Arts Council of Northern Ireland

The Funding and Development Agency
for The Arts in Northern Ireland

028 9262 3555


The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is the lead development agency for the arts in Northern Ireland

The Arts Council was originally established in 1962 as a successor to the Committee for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) which had operated since 1942. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (1994), a company limited by guarantee, ceased activity in August 1995.

The new Arts Council became a statutory body on 1st September 1995. Its functions are set out in Article 4 of the Arts Council ( Northern Ireland) Order 1995:

(1) The functions of the Arts Council shall be -

(a) to develop and improve the knowledge, appreciation and practice of the arts;
(b) to increase public access to, and participation in, the arts;
(c) to advise the Department and other government departments, district councils and other
bodies on matters relating to the arts; and
(d) such other functions as are conferred on the Council by any other statutory provision.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (1), the Arts Council may, for the purposes
of those functions -

(a) encourage and assist - 
(i) the provision of arts facilities and events; and
(ii) the co-ordination and efficient use of resources for the arts;
(b) provide financial assistance to persons or bodies;
(c) receive donations and make charges for its services;
(d) organise or assist in the organisation of, conferences, seminars and courses of training;
(e) assist the provision of administrative services and training for or by any body providing
facilities for, or in connection with, the arts;
(f) provide and manage arts facilities;
(g) print, publish and disseminate information relating to the arts;
(h) visit other parts of the United Kingdom and other countries;
(i) co-operate with other bodies established within the United Kingdom or outside the United
(j) carry out, or assist or co-operate with other persons in carrying out, research into and
studies concerning matters relating to the arts.

(3) It shall be the duty of the Arts Council to consult regularly with district councils on the
exercise by the Council of its functions.

(4) In addition, the Arts Council shall make provision for regular consultation with members of
district councils on the development of the arts.

(5) The reference in paragraph (3) to the functions of the Arts Council does not include a reference
to national lottery functions.

In addition, the Arts Council has statutory functions under the National Lottery Act 1993 as amended by the National Lottery Act 1998.

Conduct of Business

In setting up a statutory body rather than a voluntary body, the government emphasised both the importance of the arts to society in Northern Ireland and the centrality of the Arts Council itself in the development of the arts. The Council does not devolve responsibility down to committees, as was previously the case, but consults panels of external advisers before making decisions regarding grants, awards, scholarships and bursaries.