£261k has been awarded to eleven of the Arts Council’s annually funded organisations through its new Sustainability Fund.

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Greater Shantallow Community Arts

Eleven annually funded arts organisations in Northern Ireland will benefit from an extra injection of cash to help them build resilience in their organisations and the wider arts sector.

Arts organisations will use grants from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s (ACNI) new Sustainability Fund to pilot a new audience intelligence system, build audiences for the visual arts sector and carry out a sustainability study for the theatre and performing arts sector.

The largest grant, of £50k, was awarded to the Lyric Theatre to allow it to hire a new Literary Director. The successful candidate will develop a policy of new writing for the theatre, identifying and evaluating material for the Lyric and the wider sector in Northern Ireland.

Jimmy Fay, the Lyric’s Executive Producer, hopes the role “will be a great asset to both the Lyric and the wider drama sector in Northern Ireland.”

Other grants awarded through the Fund include:

  • £40k to Audiences NI to pilot a new audience intelligence system
  • £22k to Visual Arts Ireland to undertake an audience development initiative for the visual arts sector
  • £10k to Arts & Business NI for business development and the creation of new web-based arts resources
  • £13k to Theatre NI to carry out a sustainability study for the theatre and performing arts sector
  • £36k to Greater Shantallow Community Arts for the development of its business model, supporting its new arts hub in Derry city
  • £13k to Belfast-based Cahoots NI theatre Company to undertake commercialisation and market development projects.

In total, £261k has been awarded from ACNI’s National Lottery funds, through grants of between £10k and £50k.

“The Arts Council has responded to the pressures facing our core arts organisations, many of which are struggling to survive after a succession of cuts to government funding,” said Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of ACNI.

“Whether through collaboration, mergers, new partnerships or new business models, we hope the National Lottery funding we have awarded, can help these core arts organisations to sustain the important work they deliver for the benefit of many in our society.”

Audiences NI’s Chief Executive, Margaret Henry, said she thought the audience intelligence system Audience NI will be piloting “has great potential to help many arts and culture organisations here improve their understanding of audience behaviours”.

“We hope this investment will help us future-proof our business,” she added. “Audience intelligence is at the heart of what we do and we hope this pilot brings us closer to ensuring it’s at the heart of what the arts and culture sector does too.”

Arts & Business NI will use its grant to create a series of short films and downloadable toolkits for the arts sector. Chief Executive Mary Trainor-Nagele said: “They will support arts managers in key areas of fundraising and income generation, on topics such as fundraising strategy, sponsorship, governance and building your case for support.”

ACNI launched the Sustainability Programme last November and told AP: “We would consider rolling out Sustainability Funding in the next financial year if there were both significant need and sufficient resources available to the Arts Council to do so.”

A photo of Frances Richens