attended before, and, we hope, even more people will join us this time around, as we explore the literary potential of words beyond the page.”

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council, said:

“Once again the Arts Council is working in partnership with the Royal Society of Literature to help raise the profile of writers from NI and highlight the range of skills writers bring to the contemporary scene. It’s a particular joy to welcome Bonnie Greer, whose wisdom as a writer and thinker has influenced so many. A great event awaits.”

Tickets

Tickets to NI Writers Day 3 can be booked via the Lyric Theatre box office and are priced at £5. Contact the Lyric box office to book your seat on 02890 381 081 or go to: https://lyrictheatre.co.uk/whats-on/royal-society-of-literature-panel-discussion-with-bonnie-greer.

Please note, Bonnie Greer’s lunchtime writing workshop is now fully booked.

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Jane Hirshfield appointed Seamus Heaney International Visiting Poetry Fellow at Queen’s University

Friday 23rd September 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

Award-winning poet Jane Hirshfield has been appointed as the third Seamus Heaney International Visiting Poetry Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast.

The fellowship is part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) and Queen’s University’s joint ten-year Seamus Heaney Legacy project and is supported by Atlantic Philanthropies. The appointment is worth £20,000 annually and made to a distinguished poet of international repute.

Hirshfield will be based at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s in November this year, presenting public readings, workshops and masterclasses for students at the University. Jane Hirshfield is one of American poetry's central spokespersons for concerns of the biosphere. She is described as writing “some of the most important poetry in the world today,” according to The New York Times and as “among the modern masters” by The Washington Post.

Speaking about the appointment and looking ahead to her time in Belfast, Jane said:

“The work of poets is to take what is almost unsayable of grief, beauty and our human, shared fates, and somehow bring them into words, that may hold their recognitions in forms retrievable, useful, and moving."

“Having known Seamus Heaney long as a poet whose work made my own life larger, and then as a friend - we met first in Krakow in 2000, at a millennial festival of world poets, and then in Dublin, San Francisco, and Rome - I'm profoundly honored to be coming to Belfast to hold the Center's visiting position created in his memory. To be able to walk this city of poets and poems, of mutual inhabitance whose sharing informs my own- feels an invitation of immeasurable proportion.”

Professor Glenn Patterson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s, said:

“After the terrible couple of years we have all come through, years in which we at the Seamus Heaney Centre were obliged to hit pause on so many cherished activities, it is a pleasure to be able to welcome, live and in person, our third International Visiting Poetry Fellow to the Centre. And such a privilege, as well as a pleasure, to be able to announce that the Fellow is Jane Hirshfield, a poet of the very highest order. Jane’s presence and the programme of events she has planned will be an enormous boost to our students and to the whole literary community. The 2nd of November can’t come soon enough.”

Nóirín McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“We are delighted to announce Jane Hirshfield’s appointment today as the third Seamus Heaney International Visiting Poetry Fellow. During her time in Northern Ireland, Jane will work closely with the MA students at Queen’s and take part in a series of engagements. We very much hope Jane finds plenty of inspiration during her time here, as I am sure her work and presence will inspire all those who have the pleasure of attending her events during this residency.”

The distinguished selection panel assigned to make the appointment included poets and lecturers at Queen’s University Belfast Nick Laird and Leontia Flynn, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Gerald Dawe, Michael Longley and Paula Meehan, plus Glenn Patterson, representing the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s, and Nóirín McKinney from the Arts Council.

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Comedian, Emer Maguire & Writer, Dawn Watson, to be showcased by the NI Office in Brussels

Thursday 22nd September 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

Comedian, Emer Maguire, from Strabane, and writer/poet, Dawn Watson, from Belfast, will feature in two special showcases performances this September, as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Brussels Platform, an international showcase for culture and arts from Northern Ireland.

On Friday 23rd September, comedian, Emer Maguire will bring the spirit of Culture Night to Brussels with a performance hosted by the Northern Ireland Executive Office. Culture Night will attract an invited audience of officials from the EU Institutions, across the diplomatic community and beyond.

Later in the month, writer and poet, Dawn Watson, will represent Northern Ireland at the 12th TRANSPOESIE festival in Brussels on Tuesday 27th September. Dawn’s poem, Taking the Auspices, has been translated into Dutch and French and is currently on display in public spaces and parks around the Belgian capital. Dawn 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 event at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura on 27th September.

Launched in 2011, TRANSPOESIE is an annual poetry festival that celebrates multilingualism by bringing poetry in as many languages as possible to Brussels. It is organised by EUNIC Brussels (the local network of European Union National Institutes for Culture) and its partners. TRANSPOESIE 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.

Speaking about the Brussels Platform, Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“The Brussels Platform is a terrific opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the immense talent we have in Northern Ireland. Both Emer Maguire and Dawn Watson are wonderful ambassadors for the Arts here and the Arts Council is proud to support these artists in showcasing their talents as part of Culture Night Brussels and the TRANSPOESIE poetry festival. We very much look forward to seeing Emer and Dawn present their work to an international audience, helping to put Northern Ireland on the map for all the right reasons.”

Aodhán Connolly, Director of the Northern Ireland Executive Office in Brussels, added,

“The Brussels Platform continues to provide the ideal opportunity to showcase the very best of talent on a European stage and to highlight Northern Ireland’s ever growing reputation as a centre of excellence in the arts. I look forward to welcoming Emer to this year’s Culture Night and Dawn to the Transpoesie festival for events that will not only appeal to the diplomatic community but culture lovers from Brussels and beyond”

For more information on Culture Night Brussels visit www.brusselsni.com and for more information on the TRANSPOESIE Festival visit www.transpoesie.eu or Facebook event.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is involved in a range of international platforms including Brussels with the Northern Ireland Executive Office, Paris with Centre Culturel Irlandais, and India in a range of artist residencies.

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New performing arts studio opens as Bounce celebrates 10th anniversary

Wednesday 21st September 2022 at 4pm 0 Comments

The University of Atypical for Arts and Disability is opening a new performing arts studio as it celebrates the tenth anniversary of Bounce Arts Festival.

The Ledger Studio in Royal Avenue will be used for theatre, comedy, dance, music and spoken word performed by D/deaf, disabled and Neurodiverse artists.

The studio will be officially opened on October 7 at the start of the Bounce Arts Festival, which showcases the best new work by D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists at venues across Belfast, Derry and online in Fermanagh and Omagh.

Bounce, which is run by the University of Atypical and supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Department for Communities and Belfast City Council, has grown into one of the top disability arts festivals in Europe. It runs from October 7-9.

Damien Coyle, Chief Executive of University of Atypical, speaking at the launch of the Bounce programme said:

“This is an exciting time for University of Atypical. Over the past decade our fabulous Bounce Arts festival has expanded and we are proud to launch an exciting and eclectic programme that includes music, performance and visual art, drama and dance as well as a book launch by one of the recipients of the Chris Ledger Legacy Awards. While we make Bounce events as accessible as possible to D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse audiences, we want Bounce to be for everyone.”

“And with the new Ledger Studio we will be able to reach even greater audiences throughout the year. This is a wonderful legacy to Chris who did so much for arts and disability in Northern Ireland.”

Patricia Lavery, Acting Head of Community Arts & Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is committed to supporting the work and career development of our D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled artists. The Bounce Arts Festival offers an important platform to shine a light on work from these artists whilst also showcasing work by disabled artists from the UK and Europe.

“Congratulations to the University of Atypical who have curated a terrific programme for Bounce this year which features some of the most talented artists from Northern Ireland including Ruth McGinley, Larry McAree and Alice McCullough, among others. I am also delighted to see the University of Atypical launch the Ledger Studio, a very fitting tribute to the legacy of Chris Ledger and offering exciting opportunities for showcasing the work of our D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled artists in the future.”

Speaking at the launch of the Bounce programme, Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Christina Black said:

“To launch this studio during the 10th anniversary of the University of Atypical’s annual Bounce Festival is a wholly fitting tribute to Chris Ledger who was such a powerful advocate for arts inclusion and accessibility.

“We’re very proud to invest in Bounce through our Cultural Multi-Annual Grant scheme. It’s fantastic to partner with the only festival in the region that is dedicated to showcasing outstanding new work by D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse creatives.

“It’s so heartening to see the progress that’s been made over the last decade – and I have no doubt that the University of Atypical is bound for even greater things over the next decade and beyond. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to take a step outside their ‘typical’ experience and get along to see what Bounce has to offer.”

In addition to holding events in the Ledger Studio, the organisation is taking over the Crescent Arts Centre for the weekend as well as holding performances in the Lyric, the Black Box, Centre for Contemporary Art and the Nerve Centre in Derry/Londonderry.

Some highlights of the weekend include:

  • The Song of the Bones at the Lyric which charts the story of Ireland’s last witch trial in Islandmagee using electronic pop music with puppetry and spoken word poetry. It features spell-binding narratives by award-winning performance poet Alice McCullough.
  • Celebrated pianist Ruth McGinley performs an original piece at the Crescent Arts Centre.
  • Kids in Control’s Blue Chevy Ensemble will be performing Scenes from Inner Space, a special piece devised with Paula Clarke, the BSL interpreter for BBC NI news. Kids in Control’s are the Theatre in Residence Company at the new Ledger Studio.
  • Legendary DJ and musician Jonny Mac’s Warriors of the Dystotheque presents Anthropause, the House and Techno session featuring Reverse Jazz & Micky O Brien at the Nerve Centre in Derry.
  • Visual artist Hugh O’Donnell performs Liminal at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Derry.
  • Still Livin’, is an interactive, immersive exhibition by Larry McAree at the University of Atypical Gallery. Larry will also be launching a book telling the story of his life as part of Bounce Festival.

There’s a packed programme this year including pop up performances by the Open Arts Choir and Joel Kenny as well as workshops and masterclasses.

For more information on all the live shows, workshops, and online content and to book tickets, go to www.universityofatypical.org/bounce

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Arts Council announces funding targeted at improving young people’s health and wellbeing

Tuesday 20th September 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced funding of £170,000 for youth, community and voluntary groups to develop arts based projects, targeted at improving the health and wellbeing of young people.


Made possible, thanks to funding for good causes from the National Lottery, the ARTiculate Programme gives a voice to young people through drama, music, visual arts and literature activities. Groups applying for funding support are asked to give a particular focus to including young people experiencing higher levels of disadvantage or exclusion and more vulnerable groups, such as those living with a mental health condition, eating disorders or addiction.

The fund is now open for applications with grants of up to £10,000 available to develop custom-made arts projects for 12 to 18 year olds. This current phase of the programme marks the welcome return of the ARTiculate programme after a three year hiatus.

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

“Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, we are delighted to announce the reopening of the ARTiculate Programme today. The positive links between engagement in the arts and our health and wellbeing are firmly established and we believe that this programme is more important than ever post-pandemic, as young people across Northern Ireland continue to recover from the effects of lock-down and social isolation.

“With this funding, we want to reach out to some of the most vulnerable children in society. We are looking for projects that are fun and engaging but also those which enable participants to shape the activity and be involved as decision makers. At its very core, this important programme is about opening up opportunities for young people to engage in the arts and to experience the many benefits that brings; promoting self-expression, and developing self-confidence and self-motivation.”

The ARTiculate Programme was first launched in 2017 and since then has awarded 46 grants to organisations to develop projects across a range of arts activities including, DJing, graffiti art, ceramics, drama and creative writing.

Fresh Minds Education received a grant through the ARTiculate programme in 2018 to develop a series of music workshops for pupils living in and around the Rathenraw estate in Antrim.

Led by artist Una McCann, seventeen 12-18 year olds worked with younger children from the local primary school to draw out the emotions which affect them most, including feeling angry, sad, anxious, worried or low. By taking a creative approach, the group was able to explore the feelings and learn the AMBER approach, which is a structure that supports children to develop coping mechanisms in a safe and relaxed environment. To mark the end of their project, the group worked with a professional studio to record some of the music they had created.

Aine Wallace who developed the project on behalf of Fresh Minds Education explained:

“We found the ARTiculate programme to be hugely beneficial for all the children who took part in our project. Over two months we watched their confidence grow and their real selves shine. This programme gave them the opportunity to use music as a vehicle to talk about their feelings and relationships, to learn how to be brave, open to fail, yet courageous enough to rise again.”

Applications to the ARTiculate programme opened on Tuesday 20th September and will close on Tuesday 11th October 2022 at 12 noon. For guidance notes and application details go to http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/young-people-wellbeing-arts-programme

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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Friday 9th September 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland would like to pay our deepest respects to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her outstanding lifetime of public service and devoted patronage of the Arts throughout her long and distinguished reign. Our sincerest condolences to the Royal Family.

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Arts Council opens new Commissioning Programme for Organisations

Thursday 8th September 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

The Arts Council today (8th September 2022) opened applications to a new funding programme which will enable the widest possible range of organisations to commission new work.

Commissions may be applied for across all art form areas supported by the Arts Council. Proposals may also be cross-art form.

The finished work should be in a form capable of being presented, exhibited, published, performed and/or disseminated in its entirety at the point of completion in Northern Ireland (if applicable abroad) either live or online.

This programme is for projects and programmes which will complete by 15th December 2023.

The maximum award is £25,000.

Closing date for applications is 12 noon, 31st October 2022.

To view the guidance notes and apply visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/commissioning-programme

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Arts Council and Royal Society of Literature announce third NI Writers Day, Monday 26 September 2022

Wednesday 7th September 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

The Royal Society of Literature (RSL) and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, have today announced details of a special collaborative event this month at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

The third NI Writers Day will take place on Monday 26th September 2022 and shine a spotlight on the art of writing for stage and screen, providing a platform for discussion, sharing industry insights and celebrating the work of local writers.

Headed up by esteemed playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster Bonnie Greer, recently announced a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the event will unfold in two sessions.

The first, an intimate lunchtime writing workshop with Bonnie for 12 playwrights wanting to hone their craft. Participants will have the chance to read one of Bonnie Greer’s latest scripts and hear about her life in theatre, having studied with David Mamet and Elaine Kazan, taught playwriting to students and formerly incarcerated women, and seen her plays performed to great acclaim around the world.

The evening event will feature a panel discussion in the Lyric’s Naughton Studio and is open to the public.

Chaired by Bonnie Greer, it will celebrate Northern Ireland-born playwrights, who have gained local and international acclaim for their work. The line-up will include writer and theatre director Fionnuala Kennedy whose play, Removed, produced by Prime Cut Productions, in partnership with Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC), won the 2020 Zebbie award for Best Play and is set to tour internationally in 2023. Director and performer Stacy Gregg, will also share their experiences of the industry, having written extensively for television and worked with global broadcasting platforms. Most recently they directed a block of The Baby (Sky/HBO) and wrote and directed the feature film Here Before, which premiered at South by Southwest.

This event marks the third Arts Council and RSL NI Writers Day collaboration and the first in the series to take place live.

Director of the RSL, Molly Rosenberg, explained:

“The RSL is really happy to be working with the Arts Council in collaboration on the third instalment of Northern Ireland Writers Day. This year our day celebrates the work of writers beyond the page, across screen, theatre and performance. We hope that the workshop and evening discussion this year will inspire even more connection between writers across forms and across Northern Ireland. This day is open to everyone, including those who have attended before, and, we hope, even more people will join us this time around, as we explore the literary potential of words beyond the page.”

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council, said:

“Once again the Arts Council is working in partnership with the Royal Society of Literature to help raise the profile of writers from NI and highlight the range of skills writers bring to the contemporary scene. It’s a particular joy to welcome Bonnie Greer, whose wisdom as a writer and thinker has influenced so many. A great event awaits.”

Tickets

Tickets for Bonnie Greer’s lunchtime writing workshop are free but numbers are strictly limited. To apply please send a short paragraph about yourself and a two page writing sample to info@rsliterature.org before 5pm on Thursday 15 September. The sample should be a script or a piece of writing relating to performance. You will be contacted the following week as to whether you have a place held in the workshop.

Tickets to the evening event, NI Writers Day 3, can be booked via the Lyric Theatre box office from 1pm on Wednesday 9th August and are priced at £5. Contact the Lyric box office to book your seat on 02890 381 081 or go to: https://lyrictheatre.co.uk/whats-on/royal-society-of-literature-panel-discussion-with-bonnie-greer.

Biographies

Bonnie Greer OBE was born in Chicago Illinois and grew up on the Southside. She studied playwriting with David Mamet and with Elia Kazan. She has had several plays produced and was awarded The Verity Bargate Award. Bonnie also taught Shakespeare as a literacy tool. Her novels include Hanging by Her Teeth (1996) and Entropy (2006) as well as a biography of Langston Hughes. She was Deputy Chair of the British Museum and awarded the OBE in 2010. Bonnie was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2022.

Fionnuala Kennedy is a writer from Belfast. Her play Removed, produced by Prime Cut Productions, in partnership with Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC), won the 2020 Zebbie award for Best Play and will be touring internationally in 2023. Most recently, she has written Thaw for Replay Theatre Company, and Hunt, for the National Theatre’s Connections Programme 21/22. She is currently under commission for NI Opera writing a libretto for young people on housing rights. Fionnuala is one of the writers of BBC Drama Room 21/22. 

Stacey Gregg is a writer, director and performer for stage and screen. Most recently they directed a block of The Baby (Sky/HBO), wrote and directed feature film Here Before which premiered at SXSW; co-directed Inside Bitch for the Royal Court Theatre and Clean Break working with women in the criminal justice system, and wrote and performed Hatchet Jinny at Outburst Queer Arts Festival. Gregg has written extensively for television and her plays are published by Nick Hern Books and Bloomsbury. Her work has toured internationally.

Irenosen Okojie is a Nigerian British writer. Appointed to the Royal Society of Literature as a Fellow in 2018, her short stories have been published in the US, Africa and the UK. Her debut novel, Butterfly Fish, was published in 2015, for which she was a recipient of a 2016 Betty Trask Award. Her short story collection, Speak Gigantular, was published in 2016. It was shortlisted for the 2016 inaugural Jhalak Prize and the 2017 Edge Hill Short Story Prize. A collection of short stories, Nudibranch, was published in 2019. It was longlisted for the Jhalak Prize 2020. The story ‘Grace Jones’ won the 2020 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing. In 2021 she was awarded an MBE For Services To Literature. A novel, Curandera, is forthcoming in 2022.

Paul McVeigh co-founded Scarecrow Theatre Company, in Belfast, in the 1980s. The company won an Edinburgh Fringe First and represented Northern Ireland at the International Theatre Festival in Gdansk. He also co-founded the all-island Armada Theatre Festival which took place in Belfast, Derry and Dublin, simultaneously. Moving to London, he wrote and directed shows which toured to the Edinburgh Fringe and London’s West End. Paul’s work has appeared in venues such as the Barbican, Cochrane, Hampstead and Tricycle Theatres.

Paul's debut novel, The Good Son, won The Polari First Novel Prize, The McCrea Literary Award and was shortlisted for many others including the Prix de roman Cezam. His short stories have appeared on BBC Radio 3, 4 & 5, and Sky Arts. His writing has been translated into seven languages. His new play 'Big Man' will be on at Lyric Theatre as part of the 2022 Belfast Interntional Arts Festival.

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Shortlist Revealed for Arts & Business NI Awards 2022

Wednesday 7th September 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

The shortlist of nominees for the Arts & Business NI Awards 2022, in partnership with Forestside, has been unveiled.

The awards celebrate the best in creative partnerships between the cultural and private sectors in Northern Ireland and winners will be announced at the prestigious awards ceremony later this month. Awards categories include Arts Organisation of the Year, Business of the Year and an Inspirational Trustee Award.

This year, organisers of the awards received an “unprecedented number of applications” from partnerships across a diverse range of sectors including retail, hospitality, industry, transport, media and arts and culture.

Mary Nagele, CEO, Arts & Business NI commented: “We were delighted to receive such an outstanding selection of nominations this year, which really showcase the amazing things which can happen when the cultural and private sectors collaborate. There are so many inspiring and pioneering projects in the mix, and we can’t wait to showcase and celebrate them at our awards ceremony in a few weeks’ time.”

Lee Cutler, Centre Manager of Forestside Shopping Centre and Principal Awards Sponsor also commented: “The judging panel were really impressed by the breadth and scope of this year’s applications. There are some fantastic partnerships and deserving individuals being acknowledged at this year’s awards. Congratulations and good luck to all the shortlisted candidates.”

The full shortlist is linked here

The Arts and Business NI Awards will take place in September 2022.

Arts & Business Northern Ireland’s principal funder is the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

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Nine projects gets share of £53,000 Arts Council fund for community projects

Wednesday 31st August 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

NINE arts projects have been awarded funding totalling over £53,000 this month (August 2022) as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Small Grants funding programme. The money will be used to support arts initiatives in communities across Northern Ireland, including projects in Armagh, Bangor, Craigavon, Downpatrick and the Fermanagh area.

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

One of the projects set to benefit from funding is the Armagh Pipers Club. It has been awarded £10,000 to help cover the costs of providing tutors to teach evening classes, covering eight different instruments and singing.

Ciarán Ó Maoláin, from Armagh Pipers Club, said:

“Armagh Pipers Club, founded in 1966, was among the first traditional arts organisations to receive funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, back in 1973. The Arts Council has been one of our principal funders ever since, and its support has enabled the Club to train thousands of young musicians and to provide work for dozens of skilled tutors. Our recent Small Grant will go towards tutor costs for our 2022-23 teaching programme.”

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

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

AUGUST Small Grants Programme Awardees:

Banbridge Music Society, awarded £7,360 for their project ‘All Shook Up”
Banbridge Musical Society will produce a new musical theatre show, "All Shook Up", for audiences in the ABC Council District and its surrounding areas. All Shook Up is a Jukebox Musical featuring hits from the Elvis Presley songbook. The group will stage four shows in early October and will perform at the Market Place for the first time.

Shore Collective, awarded £3,520 for The Winter Project (Craigavon)
The Winter Project is a series of twenty, weekly arts workshop sessions. Each workshop will be two hours long and aimed primarly at the unemployed, elderly, young mothers, socially isolated and less included members of our community in the Craigavon area. Possible activities will include silk painting and Shibori, monoprinting and linocut, paper making and bookbinding, drawing and painting techniques, wet felting and hand embroidery, ceramics. An end of project exhibition will be held in the Atrium for participants and their friends and family.

Armagh Pipers Club, awarded £10,000 for its Term 1 Education Programme
Armagh Pipers Club will use their Small Grants award for the payment of tutors providing evening classes in traditional music. The grant will cover the provision of ten teaching nights each with 32 to 36 hour-long classes, covering eight instruments and singing, at four levels from beginner to senior.

Music in Fermanagh, awarded £3,444 for Four Classical Music Concerts
This Small Grants award will assist with the cost of a planned series of concerts, including artists' fees and piano hire. The upcoming programme will include:

  • Dublin-born pianist John O'Conor
  • The Fidelio Trio, joined by Cillian Vallely on the uilleann pipes
  • Ashley Wass, pianist and Richard Pierce, lecturer
  • Mezzo-soprano Carolyn Dobbin with pianist Ruth McGinley

Mid-Armagh Community Network, awarded £8,000 for a Music, Dance and Drama Programme (Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon)
Mid Armagh Community Network (MACN) is planning a community based project to teach music, dance and drama within an Ulster Scots context in a safe and central location. The project will see the development of a program of low cost lessons in Scottish traditional fiddle, Scottish Highland and theatre dance, drama, accordion and community choir and encourage participation in these traditional artforms.

North Down Community Network (NDNC), awarded £1,769 for Inert Structure to Kinetic Form
This ten-week sculpture project will use shape, form and movement as a way of exploring emergence from the Covid 19 pandemic. A journey from the stillness of constructivist sculpture to the motion of Kinetic Art via optical illusion and Calder’s mobiles. The artworks created through the programme will be displayed in NDCN's Wellbeing Centre in Bangor and then retained by participants. The collaborative artwork will be placed on permanent display in North Down Community Network’s Wellbeing Centre.

Patrician Youth Centre, awarded £10,000 for Bringing The Arts to the Heart of Down - Restart completed!
Patrician Youth Theatre has, over the past year, restarted work with their membership delivering all artform activities face to face again, engaging children and young people through weekly rehearsal and workshop sessions, plus live performances in May and June 2022. In September, the group will build on this work and embark on a new term delivering across the age bands and working on a new series of productions. Planned work will include a pantomime and a musical showcase.

Harmony Community Trust, awarded £4,301, to create and develop a mixed media installation (Newry, Mourne and Down)
This project will see the development and creation of a mixed media installation to include four panels or banners. Each will be inspired by the work of four local community groups in Down and Ards. They are: The Glebe House Knitwits from the Lecale area, East End Ladies group from Newtownards, Ballykinlar Forever Young Group and Hilltown Kosy club, The project will involve a range of art techniques and materials, highlighting their local communities, history, customs, traditions and peculiarities. They will also reflect the participants personal experiences and reminiscences. The project will conclude with a celebration event at Glebe House for all participants, with a display of the work and the exhibition of finished panels/ banners at Down Arts Centre, Newtownards Arts Centre, Glebe House and at the centres of participating groups.

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 Council opens £40,000 Individual Artists Digital Evolution Awards programme

Tuesday 30th August 2022 at 4pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (Tuesday 30 August) opened applications to a funding programme which aims to provide artists in Northern Ireland with skills in the use of digital technology to create digital art. Online applications are open from Tuesday 30 August 2022 and will close on Friday 30 September 2022, with decisions expected by Friday 18 November 2022.

The Individual Artists Digital Evolution Awards, worth £40,000, from The National Lottery, offers individuals the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £10,000 and is open to artists across all art forms.

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 which they have not used previously. Collaborative applications from individual artists 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).

Karly Greene, Director of Strategic Development & Partnerships, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“Today’s announcement is welcome news. The programme will support 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 art form boundaries and build digital capabilities within the Northern Ireland arts sector.”

Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact the Arts Council’s Creative Industries Officer Matthew Malcolm at mmalcolm@artscouncil-ni.org if they wish to discuss eligibility of their project concepts.

The Individual Artists Digital Evolution Awards scheme is open for online applications from Tuesday 30 August 2022 and will close on Friday 30 September 2022, for grants up to a maximum of £10,000. Decisions are expected by Friday 18 November 2022. For further information on eligibility, guidance notes and to apply visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/individual-artists-digital-evolution-awards. Please note guidance notes are also available on request in large print format and disk.

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Winner of the 12th Glenarm Festival of Voice is announced

Tuesday 30th August 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

Northern Ireland Opera’s annual Festival of Voice returned to the village of Glenarm this weekend after two years relocated in Belfast due to the pandemic.

The annual vocal competition is a highlight of the Festival and on Sunday evening, five opera singers chosen from applicants from across the island of Ireland competed for the Deborah Voigt Opera Prize and to become the NI Opera Young Opera Voice of 2022.

These singers spent three days working with top opera coaches, Kathryn Harries, Dr Ingrid Surgenor and pianist Simon Lepper, preparing arias, Irish songs and ensemble pieces for the Competition Finale which were then performed in front of a live audience and judging panel in a concert hosted by NI Opera’s patron, broadcaster Sean Rafferty.

The winner of the Deborah Voigt Opera Prize and the NI Opera Young Opera Voice of 2022 is County Tyrone tenor Owen Lucas, who was also voted the winner of the Audience Prize, sponsored by The Londonderry Arms, Carnlough.

The winner of the Song Prize, sponsored by The Priests Charitable Trust, is County Louth Soprano Hannah O’Brien.

Dame Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle, Vice Chair of NI Opera and member of the judging panel comments:

'The music making in Glenarm this weekend has been superlative. Five of this island's most promising young opera voices have had the opportunity to work with several of the top coaches in the opera world, and hear BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists in recital. NI Opera's commitment to nurturing this talent is as strong in the festival's twelfth year as ever. We look forward to our return in 2023.’

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

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YouthAction NI dazzles audiences with performances of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Tuesday 23rd August 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

Leading youth work charity, YouthAction NI recently held a series of sold out performances of hit musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at their dynamic theatre space in Belfast. The shows were presented by The Rainbow Factory School of Performing Arts, a subsidiary of YouthAction NI, which offers young people aged 10-25 years, of all backgrounds and abilities, the opportunity to access world-class performing arts training and coaching from industry professionals.


YouthAction NI has been operating for 75 years, inspiring young people here to find their true potential and excel in areas such as political activism, performing arts, youth work, education, business, technology and international affairs. They work with disadvantaged, excluded young people to improve their life chances by helping ensure their voices are heard, respected and valued.

Maire Campbell, Artistic Director, Youth Action NI, said,

“Here at The Rainbow Factory we use performing arts to really help young people thrive, be themselves, gain confidence and contribute to society. Thanks to the support from the National Lottery players, we can keep access to drama, dance and theatre really affordable for our young people at a difficult time. We really appreciate it.”

Liam Hannaway, Chair, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is hugely proud to support YouthAction NI thanks to the National Lottery players and I was delighted to attend The Rainbow Factory School of Performing Arts’ latest production, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

“YouthAction NI makes high-quality arts accessible to young people and we know that participation in the arts inspires us and has tremendous, positive impacts on our mental health and wellbeing. Through the performing arts training provided by YouthAction NI, these impressive young people are gaining confidence, improving their wellbeing and learning transferable skills to carry with them throughout their lives. Congratulations to everyone involved!”

Those interested in joining classes at The Rainbow Factory in September should contact vrf@youthaction.org

For more information of the work of Youth Action visit www.youthaction.org

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The Wrinkly Rappers Showcase Two Original Songs at Newington Day Centre

Monday 22nd August 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

An exceptional group of warm-hearted female carers at Newington Day Centre who have playfully dubbed themselves as The Wrinkly Rappers have been taking part in Keep on the Sunnyside, an Arts and Older People’s project which is centred around positivity, creating music and creating community through music. As a result of the project, The Wrinkly Rappers have written and recorded two new songs as well as forming close friendships with one another.

Paul Kane, Project Manager and Music and Older People’s Manager at Oh Yeah has become a very familiar face at Newington Day Centre, having held many previous workshops and live music events for the ‘cared for’. Paul said,

‘‘We had clear goals to create new music but we also listened to what direction we should be taking things from people directly involved. We worked closely with Chip Bailey, musician and producer, and created two fabulous songs which reflect the diversity and creativity of these talented women’’.

A listening party which took place on 16th August at Newington allowed these women to come together and celebrate the music that they had created. The Wrinkly Rappers sat down for a quick catch-up up while project co-ordinators Paul Kane and Chip Bailey set up the equipment to provide an audio-visual presentation which allowed the ladies to reminisce and reflect on each step of the project. This included drum workshops, local music history, song deconstruction as well as song writing. The women unanimously agreed that the weekly workshops gave them all something special to look forward to and helped to take away the stresses of everyday life.

Margaret McCrudden, Manager at Newington said;

‘‘These type of projects are welcome at the centre as they challenge Carers to step out of their comfort zone and introduce them to new skills. Whilst learning new skills they bonded as a group supporting each other and remaining friends.’’

After the ladies listened to and discussed sound clips from each aspect of the songwriting process, the mastered tracks for Technology and Forced Exodus which were recorded in Start Together Studio in the Oh Yeah Music Centre were played. The Wrinkly Rappers quietly sang along as they proudly listened to the music they had created. One of the women commented how it was ‘‘like a miracle’’ how the songs had come into existence over the course of the project.

A final discussion from the Wrinkly Rappers and the staff at Newington Day Centre sparked from listening to the song Technology, a rebellious yet comical rap about refusing technological advancements. It was strongly felt by the women at Newington that although recently popularised software such as Zoom has its benefits, interactive and creative face-to-face collaboration is desperately needed in the current post-lockdown climate.

As Paul and Chip were packing their equipment away, Wrinkly Rapper Jean handed them a heartfelt handwritten ‘thank you’ card with a ten pound note inside so they could treat themselves to a couple of pints.

Keep on the Sunnyside was a very exciting and unique 16 week long project managed by Oh Yeah Music Centre and funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Public Health Agency and the Baring Foundation.

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.”

There was an amazing enthusiasm and energy from the participants and once the door to creativity was opened ideas flowed which shaped the nature of these songs.

Charlotte Dryden, CEO of Oh Yeah, said

‘‘It never ceases to amaze me what comes out of these creative sessions with our older participants. They have life experience and a view on the world that is incredibly powerful at times. The songs that came out of this project have reflected some of the current issues that so many of us have been trying to process. ’’

Original tracks Technology and Forced Exodus by The Wrinkly Rappers are available to listen to now on Soundcloud - https://on.soundcloud.com/WYXz

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Statement – Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Tuesday 16th August 2022 at 6pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

Thursday 11th August 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Young musicians encouraged to join Jazz Juniors improvisation workshops

Tuesday 9th August 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jazz improvisation workshops will take place at:

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

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

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Belfast International Arts Festival reveals 60th Autumn Programme

Tuesday 9th August 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jonathan Stewart, Director British Council Northern Ireland, said,

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

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

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

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

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EastSide Arts Festival Celebrates its 10th Birthday!

Tuesday 9th August 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

Highlights still to come:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Director of the EastSide Arts Festival, Rachel Kennedy added:

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

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

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

Wednesday 3rd August 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Arts Council £51,000 awarded to fund community projects

Friday 29th July 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In JULY Small Grants Awards were awarded to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carnival of Colours hits the city!

Friday 29th July 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cath McBride, IYSC’s Company Director said:

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

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

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

Wednesday 27th July 2022 at 8am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find out more at cultural-bridge.info

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Applications for funding for individual artists now open

Wednesday 20th July 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

Open Now

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

Application deadline: Tuesday 30th August 2022 at 12pm

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


SIAP Minority Ethnic Residency & Mentoring Programme
Open Now

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

Application deadline: Monday 22nd August at 12pm

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


SIAP Travel Awards
Open Now

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

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

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


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

Application deadline: Monday 15th August 2022 at 12pm

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

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

Tuesday 19th July 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PRS Foundation’s, Beyond Borders, opens for applications

Thursday 14th July 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clare Hewitt, Music Officer at Creative Scotland said:

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

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

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

Suzanne Griffiths-Rees from Arts Council of Wales said,

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

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

Friday 8th July 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

Key evidence included the following:

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

Notes

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

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

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

Thursday 7th July 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

Commenting on the award Playhouse CEO Kevin Murphy said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 6th July 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ACNI National Lottery Project Funding Awards 2022-23

Tuesday 5th July 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Organisations to be awarded funding include:

Newry Chamber Music
Awarded £50,000

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

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

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

Greater Shankill Partnership
Awarded £31,743

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

Carntogher Community Association (Maghera)
Awarded £38,218

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

Fighting Words Northern Ireland
Awarded £23,734

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

Household Belfast CIC
Awarded £20,550

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

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

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

Monday 4th July 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In JUNE Small Grants Awards were awarded to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 2nd July 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

Commenting on the project Chipzel said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 1st July 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

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

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

Chair of the Arts Council, Liam Hannaway, said,

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

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

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

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

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Array Studios
AFP funding offer: £25,477

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

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

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

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

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WOMEX World Music Expo 2022 - bursaries now available to attend

Friday 1st July 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 24th June 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our Place Project Finale held at Duncairn Arts Centre

Wednesday 22nd June 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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EastSide Arts Festival celebrates its 10th birthday

Wednesday 22nd June 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Tina Black said:

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

Director of the EastSide Arts Festival, Rachel Kennedy added:

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

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

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Ashfield Girls shine under spotlight at the Eastside awards

Tuesday 21st June 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 17th June 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 14th June 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tyrone Guthrie Centre Bursary awardee Dani Larkin, said,

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

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

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

Thursday 9th June 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 8th June 2022 at 4pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

The Chief Executive continued,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund Information Sessions

Tuesday 7th June 2022 at 4pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Arts Council congratulates recipients of Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022

Tuesday 7th June 2022 at 8am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 6th June 2022 at 9am 0 Comments

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sheila Llewellyn wins Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize

Wednesday 1st June 2022 at 9am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

Caroline Brothers, Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize judge, said:

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

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

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

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

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Arts Council publishes Business Plan 2022-23

Wednesday 1st June 2022 at 9am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Arts & Business NI Awards 2022 opens for entries

Tuesday 31st May 2022 at 5pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 31st May 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

Jacob Allison, Artistic Director, HPYB, commented:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For a full list of grants awarded through the Arts Council's Small Grants programme in May go to: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-Small-Grants-Awards-May2022-updated.pdf

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

Monday 30th May 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Michael Long said:

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

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

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

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

Monday 30th May 2022 at 10am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Agee said,

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

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

Tuesday 24th May 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seamus Hand, Managing Partner at KPMG Ireland, said:

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

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

Monday 23rd May 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

Artist Leona Devine commented,

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

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

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

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

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

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Applications for Boardroom Apprentice 2022 are open

Friday 20th May 2022 at 2pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

Eileen Mullan, Boardroom Apprentice founder, said:

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

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

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

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

Arts Council Chair Liam Hannaway, commented:

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

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

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

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

CASE STUDIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 17th May 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The festival’s director, Michael Weir, adds:

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

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

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

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Michael Long adds:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 17th May 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

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

Tuesday 31 May, 2.00pm to 3.30pm

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

Topics covered will include:

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

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

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

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TOLD/UNTOLD’ - An Exhibition by Elin Johnston

Thursday 12th May 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

TOLD/UNTOLD’ - An Exhibition by Elin Johnston

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

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

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

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

Elin says:

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

For more information visit:


https://www.elinjohnston.com

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

Tuesday 10th May 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

The Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize judge Caroline Brothers said:

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

Author Sheila Llewellyn, former Arts Council awardee said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 6th May 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Applications are open now until May 30, 2022.

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

Apply:https://fluxusartprojects.com/apply

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

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

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Make Your Nomination to the 2022 National Lottery Awards

Wednesday 4th May 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

Individual Nomination Categories:

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

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

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

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

Entries close at midnight 1 June 2022.

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

Thursday 28th April 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In April Small Grants Awards were made to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Arts Groups Can Now Apply for National Lottery Project Funding

Thursday 28th April 2022 at 9am 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Celebrating 10 years of The MAC

Tuesday 26th April 2022 at 3pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chair of the MAC, Ray Hutchinson, added

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

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

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

Monday 25th April 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

Professor Paul Moore, Director Future Screens NI, said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 6th April 2022 at 1pm 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

Prime Cut Productions
Funding amount offered: £10,000

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

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

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

Belfast Photo Festival
Funding amount offered: £9,985

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

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

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

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

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

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Contact Us

Wednesday 6th April 2022 at 11am 0 Comments

Chief Executive’s Office

Roisín McDonough
Chief Executive

chief@artscouncil-ni.org

Shirley Hanna
PA to Chief Executive

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

Diane Dillon
Assistant to Council & Directors

07500 559 260
ddillon@artscouncil-ni.org

Arts Development Department

Noirin McKinney
Director of Arts Development (Job Share)

nmckinney@artscouncil-ni.org

Gilly Campbell
Director of Arts Development (Job Share)

gcampbell@artscouncil-ni.org

Music

Ciaran Scullion
Head of Music

07500 559 269
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Joanne Wright
ADO Music & Traditional Arts

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Maria McAlister
ADO Traditional Arts incl Bands P/T

07500 559 273
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Shannon Downey
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Literature, Drama and Dance

Damian Smyth
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Alison McCrudden
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Caoileann Curry-Thompson
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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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