Arts Council of Northern Ireland

The Funding and Development Agency
for The Arts in Northern Ireland

028 9262 3555

Funding for Organisations
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Rural Engagement Arts Programme

Sorry, this scheme is closed. If you need help please contact us

The purpose of the Rural Engagement Arts Programme (REAP) is to provide an integrated, cohesive approach to the needs of local rural communities as they emerge from the global Covid pandemic, recognising the specific issues they face as a result.

The overarching theme is combatting isolation and loneliness, and promoting social inclusion. The pandemic and the resulting lockdowns across the UK have taken a toll on individual lives, with mental health and well-being adversely affected as families and friends were separated for sustained periods of time. Intergenerational family relationships being particularly affected. This has been compounded in rural communities which are characterised by smaller and more dispersed populations.

There are many ways to define and differentiate between loneliness and social isolation:

  • Loneliness, which can affect any age group, is the ‘subjective, unpleasant and distressing phenomenon stemming from a discrepancy between individuals’ desired and achieved levels of social relations’
  • Social isolation is ‘an imposed isolation from normal social networks caused by loss of mobility or deteriorating health’

The impact that loneliness and social isolation can have on the physical, mental and social health of isolated older people in particular is well documented. The Campaign to End Loneliness points to research which shows that lacking social connections is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Lonely individuals are more likely to visit their GP, use more medication and have a higher incidence of falls. They are also more likely to enter early into residential or nursing care.

The Arts Council believes that arts, and coming together as communities, can all make a vital contribution to building health, confidence and healthy integrated communities.

The Arts Council has worked in tandem with local authority community development and arts officers to ensure as far as possible that access to the funding available is widely disseminated.

Groups can apply for one-off projects or for a programme of events. Projects do not have to be new: existing programmes which are successful and meet the strategic themes of REAP are eligible.

The definition of rural is outlined in Appendix 1 in the guidance notes below and is taken from the NISRA review of statistical classification and delineation of settlements in March 2015. While engagement must be targeted at rural communities as defined here, Local Authorities and other groups based in urban areas may apply for programmes to be delivered in rural communities.

Who can apply?

We welcome applications from the widest possible range of organisations. You will be required to provide proof that you have a legal constitution.

  • Registered charities and other organisations which cannot distribute profits
  • Groups of organisations working together to deliver specific projects
  • Formally constituted parent-teacher associations
  • Local Authorities
  • Arts Organisations
  • Organisations based in Republic of Ireland border communities are eligible to apply, however, any proposed project must benefit people living in rural communities in Northern Ireland.

Applications from single organisations are permissible, but should demonstrate partnership working. Consortium applications demonstrating partnership working will be prioritised. Partnerships might include sector providers such as rural development organisations, older people’s providers and agencies, arts organisations or Local Authorities.

For partnership/consortium applications, a single organisation must be the lead applicant (ie.the group in whose name the application is submitted, to whom the grant will be awarded and who will be accountable for delivering the project and reporting on it to ACNI). You must clearly identify in the application form which organisation you are partnering with.

How much can you apply for?

You can apply for an award between £500 and £10,000 for a project.

What you can apply for

You can apply for the following eligible costs, which are indicative and not limited to:

  • Costs of artists and tutors (including fees , accommodation, subsistence (capped at £15 per day and will be paid through any funding awarded), travel. If applying for artists and/or tutor costs, you must supply the CVs / biography / history of artistic practice)
  • Transport costs, including vehicle hire (this could be to transport participants to courses/activities, for example)
  • Existing programmes which meet the criteria of the scheme are eligible – but only for activity which will not begin prior to decision letters.
  • Materials
  • Travel expenses within Northern Ireland – please note Arts Council has a maximum allowance of 0.27p per mile. If applicants are partnering with organisations in border communities and the project would necessitate travel across the border, this additional travel is eligible within reason.
  • Equipment hire
  • Volunteer expenses
  • Venue hire for workshops, training, rehearsals and performance
  • Publicity and marketing costs
  • Evaluation costs
  • Participation, education and outreach work in film and media
  • Equipment costs to a maximum value of 50% of your requested amount.
    Equipment items will only be considered if identified as essential within your project and where it is vital for its successful delivery. Arts Council will not fund equipment only projects. Contributions towards laptops or PCs will be up to a maximum of £1,200; and, towards tablets, up to £500.

Please note: the above list of eligible activity is not exhaustive. If you have a project idea and are unsure if whether it would be eligible for funding, please contact the relevant artform team for guidance.

Guidance Notes

Download Guidance Notes here

Download Project Budget Template here.

How to apply?

You must apply using our online system. We will not accept applications in hard copy or by email.

  • Online applications may be edited, saved and returned up to the closing date.
  • You must submit all mandatory enclosures associated with the application at the same time as your application, ie. they must be uploaded to your online application prior to its submission. These enclosures are listed on the Attachments page within the online application and are detailed below.
  • Please ensure that you leave sufficient time to upload all documents to the system as there can be long delays as the closing deadline approaches and the system will shut down at 12 noon precisely on the closing date, Thursday, 28 July 2022. If your complete application is not fully uploaded when the system closes, your application will not be accepted.
  • If you submit your application by the closing deadline, you will receive an automated email advising that your application has been successfully submitted to the system. If you do not receive this email, your application has not been submitted.

Please remember that it is your responsibility to ensure that we receive the application form and uploaded enclosures by the closing time and date.