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Arts Council of Northern Ireland awards £13 million in core grants to sustain key arts organisations

Monday 24th May 2021 at 5pm 0 Comments

Northern Ireland Opera (L-R Norman Bowman, Melle Stewart, Jayne Wisener, Jack McCann) Image: Northern Ireland Opera (L-R Norman Bowman, Melle Stewart, Jayne Wisener, Jack McCann)

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) today (24 May 2021) announced annual funding of £13,005,025 for key arts organisations from its exchequer and National Lottery resources.

The Department for Communities has provided the Arts Council with an opening resource budget of more than £10m and £1.1m for capital projects for 2021/22.

The Arts Council’s Annual Funding Programme (AFP) is the most significant allocation of public funding for the arts in Northern Ireland each year.  Today the majority of Northern Ireland’s key arts organisations received standstill funding, primarily covering their core costs and programming costs, with seven arts organisations receiving strategic uplifts. 

Liam Hannaway, Chair, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,

“The Arts Council is making offers of annual funding to arts organisations across Northern Ireland, after one of the toughest years on record. I wish to recognise, with gratitude, the emergency financial support offered by the Minister for Communities, and distributed by the Arts Council, that helped sustain the arts and cultural sectors over the last 14 months.

“This year’s annual allocation of exchequer and National Lottery funding is largely standstill for most of our key arts organisations. In order to mitigate the continuing impact of Covid-19, we have already released upfront payments of 50% of last year’s grant to 97 applicants. This offers an element of stability to many amidst current programming and strategic uncertainty, as the sector prepares to reopen.

“I wish to congratulate all those who made successful applications.  The annual funding from the Arts Council is essential to the survival of the entire arts ecosystem in NI. Indeed the arts organisations we fund are supporting the livelihoods of many individual artists, technicians, and creatives who work within and around the entire arts sector.”

Looking ahead, the Chief Executive of the Arts Council, Roisín McDonough said,

“The challenge ahead is to help reopen the arts in NI, and to bring audiences back to live and in-person performances as soon as it’s safe to do so. We will support our partners in government to bid for additional funding and resources so that we can welcome people back to safe, live arts and to full, creative lives again.”

Commenting on the Department’s funding allocation to ACNI, Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey, said,

“The Annual Funding awards being made today are an important part of the foundations on which the work of our vital arts and creative sector is built.   These awards come at a point where the Executive has agreed a series of important relaxations that will make a real difference for participation in the arts and with the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce beginning its work.  Taken together these represent an important contribution to supporting the people and organisations who work across the arts to be able to do their important work.

“I recognise the pressure that continues to be felt financially, creatively and at a personal level across the creative community, even as we begin the process of reopening and recovery.  I also recognise that more support will be needed this year and so I was particularly pleased to welcome the Executive’s decision last week to allocate a further round of £13m Covid funding to Arts, Culture and Heritage to support the social recovery.”

A list of organisations offered Annual Funding in 2021/22 can be viewed on request, please contact or

The annual funding of £13,005,025 awarded can be broken down as follows:

  • Exchequer: £8,599,955
  • National Lottery: £4,405,070
  • Total 2021/22: £13,005,025


Some of those organisations offered funding include the following:

Organisation 2021/22 AFP funding offered (£)
Greater Shantallow Community Arts (GSCA), Derry-Londonderry 123,565
VOID, Derry-Londonderry 193,130
Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre, Fermanagh 47,415
The Armagh Rhymers, Armagh 55,290
Seacourt Print Workshop, Bangor 60,266
Theatre and Dance NI, Belfast 136,388
Grand Opera House, Belfast 375,880
Dún Uladh, Tyrone 32,722
Drake Music Project, Newry 51,224


Greater Shantallow Community Arts (GSCA), Derry-Londonderry
AFP funding offer: £123,565

Greater Shantallow Community Arts (GSCA) is a community organisation based in Derry-Londonderry and their aim is to provide direct access to the arts for those living in disadvantaged communities. The key objective of GSCA is to bring arts and cultural activity to areas of significant marginalisation and deprivation and address complex social issues like social exclusion, isolation, lack of opportunity and poverty. They are a trusted partner delivering key services to some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in their community. GSCA is core funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland which enables the organisation to offer a year-round programme of creative activities benefitting over 1400 people every week, delivered from their purpose-built, high-quality community arts centre, 'Studio 2'.

Greater Shantallow Community Arts has been offered an uplift in Arts Council AFP funding to support the employment of a dance officer to develop their dance offering within their three dance studios.

VOID, Derry-Londonderry
AFP funding offer: £193,130

Void is a contemporary art gallery, in Derry-Londonderry, that commissions and produces a visual arts programme that aims to challenge and promote the arts to new and existing audiences.

The programme supports a diverse range of artistic practices of national and international artists.  Void’s programme focuses on the collaborative nature of art and its ability to add to artistic discourse through exhibitions, events, discussions and partnerships. Through their commissions they work with a network of arts organisations both nationally and internationally to create specific projects.

Another key element of the gallery’s work is Void Engage, their learning and outreach programme, which places participation and engagement at the heart of Void, making contemporary visual art accessible to visitors of all ages.

Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre, Fermanagh
AFP funding offer: £47,415

Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre supports the development of dance and is the only professional and participatory dance organisation in Northern Ireland that is based in a rural location in Fermanagh.  The company has three primary areas of work including; professional dance performance locally and internationally, a programme of participatory and community development and a schools education programme that runs in conjunction with curriculum needs.  In response to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the company moved its participatory dance programme online and created two online festivals, Inside Out which took place in May and November 2020.  They also created an online movement programme for older people with limited movement.  The company is run by award-winning Artistic Director, Dylan Quinn.

Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre has been offered an uplift in Arts Council AFP funding to support the employment of a freelance dance administrator.

The Armagh Rhymers, Armagh
AFP funding offer: £55,290

The Armagh Rhymers deliver quality art to a variety of sectors in society, many from the most deprived backgrounds. A lot of their work takes place in schools providing quality storytelling & bespoke interactive plays using music, song, dance, puppets and masks.  They also take part in a wide range of events and festivals such as the Belfast Mela, Halloween in Derry-Londonderry and the Big Arts Festival in Ballycastle.  The Armagh Rhymers have also toured internationally in USA, China and Europe.

Seacourt Print Workshop, Bangor
AFP funding offer: £60,266

Seacourt Print Workshop is an open access printmaking studio in Bangor with fantastic resources, courses and workshops.  Users of the studio includes master printmakers, multidisciplinary artists, amateurs and those who print to improve their wellbeing.  Seacourt Print Workshop offers membership, courses and resources for all, as well as their self-arranged residency programme.  They also have a comprehensive health and wellbeing programme as well as an educational resource for schools.

Theatre and Dance NI, Belfast
AFP funding offer: £136,388

Theatre and Dance NI is a support agency for theatre and dance in Northern Ireland. The organisation is the product of a successful merger of Theatre NI and Dance Resource Base in 2020.  The organisation’s primary objectives are, to champion the theatre, dance and performing arts sectors, to support and champion all their members, and to work with their partners to advocate for a thriving theatre, dance and performing arts ecology in Northern Ireland and beyond. 

Theatre and Dance NI has been offered an uplift in Arts Council AFP funding to support the delivery of their mentorship, professional development and freelancer support programming. 

Grand Opera House, Belfast
AFP funding offer: £375,880

Belfast’s majestic Grand Opera House is a jewel in the crown of Northern Ireland’s arts scene and has been delivering laughter, tears and applause since 1895. Since opening its doors to the public for the first time more than a century ago, this beloved theatre has played host to some of the biggest names from the world of entertainment.  The Grand Opera House is currently closed for restoration and is scheduled to re-open in autumn 2021. 

Dún Uladh, Tyrone
AFP funding offer: £32,722

Dún Uladh is Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann’s Regional Resource Centre for the Meitheal Uladh Region. This region incorporates Counties Antrim, Derry-Londonderry, Donegal, Down & Tyrone. Dún Uladh, along with the 6 other Meitheal Regional Centres across Ireland, makes the Comhaltas vision to “give people genuine access to the traditional arts” a reality. This is a unique centre for authentic Irish traditions, promoting Irish music, song, dance, drama and other native art forms, situated in the heart of Ulster.

The centre provides facilities for Comhaltas members from across the region and across the Country. It hosts performances ranging from professionally produced concerts to informal sessions. The Centre also hosts music classes, seminars and workshops for musicians. 

Dún Uladh has been offered an uplift in Arts Council AFP funding to support an increase to full-time hours for a music and events officer.

Drake Music Project, Newry
AFP funding offer: £51,224

Drake Music Project Ireland provides access to independent music making for children and adults with complex disabilities. Workshops in composition and performance skills are afforded by the provision of adapted computer interfacing technology allowing people with disabilities the opportunity to express their creativity in an independent and controllable environment.


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