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Lizzie Devlin, Community Arts Officer at the Arts Council chats about the Anne O’Donoghue Award

Friday 9th August 2019 at 8am 0 Comments Community Arts

Pictured is Mervyn Smyth, 2019 recipient of the Anne O'Donoghue Award with Hanna Anderson, 2019 recipient of the Mike Moloney Award. Image: Pictured is Mervyn Smyth, 2019 recipient of the Anne O'Donoghue Award with Hanna Anderson, 2019 recipient of the Mike Moloney Award.

Lizzie Devlin, Community Arts Officer at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland talks to us about the Anne O’Donoghue Award and how to apply….(The application deadline is Thursday 15th August at 4pm.)

• Can you tell us what the Anne O’Donoghue Award is and how it came about?

The award was established to honour the legacy of Anne O’Donoghue, former Director of the Play Resource Warehouse (PRW) in Belfast who sadly passed away in 2012.  As an Arts Manager Anne transformed PRW, she was committed to very high standards of practice for the design and delivery of creative activities and educational projects with communities across Northern Ireland. Anne was also very committed to continued professional development of her team at PRW, community leaders, teachers and artists.

• Who can apply to the award?

This award is open to Arts Managers and Administrators currently in employment in a Northern Ireland-based Community Arts organisation and with at least four years’ experience working in the Community Arts sector. This can be any artform area of socially engaged practice. The scheme isn’t open to Free-lance Arts Administrators or Free-lance Project Co-ordinators, or Artists or anyone who has broken the conditions of previous Arts Council grant awards within the previous four years.

• What is community arts?

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland describes community arts as ‘The process of harnessing the transformative power of original artistic expression, producing a range of social, cultural and environmental outcomes’.

Community arts practice encourages the development and exchange of skills, experience and shared learning between artists and participants aiming to maximise the access, participation, authorship and ownership in collective arts practice.

The Arts Council is committed to ‘Inspiring local communities to engage in transformative, high-quality arts experiences’. We do this through supporting artists, arts and community organisations to develop and deliver high quality community arts projects or different types and artform areas of socially engaged practice in urban and rural areas in many different settings including arts centres, community centres, hospitals, prisons, schools, youth centres and public spaces.  

• What can you apply for?

The awards are for up to £5,000. Applicants can apply for fees and associated costs to attend specialist training courses, cultural  research and mentoring to support business/managerial skill development. Fees would also cover any arts based training if integral to professional development. Other costs eligible under the scheme would be travel, accommodation and subsistence and equipment and materials

• What type of evidence is required in the application?

If you are applying to the scheme you need to tell us about your experience of managing Community Arts based projects and how you have contributed to the community arts sector in Northern Ireland. This will be detailed in the application form and  individuals are also required to submit a History of Arts Management (CV). Applicants also need to provide a detailed information on their proposal e.g planned training, cultural research visits which is accompanied by a budget. Demonstrating how the proposal or planned training will make a real difference to your skills and career needs to be evidenced also ,so how new learning and experience will impact on you, your organisation and artistic programmes in communities. Applicants will need to submit a letter of support from the Chair of their organisation and if collaborating with a national or international organisation a letter of invitation or support.

• Can you tell us about some of the previous recipients?

Cath McBride, Director of In Space Circus Company in Derry used her award to develop new skills in creative income generation, running a social enterprise, sustainability and diversifying funding.  She undertook a year-long mentoring programme with an Arts Consultant and conducted two study/research visits to Chickenshed in London, an inclusive theatre company for all ages and SeaChange Arts in Great Yarmouth.

Ray Giffen, Events Manager at the Duncairn arts and cultural centre in Belfast, used his award to broaden and develop a strategic approach to arts management and to establish a mentoring and advice network with organisations in New York. This included collaborative working with the New York Irish centre and  a number of pioneering performing and youth arts centres.

Mervyn Smyth, Community Engagement Manager at Belfast Exposed Photography. In his role in Belfast Exposed Meryn has pioneered socially engaged models of photography including ‘Therapeutic photography practice’ in the area of mental health. His award has enabled him to undertake a mentoring programme with a Manager within one of the Health and Social Care Trusts in NI and to engage in arts programme with people with complex mental health conditions.

• Why would you encourage people to apply?

The Anne O’Donoghue award is the Arts Council's only funding scheme specifically for Arts Managers in community and participatory arts. Many of our arts organisations in NI do not have a budget for staff training. This scheme is a unique professional development opportunity to develop new skills through, training, mentoring, research or site visits to investigate new models of socially engaged practice outside of Northern Ireland. This not only enhances individuals future career development but benefits the organisation where the Arts Manager is based and ultimately the quality of arts provision in communities.

• How can you apply? 

Individuals interested in applying to the scheme are required  to contact  one of ACNI’s Participatory Arts Team to discuss the application.
Lizzie Devlin tel: 028 92623513 and
Gilly Campbell tel: 028  92623504 and
Gavin O’Connor tel: 028 92623539 and

• What's the deadline?

The application is an on-line process see guidance notes and the deadline is Thursday 15th August at 4pm.


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