Rural art projects in Northern Ireland get £1.5m boost

Young people taking part in workshops run by arts organisation Glasgowbury
13 Jun 2022

New art fund launches to address needs of local rural communities as they emerge from the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Arts Council Northern Ireland to fund support for older people

24 May 2022

Funding applications are now open for community groups, arts organisations and councils across Northern Ireland who wish to take part in the Arts and Older People Programme.

Established in 2010 by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the programme challenges perceptions of what it means to be an older person. It is designed to tackle loneliness and promote positive mental health among older people through the arts.

The latest round of the programme, in partnership with the National Lottery, will award £200,000 of funding in grants of up to £10,000 to support projects benefitting older people.

“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,” said Lorraine Calderwood, Arts Programmes Officer of Arts Council of Northern Ireland. 

She said that recent rounds of the programme have “focused on delivering arts activity within care home settings, working with residents living with dementia and their carers,” and encouraged organisations across the region to apply.

To date, the programme has provided £2m of funding to community organisations and voluntary groups, resulting in the delivery of over 200 arts projects.

Applications for this latest round of funding will close on 7 July.

Culture in Northern Ireland benefits from unclaimed accounts

16 Mar 2022

Cultural organisations in Northern Ireland will receive a share of £1.3m of unclaimed money through the Dormant Accounts Fund.

Among the recipients are volunteer-led Hearth Historic Buildings Trust and Terra Nova Productions, the country's only professional intercultural theatre production company.

Belfast Tool Library received £99,843 to recruit volunteers and generate more income through workshops and memberships.

“This will allow us to become more financially sustainable and secure our future,” Chair Neal Campbell said.

Since its inception, the fund has delivered £8m to 89 organisations across the arts, sports, charities and community-based organisations.

“Dormant Accounts money continues to make a significant difference in building resilience in non-for-profit organisations addressing social and economic need in our local communities.” said Paul Sweeney, National Lottery Community Fund NI Chair.

NI care home project reached 900 people

09 Mar 2022

900 older people benefitted from an Arts Council of Northern Ireland programme in care homes last year.

The funder reports the fifth iteration of its scheme helped reduce isolation and loneliness and promote mental wellbeing. About half of the programme's projects delivered at least some of their work online, making it more widely available than it had been previously.

First piloted in 2009, it is a core National Lottery-funded programme worth £109,000 in 2021 and more than £2m over its lifespan.

"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," Arts Programme Officer Lorraine Calderwood said.

An evaluation report this week demonstrates the scheme's positive effects and the "swift, innovative thinking" of those who delivered it, Calderwood added.


£10m jobs and skills fund in Northern Ireland

02 Feb 2022

Northern Ireland’s creative industries are set to benefit from a share of a £10m jobs and skills fund.

The Covid Recovery Programme Employment & Skills Initiative will support community services, including arts, heritage and creative industries, in their recovery from Covid-19.

The three-year commitment is the first multi-year investment into these industries' recovery in Northern Ireland and a direct response to the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce Report commissioned by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey.

Hargey said the initiative will fund new entry level jobs and increase the capacity of existing staff.

“This should bolster organisations to better survive and thrive post pandemic,and therefore help stabilise these sectors to continue to deliver their services for the public good.”

Londonderry project to address climate change

31 Jan 2022

An arts-based community project aims to change behaviours towards climate change in Northern Ireland.

Led by Derry theatre The Playhouse, Artitude: Climate, Culture, Circularity has £150,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund to tackle environmental topics including waste and net zero targets.

The 18-month project will culminate in Artitude Festival 2023, timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Londonderry’s stint as the inaugural UK City of Culture.

Playhouse Chief Executive Kevin Murphy says research conducted throughout will help form new environmental targets for the area.

“This project will give a clear path to the future and help people who want to take action to know what to do. As a community, we are positively choosing to help sustain our planet’s climate.”

ACNI opens £40k digital art fund

12 Jan 2022

A new funding opportunity supporting digital art is live in Northern Ireland.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s (ACNI) Organisations Digital Evolution Awards is aimed at those making digital art for the first time or working with digital technology they have not used previously.

Organisations can apply for grants of up to £10,000, with £40,000 available in total. Applications are open until February 14, with decisions expected by April 4.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the council's Creative Industries Officer if they wish to discuss the eligibility of their project concepts.

“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,” Chief Executive Roisin McDonough said.

Support local arts this Christmas, ACNI says

15 Dec 2021

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) is urging people to support their local artists and arts venues this Christmas.

More than half of the country's cultural workforce remains at significant risk of redundancy, according to the findings of a recent taskforce.

People who are yet to use their £100 Spend Local cards should consider spending it on the arts, ACNI Director of Development Noirin McKinney said.

The council offers interest free loans for art and musical instrument purchases, or people could buy gig and theatre tickets or book themselves on a creative course for the new year.

"There's much to choose from and I would encourage everyone to spend local this festive season," McKinney added.

£2.7m recovery funding for Northern Irish artists

06 Dec 2021

1,433 artists working in Northern Ireland will share £2.7m in emergency funding.

The final wave of the £5m Creative Individual Recovery Programme (CIRP) has been delivered by Arts Council Northern Ireland (ACNI) on behalf of the Department of Communities.

Successful applicants were awarded up to £2,000 to undertake activity linked to their practice or art form.

The annoucement follows recent calls for further support to the sector, after Covid-19 erased a quarter of the country's creative workforce

ACNI Chief Executive Roisin McDonough said the money means artists won't be forced to find alternative work.

“That would take Northern Ireland years to recover from.”

NI schools funded to work with professional artists

30 Nov 2021

Eleven schools in Northern Ireland will each receive funding to hire professional artists.

£15,000 has been awarded by the Creative Schools Partnership, a combination of National Lottery, Education Authority and NI Executive funding, across the schools' proposals.

Projects include screenwriting, dance, photography, filmmaking and music composition. Grants will cover two years' work.

First Minister Paul Givan said: “This successful partnership has already seen hundreds of children engage with the programme within post-primary schools in urban villages areas.

“The young people have benefited from this innovative arts-based approach, which has supported curriculum learning and improved their educational outcomes.”


Plea to save NI arts from urgent 'threats to very existence'

23 Nov 2021

An anticipated £13m in Executive support may not be enough, as more than half the sector's jobs remain at risk.

Covid cuts Northern Ireland arts workforce by a quarter

22 Nov 2021

A quarter of Northern Ireland's arts workforce has been lost to Covid-19.

The number of people employed by arts organisations in the country fell 25% in the 2020/21 financial year, according to Arts Council Northern Ireland’s (ACNI) annual funding survey.

Covid restrictions meant just 59 in-person arts activities took place that year compared to 67,000 in 2019/20. Total income fell by £4.5m (9%) and earned income by £16m (69%).

Losses were offset by a 22% increase in income from public sources. ACNI delivered £12.9m in grants to 97 arts organisations last financial year, the same number as the year prior.

ACNI Director of Strategic Development and Partnerships Karly Greene said that though online events grew, they were no replacement for the income generated by live events.

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

Ireland brings in vaccine passports

17 Nov 2021

People attending the theatre or cinemas in the Republic of Ireland must show proof of vaccination from Thursday (November 18).

Pubs, nightclubs and restaurants must close by midnight in a bid to curb rising Covid-19 case numbers.

Echoing his contemporaries in Scotland, Wales and more recently, Northern Ireland, Taioseach Michael Martin said vaccine passports are a "proportionate and effective" approach.

Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann has proposed introducing the passports in cultural venues and other spaces with more than 500 attendees by mid-December.

England is still holding out, with no word on whether ministers will activate the country's Plan B for winter.

Armagh seeks local views on City of Culture bid

16 Nov 2021

Residents of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough are being asked to contribute their opinion on the local City of Culture 2025 bid.

An online survey asks locals what culture means to them, which cultural activities they engage in and their thoughts on three possible bid themes: traditions for the future, provoking thought, and healing.

Information from the survey will help develop the final bid to DCMS in February.

As Northern Ireland’s only representative on the City of Culture 2025 longlist, Armagh 2025 says it aims to make the shortlist of three cities. 

“Bidding for the title is already providing a positive focus for change, sparking a renewed sense of pride, and securing new initiatives and investment potential for the region,” Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Glenn Barr said.

Arts Council NI and British Council extend partnership

02 Nov 2021

Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council have extended their partnership to 2024.

Now in their tenth year of working together, the two bodies aim to develop Northern Ireland’s arts sector internationally.

The partnership does this by supporting international showcases and running an annual £50,000 Artist Development Fund.

British Council Arts Director, Skinder Hundal, says the two organisations have mapped out a clear framework for continued international cultural dialogue and exchange.

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

Older women dancing

a woman dancing
26 Oct 2021

What is it like to perform as an older woman in an industry obsessed with youth? Sandy Cuthbert shares her experience of returning to the stage with ‘Epilogue’.

City of Culture 2025 a 'springboard' regardless of longlist

11 Oct 2021

The challenge now for some of the latecomers will be completing years' worth of planning in weeks.

Northern Ireland's arts engagement drops to 12 year low

06 Oct 2021

The number of adults engaging in arts and culture in Northern Ireland has fallen once again.

Continuous Household Survey data for 2020/21 shows 81% of adults engaged in arts and culture in the last 12 months, compared to 87% in 2019/20. 

This year's figure represents the lowest recorded for engagement in arts and culture since 2008/09.

Despite the overall decrease, the number of adults using public libraries increased from 23% to 28%.

The number of adults visiting a museum or science centre remained stable at 37%.

This year's report is the first to record engagement against deprivation. 84% of adults living in Northern Ireland's least deprived areas engaged in arts and culture compared to 78% living in the most deprived areas.

Northern Ireland drops social distancing in arts spaces

28 Sep 2021

Northern Ireland is set to remove a one-metre social distancing rule in all settings bar hospitality.

The move will be welcomed by theatres and music venues, which had complained the restriction was financially unviable.

On Monday (September 27), the country's Executive decided instead to rely on guidance and mandatory use of masks in cultural spaces.

Arts Council of Northern Ireland Chief Executive Roisin McDonough said it was "an important step forward" and "a very positive sign that the wider arts and culture sectors in Northern Ireland are now on the journey to recovery at last".

"I know all those working in and around the arts sector will continue to enact every safety measure needed to welcome back audiences, they have been much missed."

Venues are being asked to ensure attendees are fully vaccinated or have proof of a negative lateral flow test; however there is no legal mandate.

Indoor concerts are allowed, though people must be seated.

The change of policy will take effect at 6pm on Thursday (September 30).


NI venues press Executive for full reopening date

21 Sep 2021

Music and theatre venues are calling for Northern Ireland's Executive to end its one-metre social distancing rule.

The restriction has meant many venues are yet to reopen, with those hosting events saying they are not financially viable.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without a full reopening date for indoor venues, or the ability to operate without capacity restrictions.

Stormont ministers are scheduled to meet on Thursday (23 September) to discuss further.

Concert promoter Joe Dougan said: "We urgently need our Executive to provide a full reopening date, remove social distancing requirements, and allow us to plan for the coming months. We are confident this can be done safely”.


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