Rural arts in Northern Ireland get £500k boost

26 Oct 2022

Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) has distributed £500,000 in the latest round of its Rural Engagement Arts Programme (REAP).

The funding has been split between 73 community groups, arts organisations and local authorities in rurally based communities. Funded projects span music, theatre, heritage and the visual arts, supporting different age groups to become engaged in creative activities.

ACNI consulted its Rural Deliberative Forum, a pilot project established in November 2021 designed to give a voice to under-represented groups, and Northern Ireland’s 10 local authorities outside of Belfast when designing the latest REAP round.

The overarching theme of the programme is to tackle isolation and loneliness and promote social inclusion and wellbeing through participation in the arts.

ACNI Chair Liam Hannaway said the effects of the pandemic and resulting lockdowns had been compounded in rural communities.

“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,” Hannaway added.

“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.”

Museums 'scaling down activity' to survive

A steam engine at Leeds Industrial Museum
13 Oct 2022

Survey of museums highlights concerns about fixed-term energy contracts ending and the inability of organisations to absorb high energy costs if they persist for the long term.

Digital skills fund opens in Northern Ireland

12 Oct 2022

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has opened a funding programme that aims to give arts organisations the skills to create digital art.

The Organisations Digital Evolution Awards offers grants of up to £10,000 for those making digital art for the first time, or working with digital or immersive technology they have not previously used.

The scheme will support a range of digital activity including: app development, virtual or augmented reality works, 3D rendering and printing, and the translation of digital data into artworks.

Collaborative applications from organisations working together in cross-discipline projects are encouraged. Funded by the National Lottery, the total fund is worth £40,000.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “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 scheme has opened to online applications and closes at midday on Monday 14 November.

African arts group launches in Northern Ireland

03 Oct 2022

An arts group planning to showcase African talent living in Northern Ireland and aid community cohesion has launched.

The collective, which aims to be a platform for artists, dancers and musicians, is being established by charity Africa House Northern Ireland which represents the interests of African organisations and individuals across the country.

Cuthbert Tura Arutura of Africa House said African artists felt they were unable to make an impact individually and secure work.

“We have seen that African and Irish people have a lot of shared experiences and art is a way to express that,” he said.

“This type of initiative addresses the isolation some arriving in Northern Ireland, and is also another way that people can network.

“It is all about empowerment.”

African and Northern Ireland artists will gather on Wednesday 5 October to mark the forming of the group at the Markets Community Centre in Belfast.

King Charles III and the arts

Charles III with crowd of people in the background
13 Sep 2022

A noted fan of art, theatre and opera, Charles III also has a track record of using the arts to transform lives.

Arts Council NI awards £53k to nine projects

12 Sep 2022

A total of £53,000 has been awarded to nine arts projects as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Small Grants funding programme. 

The money will be used to support projects in Armagh, Bangor, Craigavon, Downpatrick and the Fermanagh area.

The Small Grants Programme offers up to £10,000 per applicant to support organisations in Northern Ireland running creative community-based projects, as part of an effort to increase engagement with the arts.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said the grants would support nine “fantastic” projects, “creating more opportunities for people to engage with the arts, from grassroots level projects through to professional productions”.

The nine organisations being funded are Armagh Pipers Club, Banbridge Music Society, Shore Collective, Music in Fermanagh, Mid-Armagh Community Network, North Down Community Network, Patrician Youth Centre and Harmony Community Trust.

New digital fund for artists in Northern Ireland

31 Aug 2022

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) has launched a £40,000 fund to support artists working with digital technology.

The Individual Artists Digital Evolution Awards are open to artists who are making digital art for the first time, or are working with digital or immersive technology they have not previously used. 

The scheme will fund a range of digital practices, including work that involves the creation of a virtual or augmented reality environment; the use of 3D rendering and printing technology; the translation of data into artistic works; and app development for the delivery of artistic content. Individuals can apply for grants up to £10,000. 

Karly Greene, ACNI Director of Strategic Development, said: “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 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.”
The programme opened for online applications on 30 August and will close on Friday 30 September.

Next Prime Minister urged to reform ACE

The door of Number 10 Downing Street
22 Aug 2022

Equity calls on Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to reform the system of arts councils across the UK and adopt regional structures, whichever of them becomes Prime Minister.

Arts Council NI funding streams target individual artists

26 Jul 2022

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has opened a range of funding programmes to support the work of individual artists as part of its Support for Individual Artists Programme (SIAP).

The programme provides funding to artists at all career stages, working across all artforms both domestically and internationally.

The funds now open for applications include the General Arts Award, which funds “specific projects, specialised research, personal artistic development and certain materials and equipment”; the Artists Career Enhancement Scheme, which offers training and mentoring to support the professional development of career artists; and the Artists International Development Fund, an annual programme that supports overseas opportunities for individual, freelance and self-employed artists and organisations.

Artists can apply to more than one scheme but will not be awarded more than one grant per funding round. The deadline for funding applications is August 30.

The SIAP Major Individual Awards is also open for applications until August 15. The scheme supports established artists with national or international recognition to develop “extended or ambitious work”, covering specific projects, specialised research, personal artistic development and materials and equipment.

The SIAP Minority Ethnic Residency and Mentoring Programme is accepting applications until August 22. The scheme is designed to create opportunities for “specialised training, research, cultural exchanges, networking and learning for individual artists, creative practitioners and arts administrators from minority ethnic and migrant backgrounds”.

The SIAP Travel Awards, a rolling programme, is accepting applications for individual artists and music groups of up to four members to visit a host organisation outside Northern Ireland to develop skills and expertise.

Pandemic research informs future of NI museums 

25 Jul 2022

New research shows that “the pandemic was a time to reassess museum purpose and find new ways of keeping relevant”, said Elizabeth Crooke, Professor of Museum and Heritage Studies at Ulster University.

Researchers at the university have spent two years investigating the sector’s response to the pandemic as part of the Museums, Crisis and Covid-19 initiative, funded by UK Research and Innovation. 

The research focused on how museums can contribute to community resilience and wellbeing. Its recommendations are expected to help support museums, funders and policymakers build on experience learned through the pandemic.

Three separate reports focus on distinct areas: museums and the pandemic (revisiting purposes and priorities); museums and community wellbeing; and museums, Covid and digital media (innovation, engagement and practice).

“This research project found evidence of an innovative and engaged museum sector, committed to new and established audiences,” said Crooke.

“The Northern Ireland museum sector has proved itself agile, able to adapt its services at the most challenging times.”

Crooke added that future priorities, informed by the project, include “reaching new audiences; addressing museum purposes for changed social, economic and political landscapes; and deepening museum links with communities and the issues that matter to them”.

Stella Byrne, Head of Investment  at the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Northern Ireland, said that the research “has helped the National Lottery Heritage Fund to better understand the infrastructure needs of the sector and tailor our emergency funding responses. It will also guide our future support for the sector”.

National Lottery: DCMS predicts £65m boost for good causes

05 Jul 2022

Good causes set to benefit by at least £65m a year under new contractual arrangements due to begin in 2024.

Young people curate exhibition at Ulster Museum

05 Jul 2022

Young people aged 16 to 25 have helped to curate a new exhibition at Ulster Museum in Belfast, assembling objects that represent their experiences, interests and opinions.

The exhibition was spearheaded by Reimagine Remake Replay, a creative programme that has connected over 4,000 young people with heritage through creative media and the latest digital technologies. It is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Kick the Dust programme.

A group of young people who have been active in the programme were selected to work on the exhibition Power to the Young People. 

The exhibition is based on themes including climate justice, arts and wellbeing and LGBTQIA+ rights, which developed naturally as a reflection of the priorities, interests and concerns of the young co-curators. It took a year to put together and features creative activities and digital interactives including a VR experience, a bespoke AR app and projection mapping.

“The programme recognises that this age group is under-served within heritage and within museums, so, for us being here is not just about the content, it’s also about changing the experience,” Niamh Kelly, Project Assistant and Youth Ambassador for Reimagine Remake Replay, told the Belfast Telegraph.

“It’s about making it more of a space that reflects young people, where they actually can see something that not just appeals to them, but speaks to them and is something that they want to get involved in.”

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.


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