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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice

Friday 3rd July 2020 at 4pm 0 Comments

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This page contains the latest guidance for the arts sector on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We will update this page as the situation develops.

 

Updated: 1 July 2020

Minister announces £4 million lifeline for the arts

Communities Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, today (Wednesday 1st July 2020) announced a major £4 million lifeline for the arts sector as part of the Executive’s June Monitoring round.

The additional funding will provide a much needed boost for the sector including musicians, performers and cultural workers, arts venues and museums as they rebuild for the future following the devastating impact of Covid-19.

Read the Minister’s news release here

 

Updated: 29 June 2020

Culture and Heritage Destinations Venues - Department for Communities' Guidance for a Phased Return

To support the reopening of our culture and heritage venues and destinations, the Department for Communities has developed a guidance note to sit under the Working Safely in the Visitor Economy guidance being produced by the Department for the Economy.

The document offers high-level guidance for organisations in Northern Ireland that manage culture and heritage destinations and venues that are open to the public. These include museums, art galleries, libraries, archives, historic buildings, historic gardens, historic monuments, cinemas, concert halls, art centres and theatres.

 

Updated: 23 June 2020

Arts Council of Northern Ireland today opened its Support for the Individual Artist Programme and is accepting applications for General Art Awards. 

Artists of all disciplines and in all types of working practice, who have made a contribution to artistic activities in Northern for a minimum of one year within the last five years, may apply.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the exceptional circumstances this has created, applications are welcomed from artists who are currently in receipt of Arts Council’s support through its existing Support for Individual Artists Programme. Applications can be made for project assistance up to a maximum award of £3,000. Applicants are asked to give careful consideration to the feasibility, timing and presentation of their project given current Covid-19 restrictions. Deadline for applications: Friday 24th July 2020 at 4pm

http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/SIAP

 

Updated: 9 June 2020

£15.5m COVID-19 Charities Fund to help NI charities facing financial difficulties as a result of the current public health emergency, to open on Monday 15th June 2020.

The funding programme will provide financial support to charities which have lost income due to the impact of COVID-19 and are unable to cover unavoidable costs until September 30th 2020.

The programme will provide up to £75,000 for eligible organisations and will be administered on behalf of the Department for Communities by The National Lottery Community Fund.  The amount of funding required to cover immediate costs and prevent short term closure will vary for each organisation.

https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/news/ps155m-fund-support-charity-sector-during-covid-19-crisis-open-monday

 

Updated: 8 June 2020

UK Businesses: COVID-19 support packages & guidance
The Arts Council's auditors, ASM, have produced a summary report to help our clients navigate the COVID-19 support provided by government.  The information is for guidance purposes and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or arts organisation.  ASM can be contacted at caroline.keenan@asmbelfast.com.

The Arts Council is offering organisations free advice sessions on government support available for arts sector, with the expertise of ASM. Sessions will take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays over the coming weeks. Please email s.hanna@artscouncil-ni.org now to request a 30-minute slot, starting this Wednesday.

Approaching deadlines

NI Micro-business Hardship fund
Micro businesses and social enterprises have until 6pm on Friday 12th June to make an application to this scheme.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Businesses and organisations have until Wednesday 10th June to furlough employees for the first time.

 

Updated: 2 June 2020

Arts Council opens Organisations Emergency Programme for applications.

The Arts Council has co-designed this emergency support programme which reflects the Minister’s priorities with financial support from the Department for Communities to support the wider cultural sector. The primary objective of the programme is to support the continuance of creative work AND assist operational costs where necessary.  The programme seeks to assist small to medium scale organisations to explore ways of working that will help them to adapt and respond to the current changing circumstances. It will also aim to assist organisations most in need due to loss of income or operational capacity up to 31 March 2021, enabling them to continue to develop and/or deliver activities. Closing date of 4pm on Friday 12 June 2020. Further information at http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/organisations-emergency-programme

 

Updated: 27 May 2020

Arts Council Chief Executive gives Covid-19 update to Communities Committee, Stormont

The Arts Council of NI (ACNI) was invited to apprise the Communities Committee of the NI Assembly today (Wednesday 27th May 2020) of the impact of Covid-19 on the Arts in NI. In both a written submission, and an opening statement  Roisín Mc Donough, Chief Executive, outlined the severe impact of Covid-19 on an arts sector that previously generated £53 million in income and employed an estimated 7,500 people - income and jobs which had been seriously damaged by the pandemic. She evidenced sectoral surveys undertaken during Covid-19 lockdown which revealed significant loss of earnings to both organisations and artists, the majority of whom are self-employed in a gig economy and most vulnerable of all.

Continue reading http://artscouncil-ni.org/news/arts-council-chief-executive-gives-covid-19-update-to-communities-committee

Updated: 26 May 2020

Creative Support Fund announced for Small to Medium sized organisations

Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey MLA, has announced a new Creative Support Fund worth £500,000 of public funding to support Small to Medium sized arts organisations in Northern Ireland during the Coronavirus crisis.

The fund will open for applications on Monday.

More information will be available on June 1st 2020 from artscouncil-ni.org/funding

Updated: 14 May 2020

Arts Council of Northern Ireland - Box-Office Survey

The sector wide survey carried out by the Arts Council in March established the immediate impacts of Covid-19 on the whole sector.  It found that a number of organisations were heavily reliant on box-office sales, an income stream which has been hit hard since the lockdown.

To demonstrate the vital role they play in the sector and the wider Northern Ireland economy, in 2018/19, core funded organisations combined to generate £12.3m through box-office income, by far the largest since source of income.

It is important we find out more about the scale and nature of box-office losses as a result of the COVID-19 virus, so we can engage with government and the philanthropic sector in an informed way.

We invite all organisations generating income through their box-office to complete this survey which is targeted at venues (run independently or via local authorities), producing and touring theatre companies, festivals, non-venue based organisation and organisations providing courses for educational activity.

The Arts Council will publish findings in an aggregated and anonymised form to avoid disclosure and respect the commercial confidentiality of participating organisations.  The survey will be open until Monday 1st June.

Updated: 12 May 2020

The Artists Emergency Fund is temporarily closed due to a high level of interest.

Thank you to everyone who submitted an application. The response to date is significant; we received over 300 applications requesting over £1.2m of funding. The Arts Council is currently moderating round 1 of eligible applications received and hopes to respond to all requests within a two to four-weeks timeframe.

The second round of AEP applications will be assessed before the end of May. The Arts Council continues to work with Minister Hargey to determine the level of need within the sector and we aim to offer as much support as possible to individual artists and creative practitioners at this stressful time.

Updated: 6 May 2020

Arts Council publishes final report on the impact of Coronavirus on NI Arts sector.

  • financial impact on NI artists is ‘severe and immediate’
  • average anticipated loss of earnings for NI artists over 3-month period (March-May) is £3,756
  • average anticipated loss of earnings for NI arts organisations over 3-month period is £36,714
  • total anticipated loss of earnings to NI arts organisations over 3-month period is £3.97 million
  • immediate and direct impact on provision of all arts services. 

Updated: 27 April 2020

Emergency Funding announced for NI Artists and Arts Organisations 

Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey MLA, today (Monday 27th April 2020) announced a new Creative Support Fund totaling £1.5 million to support the arts sector in Northern Ireland during the Coronavirus crisis. 

The Department for Communities is contributing £1 million to support arts organisations and the Arts Council is contributing £500,000 from its National Lottery Fund to support freelance artists, creative practitioners and performers. 

The Creative Support funding package comprises two strands. Both funds will be administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

  • The Artists Emergency Programme OPENS TODAY.
  • The Organisations Emergency Programme is scheduled to open for applications in May 2020.

Read the Arts Council news release here

Read the Minister's news release here.

Artists Emergency Programme

  • £500,000 Arts Council National Lottery funds to support artists and freelancers
  • Individual grants of up-to £5,000
  • This programme supports the research, design and future presentation of events, performances and other artistic projects, including resources to help artists develop their artistic practice.
  • AEP will buy artists creative time to develop their skills and practice during these difficult times, for future presentation of work.
  • This is a rolling programme, opening today until further notice, for proposals ending March 2021.

Application forms and Guidance Notes for the Artists Emergency Programme are now available from the Arts Council here.

Organisations Emergency Programme

  • £500,000 to support small- to medium-sized arts organisations with individual grants of up-to £25,000
  • £500,000 held to monitor demand across the Organisations and Artists Emergency Programmes and allocated as projects develop.
  • This is a rolling programme, co-designed by the Arts Council and DfC.
  • Programme opens: May 2020

Application forms and Guidance Notes for the Organisations Emergency Fund will be available from the Arts Council in May. Please watch Arts Council website and social media for application opening announcement.

Updated: 16 April 2020

Arts Council publishes key findings of survey on financial impact of Coronavirus on NI Arts sector. 

  • Financial impact on NI artists is ‘severe and immediate’
  • average anticipated loss of earnings for NI artists over 3-month period (March-May) is £3,756
  • average anticipated loss of earnings for NI arts organisations over 3-month period is £36,714
  • total anticipated loss of earnings to NI arts organisations over 3-month period is £3.97 million
  • immediate and direct impact on provision of all arts services. This includes arts-led community engagement work, placing at greater risk vulnerable groups in NI society, such as older people with dementia and young people with poor mental health and well-being, and potentially compromising important peace-building work.

Updated: 3 April 2020

UK Government Job Retention Scheme (JRS)

Each individual arts organisation and its board must decide how and whether to apply for the JRS furlough funding. Organisations funded by ACNI may do so; however, they must follow the government's advice. There will be variations across funded organisations with regard to the levels of ACNI funding of core staff.

Please note:

  • organisations must ensure that JRS financial support must not duplicate public grant funding (there can be no double funding)
  • organisations will be eligible for JRS so long as you do not receive public funding that is explicitly designed to cover the costs now being claimed for
  • in addition, payments received as a result of the JRS must not, when combined with your existing public funding, mean that you are receiving total public funding that exceeds your anticipated level of income for this period (the total of grants and JRSA payments should not represent more than 100% of your level of total income which you would have expected to receive during this period in a non-Covid-19 scenario).

 

Updated: 3rd April 2020

The Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland posted a video message today to the arts sector. Roisin McDonough said she wanted to let people know that she and her staff are doing their utmost to bring as much support as possible, as quickly as possible to those who need it most.

She stated she was very aware of how much individual artists and creative practitioners in particular, were hurting in these uncertain times. Her reading of initial returns from the Arts Council's recent online survey asking how artists are dealing with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, made 'a bleak picture'.

Support for Northern Ireland's hard-pressed artists and creative practitioners is absolutely essential and the Arts Council is working on a quick response to their needs. The Artists' Emergency Programme will be a flexible and 'light touch' scheme with an emphasis on making a speedy and flexible response to the hardship many are under; the programme should open by mid-April. The Council is also planning to reprofile existing budgets which will augment the work of those same artists in the months ahead.

Flexibility and liquidity are key to the whole sector at the moment; flexibility in how funding is deployed and used this year, and the use of upfront payments and support for the sector as they manage cash flow.   

Finally, Ms McDonough reiterated the work that her staff were undertaking alongside the Department for Communities to ensure the Minister's recent announcement of £1m of aid would make a difference to the wider cultural sector in Northern Ireland as soon as possible, including those working with museums, libraries and languages.

For further information on these support measures please continue to visit the Arts Council's website where updates will be regularly posted.

 

Updated: 30 March 2020

A message from the Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, welcoming £1m emergency Creative Support Fund, announced on Friday by Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA. Plus our update on COVID-19 - http://artscouncil-ni.org/news/message-from-arts-council-chief-executive

Updated: 27 March 2020

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today welcomed the announcement by the Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to put in place funding of £1m to support the arts sector in Northern Ireland.

The Chief Executive of the Arts Council, Roisin McDonough said,

"The arts sector in Northern Ireland is under immense pressure at the moment. The Council has moved quickly to distribute year-end funding earlier than usual to our core arts organisations but we knew more resources were needed to support the high number of individual artists and freelancers in our sector.  After much discussion last week with the Department for Communities we submitted a bid to the Minister for extra support and we welcome her announcement today. Minister Hargey has stepped in with an initial package to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland worth £1m of much-needed support for creatives and individual artists working here. It is a bit of good news in the midst of the Corona Virus epidemic  which has caused the near decimation of many livelihoods within the arts and culture sectors in a short period of time."

https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/news/communities-minister-announces-support-artists-performers-and-creative-producers-across-arts-and

UK government has announced that it will pay the self-employed or a member of a partnership, who have suffered loss of income due to the conronavirus outbreak, a taxable grant of 80% of their profits, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. The Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 and with a full year of accounts. Payments through the scheme will begin in June.
Further details here
 

Updated: 26 March 2020

We have designed a short survey designed to collect information about the financial and human impacts that the spread of coronavirus have had on artists and arts organisations in Northern Ireland.

We will work closely with colleagues in Government to share the impacts arising and make the case for additional resources to help mitigate against the short, medium and long-term effects of this situation.

Complete the survey - https://forms.gle/xB6a3f2qFMhrvmfQ8

Updated: 25 March 2020

The Arts Council has been in productive discussions with Minister For Communities, Deirdre Hargey MLA about an emergency rescue funding package for local artists and arts organisations. Details to be announced in the coming days.

Updated: 23 March 2020

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a package of support measures for businesses and employees on Friday 20th March. This package includes support for businesses including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where HMRC will reimburse 80% of workers wage cost, up to £2,500 per month
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses to reclaim pay for sickness absence due to COVID-19

Visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses for more information on eligibility.

The Department for Communities has also published new information on Universal Credit. New claims to Universal Credit can still be made online with additional telephone support available if you need help with a new claim. Visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-and-benefits for more information.

Updated: 21 March 2020

On Friday 20th March, the UK government instructed cafes, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close. This applies to Northern Ireland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer simultaneously announced package of support measures for businesses and employees. Full details at www.gov.uk

Updated: 19 March 2020

Under the current guidance from the UK Government on COVID-19, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland has taken the following steps to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff, clients and their families:

  • No on-site or off-site face-to-face meetings.
  • Our staff will be working from home from 5pm on Thursday March 19th until further notice. We advise that you contact staff by email, using the online staff list, which you can find here: http://artscouncil-ni.org/about-us/staff-list

Our aim is to provide a business as usual response in these difficult times however, it is likely that you, and Arts Council staff, will experience a delay in receiving responses to enquiries and decision-making. We ask for your patience and remind you that not all Arts Council staff will be available by phone, but we hope to have everyone accessible by email; our preferred channel of communication.

Please note if your enquiry is urgent and is about a payment, an application or an administration issue, please contact our main number 028 9262 3555 and your call will be redirected to an appropriate member of staff. If you have an urgent media enquiry outside of working hours only (9am-5pm) please contact one of the media team on (+) 44 07738543593.

Updated: 16 March 2020

UK Government Advice
The current advice from the UK Government is that it is more or less ‘business as usual’. There are no immediate bans on live events or public meetings, although gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled where there is likely to be an implication for the emergency services.

The government’s action plan for Coronavirus (published 3 March 2020) has more information about the stages we are moving through. Population distancing strategies such as school closures, encouraging more home working and reducing the number of large-scale gatherings in order to slow the spread of the disease may be introduced in the future.

The latest information and guidance on the situation in Northern Ireland is available from the Public Health Agency website.

Plan and prepare
However, the Government has raised the risk rating for Coronavirus in the UK to high, and the situation is constantly evolving. We would therefore advise everyone in these very uncertain times to prepare and to consider adjustments to your business plans to take into account the latest guidance and the level of disruption that might be caused.

You may have to cancel planned events, close down for a period of time or take action if staff become ill. This will have serious implications for artists, arts organisations and staff.

Arts Council Support
Our priority is to support people who work in the arts through the challenges they may face over the coming months as a result of Coronavirus.

Existing funding awards:

  • We will honour all grants already made in 2019/20 (including but not limited to: Annually Funded Programme, Lottery Project Funding, Small Grants, Rural Needs and Support for the Individual Artist) and will work flexibly with you should you need to reschedule events and/or tours.
  • We will aim to issue any remaining balance of payments for 2019/20 as a matter of urgency.
  • We will work flexibly with you on contracts for next year, 2020/21 (for example Annually Funded Programme and organisations in receipt of Lottery Programme funding). This may include advancing grant payment to assist with cashflow.
  • Funded arts organisations, in exchange for Arts Council support, are asked to continue as far as possible to honour agreed contracts with artists and freelancers.
  • Our Arts Officers and Assistants are currently talking to arts organisations to ascertain the impacts and cost implications for organisations.
  • We are in discussion with our parent department, the Department for Communities, and we are assessing what additional support might be offered to the arts sector.

Applications currently submitted for assessment:
Applications are currently being assessed following the usual published processes and timeframes. Successful applicants whose activities take place predominantly over the next three months (April, May, June 2020) will be contacted to ascertain how their project may be impacted. We aim to take a pragmatic and flexible approach should plans be required to change due to Coronavirus.

New funding applications:
We would ask all future applicants to ensure that any applications being proposed are not in conflict with the current government advice. For example, projects involving international travel to areas already affected are unlikely to be supported at present.

Keeping you updated
We will continue to update this web page and keep our social media channels updated as and when guidance and information changes.

 

Useful Links:
Public Health Agency guidance:
https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus

UK Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) action plan:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan

Independent Arts Projects:
Covid-19 Links to Advice and support for Arts Workers

HM Treasury: Budget 2020 - Support for those affected by COVID-19:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/872618/Covid-19_Budget_fact_sheet_FINAL__1_.pdf

UK Music Advice to Businesses on Coronavirus
https://www.ukmusic.org/help-and-advice/uk-music-advice-to-businesses-on-coronavirus/

Equality Commission NI - advice for employers
https://www.equalityni.org/Home

Creative Industries Federation - summary of available government support
https://www.creativeindustriesfederation.com/news/covid-19-support-government

ACAS - advice for employers and employees
https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

Arts Professional - CovidCulture - articles relating to the COVID-19 crisis and the arts
https://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/covidculture

Invest NI - advice for businesses 
https://www.investni.com/xcovid19response

 

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Exquisite 240 year old Italian violin is presented to new Ulster Youth Orchestra Leader, Jamie Howe

Friday 3rd July 2020 at 10am 0 Comments

Exceptional young violinist, Jamie Howe, aged 18, from Lisburn, has been announced as the new Leader of the Ulster Youth Orchestra (UYO), and has been presented by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland with the Milton Violin, an exquisite 240 year-old instrument made by renowned Neapolitan violin maker, Joseph Gagliano, to be played throughout his tenure as leader.

The precious violin, which is 239 years old, was generously donated to the Arts Council by Professor Alan Milton in 1980 and in the past has been used by the Leader and principal players of the Ulster Orchestra.  In 2013 the Arts Council decided to loan the precious instrument to the Ulster Youth Orchestra to be used by exceptionally gifted musicians in their role as Leader.

Jamie, who faced rigorous auditions to become the Leader of the Ulster Youth Orchestra, is also a member of the viola section of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and is a current student at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, having been offered a place in its sixth form to take his ‘A’ levels alongside his musical studies in violin, viola and piano.  From September, Jamie plans to continue his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. 

Established in 1993, The UYO is the National Youth Orchestra of Northern Ireland and is supported by public funding and National Lottery funding through the Arts Council and offers the highest level of orchestral training in the region.  Through its annual summer residential courses and concerts and outreach projects, it provides young gifted musicians with the opportunity to develop their musical skills further.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,

“Congratulations to Jamie in becoming Leader of the Ulster Youth Orchestra.  The Orchestra has become a vibrant and creative force in the musical life of Northern Ireland, bringing top quality orchestral playing to a wide audience, and providing gifted young musicians with access to the very best professional players, tutors and conductors.  Thanks to the generosity of Professor Milton, we are able to provide this exceptional instrument to generations of our best young violinists.  We are delighted by the appointment of Jamie Howe as Leader and have no doubt he will put this very special opportunity to great use.”

Paula Klein, General Manager of the Ulster Youth Orchestra said,

“We are delighted that Jamie has been awarded the position of leader in 2020.  He is a very talented and hard-working young musician and to be awarded such a beautiful instrument as he transitions to the Royal College of Music is a fantastic boost to his new studies. The directors of the Ulster Youth Orchestra are extremely grateful to the Arts Council for providing the leader of the Ulster Youth Orchestra with the opportunity of playing such a fine instrument.”

Membership to the Ulster Youth Orchestra is gained through a highly competitive audition process. All members value the opportunity to come together to perform with the very best young musicians from all over Northern Ireland.  Its members work together harmoniously in the pursuit of artistic excellence.  The Orchestra’s artistic programmes encourage individuals to develop practical and social skills, boost their confidence, enhance their well-being and empower them to achieve excellence.

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The Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s announce Laura Scott as the 2020 Poetry Prize winner

Friday 3rd July 2020 at 9am 0 Comments Literature

Laura Scott, 2020 Poetry Prize winner Image: Laura Scott, 2020 Poetry Prize winner

The Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast has announced the winner of the 2020 Poetry Prize for a First Collection, supported by the Atlantic Philanthropies.

Laura Scott was announced the winner for So Many Rooms (Carcanet, 2019) during the Seamus Heaney Centre’s annual Poetry Summer School, at a virtual Award Night on Thursday 2 July 2020.

The Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize is part of the Seamus Heaney Legacy Project, a joint fund established by Queen’s University Belfast and the Arts Council for NI, supported by Atlantic Philanthropies. The Poetry Prize is awarded to a writer whose first full collection has been published in the preceding year, by a UK or Ireland-based publisher. The winning writer receives £5,000.

Born in London, Laura Scott now lives in Norwich. Her pamphlet, What I Saw, won the Michael Marks Prize in 2014, and in 2015 she won the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize. Her poems have appeared in various magazines including PN Review, Oxford Poetry and Poetry Review, and a selection of her work was featured in Carcanet’s New Poetries VII in 2018.

Speaking about her award, Laura Scott said:

“I’m honoured and delighted, actually I’m over the moon, to have won this prize. As it's a first collection prize, I was looking back at my first notebook, the one I bought when I started writing seriously. It has fragments of things I wanted to get into poems, notes to myself, and on the tenth page, this quote from Seamus Heaney: ‘This was the first place where I felt I had done more than make an arrangement of words: I felt that I had let down a shaft into real life. The facts and surfaces of the thing were true, but more important, the excitement that came from naming them gave me a kind of insouciance and a kind of confidence. I didn’t care who thought what about it: somehow, it had surprised me by coming out with a stance and an idea that I would stand over.’

“I never met Seamus Heaney, but here he was saying exactly what I needed to hear. He pinpointed the precise sense in which writing poems is doing something bigger than yourself. It is not just you and the words.”

Congratulating the winner, Glenn Patterson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s said:

“The First Collection Poetry Prize is a highlight of the Seamus Heaney Centre’s year - one of the stand-out events, and awards, indeed, of the entire poetry calendar. With her collection, So Many Rooms, Laura Scott is a very, very worthy winner. All involved at the Heaney Centre will follow what she does next with great interest, and no little pride.”

This year’s judges were Professor Nick Laird, poet and Chair of Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre; Professor Frank Ormsby, Ireland Chair of Poetry; and Dr Leontia Flynn, poet and reader in Poetry at the Seamus Heaney Centre. 

Speaking about the winning collection Professor Nick Laird said:

“Laura Scott’s So Many Rooms is a confident and intricate collection dealing with relationships and memory. Cognizant of all the angles, alive to the smallest damage, to the bruises left on petals by the rain, Scott is a master of the slant take, the delicate phrasing. Her images both clarify and darken the matter at hand. In Scott’s world, poems are ‘like fish / swimming inside you, / waiting for someone / to tap the glass.’”


The shortlist for the First Collection Poetry Prize 2020 included: 

  • Flèche, by Mary Jean Chan (Faber & Faber, 2019)
  • Significant Other, by Isabel Galleymore (Carcanet, 2019)
  • A Man’s House Catches Fire, by Tom Sastry (Nine Arches Press, 2019)
  • So Many Rooms, by Laura Scott (Carcanet, 2019)
  • Fold, by Lucy Wadham (Pindrop Press, 2019)


The virtual award event is available on the QFT player from 7.00pm (BST) on Thursday 2 July 2020: https://qft.vhx.tv/free/videos/seamus-heaney-first-collection-poetry-prize

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Arts Council welcomes six new Board Members

Wednesday 1st July 2020 at 4pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to learn of the appointment of six new members to its Board, announced today by the Department for Communities.

The Arts Council also wishes to take the opportunity to thank outgoing board member,  Dr Siún Hanrahan, as well as recent former members Anna Carragher, Paul Mullan , Katherine McCloskey, Noelle McAlinden,  Dr Leon Litvack and David Alderdice for their selfless dedication to the Arts Council and their valuable contribution to the Arts sector as a whole.

Read the full announcement at https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/news/appointments-board-arts-council-ni-0  and below:

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has announced the appointment of six new members to the Board of the Arts Council NI following an open competition.  She has extended the first terms of appointment of Dr Katy Radford (Vice-Chair) and Cian Smyth (Board member) with effect from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020. They have both served on the Board since 1 December 2015.

The Minister also agreed to a new open competition for the appointment of a Chair, Vice-Chair and further members to the Board, with further details to be released over the coming months.

The new members to the Board are:

  • Miss Julie Andrews
  • Mrs Lynne Best
  • Mr Liam Hannaway
  • Mr Sean Kelly
  • Ms Una McRory
  • Mr Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

These six appointments are with effect from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2024.

Welcoming the appointments, the Minister said:

“I look forward to these individuals bringing their particular skills and experiences to their new positions at this particularly difficult time for the arts sector, and help lead on its recovery.”

 

Biographies of new Arts Council Board Members

Miss Julie Andrews
Miss Andrews has been Director of the Linen Hall Library since 2013. Prior to that she was involved in community arts whilst managing Belfast’s Spectrum Centre, an arts and cultural multi-purpose venue. Miss Andrews has responsibility for the strategic leadership of the Linen Hall Library. She has introduced a range of initiatives to facilitate partnerships and co-operative working with a number of external organisations as well as successfully procuring major funding for a number of digitisation projects. She has overseen the development and enrichment of the Library’s wide-ranging arts and cultural programming, and education and outreach activities. Miss Andrews also sits on the Boards of Eastside Tourism, Ormeau Business Park and the Ulster-Scots Agency. She does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last 5 years

Mrs Lynne Best
Mrs Lynne Best (née McDowell) is currently Head of Communications for the music licensing company PPL. She was previously Managing Director at Well Red Music and Media which provided corporate communications and policy advice to a range of global media and music companies. She has also held the role of Head of PR at BPI, the UK’s representative body for record labels and music technology companies and organiser of The BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize. Prior to working in music, Mrs Best started her career at the European Parliament in Brussels following the completion of her degree in Strasbourg, France. She is a Board Member of the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast and the Americana Music Association UK. She is also on the Advisory Panel of the all-Ireland mental health initiative, Minding Creative Minds. She does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last 5 years.

Mr Liam Hannaway
Mr Hannaway is a former Chief Executive and Chief Accounting Office of a District Council, with experience of establishing governance arrangements, committee structures, setting direction/strategy, through the establishment of corporate plans, and managing budgets. He was responsible for the publication of the Council Community plan using leadership and negotiating skills, as well as stakeholder engagement to obtain agreement for the plan from public sector officials, politicians and community representatives. He does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last 5 years.

Mr Sean Kelly
Mr Kelly has directed the Cathedral Arts Festival from 2000, establishing principles of good governance since then, including strategic planning, risk management, financial management and fund raising. He co-founded the Black Box performing arts space formulating its business plan and adapting its business model to meet changing demand. He was one of the founders of Culture Night Belfast, which involved setting up a steering group and successfully seeking support from the business community and public funding bodies. He does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last 5 years.

Ms Una McRory
Ms McRory worked as the Regional GP Out of Hours Commissioning Manager for GP Out of Hours service across NI. Her work involved taking the lead in the development of service improvements which included benchmarking, strategy development and a public consultation on the strategy, this involved consulting with many Health Service organisations and staff. She has experience of good governance as well as ensuring that services are complying with service standards. Ms McRory owns her own company and has recently published a children’s book. She does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last 5 years.

Mr Máirtín Ó Muilleoir
Mr Ó Muilleoir is a former Board Member of NI Water, where he was involved in efforts to help the organisation regain public confidence following a contracts controversy. As a Lord Mayor of Belfast, he took steps to encourage cross party cohesion and improve relations across the city. As a Minister of Finance he implemented a range of proposals to make social value delivery a business objective of the Department. As a Director of a media group he worked to ensure its successful financial management. In the last 5 years he has undertaken political activity for the Sinn Fein Party. He does not hold any other public appointments.

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Minister congratulates local artists on innovative, new, lockdown dramas

Tuesday 30th June 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

Communities Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín Image: Communities Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín

Communities Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, today congratulated the local artists who created six innovative, new lockdown dramas for television called Splendid Isolation.

The brand-new five minute dramas, created during lockdown by leading writers, directors and actors from Northern Ireland, entitled Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama, explore the positive and negative aspects of social isolation and the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Commissioned by the Lyric Theatre Belfast and the BBC and supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the success of the dramas following their premier on BBC Two NI, will now be shared with audiences across the BBC Four network, reaching even more viewers across Northern Ireland and Britain..

Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said:

“I want to congratulate the Lyric Theatre in Belfast and the actors, writers and directors involved.

“I do not underestimate the importance of giving recognition to, and encouraging the development of culture and creativity in our communities. The benefits of the arts on our social wellbeing and cohesion, our physical and mental health, our education system, our status in the world and our economy are not just valuable, they are essential. My Department and the Arts Council have been working together to ensure that emergency funding for our artists and organisations has reached those most in need.

“The arts sector is providing an amazing amount of really great online content for people here throughout this pandemic. From the Virtual Cabaret in the Duncairn Arts Centre in North Belfast, to the live outdoor socially distanced performances at hospitals and care homes across the North, artists and arts organisations are making a really positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing.”

The Splendid Isolation project, offered a lifeline to some writers, actors and directors, whose work has vanished since the pandemic, and is part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine, a UK-wide initiative which aims to continue bringing culture into the homes of audiences during quarantine.  The project is funded by BBC Arts, involving a creative collaboration between the Lyric Theatre Belfast and BBC Northern Ireland, and supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The project’s curation and administration is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Noirin McKinney, Director says:

“The public funding provided by the Arts Council supported the Lyric’s significant work in helping create Splendid Isolation, in my view, a brilliant curation of brand new digital arts content from these shores. A particular feat indeed as it was achieved under the challenges of social distancing.
With movement of people limited during the Covid-19 quarantine, all theatres, festivals, arts venues are closed to the public, indeed this pandemic has struck the entire arts and cultural sectors very hard.

Not only does innovative new work of this kind offer other artists hope, Splendid Isolation is a great example of how the arts can respond and reflect our everyday experiences, through marvellous storytelling, and through the collaboration of talented artists who are, after all, the life blood of our creative industries.”

Stephen James-Yeoman, Commissioning Executive, BBC Arts says:

“For the time being the theatre curtains remain down but the talent, whether on stage or behind the scenes, are no less creative. Unsurprisingly one of the things that has figuratively brought us together while being apart is the world-class theatre brought to our living rooms.  That is why BBC Arts is working with a host of theatre companies in all four nations of the UK, commissioning new and thought-provoking work to keep audiences thinking.”

Jimmy Fay, Executive Producer at the Lyric Theatre says in a recent interview:

“It’s been a fantastic opportunity to work with 18 exceptional artists and with BBC Arts and BBC NI on ‘Splendid Isolation’. Some of our very best theatre directors like Emma Jordan and Des Kennedy got the chance to develop their skills making their TV directorial debut through this partnership. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on theatres across the country, but as a production company, we are kept going with our Lyric Theatre Online programme, which is something we hope to continue to build and face the ongoing challenges of reopening our theatres safely.”

The films have been written by top writers including Lisa McGee (Derry Girls), Owen McCafferty, (Ordinary Love, The Absence of Women), David Ireland (Cyprus Avenue), Abbie Spallen (Pumpgirl ), Sarah Gordon (Sinkhole in Guatemala) and Stacey Gregg (Scorch).

They were directed by Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones), Des Kennedy (Harry Potter & The Cursed Child/Good Vibrations),  Emma Jordan (Artistic Director, Prime Cut Productions),  Jimmy Fay, (Exec Producer, Lyric Theatre) and Cathy Brady, (Wildfire/ Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope) and Damian McCann.

Actors featuring in the dramas, which were filmed in accordance with social distancing guidelines, include Anthony Boyle, who won an Olivier Award for his performance as ‘Scorpius’ in Harry Potter & The Cursed Child in the West End and later on Broadway, Stella McCusker (Game of Thrones, Ordinary Love) and Kerri Quinn (Coronation Street, Come Home). Also featuring are actors, Richard Clements, Jack Flynn, Damian McCann, Sarah Gordon, Julie Lamberton, Eoin McCaffrey, Abigail McGibbon and David Pearse (Vikings, Fifty Dead Men Walking).

Paul McClean, Executive Editor, Arts, Music & Learning, BBC NI says;

“We are delighted with the local reception to the first airing of Splendid Isolation on BBC Two NI and the whole experience has been a joy. To be able to harness the fantastic creative talent we have on our doorstep and reflect the lockdown stories of Northern Ireland is truly exciting. ”

Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama will be networked on BBC Four on Tuesday 30 June at 10.30pm, on BBC One on Wednesday 1st July at 11:20pm and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.

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Mairtín Crawford Awards go international with record number of entries

Monday 29th June 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments Literature

Alan Weadick and Sarah Gilmartin, winners of the Mairtin Crawford Awards for Poetry and Short Story 2020 Image: Alan Weadick and Sarah Gilmartin, winners of the Mairtin Crawford Awards for Poetry and Short Story 2020

Just three years since they were founded, the Belfast Book Festival Mairtín Crawford Awards for Poetry and Short Story have gone international, attracting entries from countries including the US, Finland and New Zealand for this year’s competition.

Organised by the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast and supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Awards are aimed at writers working towards their first full collection of poetry, short stories, or a novel. The 2020 Awards attracted a record number of entries, with 441 submissions for the Poetry Award and 324 entries for the Short Story Award.

Sophie Hayles, CEO of The Crescent Arts Centre, reflects on running this year’s Awards in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic:

“Despite all the challenges which the lockdown has presented us with - both personally and professionally - we were determined to continue to host the Mairtín Crawford Awards this year. Arts and culture have played a central role in helping many people navigate the lockdown period and the quality and variety of entries to this year’s Awards were a real tribute to what artists can produce under challenging circumstances.”

The winner of the short story category is Sarah Gilmartin with her piece ‘The Wife’, which explores a #MeToo-themed episode from the point of view of the perpetrator’s partner. Sarah explains:

“Since the rise of the #MeToo movement in 2017, there has been a necessary shift in how society listens to women regarding sexual assault, but we very rarely hear the story from the perspective of the wife or partner of the abuser. With ‘The Wife’, I wanted to explore that. 

Awards like the Mairtín Crawford are great because they give you the impetus to write. Writing can be a tough old business, with lots of ups and downs, and very little certainty. The recognition from winning the Award is good for the soul, and the money affords you time and space away from other work to persist with writing projects, to go deep into the draft.”

The winner of the poetry category is Alan Weadick, whose works were inspired by a summer job he had in an ice-cream factory and watching his father engrossed in his workshop:

“The Workshop’ is an attempt to describe the world of work from a very young child's perspective, the thing which he both mythologises and at the same time resents for its constant separating him from his father.
  
As with Sarah’s story, my poem ‘Vespucc Ice Cream’ also addresses harassment in the workplace, only this time from the perspective of bystanders who are feeling helpless.”

Sarah and Alan will each receive a cash prize of £1,000 and a 3-night stay at the wonderful writing and reading retreat The River Mill. The runners-up for each Award will be given a cash prize of £250.

The judges for the 2020 Awards were: Short Story:  Lucy Caldwell (Chair) and Rachael Kelly; Poetry: Moyra Donaldson (Chair) and Naomi Foyle.

A big thank you to partners and sponsors NIPR Books and The River Mill, for their continued support of the Awards. 

The Crescent Arts Centre and Belfast Book Festival are supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

 

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Translink calls for stories to celebrate local heritage as part of the Belfast Transport Hub plans

Monday 29th June 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

Translink is committed to preserving and celebrating the stories that tell the history and heritage of the area surrounding the new Belfast Transport Hub at Weavers Cross.  Located beside the current Europa Buscentre and Gt Victoria Street Station, this NI Executive flagship project will be a catalyst for regeneration, and it is planned to place public art at the heart of these urban transformation plans.

The new multi-modal transport hub will incorporate a significant public realm improvement scheme creating an attractive new gateway for Belfast and Northern Ireland. A new accessible public space, Saltwater Square, will further enhance the passenger experience and help reimagine the area for all who work, live, invest and travel.

Translink, in keeping with their on-going engagement work with local communities and stakeholders, has teamed up with locally based Arts Coordinator, Haller Clarke, to deliver a bespoke Arts and Heritage programme.  Calling on the inspiration of people to share their stories, they hope to capture key themes that will represent the unique character and spirit of local people and their surroundings. 

Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive said,

“This consultation marks a further milestone in this exciting project for the city. We recognise that public art has many economic and social wellbeing benefits for society. This project creates the unique opportunity to combine art with design, engineering, construction, architecture and landscaping to showcase the history and future aspirations of the area.

“Everyone’s story will be important, so it is vital we capture the key themes so they can help inform the overall design of the project and its public realm from an early stage.

“We look forward to receiving the feedback. As the Transport Hub and Saltwater Square emerges over the coming years, it will be an opportunity for the millions of people who will arrive and depart from this destination to appreciate the diversity and great wealth of heritage that lives at the heart of this place”, Chris concluded

If you have a story relating to industrial heritage, transportation, the natural and built environments, we’d love to hear it. Equally you may want to share a story about a local personality, an event in your community, a specific time in history or your aspirations for the future.  Please submit your story of no more than 500 words, along with the story’s title and theme to stories@hallerclarke.com no later than 10th July 2020. Please include your contact details so we can get back to you if we require additional more information.

To keep up to date with the Belfast Transport Hub project please visit  www.weaverscross.co.uk

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Support fund for artists now open

Tuesday 23rd June 2020 at 9am 0 Comments

Support for the Individual Artist Programme (SIAP) is now open. Image: Support for the Individual Artist Programme (SIAP) is now open.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s has  opened its Support for the Individual Artist Programme (SIAP) and is accepting applications for General Art Awards.

Artists of all disciplines and in all types of working practice, who have made a contribution to artistic activities in Northern Ireland for a minimum of one year within the last five years, may apply.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the exceptional circumstances this has created, applications are welcomed from artists who are currently in receipt of Arts Council’s support through its existing Support for Individual Artists Programme. 

Applications can be made for project assistance, travel grants or residencies, up to a maximum award of £3,000. Applicants are however being asked to give careful consideration to the feasibility, timing and presentation of their project given current Covid-19 restrictions.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said;

“This funding programme has been developed to support artists to build their creative potential through a range of funding programmes.  The Covid-19 Pandemic has meant that we find ourselves in unprecedented times but the arts sector here are already adapting their practice, finding new ways of working and presenting their art.

“We are encouraging applications from all types of artists, across all disciplines, and are keen to see collaborations as well as solo activities. It is our hope that this funding will help to strengthen the sector and lead to the development of many new and exciting projects.”

Applications for SIAP are now open and can be made online. The application process will close on 24th July, with decisions made on 14th September. For application forms and guidance notes visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/SIAP

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Socially distanced theatre brought to patients and hospital staff

Friday 19th June 2020 at 10am 0 Comments Drama

Pictured outside the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital is Maria Connolly as Judy Garland, Christina Nelson as Bette Midler, Roisin Gallagher as Marilyn Monroe, musician Richard Clements and Noirin McKinney from the Arts Council. Image: Pictured outside the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital is Maria Connolly as Judy Garland, Christina Nelson as Bette Midler, Roisin Gallagher as Marilyn Monroe, musician Richard Clements and Noirin McKinney from the Arts Council.

Taking on the role of Judy Garland, actress and playwright, Maria Connolly, this week invited care home residents, hospital patients and healthcare workers to “Forget Your Troubles” for a few moments and enjoy a live theatre performance brought right to their door.

The show recently received funding through the Arts Council’s Artists Emergency Programme, set up to support the work of artists and performers whose income has been badly hit by the pandemic. Thanks to investment of up to £575,000 from the Department of Communities and National Lottery, The Broads is one of over 200 projects to have been awarded funding through the emergency scheme.

The Broads is a live 50 minute musical and theatre piece, telling the stories of starlets Marilyn Monroe, Bette Midler and Judy Garland but rather than taking place within the four walls of a theatre, the show has this week been touring care homes and hospital settings.

The show’s creator Maria Connolly says the idea to write a play specifically for people living in isolation originally came to her a few years ago.

She explained, “I remember watching a news programme about elderly people who are suffering desperately from isolation.  These people can go for months without any human interaction and I wanted to do something to break that loneliness. It is incredible that I have received funding to do the show during this horrific pandemic.”

This week, over 500 people will see the show, with slots booking up quickly when the project was announced. Featuring Maria, alongside respected actresses Christina Nelson as Bette Midler, Roisin Gallagher as Marilyn Monroe and live music from Richard Clements, the show is unlike anything any of the performers have done before. Rehearsals took place via zoom and with no conventional stage or set, hospital entrances, corridors and care homes have provided the backdrop and socially-distanced audiences for The Broads.

“The response this week has been incredible,” Maria said. “We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by how well the play has been received. Working with Belfast Trust we’ve been touring hospitals this week as well as assisted living facilities in Belfast, Bangor, Dundonald and Carrickfergus. It’s been hugely uplifting. This is a time when the world desperately needs artists to bring hope, colour and change into the world. I am so grateful we are getting to do this play now and my hope is that others will see the positive impact this project has had, that they’ll support artists and see the benefit that art can bring.”

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland commented:

“Over the last three months I think so many of us have missed being able to get out and experience a live arts event. It’s been fantastic to see a brand new theatre piece today, out on the road, reaching new audiences, hopefully helping to bring some joy to their day and instilling that sense of personal wellbeing that only the arts can bring.

“Like many other sectors of society, our creative community has been badly hit by the pandemic but it is our hope that as a result of the Artists Emergency Programme communities across Northern Ireland will once again be able to able to come together to savour new performances, new writing, new experiences and once again celebrate the uplifting power of the arts supported by National Lottery Players and National Lottery funding.”

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150 more artists offered funds from Artists Emergency Programme

Wednesday 3rd June 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments

Ian McCracken, Stage Combat Image: Ian McCracken, Stage Combat

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced details today of a further 150 artists who will benefit from its Artists Emergency Programme. This is in addition to the 88 award offers announced in May.

The Arts Council and Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey MLA unveiled details for the £500,000 Artists Emergency Programme at the end of April. The scheme was set up to support artists and performers whose income has been badly hit by the pandemic, with venues closed, festivals cancelled and projects placed on hold. 

Within two weeks of opening the programme, the Arts Council received over 300 applications, totalling almost £1.4m. Although the money was not available to fund all viable projects, an additional £50,000 Arts Council National Lottery funding has been made available and £25,000 from the Department of Communities, in order to allow the maximum number of awards to be made. This brings the total amount now awarded through the scheme up to £575,000.

Those offered funding include writers, composers, theatre practitioners, community artists and visual artists, who will each receive grants on acceptance of their offers in this second round of awards of up to £3,000 to develop their projects and professional practice.

Roisín McDonough, Arts Council Chief Executive, commented:

“Today’s announcement will be welcome news for 150 more artists who will now be able start developing new work thanks to the Artists Emergency Programme. 58 of these awards are going to artists who have never received Arts Council support before and we are very excited about some of the fantastic projects which they have planned for the coming months.

“The scale of the crisis within our fragile arts sector is unlike anything we’ve known before, with key organisations already looking at a deficit of £4million this year. The arts are something which we all enjoy, be it through film, concerts, exhibitions or books but the behind the scenes, the work and skills which go into making those things happen are too often unseen and undervalued.

“Like many other sectors of society, our creative community has been badly hit by the pandemic but it is our hope that as a result of the Artists Emergency Programme communities across Northern Ireland will once again be able to able to come together to savour new performances, new writing, new experiences and once again celebrate the uplifting power of the arts.”

Artists offered funding include:  

Maria Connolly, Actress and Playwright
Actress Maria Connolly, together with Christina Nelson and Roisin Gallaher, will perform three short plays about the lives of Judy Garland, Bette Midler and Marilyn Monroe. Targeted at those living in care homes or in isolation, The Broads is an uplifting comedy, written by Maria Connolly with music by Richard Clements. 

Speaking about the play, Maria said:

“I was delighted to receive funding from the Artist Emergency Programme for my play ‘The Broads.’ Many of us who work in the arts have lost 12 months’ work due to COVID-19.  As we are self-employed we do not qualify for the furlough scheme and getting other financial support is incredibly difficult so this funding from the Arts Council has been a lifeline for many. I had an idea a few years ago to write a play specifically for people living in isolation.  I watched a news programme about elderly people who are suffering desperately from isolation.  These people can go for months without any human interaction and I wanted to do something to break that loneliness. It is incredible that I have received funding now to do the show during this horrific pandemic. This is a time when the world desperately needs artists to bring hope, colour and change into the world, I am so grateful we are getting to do this play now and my hope is that other organisations get involved and support artists and see the benefit that art can bring.

“The funding allows me and three other actors to rehearse, in isolation via zoom, for one week and perform for one week.  My slots for the play filled up in a matter of hours. The reaction from the people the play is going to has been both heart-breaking and heart-warming.”

Ian McCracken, Stage Combat
First award from the Arts Council

Stage combat is a growing art form and Ian is one of only two instructors living in Northern Ireland that are qualified to teach with an exam body recognised by the Equity register of Fight Directors. His previous work has seen him work in theatre, as well as TV and film productions, training and directing a long list of local and international actors including Claire Foy, Rob Kazinski, Maggie Cronin and Karen Hassan.

The Artists Emergency Funding will allow him to deliver stage combat classes to students and artists no longer able to attend due to isolation, and going forward for those who are “at risk” and will not be able to attend classes after isolation is lifted.  It will develop ways to provide classes remotely for individual drill training.  The project has the potential to culminate with a presentation of work both live and film based demonstrating how stage combat has helped individuals mentally, physically and artistically.

Speaking about his project Ian said:

“Having been a fight director and stage combat instructor for 18 years, this period of isolation, as for many artists, has proven difficult.  I was determined not to allow this separation from my students to be a problem.  Being aware that keeping active is important both physically and mentally, I started to pursue ways to bring classes to students via FaceBook and Zoom. This grant will prove invaluable, allowing me to expand these online classes without the limitations of length and content I currently face. I hope to use this grant to research alternative methods of training and create resource material for students, with the hope that I can culminate all this into a performance using both live and recorded material.”

Adam Dougal, Arts and Health
First award from the Arts Council

Adam is a career actor who has worked with many theatre companies in Northern Ireland. He recently produced a podcast series, in partnership with Change Your Mind and Inspire, called ‘Like Minded’, interviewing artists from different parts of the arts industry. The series explores how their mental health and wellbeing impacts and informs their work. Over the coming months he will continue on with this project, assessing the impact of his podcast series, collecting feedback and gaining further insight into this important subject.

Speaking about his project, Adam said,

“After research developed by Inspire and Ulster University illustrated the high rates of mental health issues among those working in the creative sector, I felt compelled to create this series of podcasts that allowed artists to have open and honest conversations about their mental health.  I’m grateful to ACNI for recognising the importance of this issue and for allowing me the time to explore further how we as a community can keep supporting and inspiring one another.”

Mayte Segura, Dance, Music and Text
In this project Mayte Segura, professional dancer and choreographer, will collaborate with Victor Henriquez, a professional musician, to engage in a creative dialogue between dance and music. They will use their actual state of confinement to explore individual and collective feelings as Latin American artists in Northern Ireland, living and working in lock-down. Together, they will generate a response in terms of movement, music, and spoken word.  Using selected poems/texts from Latin American and Irish authors as a primary stimulus for the creation, both artists will engage in a creative conversation, leading to an original, unique performance piece that will be recorded, livecast, and potentially performed in small theatres or open spaces.

Speaking about her project Mayte says,

“I am a dancer living in Belfast and I create and perform Mexican traditional and contemporary pieces of dance. During the period of the grant, I will collaborate with Victor Henriquez (an artist with solid expertise as a communicator in the verbal, therapeutic and musical fields). Together we will explore our creative possibilities inside our confinement, use Irish and Latin American writings and turn them into a dialogue of dance, music and text. Our project Is called Dialogos, which, in Spanish, means to talk, to dialogue, to exchange. We know that this collaboration will be exactly a dialogue between our art forms and our cultural traditions (Mexico and Chile), but also a look at Ireland and a dialogue with aspects of its literary tradition.”

Please Note that any offers not accepted will be recorded and the final list of accepted offers amended and shared online at artscouncil-ni.org.

The Artists Emergency Programme is now closed, with all available funds now allocated. It remains the Arts Council’s key priority to offer as much support as possible with the resources it has to individual artists and creative practitioners at this stressful time. We continue to look for new ways of funding and supporting their work.

 

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ACNI Small Grants Programme now open

Tuesday 2nd June 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments

Previous small grants recipient, Armagh Old Boys’ Silver Band Image: Previous small grants recipient, Armagh Old Boys’ Silver Band

The Arts Council’s Small Grants programme is now open for applications for projects commencing from 1st September 2020.

Professional arts organisations and community groups can now apply for grants between £500-£10,000 to support projects in any art form, including music, drama, dance, literature, visual, and participatory arts.

The programme, which helps support arts organisations and community groups deliver quality arts projects, has already supported hundreds of arts events, festivals and activities right across Northern Ireland, from grassroots community projects through to professional productions.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council, commented:

“Our Small Grants programme uses National Lottery funds to bring the arts right into the heart of communities. We are looking for projects which will provide ways for new and existing audiences to connect with the arts and which reflect the diversity of Northern Ireland’s society and culture.

“We are delighted to continue to offer groups this support thanks to the National Lottery money raised for good causes and very much look forward to seeing what projects emerge as a result of the Small Grants programme over the coming months.”

Previous examples of funded projects include, the Renal Arts Group who received funding to encourage patients with chronic illness to explore the arts as an element of their rehabilitation. Last week the group began a series of script-writing workshops with playwright Shannon Yee in order to explore creative ways to reflect on their personal experiences.

Rathlin Development & Community Association also received funding earlier this year to rehearse, record and produce an album. The music will be a mixture of local Rathlin songs and tunes, some previously unrecorded pieces, as well as songs and arrangements from Northern Ireland, the Western Isles of Scotland and other international music, chosen to reflect the Island’s maritime cultural heritage.

For those wishing to find out more, please go to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland website. Applications should be submitted online, with all necessary enclosures uploaded with your application. The Arts Council will aim to make a decision within two months of receiving an application. Please note, applicants should apply for funding at least two months before the start of your event (projects which start within two months of the application date will not be accepted). Organisations can apply for funding for projects due to commence from 1st September onwards.

Guidance notes for this programme and details of how to apply can be found here: http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/small-grants-programme 

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Arts Council opens emergency programme for arts organisations

Monday 1st June 2020 at 8pm 0 Comments

The Lyric Theatre’s world premiere of the stage musical version of ‘Good Vibrations’, charting the life of Belfast punk legend Terri Hooley, adapted Colin Carberry and Glenn Patterson Image: The Lyric Theatre’s world premiere of the stage musical version of ‘Good Vibrations’, charting the life of Belfast punk legend Terri Hooley, adapted Colin Carberry and Glenn Patterson

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (Monday 1st June) opened the Organisations Emergency Programme (OEP), worth £500,000, which offers organisations the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £25,000 each.

Small and medium sized organisations will be able to apply for maximum funding of £25,000 to help them continue creative work, assist with operational costs, where these have been affected as a result of the COVID-19, and to help plan for recovery. 

The OEP fund provides much needed financial support, a lifeline to arts organisations, at a time when the arts sector has been decimated under quarantine conditions, the closure of theatres, venues and galleries, the cancellation of festivals and events and the disappearance of live audiences.

The Organisations Emergency Programme is one element of the wider £1.5m funding package recently announced by Minister Hargey, Department for Communities, to support the arts and wider culture sectors during the current pandemic.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA said:

"The Arts Sector is facing many barriers; this fund will offer equality of opportunity and access for a broad range of people. I have asked my Department to continue to do everything possible to provide support and assistance to individuals and organisations in the Arts Sector at this time. I am also grateful to the Arts Council for working with my Department in responding to the needs of the sector."

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:

“Funding for the arts in Northern Ireland was already in a fragile state pre-Covid-19 and we estimate that since the pandemic, organisations are facing deficits just under £4m; a figure which may increase as the year progresses. These organisations are among the most creative, flexible and inventive in our society and many are already finding imaginative and innovative ways to deliver online content. However the impact of the lockdown on their earned income has been both severe and immediate.

“We welcome the Minister’s announcement of new funding; the Organisations Emergency Programme forms an important strand of that package, targeting our small to medium sized arts organisations with awards of up to £25,000. We hope this support will help buy them creative time to produce new ideas for programming, plan for recovery and help them withstand the shock to their organisation of substantial loss of income during lockdown.

“We are pleased that the programme is open to independent museums, libraries and language organisations. We hope now with outdoor opportunities opening up, to see even more engagement with live audiences and participants in a safe and meaningful way.”

The OEP programme is open for applications from Monday 1st June for proposals ending March 2021, and will close at 4pm on Friday 12th June 2020.

Organisations Emergency Programme

  • The Arts Council will aim to communicate decisions by the end of July. Application forms and guidance notes are available at http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/for-organisations
  • Organisations whose primary purpose is arts activity, and which have received public funding to support their work, are eligible to apply and independent museums and libraries that have plans to deliver arts and broader cultural programmes are also eligible.
  • The Arts Council hopes to bring forward the opening of SIAP General Awards to June.
  • The Arts Council plans to open the Commissioning Programme in August.

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Award winning illustrator to provide free tutorials thanks to the National Lottery

Friday 29th May 2020 at 2pm 0 Comments

Ashling Lindsay Image: Ashling Lindsay

An artist from Belfast, who was last week named winner of the Illustration category at the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards 2020, is to provide free online classes and tutorials on picturebook making, thanks to funding from The National Lottery.

Ashling Lindsay is one of 88 artists to have so far received funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s £500,000 Artists Emergency Programme, which is using National Lottery funds to support artists to continue their work and connect with communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since graduating from the Belfast School of Art in 2013, Ashling’s beautiful illustrations have gathered much attention thanks to their distinctive style and her stunning talent. Her picturebooks have been published in more than 10 languages and in 2019 she was presented with an ACES award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

In April the latest in the hugely successful ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ series* was published, a biography of World War Two code-breaker Alan Turing, featuring Ashling’s eye-catching illustrations. Developing drawings for the series, which has sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide, has been a major achievement for Ashling but unfortunately many other projects planned for this year have currently been placed on hold.

“Last year I received an ACES award from the Arts Council and I’ve been using that to develop my own picturebook texts in Irish and English. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that the publication of those is now delayed but on the positive side, it has given me the time to think about how my experiences and skills may be able to help others.”

Thanks to the Arts Council and the National Lottery players Ashling is planning to develop a series of online videos showing the art process behind her work, painting, drawing, and printmaking.

She explains: “Some of the tutorials will be informative, detailing step by step how to use certain techniques. Some content would be specifically about making a picturebook and include publishing industry insights. The point of this project is to skill share, show some of the process, and engage with the community through free digital content that is easily accessible for people remotely.”

Like Ashling, other artists, charities and organisations across the UK that have been affected by the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus outbreak are being given access to a comprehensive package of support of up to £600 million of repurposed money from The National Lottery. This will support some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and span the arts, community, charity, heritage, education, environment and sports sectors.

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature, Arts Council of Northern Ireland,

“The National Lottery has always supported projects that help people and communities across the UK thrive. And now, the funds available are switching focus to support communities, arts, heritage, sport, education and the environment to mitigate the unprecedented pressure they are coming under as we all rally to overcome COVID-19.

“Artists have been among the hardest hit groups, with projects delayed, venues closed and events cancelled for the foreseeable future. All of this is having a major impact on our cultural and creative lives. Over the next few months, I’m really looking forward to seeing how Ashling’s project develops, encouraging others who maybe have an idea they wish to develop or perhaps want to reconnect with their creative side to, quite literally, get back to the drawing board.”

The National Lottery is playing a critical role in supporting people, projects and communities during these challenging times

Thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised every week for good causes many of whom will be supporting the most vulnerable in communities across the UK during the Coronavirus crisis. By playing The National Lottery, you are making an amazing contribution to the nationwide-response to combatting the impact of COVID-19 on local communities across the UK.

To find out more about the range of funding support announced by National Lottery distributors across the UK to date, visit the National Lottery Good Causes website www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/coronavirus-pandemic-response

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BBC and the Lyric Theatre produce new theatrical isolation dramas with top Northern Ireland talent

Friday 29th May 2020 at 11am 0 Comments Drama

Pictured: Conleth Hill and Lisa McGee Image: Pictured: Conleth Hill and Lisa McGee

Theatre lovers all over the land have something to celebrate. As part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine, which aims to continue to bring culture into the homes of audiences during lockdown, BBC Arts, the Lyric Theatre, BBC Northern Ireland - with support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland - are collaborating on some new theatre commissions from Northern Ireland.

These six new short drama commissions from some of Northern Ireland’s biggest names in writing and acting - including Lisa McGee (Derry Girls) and Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones) -  will explore the positive and negative aspects of social isolation and lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the title Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama, the five minute theatrical pieces, produced by some of Northern Ireland’s premier theatre talent, will be collated and broadcast on BBC Two Northern Ireland in June and made available afterwards on BBC iPlayer

The project is part of a wider national collaboration between BBC Arts, theatres and Arts Councils in each nation in this challenging time for the creative sector. (Further information can be found here.)

The films have been written by top writers including Lisa McGee (Derry Girls), Owen McCafferty, (Ordinary Love, The Absence of Women), David Ireland (Cyprus Avenue), Abbie Spallen (Pumpgirl ), Sarah Gordon (Sinkhole in Guatemala) and Stacey Gregg (Scorch).

Derry Girls writer Lisa McGee says:

“I’m thrilled to be working with the Lyric and the BBC on this ambitious project and to be collaborating with such exciting Northern Irish talent”.

They will be directed by Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones), Des Kennedy (Harry Potter & The Cursed Child/Good Vibrations),  Emma Jordan (Artistic Director, Prime Cut Productions),  Jimmy Fay, (Exec Producer, Lyric Theatre) and Cathy Brady, (Wildfire/ Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope) and Damian McCann.

Actors featuring in the dramas, which will be shot in accordance with social distancing guidelines, include Anthony Boyle, who won an Olivier Award for his performance as ‘Scorpius’ in Harry Potter & The Cursed Child in the West End and later on Broadway, Stella McCusker (Game of Thrones, Ordinary Love) and Kerri Quinn (Coronation Street, Come Home). Sarah Gordon, Abigail McGibbon and David Pearse (Vikings, Fifty Dead Men Walking) also feature.

Stephen James Yeoman, Commissioning Executive, BBC Arts says:

“For the time being the theatre curtains remain down but the talent, whether on stage or behind the scenes, are no less creative. Unsurprisingly one of the things that has figuratively brought us together while being apart is the world-class theatre brought to our living rooms.  That is why BBC Arts is working with a host of theatre companies in all four nations of the UK, commissioning new and thought-provoking work to keep audiences thinking.”

Paul McClean, Executive Producer, Arts, Music & Learning, BBC NI says;

“We are delighted to be able to partner with the award winning Lyric Theatre to help fill the void for audiences missing their theatres. To be able to harness the fantastic creative talent we have on our doorstep to reflect the lockdown stories of Northern Ireland is truly exciting. I would also like to extend my thanks to Stephen James-Yeoman for instigating this initiative and to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for their support.”

Jimmy Fay, Executive Producer at the Lyric Theatre says:

“I genuinely welcome this fantastic opportunity to work with BBC Arts and BBC NI on ‘Splendid Isolation’. All of the 18 artists involved have a connection to the Lyric Theatre and have responded to our invitation to write for this project with imaginative, versatile and provocative pieces. We are also delighted that some of our very best theatre directors like Emma Jordan and Des Kennedy are getting their TV directorial debut with this wonderful partnership. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on theatres across the country, forcing the closure of all of them for the foreseeable future. For over 50 years the Lyric has never closed its doors before now, but as a production company, we are kept going with our Lyric Theatre Online programme, which is something we hope to continue to build as we navigate this new normal and face the ongoing challenges for our theatres.”  

Noirin McKinney, Director, Arts Council of Northern Ireland says:

“This initiative is supported by Arts Council National Lottery funding and provides a great opportunity to support the production and curation of brand new digital arts content from these shores. This project is offering writers, actors, producers and directors a lifeline in difficult times when all other work has been cancelled. Splendid Isolation is a great example of how the arts can respond and reflect our everyday experiences through marvellous storytelling, and through the collaboration of talented artists who are, after all, the life blood of our creative industries.”

This initiative is supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery Funding.

Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama will broadcast on BBC Two Northern Ireland, 10pm on Thursday 25 June.

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Arts Council continues to provide support to D/deaf & disabled artists thanks to National Lottery

Thursday 28th May 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments Arts & Disability

Portrait of Adam Pearson by Joel Simon Image: Portrait of Adam Pearson by Joel Simon

University of Atypical and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland are delighted to announce the recipients of the D/deaf and Disabled Artists’ Support Fund, a National Lottery supported programme worth £25,000. This fund has been created by Arts Council, by repurposing National Lottery funding, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and its subsequent impacts upon artists.  Following a high level of interest, 30 artists were funded to undertake research projects, professional development or create new work.

The aim of this fund is to financially support deaf/disabled artists in Northern Ireland, who have suffered a loss of earnings, to undertake research, professional development or create a project. It’s also important to note that this fund is available in addition to, and not instead of, the Arts Council’s recently announced National Lottery supported £500,000 Artists Emergency Programme.

Chairperson of University of Atypical, Damien Coyle, said,

“This was an extremely competitive process for awards offering vital support to deaf and disabled artists at a time when many are reeling from the economic, social and health and wellbeing impacts of Covid-19. As a consequence of lockdown, D/deaf and disabled artists have lost the opportunity to gain commissions, exhibit their work, deliver learning programmes and other means of generating income.”

He continued, “Many D/deaf and disabled artists have had to apply shielding or self-isolation guidelines due to being at high risk and this in turn has created concerns around mental health and wellbeing. D/deaf and disabled artists will use their awards to explore new methods for engagement, make preparation for promoting their work when lockdown is eased or lifted, and will have time and resources to invest in their professional practice. University of Atypical offers our gratitude to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for making these important funds available to D/deaf and disabled artists.”

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts & Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“The National Lottery has always supported projects that help people and communities across the UK thrive. Now, funds worth £600 million are available, switching focus to support communities, arts, heritage, sport, education and the environment to mitigate the unprecedented pressure they are coming under as we all rally to overcome COVID-19. 

“In response to this tremendously challenging time for individual artists, the Arts Council is delighted to make this new D/Deaf and Disabled Artists Support Fund, worth £25,000 of National Lottery funding available.  Working alongside the University of Atypical, we hope this new fund will have a significant, positive impact during this difficult time.”

Artists offered funding include:

Visual Artist, Joel Simon, will be using the funding to create a series of figurative paintings inspired by his observations of loneliness and alienation, pertinent to our times.  In addition, he will develop free online art tutorials, tailored for beginners in the medium of figurative oil paintings. Participants will be invited to send Joel images of their work on which they will receive feedback and guidance.

Playwright, Shannon Sickels (Yee), will use her funding to research an audio-based storytelling project entitled, ‘Pandemic Parenting’. Shannon will interview parents who, for one reason or another, are negotiating different Covid-19 challenges. The fund will also provide mentoring support from experienced broadcasters/podcasters as well as interview transcription services.

Other artists offered funding include:

Alexandra McCalmont, visual art - ceramics
Catherine Hatt, music/sound
Elizabeth McGeown, poetry/performance/literature
Emma Whitehead, visual art – textiles
Gary Shaw, visual art – painting
Hannah Miller, visual art – illustration
Helen Hall, dance/visual art
Hugh O'Donnell, visual art - performance
Jacqueline Wylie, visual art
Kenneth Stacey, visual art - painting
Kristofer Marsden, music
Linda Fearon, dance/physical theatre
Malachy McCrudden, visual art - photography
Marie-Thérèse Davis, visual art/sound
Maureen McDevitt, visual art - ceramics
Michael Ryan, visual art - photography
Nathan Elout-Armstrong, poetry/performance 
Niamh McConaghy, visual art - painting
Norma Beggs, visual art 
Rosie Burrows, visual art
Ruth McGinley, music
Shiro Masuyama, visual art - video
Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell, visual art - performance  
Siobhan Ferguson, visual art - photography
Steph Harrison, visual art - print
Una Walker, visual art - video
Vikkie Patterson, visual art - painting
Wendynicole McGuinness-Keys, visual art/sound
William McKnight, poetry

Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600 million has been made available to support communities throughout the UK during the Coronavirus crisis. By playing The National Lottery, you are making an amazing contribution to the nationwide-response to combatting the impact of Covid-19 on local communities across the UK.

To find out more about the range of funding support announced by National Lottery distributors across the UK to date, visit the National Lottery Good Causes website www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/coronavirus-pandemic-response

For information on funding opportunities visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding

Note: this release has been updated to reflect all accepted offers of funding

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Arts Council Chief Executive gives Covid-19 update to Communities Committee, Stormont

Wednesday 27th May 2020 at 4pm 0 Comments

Arts Council of Northern Ireland Chief Executive, Roisín McDonough Image: Arts Council of Northern Ireland Chief Executive, Roisín McDonough

The Arts Council of NI (ACNI) was invited to apprise the Communities Committee of the NI Assembly today of the impact of Covid-19 on the Arts in NI. In both a written submission, and an opening statement  Roisín Mc Donough, Chief Executive, outlined the severe impact of Covid-19 on an arts sector that previously generated £53 million in income and employed an estimated 7,500 people - income and jobs which had been seriously damaged by the pandemic. She evidenced sectoral surveys undertaken during Covid-19 lockdown which revealed significant loss of earnings to both organisations and artists, the majority of whom are self-employed in a gig economy and most vulnerable of all.

Officials at the Department for Communities and the Minister were praised by the Arts Council for stepping in with £1m of emergency funding, which supplemented vital, re-purposed funds from the National Lottery and Exchequer funds, however ACNI representatives stated more support was urgently needed. The facts in ACNI written evidence state that the arts sector is likely to be one of the worst affected by the current lockdown, associated social distancing and the decimation of box office income.

Ms McDonough stated that  the deficit figure for the arts was estimated at £4million and that the current funding model, so painstakingly worked on over the last decade, and which saw arts organisations work hard to increase earned income, was now broken. She referenced the important contribution of digital platforms to the arts ecology but forecast that monetisation of digital arts content would not fill the income gap, and stated while consumer confidence around safety remained so low, neither outdoor nor indoor socially-distanced performances would deliver what is needed to keep organisations alive.

Arts Council representatives used case studies to illustrate to the committee the current bleak situation for many within the arts. They also laid out some of the further support measures the Council would like to see implemented, which would help the sector re-calibrate itself , make the most of digital content at this time, allow creative thinking time, while preparing for live audiences to return in the future.

The key actions recommended by the Arts Council to help ease current anxieties included:

  • Extension of the Job Retention and Self-Employment Income Support schemes for those sectors that need time to open and rebuild their businesses
  • Enabling furloughing to be done on a part-time basis
  • Revising the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to ensure no freelance worker falls through the gaps
  • Provision of further emergency funding for organisations to enable them to trade through the crisis over the next 12-18 months
  • Technical and financial support to implement 'safe space' protocols to help the sector return to business when appropriate to do so.


The Arts Council Chief Executive finished her submission stating, “Our arts sector here has been in the forefront of creating equality and access in ways which are the envy of other Arts Councils in these islands. Just like the health service many offer a huge variety of activities and services, free at the point of delivery. That must be sustained if some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community are to be supported to enjoy their rights to access the arts.”

Following the meeting Roisín McDonough commented,

“The Arts Council experienced a most appreciative reception from the Communities Committee who unanimously endorsed the valuable and creative work of our arts sector. They commended the artists and arts organisations who have been at the forefront of creating equality, improving access, as well providing opportunities to build health and wellbeing for so many people in Northern Ireland.

“Every member present at today’s meeting shared personal examples of the positive impact of the arts on them and on their friends and families. It was noted by committee members how hard the arts sector had been hit by the current Covid-19 pandemic, a sector already fragile from many years of underinvestment and despite this,  a sector that makes enormously valuable contributions to our society and to our economy. We took away from the committee their desire to see a cultural recovery strategy that might guide us through these difficult times, and indeed that is our shared aim.”

To read the full aural submission made to the Communities Committee by Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland click here.

To read the full written submission to the Communities Committee, NI Assembly, click here.

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Details announced of first artists to benefit from Artists Emergency Programme

Monday 18th May 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments Drama , Visual Arts , Northern Ireland Music , Literature , Circus & Carnival Arts , Community Arts

Pictured is artist Alana Barton, one of 88 artists announced today awarded funding through the Arts Council’s Artists Emergency Programme. Photo by Malachy McCrudden. Image: Pictured is artist Alana Barton, one of 88 artists announced today awarded funding through the Arts Council’s Artists Emergency Programme. Photo by Malachy McCrudden.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced details of the first 88 artists who will benefit from its Artists Emergency Programme.

News of the £500,000 Artists Emergency Programme was announced by the Minister for Communities Deidre Hargey MLA and the Arts Council at the end of April. It aims to support artists and performers during the pandemic that has decimated their means of earning an income and creating new work. 

Those set to receive funding include writers, composers, theatre practitioners, community artists and visual artists, who will each receive grants of up to £5,000 to develop their projects and professional practice.

Roisín McDonough, Arts Council Chief Executive, commented:

“This fund was opened at the end of April and in just two weeks we received over 300 applications from artists who have found themselves out of work and in urgent need of financial support.

“So far we have assessed 111 of those applications, 88 of which have been offered National Lottery and Exchequer funding totalling £263,000. Twenty-one of these were first time applicants to the Arts Council. Our staff are working diligently to ensure the remaining applications are ready for announcement at the end of May.

“There is still much to do. The impact of this pandemic poses the greatest of threats to our cultural life and we need to act now to support our artists and cultural institutions if they are to have a future when society returns to normal.”

Artists offered funding include:

Diana Ennis, Designer
Diana is a costume and set designer and she will use her award and time during lockdown to develop audio visual and design skills for a new piece of physical theatre for young audiences. Her project is a progression from her experience as a designer responding to a script or performance, to an artist using design to initiate a brand new piece of theatre. The piece will explore the mental health impact of isolation for a young audiences in a creative and accessible format, using non-verbal physical performance, design, colour and AV content. This is the first time that Diana has applied to the Arts Council for funding support.

Jason O’Rourke, Composer and Musician
“Belonging: a Northern Ireland-India socially-distanced collaboration” is a remote collaboration between Jason O’Rourke and Deepmoy Das, an Indian musician. The project will deliver performances online to benefit the NI Indian community, employing a network of partner organisations in NI and India. Ambitions are to tailor a programme of NI-Indian folk music to engage audiences online, through music, arts, crafts and dance. The collaboration will encourage the Indian diaspora in NI to reflect on issues of identity and belonging, and encourage participation in arts practices. It will pave the way for further sustainable community projects.

Vasiliki Stasinaki, A dance and visual artist working in the intersection between both practices
Vasiliki experiments with the creation of performative installations, using video, sound, sculpture and movement and this is the first time she has applied to the Arts Council for funding. She hopes to research and develop a new project that investigates how social and traditional dance has been used historically as a tool for political and societal change during uncertain times. She plans to develop a series of cutting edge, experimental films using both archival footage and new material created during lockdown, in order to explore this subject and develop ideas for a future installation.

Paul Corcoran, Writer
Paul plans to write and publish a science fiction novel to be produced as an eBook, audiobook and print book to be widely available to potential readers. He is a published author and plans to provide employment for Northern Ireland based editors, cover designers and audio artists. This is Paul’s first funding application to the Arts Council. 

Ken Fanning, Circus Artist
Ken is a founding member of Tumble Circus and an experienced circus artist who has trained and performed across the globe. This funding will enable him to employ five other circus performers and choreographers to create a style of circus reflective of the grassroots arts scene unique to Belfast. The work will be captured on camera and shared online and has the capacity to lead to future work like films, new acts for shows, new street art and movement projects.

Alana Barton, Visual Artist
Alana will be using her funding to create a series of figurative paintings inspired by art made by families and which explore family, childhood and home. She will design a series of free online art tutorials tailored for adults and children to work on jointly, with the aim of creating positive memories during time spent at home. Participants will be invited to send their creations as reference to inform the series of figurative paintings. Along with the paintings and the families’ creations, the project will be documented and compiled into a public online exhibition/ebook.

Louise Mathews, Actor and Playwright
Louise Mathews is a Northern Ireland actor and has enjoyed success with theatre companies including Prime Cut, Tinderbox and Anu. As a first time applicant to the Arts Council, her project will give her time to develop her skills and practice, as well as research and develop a new collaborative work inspired by the 90s dance scene in Northern Ireland.  

The Artists Emergency Fund is temporarily closed due to a large volume of applications. The Arts Council is currently assessing the remaining intake of applications, decisions on which will announced at the end of the May.

This is a funding programme with a finite resource and inevitably it will have to close permanently at some point. The Arts Council will do everything it can to give notice of this eventuality and is working hard with Minister Hargey and the Department for Communities to determine the level of need within the sector. It remains the Arts Council’s key priority to offer as much support as possible with the resources it has to individual artists and creative practitioners at this stressful time.

 

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Áine Ní Ghlinn announced as the sixth Laureate na nÓg

Wednesday 13th May 2020 at 2pm 0 Comments Literature

Image: Áine Ní Ghlinn announced as the sixth Laureate na nÓg

Irish language author Áine Ní Ghlinn was today (Wednesday 13 May) announced as the sixth Laureate na nÓg, Ireland’s Children’s Literature Laureate. Áine is the first author who writes exclusively in Irish to be awarded the honour, and will hold the title from now until 2022.

Laureate na nÓg is an honour which was established in 2010 to engage young people with high quality literature and to underline the importance of children’s literature in our cultural and imaginative lives. It is an initiative of the Arts Council, administered by Children’s Books Ireland with the support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Poetry Ireland.

Áine Ní Ghlinn is a children’s writer and poet. She has written over thirty books, including poetry collections and an array of books and novels for children and teenagers. Her ambition as Laureate is to lift the cloak of invisibility from Irish language authors and books, and to encourage children and young people to read for pleasure as Gaeilge.

Prof. Kevin Rafter, Chair of the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, said:

“Laureate na nÓg was established by the Arts Council to honour the very finest artists in the field of children’s literature, and our sixth Laureate na nÓg is absolutely such an artist. Áine Ní Ghlinn’s work is both fearless and beautiful, and her commitment to her craft and the written word is undeniable. Writing across every age group and genre, Áine Ní Ghlinn is one of our most talented and beloved artists, and the Council is proud to name her Laureate na nÓg.

“The position takes on an additional significance given the current crisis. Against that backdrop, I have no doubt that Áine will be a Laureate to inspire and lead children and young people through the power of writing.”

Speaking as new Laureate na nÓg, Áine Ní Ghlinn said:

“I am humbled and excited at being appointed Laureate na nÓg. It is the high point of my writing career and an incredible honour to be the first Irish language writer awarded the honour. As a central part of my Laureate term, I want to raise the profile of children’s literature as Gaeilge and to bring leabhair Ghaeilge do pháistí into the mainstream conversation. I want children, parents, grandparents, teachers to have the same access to high quality children’s literature as Gaeilge as they already have in English. Children deserve the opportunity to engage with Irish language literature for pleasure and not just as schoolwork.”

Áine is originally from County Tipperary. She worked for a number of years in RTÉ and Raidió na Gaeltachta, and now divides her time between writing, delivering creative writing workshops in schools around the country and part-time lecturing in Dublin City University. Her books have won the Gradam Reics Carló Book of the Year Award three times, most recently in 2019 for her novel Boscadán. In 2015, her YA novel Daideo won the Honour Award for Fiction at the Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Awards, as well as the Literacy Association of Ireland Book of the Year.

John Edmund, Arts Council of Northern Ireland Chair, commented:

"The appointment of Áine Ní Ghlinn as Laureate na nÓg comes at a time when poetry and literature are more important than ever, offering solace for children (and their parents) during these uncertain days. Watching children respond to poetry on digital and social media during the current crisis has been a revelation, to which Áine's appointment will undoubtedly add another dimension. Áine will act as an ambassador for children's writing, inspiring a new generation of readers and writers to open themselves up to new stories, poems, concepts and ideas. Laureate na nÓg is a unique and important honour, one that will strengthen opportunities for young people across the island of Ireland to engage in high quality children's literature"

Áine is a former chair of the Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Awards and is a strong advocate for Irish writers and illustrators. She has been engaged for many years in the wider children’s literature sector as a visible, vocal and measured champion of books that are written for children in the Irish language. Áine was selected as one of Children’s Books Ireland’s twenty BOLD GIRLS in 2018, a project celebrating strong girls and women in children’s literature and highlighting Irish women artists whose work is remarkable.

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Cecil Maguire RHA, RUA (1930-2020)

Monday 11th May 2020 at 4pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with sadness of the death on Friday 8th May of the landscape artist and figure painter, Cecil Maguire.

Cecil Maguire was born in Lurgan, Co. Armagh, studied at Queen’s University Belfast and taught English at Lurgan College until his retirement in 1981, to focus on painting. By the early 1960s he was exhibiting regularly with the RUA, becoming an associate member in 1967 and a full member in 1974. The RUA presented him with several awards, including the RUA Gold Medal 1974 and RUA Perpetual Gold Medal in 1993. He began exhibiting with the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin in 1971. His paintings are represented in major art collections, including The United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Ulster Museum, the Ulster Bank, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster Television and the Northern Ireland Civil Service collection.

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The heroic NI arts organisations reaching out to isolated older people during quarantine

Monday 11th May 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments

Greater Shantallow Arts and Studio 2 in Derry has been leading the way in making sure that the most vulnerable, isolated elderly people across the city are receiving nutritious, free meals daily, recently hitting the 14,000 meal mark! Image: Greater Shantallow Arts and Studio 2 in Derry has been leading the way in making sure that the most vulnerable, isolated elderly people across the city are receiving nutritious, free meals daily, recently hitting the 14,000 meal mark!

From music and dance to crafting and drawing, many of Northern Ireland’s arts organisations are reaching out digitally to support isolated, vulnerable older people by using the arts to promote well-being and boost mental health during quarantine.

The Spectrum Centre in north Belfast, recently commissioned musician, Eve Williams, to record a series of music for singalongs in care homes as part of their current Chatty Tuesday Programme.  CDs of the music were sent out to ten care homes in the Belfast area along with art packs, activity sheets and ‘keeping in touch’ newsletters.  Over the coming weeks, the Spectrum Centre intends to extend this project further within the Greater Shankill community to reach out to lonely adults and older people who may be interested in joining their Chatty Tuesday Programme. 

Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre, in Enniskillen, has been getting older people physically active with their free programme of movement activities especially designed for older people as part of their Arts & Older People funding from the Arts Council. The movement sessions are available for everyone at www.dylanquinndance.com/contemporary-exercises

In partnership with Health and Social Care Trusts throughout Northern Ireland, Arts Care engages 19 Artists-in-Residence, a team of Northern Ireland ClownDoctors and many project artists who facilitate and co-ordinate participatory workshops to patients, clients, residents and staff in health and social care settings.  Due to Covid-19 they recently moved their activity online to enable them to continue to deliver their arts programmes.  Their new YouTube channel, Arts Care 4U, enables Arts Care to continue to deliver their weekly programme in hospital wards, care home and healthcare units.  The channel offers a range of art participation workshops, especially for older people, in residential care or who are self-isolating at home.  The channel can be accessed at https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCQ85xLA2BlQQdrnWBhKw1hw

Greater Shantallow Arts and Studio 2 in Derry are delivering their Arts Council funded Arts & Older People Programme digitally to older people in their community.  In addition to continuing arts activities online, the organisation has been leading the way in making sure that the most vulnerable, isolated elderly people across the city are receiving nutritious, free meals daily, recently hitting the 14,000 meal mark!  They’ve temporarily turned their community arts centre into a community relief support centre to help those most in need and established a call service and communications system that allows those in need, their families or carers to contact them and register requests for support. https://youtu.be/By00q_kASC

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts & Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“It’s truly inspiring and uplifting to see how our arts sector has responded so positively during this incredibly difficult time.  Older people are often some of the most lonely, isolated and marginalised in our society and this is only heightened during Covid-19.  We know that taking part in arts activities can help alleviate loneliness and boost mental health and well-being for all.  Despite the challenges and uncertainty ahead, many of our artists and arts organisations have adapted their work to continue to bring high-quality arts to older people in care homes and in the community, in an innovative way.  The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is extremely proud to support this terrific work through National Lottery and exchequer funding.  Well done to all those who are using the power of the arts as a tool to lift our spirits and bring us all closer together at this time and thanks to National Lottery Players too.”

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Deaf/Disabled Artist Support Fund announced by Arts Council and University of Atypical

Wednesday 6th May 2020 at 11am 0 Comments

Felting workshop by Niki Collier, Bounce Arts Festival 2019. Image courtesy of Paul Moore. Image: Felting workshop by Niki Collier, Bounce Arts Festival 2019. Image courtesy of Paul Moore.

Arts Council of Northern Ireland and University of Atypical are delighted to announce a new fund specifically for D/deaf and disabled artists in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Artists of all disciplines are invited to apply for 25 grants of up to £1,000 each, in order to support their practice, by 31st March 2021. The grants can support artistic output across any discipline and scale, alongside any associated access support requirements that D/deaf and disabled artists have. This fund is in addition to, not instead of, Arts Council’s other schemes such as the Artists’ Emergency Programme – D/deaf and disabled artists can apply for both. iDA recipients, or other artists who work on existing projects with University of Atypical, or have worked with the organisation previously, are also eligible to apply.

Damien Coyle, Chairperson of University of Atypical, says:

‘Recognition of the specific support that D/deaf and disabled artists require is more important now than ever. As the sector-lead organisation for D/deaf and disabled arts, we’re proud to be administrating this fund on behalf of Arts Council of Northern Ireland and are grateful for their ongoing support for the D/deaf and disabled arts community.’

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts & Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added:

‘In response to this tremendously challenging time for individual artists due to the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council is delighted to announce this new Deaf/Disabled Artists Support Fund, worth £25,000 of National Lottery funding. The aim of this fund is to financially support deaf/disabled artists in Northern Ireland, who have suffered a loss of earnings, to undertake research, professional development or a project. Working alongside the University of Atypical, we hope this new fund will have a significant, positive impact during this difficult time.  It’s also important to note that this fund is available in addition to, and not instead of, the Arts Council’s recently announced National Lottery supported £500,000 Artists Emergency Programme. We anticipate high interest in both programmes so please do apply as soon as possible.’

Further details and a short application form can be found on the University of Atypical website: https://universityofatypical.org/deaf-and-disabled-artist-support-fund/ and on our various social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Please do not hesitate to contact jane@universityofatypical.org if you require this information in another format. D/deaf people can text via 07854034765.

Applications to the fund will open on Wednesday 6th of May and will close on Wednesday 20th of May at 5pm.

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BBC Arts ask the nation to Get Creative, forming the BBC Lockdown Orchestra to play You Got The Love

Monday 4th May 2020 at 11am 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

BBC Lockdown Orchestra Image: BBC Lockdown Orchestra

Public to perform and sing on track with BBC Orchestras, BBC Singers and the Ulster Orchestra as part of a UK-wide performance for Get Creative festival.

As part of a ten-day creative challenge for the Get Creative festival, BBC Arts and BBC Radio 3 are asking the nation to dust off their instruments and warm up their vocal cords to join the BBC Lockdown Orchestra in a national collaborative rendition of the 1986 anthem of hope You Got The Love by The Source featuring Candi Staton - which Florence + The Machine brought to renewed fame in 2009 with their cover version, You’ve Got The Love.

The public is being invited to film and upload their performances to bbc.co.uk/getcreative, where their submissions will join those of the BBC Lockdown Orchestra to create a track which will premiere across BBC Radio on Thursday 14 May, and debut as a music video on BBC Four at 8.55pm later that day.

The newly formed BBC Lockdown Orchestra is made up of 100 professional musicians from all over the UK, including members of the BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers and the Ulster Orchestra - and this virtual performance marks the first time the BBC’s musicians and singers have collaborated in this way.

Those who want to join in with the song can use the backing track and musical score available on bbc.co.uk/getcreative from Monday, 4 May 2020. The score can be used in different ways by beginner, intermediate and advanced musicians, allowing everyone to have a go. Once submissions have been uploaded by the deadline on Sunday, 10 May 2020 at 11.59pm, BBC Studios will create a final mix of the UK public and the BBC Lockdown Orchestra’s performances for a track on radio and a music video for TV and online.

We’re also delighted to be supported by celebrity guests, with a mix of musical backgrounds, who are encouraging the public to get involved. So far names signed up include BBC Radio 3 presenter Katie Derham; viral drumming BBC weatherman Owain Wyn Evans; and BBC Radio 6 Music presenter and funk & soul DJ, Craig Charles.

As part of the initiative, members of the public - who might not play musical instruments or sing - are being asked to make something with love, whether that’s a drawing, dancing, or decorating a cake, which they wish they could share with a loved one. If they share the results via photos and video on the BBC, they could be included in the final film.

The participation elements this year are part of the BBC’s wider Culture in Quarantine initiative, continuing to bring arts and culture into the homes of the public, despite covid-19 restrictions.

Alan Davey, Controller of BBC Radio 3 and Classical Music: Proms and Performing Groups, says: “This is a unique chance for the public to show their musical skills in the company of the world-renowned BBC orchestras and choirs, and contribute to an inspiring version of this uplifting song. Guitar or trumpet, violin or voice - bring what you will and join in a massive, awe-inspiring performance.”

Jonty Claypole, Director of BBC Arts, says: “The ambition of Culture in Quarantine is to ensure the UK continues to have access to great art and culture - and can take part and share too. Get Creative began as a participatory creativity campaign five years ago and in that time has fostered a large network of partners, communities and individual participants. At a time of national lockdown, it is perfectly placed to support a project of the scale, reach and joy of You Got the Love.”

Katie Derham, presenter on BBC Radio 3, says: “If you've ever dreamed of playing in a BBC orchestra or singing with the BBC Singers… now is your chance! Join with the BBC Lockdown Orchestra. You don't have to be a virtuoso, just join in and have a go, and be part of something really special. I may dust off my violin... though maybe humming along would be kinder for everyone!”

Owain Wyn Evans, the BBC’s drumming weatherman, said: “This is a fabulous idea, I can’t wait to get involved! I’ve been playing the drums since I was eight years old, and having the opportunity to play 'alongside' albeit in lockdown, such fabulous musicians is going to be incredible. PLUS this is such a feel-good song... I can’t wait to play along.”

Funk & soul DJ Craig Charles will be encouraging BBC Radio 6 Music listeners to get involved, and plans to submit a video of him playing the piano to the track. He said: “It’s great to be a part of something we can get down to during the lockdown!”

The Get Creative festival, now in its fifth year, is a UK-wide celebration of have-a-go creativity encouraging everyone to try a new creative hobby. Due to global events, the festival has changed its line-up to include a host of activities that the public can join in with from the comfort of their home. Organised by the BBC and 10 other partners, there are activities for everyone to join in and get creative.

Florence + The Machine were discovered through BBC Music Introducing in 2008 and went on to become a global phenomenon. The 2009 track You’ve Got The Love from Florence + The Machine was a cover of the 1986 release from The Source & Candi Staton, and has had over 1.8 million combined sales/streams, peaking at number five in the UK Official Charts.

The musicians and singers in the BBC Lockdown Orchestra are providing the backing track to support anyone who wants to get involved. They each recorded their contributions to the track from members’ individual homes, which were then arranged and produced by Steve Pycroft, co-founder of the Kaleidoscope Orchestra.

Members of the public can still experience being a part of the BBC Lockdown Orchestra by playing and singing along to the backing track using online parts, which will be available until August.

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Freelands Foundation announces hardship fund for visual artists, £500,000 earmarked for NI

Friday 1st May 2020 at 4pm 0 Comments

Freelands Foundation Image: Freelands Foundation

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland today welcomed the announcement by The Freelands Foundation that £500,000 of their £1.5M hardship fund will benefit visual artists and freelancers in the visual arts sector in Northern Ireland.

She commented; “ The Arts Council is absolutely delighted to express our thanks to the Freelands Foundation which today announced that £500,000 will be earmarked for visual artists and freelancers in the visual arts sector in Northern Ireland who have been so badly affected by Covid-19 and the subsequent quarantine. We know our artists are working hard, developing new ways to deliver much-needed creative and inspirational responses to our current collective experience and need all the support they can get in this difficult time so this is very welcome news indeed’.

  • The Freelands Foundation Emergency Fund will open on Thursday May 7th 2020 offering support grants of up to £1,500 to £2,500 per applicant and further information and application guidance can be found here 
  • Individuals can apply to The Freelands Trust Emergency Fund through Foundation’s delivery partner,  a-n, The Artists Information Company.
  • The Freelands Foundation has now committed a total of £3m in emergency funds to support artists and freelance creative practitioners in urgent need of financial support as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic across the four nations of the UK. The new fund follows a £1m contribution to the Creative Scotland Bridging Bursary and £500k to the Arts Council of Wales Urgent Relief Fund for Individuals.

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Arts Council tribute to BJ Hogg, acclaimed Northern Ireland actor, who has died, aged 65

Friday 1st May 2020 at 9am 0 Comments

Arts Council tribute to BJ Hogg, acclaimed Northern Ireland actor, who has died, aged 65.

Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Roisin McDonough, joined others in paying tribute to the Lisburn-born actor, BJ Hogg, who very sadly died suddenly yesterday at the age of 65. Ms McDonough said:

“BJ Hogg was a very fine and versatile stage and screen actor, as easily capable of breaking audiences’ hearts through his beautifully nuanced performance as the lonely widower in Dance Lexie Dance, as raising great belly laughs as Big Mervyn in Give My Head Peace. As a character actor, he reached that rare status of being highly respected and admired amongst his peers, achieving national and international celebrity, most famously for his role as Addam Marbrand in Game of Thrones, and, locally, becoming a much-loved household name throughout Northern Ireland. He will be greatly missed.”

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Get Creative at Home

Friday 1st May 2020 at 8am 0 Comments

Get creative at home during the month of May Image: Get creative at home during the month of May

The #GetCreativeAtHome campaign aims to highlight and promote some of the amazing participatory creative activities that are being developed to help people to express themselves creatively during a time of unprecedented change. At this extremely challenging time, we believe that the power of creativity to unite people and support them to maintain good mental health and connection with others is more important than ever.

Get Creative is a campaign that shines a light on all the great cultural activity that takes place on a regular basis in local communities and encourages people to try their hand at something new and creative. Each May, we have held a huge annual celebration of creativity through a festival that aims to give everyone the chance to get actively involved in a creative event in their local area.

There are now more than 200 creative activities listed by organisations and individuals across the UK to offer creative inspiration to people of all ages. These free (or low-cost) activities cover almost every art form you can think of and most can be done without specialist equipment. Delve into the listings and find something to spark your creativity!

BBC Arts is supporting #GetCreativeAtHome with a range of online content and broadcast programming. A new series of online masterclasses has been launched - with the first two episodes featuring Sir Antony Gormley and Clare Twomey now live on the Get Creative Facebook page. Live streamed dance classes have been led by Birmingham Royal Ballet and National Dance Company Wales. And there are more big moments being planned for the coming weeks so stay tuned!

Get Creative is a campaign brought to you by arts and creative organisations and individuals across the UK and is supported by Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, the BBC, Crafts Council, Creative Scotland, Libraries Connected, Local Government Association, Scottish Libraries & Information Council, Voluntary Arts, and What Next?.

Visit https://getcreativeuk.com for more information and to get creative.

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Local projects lead the way in the community

Tuesday 28th April 2020 at 9am 0 Comments

Ulster Orchestra Image: Ulster Orchestra

National Lottery funded organisations from Northern Ireland have been at the forefront of efforts to keep people safe, healthy and active during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Enterprising projects and selfless individuals throughout the North have been carrying out amazing acts for their community.

These include assisting in food deliveries to the most vulnerable; organising online activities and, in some cases, returning to the health service to help in the frontline.

Streetwise Community Circus has created a digital hub called Streetwise at Home, where children can learn circus skills from professional performers. While the Ulster Orchestra’s new digital platform, #UOLetsPlayAtHome, features videos of their players and staff performing and chatting individually or as small ensembles every mid-week day at 3pm on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

National Lottery funded Every Body Active coaches from local authorities across Northern Ireland have also moved online with to offer safe sport and physical activity skills at home. Olympic rowing hopeful Philip Doyle, a qualified doctor, has put his Tokyo preparations on hold to return to medicine and join the battle against Covid-19.

The team at Monkstown Boxing Club has turned its gym and facilities into a temporary soup kitchen and volunteers are delivering food packages to the doorsteps of people in their area who are self-isolating.

And for those missing Northern Ireland’s spectacular natural beauty and landscapes, the National Trust is offering virtual tours from the comfort of your own home of the rugged scenery around the Giant’s Causeway, where the National Lottery helped fund a world-class visitor centre.

Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600 million of National Lottery funding will be reallocated over the coming months to help projects in the UK offset the impact of coronavirus and support the most vulnerable in our communities.

Paul Mullan, chair of The National Lottery Forum Northern Ireland, said:

“The National Lottery is playing a critical role in supporting people, projects and communities during these challenging times.

“We have always backed projects and people who help communities thrive and we are now focussing support to mitigate the unprecedented pressure they are feeling as we rally to overcome Covid-19.

“By playing The National Lottery, you are making an amazing contribution to supporting these organisations and individuals and you are playing an important role in the nationwide-response to combatting the impact of Covid-19 in your local community.”

Each week, £30 million is raised by National Lottery players for good causes. To find out more about the range of funding support announced by National Lottery distributors to date, please visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/coronavirus-pandemic-response. Please check the websites of individual distributors for full terms and conditions.

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Arts Council opens emergency programme for artists and performers

Monday 27th April 2020 at 8am 0 Comments

Arts Council opens emergency programme for artists and performers Image: Arts Council opens emergency programme for artists and performers

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (Monday 27th April) opened a funding programme to support artists and performers during the COVID-19 crisis. The Artists Emergency Programme (AEP), worth £500,000, offers freelance artists, creative practitioners and performers the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £5,000 each.

The Arts Council’s National Lottery funding will be used to support the research, design and future presentation of arts events and performances, including resources to help artists develop their creative practice. The AEP fund provides much needed financial support and employment, a lifeline to artists, at a time when the arts sector has been decimated under quarantine conditions, venue and gallery closures, festival and event cancellations and the disappearance of live audiences.

The Arts Council’s Artists Emergency Programme is one element of the £1.5m funding package recently announced by Minister Hargey, Department for Communities, to support the arts and wider culture sectors during the current pandemic. Other measures will be rolled out to support arts organisations, libraries and museums in the coming weeks.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA said:

"The Arts Sector is facing many barriers, this fund will offer equality of opportunity and access for a broad range of people. I have asked my Department to continue to do everything possible to provide support and assistance to individuals and groups in the Arts Sector at this time. I am also grateful to the Arts Council for working with my Department in responding to the needs of the sector."

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“We welcome the Minister’s announcement of new funding to support the arts and culture sectors during the Covid-19 pandemic and we hope to allocate that as quickly as possible. The Artists Emergency Programme we opened today forms an important strand of the Minister’s package; one that targets our individual artists who are in urgent need at this time. Our artists are among the most creative, flexible and inventive members of our society and many are already finding brilliant, imaginative and innovative ways to deliver their art, but the impact of the pandemic on their working lives has been both severe and immediate.

“The Artists Emergency Fund, worth £500,000 of National Lottery funding, will help support efforts to develop their vocations and find new ways to bring colour, meaning and inspiration to our lives at a time when many of us need it most.  The scheme is open for Expressions of Interest and we hope to see  inventive ideas that imagine how artists’ practice can advance in better times’ while  also engaging in the future with audiences and participants in a meaningful way.”

The rolling AEP programme will open for applications Monday 27th April, until further notice, for proposals ending March 2021. The Arts Council will endeavour to have decisions made within two weeks of receipt of proposals. Expression of Interest forms and guidance notes are available at artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/artists-emergency-programme

The Arts Council is working to bring forward the opening of its revised Support for Individual Artists Programme (SIAP) for 2020 to the month of May. This programme is also funded by the National Lottery and will focus on General Arts Awards and commissioning opportunities.

For more information on the financial impact of the Coronavirus on the NI Arts Sector (April 2020) visit artscouncil-ni.org/news/coronavirus-covid-19-advice

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Roma Tomelty (1945-2020)

Wednesday 22nd April 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with great sadness of the death of the acclaimed Northern Ireland stage and screen actor, director and producer, Roma Tomelty, who has died at the age of 75.

Roma Tomelty, sister to fellow actor Frances, followed in the footsteps of their father, Joseph Tomelty, who was one of the most important artistic and cultural figures in the post-war professional drama scene in Belfast in the 1940s and 50s, by devoting herself to the development of Northern Irish theatre. She carried on the family association with the Belfast Group Theatre, championing its cause until it closed, then establishing, with her husband, Colin Carnegie, Centre Stage Theatre Company, a professional company dedicated to reprising plays dating from the heyday of the Group and ‘Ulster theatre’, including works by Joseph Tomelty, St John Ervine, George Shiels and others. With Centre Stage, she also helped to nurture the talents of an emerging generation of actors, directors and stage technicians through the drama school arm of the company.

Her long association with Ulster Theatre began as far back as the age of sixteen when, alongside Stephen Rea and Roisin Donaghy, she formed The Young Irish Theatre Company, with the aim of reviving and promoting local theatre. She was also one of the group of eminent actors who had a long association with the Arts Theatre in Belfast, before its closure in the late 1990s and she performed and worked for various companies, including the Lyric Theatre.

Born and raised in Belfast, Roma maintained her family’s long Co Down links in her professional life. During the 1980s, she was the artistic director of Newry Arts Centre where, for a number of successful years, she was also involved in the O’Casey Theatre Company.

A freelance actress, director and producer from the age of 18, Roma Tomelty’s more recent acting credits included appearances in the films, ‘Miss Conception’ (2008) and ‘Your Highness’ (2011) and in the TV series, ‘Game of Thrones’ (2011) and ‘The Frankenstein Chronicles 2’ (2017).

Roma is survived by her husband, Colin and their three daughters Ruth, Rachel and Hanna.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, paid tribute:

“Roma was a formidable powerhouse of Northern Irish theatre. She will be remembered as a huge talent and, for me, personally, as a wonderfully warm and charismatic person with an infectious energy. She was always tremendous company. As part of an illustrious family dynasty she stayed true to her local roots and made her own mark on the world. For anyone with a love of theatre in Northern Ireland, she would have been a truly inspirational figure. We won’t see her like again.”

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Crescent Arts Centre remembers “a saint of poetry” with Mairtín Crawford Awards

Monday 20th April 2020 at 10am 0 Comments Literature

The late Belfast poet and writer Mairtin Crawford, whose life and work are being celebrated in the Mairtin Crawford Awards for Poetry and Short Story. Image: The late Belfast poet and writer Mairtin Crawford, whose life and work are being celebrated in the Mairtin Crawford Awards for Poetry and Short Story.

The Crescent Arts Centre is celebrating the life and work of the man who poet Michael Longley called “a saint of poetry” with the launch of the Mairtín Crawford Awards for Poetry and Short Story 2020.

The Awards are aimed at writers working towards their first full collection of poetry, short stories, or a novel. Both published and unpublished writers from all over the world are invited to submit between 3-5 poems for the poetry award, and a short story of up to 2,500 words for the short story award.  The only stipulations are that entrants must not yet have published a full collection of poetry, short stories, or a novel and entries must be in the English language..

Sophie Hayles, CEO of The Crescent Arts Centre, explains more:

“As a creative writing tutor, writer-in-residence and Director of the Between the Lines festival, Mairtín Crawford was a huge part of The Crescent Arts Centre family before his untimely death in 2004.  As Michael Longley so memorably said, Mairtin ‘gave so much more than he took and made things possible for lots of other people’.

Although the 10th Belfast Book Festival will not take place in June 2020 due to the current public health crisis, we are delighted to still be running the Mairtín Crawford Awards as part of our ongoing commitment to supporting emerging talent.”

Naomi Foyle, one of the judges of the Poetry Award and a close friend and colleague of Mairtín said:

“The current lockdown leaves many writers with more time on their hands than they might have anticipated. While there are serious and painful difficulties about the experience we’re all undergoing, there are positive aspects too and the process of writing can help us to gain a valuable perspective on it all.

While it's sad about the cancellation of this year’s Belfast Book Festival, it seems fitting that Mairtín's Award will be energising aspirant writers at this time of enormous social change.”

The deadline for submissions to the Mairtín Crawford Awards is midnight on Wednesday 13 May 2020.

For the 2020 Awards, the winner for each Award will receive a cash prize of £1,000 and a 3-night stay at the wonderful writing and reading retreat The River Mill. The runners-up for each Award will be given a cash prize of £250.

The judges for the 2020 Awards are: Short Story:  Lucy Caldwell (Chair) and Rachael Kelly; Poetry: Moyra Donaldson (Chair) and Naomi Foyle.

The Awards are supported by NIPR Books and The River Mill. 

For more information on the Mairtín Crawford Awards and to find out how to enter, visit https://belfastbookfestival.com/mairtin-crawford-award

The Crescent Arts Centre and Belfast Book Festival are supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

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JLF Belfast 2020

Friday 10th April 2020 at 5pm 0 Comments

JLF Belfast 2019, Lyric Theatre Belfast Image: JLF Belfast 2019, Lyric Theatre Belfast

In light of current government advice on Covid-19, it is with great sadness that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and TeamWork Arts, the producers of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival in India, must announce the postponement of JLF Belfast 2020, (Lyric Theatre June 13-14) until Spring 2021.

All ticket holders will be contacted over coming weeks by the Lyric Theatre's box office and any requests to defer ticket take-up to the 2021 festival will of course be honoured. We will announce new dates for JLF 2021 as soon as we know them. Meanwhile we are keeping up to date with the fast-changing situation and we will continue to communicate news on the 2021 festival programme as it develops. Stay well everyone and we look forward to meeting you again in 2021.

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ACNI awards £12.9 million in grants to sustain key arts organisations during challenging times

Friday 10th April 2020 at 11am 0 Comments

The Lyric Theatre’s world premiere of the stage musical version of ‘Good Vibrations’, charting the life of Belfast punk legend Terri Hooley, adapted Colin Carberry and Glenn Patterson Image: The Lyric Theatre’s world premiere of the stage musical version of ‘Good Vibrations’, charting the life of Belfast punk legend Terri Hooley, adapted Colin Carberry and Glenn Patterson

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) today (10 April 2020) announced annual funding of £12.9 million for 97 key arts organisations from its exchequer and National Lottery resources. This year, with the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent quarantine, the Council has promised an upfront payment of 50% of the total grant value offered, to help stabilise the region’s key arts organisations.

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 Northern Ireland’s key arts organisations received standstill funding, primarily covering their core costs and programming costs.

John Edmund, Chair, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,

“Today the Arts Council is able to award £12.9 million of annual arts funding, from its exchequer and National Lottery resources, to support the valuable work of 97 key arts organisations. Each of these organisations is under enormous financial pressure, as is public expenditure generally, during this period of quarantine so we are thankful we could maintain funding to applicants at last year’s level.”

The situation for artists and arts organisations has never been as bad; venues are closed, events and festivals are cancelled and travel bans and social distancing have removed the opportunity to perform for live audiences and show new artistic work. While this is all completely understandable and very necessary in the fight against Covid-19, it has destabilised arts organisations right across Northern Ireland and threatens their very survival . We continue to work alongside Minister Hargey and the Department for Communities on funding solutions that will help our artists and arts organisations ride-out this crisis and help them continue to create inspirational work for audiences and for those most in need in our communities.”

Arts Council Chief Executive, Róisín McDonough, commented,

“We are relieved to be able to make today’s allocation of standstill funding and we are grateful to the Department for Communities in acknowledging the fragile state of the arts sector at this time and the devastating effects of Covid-19 upon our key arts organisations.

“Our Board chose to mitigate some of the immediate difficulties faced by those organisations during these unprecedented times by making upfront payments of 50% of approved annual grants to clients. Flexibility and liquidity are key to the sector’s survival right now; the Arts Council will be flexible with our clients regarding how funding is deployed and used this year while organisations strive to maintain liquidity and create the inspirational work we all need in this situation.”

“Ninety-one organisations were offered standstill funding, two were offered uplifts for clear strategic reasons including merger costs and other external financial pressures and there were two new applicants. “

“I would like to take the opportunity to commend all those who were successful in their applications and I also want to reassure our arts sector that I and my staff are doing our utmost to bring as much support as possible, as quickly as possible, to those who need it most.”

Today’s Annual Funding announcement supports the work of major arts organisations in Northern Ireland.  An Artist’s Emergency Programme is currently being designed to support individual artists and freelancers in response to the pressures of Covid-19.  Full details are expected to be announced quickly after Easter holidays, please check the website for future updates at www.artscouncil-ni.org 

Arts Council staff members are also continuing to work alongside the Department for Communities to ensure the minister’s recent announcement of £1m of aid will make a real difference and support the wider cultural sector in NI as soon as possible.  This support will include artists, arts organisations, and those working with museums, libraries and languages.

Annual Funding Programme Case Studies:

Outburst Arts
Outburst Arts is a new client to the Arts Council’s Annual Funding Programme. The organisation is at a pivotal point in its development; their annual festival, Outburst Queer Arts Festival, has grown into one of the leading festivals in Northern Ireland for exciting, cutting-edge writing and performance. The organisation has produced award-winning, critically-acclaimed productions, often in partnership with other arts companies, and also showcases the best in new queer arts from around the world.  Visit outburstarts.com
 

174 Trust
174 Trust (Duncairn Arts and Cultural Centre) is the second new client added to the Arts Council’s Annual Funding Programme. Since opening in 2014, the Duncairn Arts and Cultural Centre has created a highly successful arts-based model of engagement with marginalised and disadvantaged communities in North Belfast.   The venue is a shared space community arts centre, supporting local children, young people and adults through targeted arts programming, workshops and classes.  The Duncairn also supports and develops the work of young, emerging local artists and has a regular programme of live music.

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Funding injection for youth arts project is music to the ears

Tuesday 31st March 2020 at 10am 0 Comments

Pictured are: Project Sparks leaders Owen Coyle, Sarah-Jane Murray and Courtney Hamilton, project manager Eamonn McCarron and Gilly Campbell from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland with pupils from Greenhaw Primary School. Image: Pictured are: Project Sparks leaders Owen Coyle, Sarah-Jane Murray and Courtney Hamilton, project manager Eamonn McCarron and Gilly Campbell from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland with pupils from Greenhaw Primary School.

Project Sparks in Derry/Londonderry is celebrating the continuation of its landmark dance and music programme, thanks to a recent cash injection from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery funds. The ambitious programme, developed by Liberty Consortium, was founded with the belief that the best teachers are those who know what it’s like to struggle.

Since 2017, Project Sparks has trained 18 musically talented disabled young people (called ‘Leaders’) to teach music and dance to primary-school children alongside the project’s staff. Recognising that music is a powerful vehicle to maximise children’s learning right across the school curriculum, Project Sparks has impacted over 800 children across the region.

Over the past two years, the group has received almost £10,000 from the Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme. They say that The Arts Council’s investment helped them leverage funding from other sources such as Paul Hamlyn Foundation, which has enabled them to teach a further 250 children who have, until now, had limited creative opportunities.

Educator and Project Sparks manager Eamonn McCarron, comments;

“This work is transformative for the young Leaders and the children whom they teach. For the first time, there is an opportunity for disabled artists to use their resilience and empathy to capture children’s creative potential and broaden their beliefs about disability. This latest injection of funding from the Arts Council has helped Leaders to secure a bright future in sharing their talents with children who need it most. Blending the Leaders’ youthful camaraderie with instruction from qualified teachers allows us to create a dynamic learning environment, and none of this would have been possible without the training we have been able to provide.”

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme is supporting arts projects in communities across Northern Ireland, creating more opportunities for people to engage with the arts, from grassroots level projects to professional productions. With a relatively small injection of funding, it is amazing to see how much can be achieved and this project is a brilliant example of that.

“Project Sparks has changed the lives of 18 young people for the better. Equipping them with new life skills, helping them build their self-esteem and confidence, and skilling them up as performers and teachers.”

For more information on Project Sparks, visit: facebook.com/projectsparksuk

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Message from Arts Council Chief Executive

Monday 30th March 2020 at 11am 0 Comments

Chief Executive, Roisin McDonough Image: Chief Executive, Roisin McDonough

In these extraordinary times, everyone is having to cope with challenges the scale of which we have never faced before. The need for our politicians and our statutory bodies, including the Arts Council, to respond quickly and effectively has never been more keenly felt, by ourselves and by the people and the communities that we represent. Staff at the Arts Council have been working exceptionally hard, not only to remotely maintain essential services but to put in place emergency measures to mitigate against the worst of the impact of the coronavirus on our sector. I am proud of the response of our artists and arts organisations to this threat to our creative and cultural life. Artists are finding brilliant and innovative new ways to deliver inspirational work to what are now, by necessitiy, virtual audiences. Artistic enterprise is perhaps more vital, more key to enriching and lifting the nations' spirits, now more than ever before.

The Arts Council is supporting our arts workers as they pursue their vocations as well as finding new ways to bring colour, meaning and inspiration to our lives.

On March 16th, we posted important advice relating to the impact of COVID-19 on the arts on our website (http://artscouncil-ni.org/news/coronavirus-covid-19-advice) and via our social media networks. We have continued to regularly update this information, so please do keep checking our digital platforms and stay in touch with our officers, all of whom are by now available on email. Please be assured of our commitment to the sector to honour all grants already made; to issue any remaining balance of payments as a matter of urgency; and to work flexibly with you on contracts for the coming financial year. This will include advancing grant payment to assist with cashflow. We asked organisations to honour, to the best of their ability, their contracts with artists and freelancers. This reassurance, given upfront, is of critical importance to artists and arts organisations. Hopefully the government's emergency funding packages for businesses and, latterly, the self-employed, will provide some measure of security for artists. We have continued to update and circulate this information regularly as the funding (and government benefits) situation has unfolded, and we will continue to do so.

We have been in negotiations with a number of other funders and agencies and have been in detailed discussions with the Department for Communities for some time now, submitting a bid to the Minister for extra support. We welcomed her announcement on Friday that she intends to step in with an initial package to the Arts Council worth £1m of much-needed support for creatives and individual artists working here. This emergency COVID-19 Creative Support Fund will support a creative practitioner-led programme of support to help freelancers obtain employment and payment for their work in these difficult times. We are currenty working out the detail with the Department of how it will be administered and we will let you know as soon as possible. (https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/news/communities-minister-announces-support-artists-performers-and-creative-producers-across-arts-and).

Arts Council officers have been in contact with as many of our funded arts organisations as is feasibly possible under present circumstances, to ascertain need in the immediate and medium term. On Thursday of last week we also circulated a survey which will further help us to evaluate the impact of coronavirus on the sector and inform our response (https://forms.gle/xB6a3f2qFMhrvmfQ8). It would greatly help the Arts Council and our colleagues in government if you would complete this survey.

The Board of the Arts Council is scheduled to meet (virtually) in the second week of April. They will make their decisions on our Annually Funded Organisations Programme for 2020-21, in anticipation that the Department for Communities will by then have formally confirmed the Arts Council's budget for the year. One of the options the Board will consider in light of present circumstances is awarding Annually Funded Organisations 50% of their grant value upfront.

Today we are publishing a list of additional potential funding sources for artists and arts organisations (http://artscouncil-ni.org/news/useful-funding-sources). With new crowd-funded resources becoming available as we speak, we would ask anyone who is aware of any other useful funding sources to share them with us by emailing info@artscouncil-ni.org and we will publish them to the wider sector,

The escalation of the impact of the coronavirus has been rapid and will test all of our institutions to their limits. Staff at the Arts Council are more determined than ever to ensure that our artists and arts organisations get the help they need and I, on behalf of the Arts Council, give you my sincerest commitment that we will move heaven and earth to protect the livelihoods of arts workers through these horrible times.

Please stay safe everyone. Continue to show kindness, generosity and support for each other. With just a little of the humanity with which the arts are abundantly blessed, we will endure and we will emerge from this crisis to a world - a much changed world - but still a world where the arts are the beating heart of our society.

Roisin McDonough
Chief Executive

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Useful Funding Sources

Monday 30th March 2020 at 11am 0 Comments

Useful Funding Sources Image: Useful Funding Sources

Updated: 23 June 2020

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NEW:

Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (23rd June 2020) opened its Support for the Individual Artist Programme and is accepting applications for General Art Awards.

Artists of all disciplines and in all types of working practice, who have made a contribution to artistic activities in Northern for a minimum of one year within the last five years, may apply.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the exceptional circumstances this has created, applications are welcomed from artists who are currently in receipt of Arts Council’s support through its existing Support for Individual Artists Programme. Applications can be made for project assistance up to a maximum award of £3,000. Applicants are asked to give careful consideration to the feasibility, timing and presentation of their project given current Covid-19 restrictions. Deadline for applications: Friday 24th July 2020 at 4pm

http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/SIAP

 

£15.5m COVID-19 Charities Fund to help NI charities facing financial difficulties as a result of the current public health emergency, to open on Monday 15th June 2020.

The funding programme will provide financial support to charities which have lost income due to the impact of COVID-19 and are unable to cover unavoidable costs until September 30th 2020. The programme will provide up to £75,000 for eligible organisations and will be administered on behalf of the Department for Communities by The National Lottery Community Fund.  The amount of funding required to cover immediate costs and prevent short term closure will vary for each organisation. https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/news/ps155m-fund-support-charity-sector-during-covid-19-crisis-open-monday

 

Crafts Council / Radcliffe Trust hardship fund

The Crafts Council has announced a Hardship Fund supported by the Radcliffe Trust specifically for makers who do not meet the criteria for other schemes. They plan to open the applications next week, so if you are eligible, make sure you're on their mailing list.

In response to the huge challenges makers are facing at present, the Crafts Council will be opening a hardship fund using £75,000 generously donated from The Radcliffe Trust.

This money will be given directly to makers in the form of £500 bursaries. Meaning only 150 makers benefit. However, the Crafts Council is currently fundraising for the Hardship Fund so it can help more makers.

To receive a bursary you will need to meet at least one of the following criteria;

  • You have lost 75% of your income over the last three months
  • You have been in business 12 months or less and do not qualify for the Government Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).
  • You are a director of your own limited company therefore do not qualify for government grants.
  • You can’t access any other forms of support – including government and other grant makers (such as Goldsmith’s fund, Freelands Foundation, Arts Council England grants)
  • The Crafts Council had hoped to open this fund this week but it is now looking at opening the fund next week. It will notify you via an e-newsletter giving you 24 hours notice and then via the next e-newsletter with the link to the application process. The first makers who apply and meet the criteria will receive funds.

 

Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust open for applications
QEST supports excellence in craft. It will be accepting new applications for funding between 14 July and 24 August 2020. Talented and aspiring candidates can apply for up to £18,000 to further their education through traditional college courses, vocational training, apprenticeships or one-to-one training with master craftsmen. For further details and to apply please visit www.qest.org.uk. Deadline for applications is 5pm, Monday 24 August.

 

Help Musicians open phase 2 of its hardship fund with a total of £2.55m, made up of £2m from the charity’s reserves, plus generous donations of £500k from music licensing company PPL and £50k from the Lightbody Foundation. https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/news/latest-news/advice-relating-to-coronavirus-covid-19

 

Freelands Foundation  hardship fund for visual artists, totalling £500,000 for NI - CLOSES 18th JUNE 2020

The Freelands Foundation Emergency Fund will open on Thursday May 7th 2020, offering support grants of £1,500 - £2,500 per applicant.

Further information and application guidance can be found here
Individuals apply to The Freelands Trust Emergency Fund through Foundation’s delivery partner,  a-n, The Artists Information Company.
The Freelands Foundation has now committed a total of £3m in emergency funds to support artists and freelance creative practitioners in urgent need of financial support as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic across the four nations of the UK. The new £500,000 fund for Northern Ireland follows a £1m contribution to the Creative Scotland Bridging Bursary and £500,000 to the Arts Council of Wales Urgent Relief Fund for Individuals.

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Department for Economy Micro-business Hardship Fund - CLOSES 12th JUNE.

The Northern Ireland Micro-business Hardship Fund was launched to assist NI based micro-businesses and social enterprises unable to access other regional and national COVID-19 support measures.
The scheme offers a grant of:

Up to £10,000 for businesses which pay business rates on premises
Up to £5,000 for those that do not pay business rates

The Department for the Economy (DfE) will make up to £40 million available through a fund, which is being administered by Invest Northern Ireland (“INI”).In order to ensure the £40million budget is not exceeded, the final amounts awarded will depend on the number of successful applications. Business should ensure they meet the following eligibility criteria before applying to the fund.

The Business must be based in Northern Ireland
At 29th February 2020, the business must have employed between one and nine employees paid via PAYE. Businesses, where the sole employee is the business owner or company director, are not eligible for this scheme. The number of employees will be based on headcount;
Since 1st March 2020, the business must have experienced a reduction in turnover in excess of 40% as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic or associated Government restrictions.

The Northern Ireland Micro-business Hardship Fund is open to all micro-business and social enterprises excluding the following:

Charities or social enterprises with charitable status
Social enterprises that receive less than 60% of revenue from trade in goods and/or services.
Businesses already eligible for the following NI Executive schemes:
(i) £10,000 Small Business Support Grant Scheme
(ii)  £10,000 Small Business Grant for rental properties and Total NAV of £1,590 or below
(ii) £25,000 Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant
(iii) COVID-19 Childcare Support Scheme

Businesses should note that other non-repayable Government grants related to COVID-19 will be taken into account and will be deducted, where applicable, from the final grant awarded.

Applications for the fund can be made from Wednesday 20th May and will close on 12th June at 6 pm at https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-ni-micro-business-hardship-fund

 

Government:

Coronavirus and Claiming Benefits
www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-and-benefits

Department for Communities - claiming benefits:
www.communities-ni.gov.uk/landing-pages/covid-19-service-updates

Department for Economy Small Business Rate Relief Scheme
www.economy-ni.gov.uk/news/covid-19-business-support-grant-schemes

UK Government Self-employment Income Support Scheme
www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

UK Government Business Support Scheme
www.businesssupport.gov.uk

NI Executive Small Business Support Grant Scheme
www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk

Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action
NICVA is curating information of use to charities and freelancers and includes some new funds set up specifically to help in this time.
www.nicva.org/article/nicvas-advice-on-managing-the-impact-of-coronavirus


International:

Creative Europe Desk UK
Remains open (remotely) to advise UK applicants
www.creativeeuropeuk.eu/news/update-information-creative-europe-and-coronavirus-covid-19


Trusts and Foundations:

Charities Aid Foundation
CAF Coronavirus Emergency Fund
Grants of up-to £10,000 to help smaller UK charitable organisations
https://www.cafonline.org/charities/grantmaking/caf-coronavirus-emergency-fund

Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
Closing to new applications on 3rd April, reopening new funding strategy in May.
www.esmeefairbairn.org.uk/coronavirus---reassurance-for-those-we-fund

Paul Hamlyn Foundation
Arts Access and Participation Fund - applications on a rolling basis
www.phf.org.uk/our-work-in-the-uk/arts-access-participation

Clore Duffield Foundation
Main Grants Programme - applications on an ongoing basis, although grants can only be awarded at meetings of the Trustees in June and December.
www.cloreduffield.org.uk/main-grants

Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland
Small to large community grants
www.halifaxfoundationni.org/programmes/community-grant-programme


Other funding sources:

PRS Foundation in partnership with Jerwood Arts - Composers' Fund

Up-to £10,000 available to composers who are already making a significant cultural contribution in the UK.
Next deadlines for applications will be 28 May and 2 November 2020.
https://prsfoundation.com/2020/04/15/jerwood-arts-partners-on-prs-foundations-composers-fund/

Heritage Fund
£50 million Heritage Emergency Fund
https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/blogs/announcing-more-details-about-heritage-emergency-fund

Community Foundation NI
Coronavirus Community Fund
Grants of £1,000 - £10,000 for constituted organisations
https://communityfoundationni.org/grants/coronavirus-community-fund/

Help Musicians hardship fund
www.musiciansunion.org.uk/hardshipfund

PRS Emergency Relief Fund
www.prsformusic.com/c/emergency-relief-fund

Bread and Butter Emergency Fund for NI Artists, set up by Abbie Spallen and Finn Kennedy - CLOSED
https://www.gofundme.com/f/emergency-fund-for-artists-affected-by-covid-9

Tinderbox Solo Art - a solo art fund to help freelancers by Tinderbox Theatre Company
www.tinderbox.org.uk/news-productions/tinderbox-solo-art

Actors' Children's Trust Fund
actorschildren.org

Equity Children's Fund
actingforothersco.uk/the-equity-charitable-trust

Evelyn Norris Trust
www.equitycharitabletrust.org.uk/other-grants/evelyn-norris-trust

Safety Curtain
www.safetycurtain.org.uk

The Ralph & Meriel Richardson Foundation
www.sirralphrichardson.org.uk

The Royal Theatrical Fund
actingforothers.co.uk/theroyaltheatricalfund

The Theatrical Fund
ttg.org.uk

Women's Resilience Fund
www.smallwoodtrust.org.uk/flexible-response-fund

The Ralph & Meriel Richardson Foundation
www.sirralphrichardson.org.uk

The Royal Theatrical Fund
actingforothers.co.uk/theroyaltheatricalfund

The Theatrical Fund
ttg.org.uk

Women's Resilience Fund
www.smallwoodtrust.org.uk/flexible-response-fund

Disability Arts Online
Special £8k commissions pot for disabled artists in UK
Application deadline: Monday 6th April
https://disabilityarts.online/magazine/news/disability-arts-online-announces-new-commissions-for-disabled-artists/

British Council
Funding and other resources for the music industry
http://music.britishcouncil.org/news-and-features/2020-04-17/covid-19-music-resources

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Career development awards for sixteen artists with disabilities from Northern Ireland

Monday 30th March 2020 at 11am 0 Comments Arts & Disability

Recipients of the iDA awards 2020 Image: Recipients of the iDA awards 2020

Sixteen artists with disabilities from Northern Ireland have been announced as recipients of the University of Atypical’s Individual Disabled Artist (iDA) Award, funding grants supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The iDA funding programme is a dedicated annual arts development programme, delivered through the University of Atypical, to enable deaf and disabled artists who are working in a range of art forms to develop their professional artistic careers.
The bursaries provide valuable opportunities for each artist to produce a new high-quality creative work, receive training or professional mentoring.

Damien Coyle, Chairperson of the University of Atypical, said:

'The iDA awards scheme is invaluable in supporting disabled and deaf artists to produce exciting new work and has a successful track record in pump priming the careers of disabled and deaf artists. We could not have achieved this without the support of our partners, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’.

He added; 'iDA awards supports proposals by artists from a broad range of disabilities. This is a developmental scheme and we welcome applications from emerging artists as well as more established artists. The scheme is competitive and we had applications to the value of four times the funding available. Our funding decisions were made on the basis of artistic merit, quality, and benefits to the artist to help them in progressing their careers'.

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts & Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added:

‘Congratulations to all sixteen artists. These awards are given in recognition of the artists’ work to date and to provide them with the necessary support to take their careers to the next level. The Arts Council is proud to support this important funding programme which encourages the creation of new, high-quality artistic work and addresses the need for disabled artists to have ongoing training and skills development within the sector.’

Through the University of Atypical’s support, deaf and disabled artists have developed unique artwork of extremely high artistic quality, some progressing to a level where they have received international recognition. The iDA scheme’s purpose is to identify, encourage and nurture individual talent amongst disabled practitioners.


The recipients are (alphabetical by first name):

Visual Art
Adam Elder-Mullan
James Ashe
Pamela Walker
Paul Moore
Maurice Orr
Shauna McGowan
Shiro Masuyama

Language Arts
Anita Gracey
Peter Courtney 

Music
Catherine Hatt
Mary Louise McCord

Dance
Helen Hall

Combined Arts
Andrew Ward 
Marie Mullan
Niamh Scullion
Paula Clarke 
Shannon Sickles

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Save the Date! First list of speakers announced as the ‘Greatest Literary Show’ returns to Belfast

Thursday 12th March 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments Literature

Pictured (L-R) is Noirin McKinney, Arts Council, Sanjoy Roy, Teamwork Arts, Jimmy Fay, Lyric Theatre and Colette Norwood, British Council NI. Image: Pictured (L-R) is Noirin McKinney, Arts Council, Sanjoy Roy, Teamwork Arts, Jimmy Fay, Lyric Theatre and Colette Norwood, British Council NI.

JLF Belfast returns from 12-14 June 2020

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, in partnership with British Council Northern Ireland, the Lyric Theatre and Teamwork Arts, the producers of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival in India, have unveiled plans for JLF Belfast 2020 – an international celebration of arts, culture, books and discourse.  World-class writers, Jonathan Coe, Lisa McInerney, A.L Kennedy and Shashi Tharoor, are the first speakers to be announced for this year’s festival, with a full programme to be revealed soon.

Following on from a hugely successful festival in 2019, which attracted over 1200 people, JLF Belfast will take place at the Lyric Theatre from 12th-14th June.   In the true spirit of the original festival, JLF Belfast will feature panel discussions, readings and debates with acclaimed writers and cultural thinkers from India, Ireland, the UK and beyond, in a unique literature festival celebrating a joint love of books, creativity, music, and sharing each other’s stories. Themes under discussion for 2020 will include mythology, science, climate change, environment, identity, wellbeing, music and gender, among others. 

Early bird tickets are now available, with the first 200 tickets free, but guests must register at the Lyric Theatre Box Office to secure their place.

This is the second year that Belfast has been chosen as one of a handful of international cities to host local editions of the Jaipur Literature Festival, the biggest and most spectacular literary festival in the world.  Other editions have taken place in New York, London, Houston, Adelaide, Toronto and more. 

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council, commented:

“It is with great pleasure that we can announce today that the prestigious Jaipur Literature Festival will be returning to Belfast.  We were overwhelmed by the success of last year’s event, which celebrated our links with India and our shared love of conversation, literature and debate.

“Working with our partners, this fantastic festival will be a platform for creating, sharing and promoting the creative arts and will deepen our partnership with key Indian cultural institutions. We very much look forward to welcoming international writers and audiences to JLF Belfast this June and sharing our famous Northern Ireland hospitality.”

Namita Gokhale, Author and Festival Director said,

"I am looking forward to JLF Belfast 2020 with deep excitement. The unparalleled passion and infectious energy of contemporary Irish writing is inspirational. The wonderful writers who will be joining us from around the world, and the engaged audiences at the beautiful Lyric Theatre, by the banks of the Lagan River, will help bring the magic of JLF to our Belfast edition."

Sanjoy Roy, Festival Producer and Managing Director of Teamwork Arts said,

"JLF Belfast 2019 brought together great writers and thinkers from across the world to debate, discuss and disagree! We look to continuing our conversations around identity, climate emergency, building walls, and many more themes through literature and poetry which will hopefully illuminate us all in the halls of the Lyric theatre.”

Jonathan Stewart, British Council, Director Northern Ireland, commented: 

“British Council is honoured to be working with our colleagues at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival and Lyric Theatre, to deepen the existing literature connections that we have with India, to welcome authors from India to Northern Ireland and to share Indian writing and publishing with our audiences at JLF Belfast in 2020.”

“Building inbound and outbound exchanges and opportunities between Northern Ireland and other countries, including India, is a key focus of the British Council’s work and the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival is already a key platform for Northern Ireland writers working internationally.”

Jimmy Fay, Executive Producer and Artistic Director, Lyric Theatre, added,

“The Lyric is delighted to welcome back JLF for a second year of sparkling debate, intriguing talks and a wonderful broad and diverse platform of speakers and writers. There is a long history of a vibrant Indian community in Belfast and this festival helps highlight the rich cultural connections between our countries and our neighbours.”

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival takes place in India annually and has been described as ‘the greatest literary show on Earth’. Over the last twelve years, its size and reputation have grown exponentially and it is now considered one of the most important events of its kind across the globe, bringing together a diverse mix of the world’s greatest writers, thinkers, humanitarians, politicians, business leaders, sports-persons and entertainers on one stage to engage in thoughtful dialogue and debate.

The full JLF Belfast programme of speakers will be revealed soon, keep up to date at jlflitfest.org/belfast

The first 200 tickets for JLF Belfast are free and £5 for each day thereafter.  Registration is essential.  To register for your free place or to buy tickets visit lyrictheatre.co.uk/event/jlf-belfast-2/

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Dance Resource Base to host Catalyst dance festival this March

Thursday 12th March 2020 at 10am 0 Comments

Sunday 22nd March, Catalyst Dance Festival at the Crescent Arts Centre and Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Image: Sunday 22nd March, Catalyst Dance Festival at the Crescent Arts Centre and Lyric Theatre in Belfast.

On Sunday 22 March, Dance Resource Base will host a one-day dance festival, Catalyst, at the Crescent Arts Centre and Lyric Theatre in Belfast.

Catalyst is a much-needed platform to showcase the high-quality and exciting work produced by individual dance artists who have received support from the Arts Council Northern Ireland through the Support the Individual Artist Programme (SIAP): including the Artist Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) and General Award. 

Dance Resource Base alongside Catalyst curator, Eileen McClory, has designed this one-day event that will provide the essential opportunity for choreographers to showcase their work in a professional capacity.  

The first half of the day will take place at the Crescent Arts Centre with internationally acclaimed dance artist, Lucia Kickham, who will give a workshop to professional dance artists.  Lucia Kickham has worked with a number of prestigious companies and artists including TRASH, Company Philip Connaughton, junk ensemble, Liz Roche Company, Maria Nilsson Waller and Oonagh Kearney.

The second half of the festival will take place at the Lyric Theatre and will feature a series of work from professional dance artists and choreographers working in Northern Ireland and supported through the Arts Council’s SIAP funding programme/.

Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Arts Development Officer for Drama and Dance, commented,

“Northern Ireland punches well above its weight in the quality of the dance work created it here. This event brings together some of our very best homegrown talent and their astonishing original dance works. The dance artists - choreographers, dancers, facilitators - are working at the very top of their game producing provocative and moving pieces that would sit well at the leading international dance platforms.”

“We are privileged to have such talent working and contributing to the cultural life here. This is a vital opportunity to allow audiences to experience the work which has been created here by these remarkable individual artists. Catalyst promises to be a one of a kind, very rewarding event for all: dance lovers, people with an interest in performance, and those who have never gone to see dance work before. There will be something for everyone and we can be sure everyone will experience something very special at Catalyst. We wish all the artists and creatives involved the very best for the showcase. “

Orla McGrady, General Manager, Dance Resource Base, added,

"Dance Resource Base is delighted to have the opportunity to present this professional platform to showcase the high-quality and exciting work produced by Individual Dance Artists who have received support from the Art Council of Northern Ireland through their Support the Individual Artist Programme. To date there have been limited opportunities locally for artists to showcase their work in a professional context. We’re thrilled to partner with the Crescent Arts Centre to present a professional workshop for dance artists by Lucia Kickham, and The Lyric Theatre to present the best of local dance on their stage, deepening engagement and bringing contemporary dance to broader audiences. We’re thrilled to provide this platform to support artists in creating works of excellence, build relationships with promoters both nationally and internationally, and raise the profile of dance from NI. Dance Resource Base acknowledges the generous support of the Arts Council in Northern Ireland in realising this vision."

At the Lyric Theatre, choreographer and Arts Council ACES awardee, Gary Rowntree, will present, Togetherness, a dance work created in response to the political climate in Northern Ireland regarding marriage equality. Two men dance, their hands grasp as they absorb the weight of the onlookers’ scrutiny. Audiences will witness their intimacy, vulnerability and turmoil as they journey to stand together.

Other performances at the Lyric include Ayesha Mailey’s, See Me Disappear, and Eileen McClory’s, CUCK.  To conclude the day there will be an audience discussion concerning how a dance artist makes a work and makes it successful. 

Tickets for Catalyst are available at the below links:
 

Crescent Arts Centre workshop: 


Lyric Theatre performances:

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Newry young musician, Martha Guiney, to perform in Washington to celebrate St Patrick’s Day

Wednesday 11th March 2020 at 11am 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Young flautist, Martha Guiney Image: Young flautist, Martha Guiney

Young flautist, Martha Guiney, from Newry, is set to perform at two prestigious Northern Ireland Bureau breakfast events in Washington, on Thursday March 12 March and Friday March 13 March, to mark St Patrick’s Day, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in partnership with the Northern Ireland Bureau North America.

The aim of this performance platform is to showcase the phenomenal growth in different types of musical talent that has taken place in Northern Ireland in recent years and particularly to use the opportunity of St Patrick’s Day celebrations to connect to a much wider audience in North America. 

Andrew Elliott, Director/Counselor, NI Bureau, North America, commented,

“There has been a huge explosion of musical talent in Northern Ireland in recent years and it’s a delight for me to have the opportunity to showcase an award winning young flautist, who will be performing to a huge audience in the capital of the United States to mark St Patrick’s Day.  The Northern Ireland Bureau breakfast is an institution here in Washington DC and I know that the sound of Martha Guiney’s flute will add enormously to the success of the event.”

Sonya Whitefield, Arts Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is committed to providing meaningful opportunities for our artists to develop their professional, artistic careers and also to showcase NI talent internationally.  We are proud to partner with our colleagues at the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington to showcase the immense talents of Martha Guiney, a special experience that will stay with the young musician for a long time to come.”

Martha is also a current recipient of the Arts Council and BBC NI’s Young Musician’s Platform Award.  These biennial awards aim to showcase and support the development of exceptional young musicians from the region by providing funding awards of £5,000 to be used towards professional development, mentoring or training as-well as broadcast performance opportunities with the Ulster Orchestra.  With this funding and professional development support, Martha will be releasing her debut album this summer.

Watch Martha on the BBC discuss her music and her Young Musician’s Platform Award here

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MACHA Productions explores ‘Body Politics’ in new theatre double bill

Tuesday 10th March 2020 at 9am 0 Comments Drama

(L-R) Sarah Reid, Emer McDaid & Louise Parker star in 'Sweeties', part of 'Body Politics' by MACHA Productions Image: (L-R) Sarah Reid, Emer McDaid & Louise Parker star in 'Sweeties', part of 'Body Politics' by MACHA Productions

The power which society has over the bodies of women and girls is the topical theme being explored by Belfast-based theatre company MACHA Productions in its new double bill Body Politics, which will be performed at The MAC from Thursday 19 - Saturday 28 March.

MACHA Productions uses theatre to challenge social structures that oppress people.  The first part of Body Politics is No Motive, inspired by the Daphne du Maurier thriller of the same name.  The piece follows private investigator Rachel McDoo as she tries to work out why a woman who ‘had it all’ went into her husband’s study and shot herself with his gun.  This is followed by Sweeties, a dark comedy looking at the relationship between sisters Tracy and Jen as a twist of fate from one sister’s past blows their lives wide open.

Reflecting the company’s desire to make theatre with voices and communities absent from the cultural landscape, both No Motive and Sweeties are partly inspired by true life testimonies.

Jo Egan, playwright and artistic director of MACHA Productions explains the company’s artistic approach:

“In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to make a piece such as Body Politics today.  But it isn’t an ideal world, so we do.  On a daily basis so many women both here and around the world are being stalked, harassed, objectified, shamed, overlooked in the workplace, denied their bodily autonomy, trapped in caring roles or dangerous and loveless relationships and are not being allowed to live their lives to their full potential.

Over the past three months over thirty women from all over Belfast have shared insights and hard won knowledge and their truths are reflected within the content and direction of both No Motive and Sweeties.  With both International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day taking place soon, Body Politics could not be more topical or more timely.”

Body Politics will be part of the IMAGINE! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics programme and each performance will be followed by a post-show debate, exploring the issues raised by the production.  An exhibition of writing, film and visual art created by workshop participants is being curated by Therese Kieran and will also run in parallel with Body Politics in the gallery on the first floor of The MAC.

Written and directed by Jo Egan, Body Politics stars Emer McDaid (Game of Thrones), Louise Parker (Frankenstein Chronicles) and Sarah Reid (Two Fingers Up), with movement direction by Eileen McClory from Off the Rails, fresh from her sell-out success with Brink from Maiden Voyage Dance.

Looking forward to the Macha Productions Double Bill, Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Arts Council of Northern Ireland Arts Development Officer, Drama and Dance said:

“MACHA Productions is one of our most dynamic and daring theatre companies, harnessing the power of theatre to embody and represent the marginalised and to give voice to their stories.

With Body Politics MACHA is tackling one of the most pernicious, insidious issues at work in our society. With the pressure of social and mainstream media shaping women’s sense of self and others’ sense of what it is to be a woman this is timely and crucial intervention in the discourse.

MACHA has put together a phenomenal team of female talent, with the fearless creativity of Jo Egan, and the intelligent, sensitive performances by Louise Parker, Emer MacDaid and Sarah Reid, as well as the powerful, uncompromising movement direction of Eileen McClory. This is a brave show that should be seen by all. The Arts Council wishes the whole team well with the production and we would encourage everyone to go along and see the show.’”

MACHA Productions  is supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Supported by Belfast City Council.

Body Politics will be performed at The MAC at 7.30pm with 2pm Saturday and Sunday matinees from Thursday 19 - Saturday 28 March.  Tickets are priced £12-£10 and are on sale now from The MAC box office at https://themaclive.com/ or tel. 028 90235053.

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Tyrone singer-songwriter, Bernadette Morris, joins forces leading Irish musician, Eleanor McEvoy

Saturday 7th March 2020 at 10am 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Singer-songwriter, Bernadette Morris Image: Singer-songwriter, Bernadette Morris

Gifted Tyrone singer-songwriter, Bernadette Morris, was one of fourteen artists to be awarded an Artist Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) funding award by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in autumn 2019.  The ACES awards are given in recognition of an emerging or mid-career artist’s talent and to enable them in the creation of a new body of work.  Bernadette Morris has used her award to invest into marketing and artist development to target new markets in the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain.

Bernadette has appointed marketing and PR professionals with the experience and expertise required to reach new audiences.  Will McCarthy promotions and Good Seed PR (Linda Coogan Byrne) will work with Bernadette to release a series of new songs in 2020.  One of the new songs to be released is a co-write with the legendary Irish songwriter, Eleanor McEvoy, the talent behind multi-million selling albums including Only a Woman’s Heart and Snapshots. 

Speaking about the co-write, Bernadette said,

“The ACES award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland has really helped me to forge ahead with my music career.  The funding is going toward the promotion and marketing of new music I have coming out this year, in the UK, Scotland and Republic of Ireland.   I’ve also be co-writing a lot recently and it was simply a dream come true to write with Eleanor McEvoy whom I’ve greatly admired since I was a young girl.   I’ll be officially launching the first single from my new collection of music at Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival on 12th March, so do come along.” 

Maria McAlister, Arts Development Officer for Traditional Music, at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“Bernadette Morris plays a special role in the traditional music sector here in Northern Ireland.  She brings rare, traditional songs to contemporary audiences and she’s also more and more involved in co-writing and creating original work.  We were delighted to award Bernadette with ACES funding in 2019 and look forward to seeing this terrific artist develop further throughout 2020.”

Bernadette’s debut album, All the ways you wander, achieved positive reviews,  extensive radio and television airplay, and her subsequent EP, Where the Heart is, recorded by Arborist’s Ben McAuley, were very successful in establishing the artist in Ireland and enabled Bernadette to tour Germany, Belgium and Australia.  She has also supported stalwarts of the folk and traditional music scene including Cara Dillon, Eddi Reader and Julie Fowlis and has also co-written with Cormac Neeson, Donal Scullion and Rioghnach Connolly.

Bernadette has performed at the National Celtic Festival in Australia, Celtic Connections in Scotland and for the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtarán.

Bernadette Morris in Concert-Single Launch, The Shores of My Home, a celebration of Lough Neagh. Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, Ramada Hotel, CS Lewis Room, 20 Talbot Street Belfast. Thursday 12th March. Doors 7pm Show 7.45pm-8.45pm.  Visit www.belfastnashville.com for tickets and further information.

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Belfast Children’s Festival begins!

Friday 6th March 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

Pictured at rehearsals for Stick By Me, a beautifully crafted, joyful and quirky show about treasuring friendship, is (L-R) performer, Andy Manley with children, Eve McGarry (aged 3), Fergal McKeown and Sorley McKeown (both aged 7) Image: Pictured at rehearsals for Stick By Me, a beautifully crafted, joyful and quirky show about treasuring friendship, is (L-R) performer, Andy Manley with children, Eve McGarry (aged 3), Fergal McKeown and Sorley McKeown (both aged 7)

With merely hours to go until Belfast Children’s Festival 2020, venues throughout Belfast are gearing up to host the spectacular, thought provoking local and international performances which will explore this year’s themes of home, place and belonging.

From today, Friday 6 to Wednesday 11 March, more than 100 events will take place in 13 locations across the city with the MAC serving as the hub for the Festival. Belfast annually welcomes thousands of visitors to the Festival from across Belfast, Northern Ireland and beyond with several families returning year after year, supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of northern Ireland. 

Eibhlín de Barra, Director Young at Art, explained,

“This year’s festival is a mixture of pioneering work from local artists including Replay Theatre’s Untold Truth of Captain Hook, Kindermusik from critically acclaimed Belfast Ensemble and Helen Hall’s interpretive dance piece ‘Inside the Speaker’.  The hilarious Paul Currie will have everyone in stiches with his own brand of edgy, off the wall comedy and grown up fans of Seedhead Arts’ Midweek Magic will have a chance to bring their children to the mini version.  Our international programme has a Dutch focus for 2020 with performances of Tetris, Hermit and Jabberbabble.  Meanwhile ‘Stick by Me’, from Scotland is a beautiful non-verbal performance for 3-6 year olds on the theme of friendship.”

Belfast Children’s Festival’s ‘Your Place Family Day’ takes place this Sunday, 8th March with fun and creative activities across Cathedral Quarter including a pop up cinema, Art Cart, craft workshops and an immersive augmented reality experience merging dance and technology. 

Festival tickets are on sale at www.youngatart.co.uk. The maximum ticket price is £10, and adults pay the same price as children. Many Belfast Children’s Festival events are free.

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Arts Council publishes findings from its 2018/19 Annual Funding Survey

Thursday 27th February 2020 at 9am 0 Comments

Pupils from Mercy College Belfast Image: Pupils from Mercy College Belfast

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today published findings from a survey of 102 arts and culture organisations in receipt of funding through its Annual Funding Programme.

http://artscouncil-ni.org/research-and-development/official-statistics

A dashboard has been created allowing the interrogation of data by artform type and organisation size (as determined by income). This resource will be of particular value to arts organisations looking to benchmark their activity against the sector in which they operate. 

Findings show that small-scale arts organisations in particular continue to struggle in a funding environment that has seen average Annual Funding Programme grants fall from £131,000 to £84,000 in the four years between 2014/15 and 2017/18 – a reduction of nearly £50,000. 

A combination of annual funding cycles, limited capital investment and under capitalisation continue to constrain their ability to diversify funding, creating greater reliance on public subsidy compared to previous years.

New location data reveals a 10 per cent increase in the number of postcodes clients have visited to deliver their work, with nearly a quarter of all postcodes used based within the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland.

Other location-based data shows the extent to which organisations are working in schools across Northern Ireland to enhance the education of children and young people.  Funded arts organisations visited 518 schools of all types in 2018/19, an increase of 16 per cent on the previous year.

Some key findings:

  • Over 4,000 volunteers contributed their time to support clients in 2018/19.  The majority were female and supported the activities of medium-scale organisations.
  • Just over 1 per cent of the workforce were drawn from minority ethnic backgrounds.
  • At an overall sector level, 50 per cent of employees were female and 50 per cent male.  This parity was largely replicated across all employment types, with the notable exception of managers, where over two-thirds (67 per cent) were female.
  • The proportion of income received from local authorities has grown over the last three years, suggesting a stronger, more engaged commitment to arts and culture, which can help to drive forward a broader range of ambitions around health, the economy and social value.
  • Despite a reduction in ticket sales for large-scale organisations, the average ticket yield increased from £19.14 to £21.87, a difference of £2.73 per ticket compared to 2017/18.

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Arts Council publishes Disability Action Plan and Equality Action Plan 2019-24

Wednesday 19th February 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments

Musicians Rae Solely and Matty Bell from Molto Vivo, project consultant Richie Turner and Graeme Stevenson, Research and Policy Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland Image: Musicians Rae Solely and Matty Bell from Molto Vivo, project consultant Richie Turner and Graeme Stevenson, Research and Policy Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has affirmed its commitment to ensuring fair access to the arts for all with the publication of two new documents – the Disability Action Plan and the Equality Action Plan.

The plans have been produced following wide spread consultation with arts and cultural organisations, individual artists and members of the public.

The documents set out a range of measures the Arts Council will take to encourage increased access and participation in the arts, as well as enhance the role the arts can play in creating a move towards a fairer and more inclusive society. These include the continuation of the Arts and OIder People’s Programme, to address issues of isolation and loneliness amongst people over the age of 55, and the Articulate Programme, which supports artists to work with young people to improve emotional, physical and social wellbeing.

The papers also outline a range of new measures including: a new lending programme to place artworks in schools; a Premium Payments Programme, to help arts organisations remove barriers to engagement by disabled people; and a commitment to enable greater participation by disabled people in policy-making groups, to better reflect the needs of underrepresented audiences and participants.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: 

“The Arts Council welcomes and recognises the increasing diversity within our society and the important role arts and culture can play in expressing and celebrating this.

“The two plans published today outline some of the steps we need to take to foster a culture of inclusion across all areas of the arts and our ongoing commitment, using the arts as a vehicle for social development change, to promote positive attitudes towards marginalised groups, as we move towards a fairer, more inclusive and caring society.”

Damien Coyle, Chair, University of Atypical, added:

“University of Atypical recognises the importance of these two plans and commends the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in developing them; they should be seen as key drivers in the work undertaken by all arts organisations. Through the Disability Action Plan and the Equality Action Plans, we identify a synergy with the work we undertake through our Arts & Disability Equality Charter – a combined approach in creating frameworks for equality and inclusivity that can be embraced by all.”

If you require these documents in an alternative format, such as large print, Braille, easy read or digital, and/or another language, please contact us on 02890 385 243 to discuss your requirements.
 

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Leading light in carnival arts, David Boyd, awarded an MBE for services to the arts and community

Tuesday 18th February 2020 at 11am 0 Comments Circus & Carnival Arts

David Boyd, founder-Director, of Beat Carnival Image: David Boyd, founder-Director, of Beat Carnival

David Boyd, founder-Director, of Beat Carnival, one of Northern Ireland's leading arts organisations, has received an MBE for services to the arts and community. David Boyd, from Holywood Co.Down, set up the Carnival Centre in Belfast, establishing a permanent centre for excellence in Carnival Arts, where visiting international artists come to share their expertise and is considered one of the best Carnival centres in the UK.  David Boyd will receive his MBE at Buckingham Palace on 2nd April 2020.

Since its foundation in 1993, the small, dedicated team at Beat Carnival has brought positive change and transformation to the lives of thousands of individuals and to the wider communities across the region by creating opportunities to participate in Carnival Arts.  The organisation produces impressive, large-scale carnival events, reaching out to local communities to get involved in helping to create carnival performances from scratch. 

Many of the participants from local communities are young people from marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds who learn new skills and acquire new confidence through their involvement with Beat Carnival.  From creating music, choreographing dance routines and designing spectacular costumes, through to creating floats and props, local communities become fully immersed in the creative process whilst working alongside David’s professional artistic team. 

Beat Carnival also develops and supports professional carnival artists, establishing a sustainable legacy of creative skills and knowledge, as well as focusing on outreach, collaboration, shared celebration and achievement across the various communities of Northern Ireland.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is the principal funder of Beat Carnival, Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“The Arts Council warmly congratulates David on receiving this recognition for his work and services to the arts.  Through their artistic work, David and Beat Carnival bring people and communities closer together and offer an invaluable platform for carnival artists to develop their skills and talents  David's passionate advocacy for Carnival Arts as a pathway to education, job creation, self-esteem, skills training and cross-community and intercultural inclusivity, has proven to be a significant force for positive change.”

With David's dedication to enhancing people's lives through engagement in the arts, the output of this small organisation is truly remarkable and has built close working relationships with community organisations across Belfast.  He has implemented more than 20 specific arts engagement and education programmes in Greater Shankill, one of Northern Ireland's highest-ranking areas of deprivation and disadvantage, designed to address community challenges and give children and young people their best chance in life.

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£580,000 investment announced to support NI musicians

Friday 14th February 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

(L-R) Pauline Klein, Manager, Ulster Youth Orchestra, Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Oonagh Snoddy, Department for Communities, and Katrina Cuddy, Flautist, UYO. Image: (L-R) Pauline Klein, Manager, Ulster Youth Orchestra, Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Oonagh Snoddy, Department for Communities, and Katrina Cuddy, Flautist, UYO.

One hundred and seven musical groups, bands and musicians across Northern Ireland are celebrating this week, with news they are set to receive funding to help upgrade worn out instruments and purchase new ones.  Among those set to benefit are schools groups, community choirs, marching and brass bands, and individual professional musicians.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is providing the funding worth almost £580,000 under its Musical Instruments Scheme. Thanks to capital investment from the Department for Communities, the scheme, set up to increase the quality of music making in Northern Ireland, was extended for the first time this year to offer grants to a range of professional and non-professional musicians and groups.

There are three strands to the funding. Among the 30 bands set to benefit under Programme One: Musical Instruments for Bands are: Down Academy Pipes and Drums, Kellswater Flute Band, Ravara Pipe Band, Dunganon Silver Band, Orangefield Flute Band and Bessbrook Crimson Arrow Pipe Band.

Under Programme Two: Professional and Non-Professional Performing Groups, 41 awards have been offered, including grants for: Armagh Pipers Club, Ulster Youth Orchestra, North West Cultural Partnership and Newry Chamber Music, as well as a number of schools groups, including Sacred Heart College Omagh, St Patricks College Maghera and Lisneal College in Derry/Londonderry.

While 36 Individual Professional Performing Musicians, who will receive support under Category Three of the programme, include: Darragh Morgan, Kim Vaughan, Conor Lamb, James Joys, Jordan McCuaig, Scott Flanigan, Martha Guiney, Greg Caffrey and Laura McFadden.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“We have a fine history of musicianship in Northern Ireland, one which is celebrated all over the world and it is a pleasure to announce today this funding which will benefit so many musicians, playing in professional and non-professional groups, bands and schools across the country.

“With support to buy new instruments and equipment we  are  helping to increase the quality of music making here, across a broad range of genres; classical, jazz, traditional, contemporary and electronic, to name just a few. The awards announced today will help benefit hundreds of musicians, from young musicians just starting out, right through to highly trained performers working at a professional level.”

Debbie McKibben, Head of Arts and Creativity Branch, Department for Communities, said:

“As Head of the Arts and Creativity Branch I am delighted that the Department has been able to invest these funds in the Music Sector. This programme will provide valuable support to a wide range of musicians across the region, which will enable the development of quality music making within our communities, connecting people and enriching lives.”

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Paragon Studios opens new work and exhibition space on Rosemary Street

Friday 7th February 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments Visual Arts

Pictured is Belfast-based artist, Jacqueline Holt Image: Pictured is Belfast-based artist, Jacqueline Holt

Experimental arts group, Paragon Studios is celebrating its move to brand new premises on Rosemary Street, Belfast, with the opening of an exhibition by photographer and filmmaker Jacqueline Holt.

The new location, in Property House, contains ten artists’ studios and the PS² gallery space.

Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Jacqueline Holt’s Exhibition marks the beginning of a new phase for the studio group, which has been supporting artists’ development since 1994. With a year round programme of work, the project space is an extension of the studios, acting as a temporary workspace and showroom for invited or selected project artists, enabling encounters for the general public to see, enjoy and participate in art.

Director Peter Mutschler explained,

“Unfortunately rising rents have meant we have had to move premises several times in the last few years but we are happy still to be close to the Cathedral Quarter, with studios and project space. We feel our precarious situation is reflected in our arts programme, which we hope speaks and resonates with the wider public. The next project by Jasmin Märker, for example, will focus on non-human territories and ecological communities through open workshops as part of the NI Science Festival.”

Jacqueline Holt is a Belfast-based artist, who through the Arts Council’s Artist Career Enhancement Scheme, has been working with the prestigious international arts agency LUX to develop new work. Her exhibition at PS², entitled This Moment Being, will showcase some of her film, photography, print and sculptural work and document aspects of her day-to-day life as a cultural worker.

Patricia Lavery, Arts Development Officer at the Arts Council commented:

“It is fantastic to see Jacqueline’s work on display as the very first exhibition within this wonderful new space. Having worked closely with Lux for the past three years, this exhibition is the culmination of an exciting creative partnership. With support from the ACES scheme, Jaqueline has been able to spend time developing her practice, with expert guidance and support from some of the brightest names working in moving image today.

“We very much hope that this city centre location will bring even more people into this dynamic artistic hub to experience first-hand some of the exciting visual art being produced right here in Belfast at Paragon Studios.”

Jacqueline is based at Flax Art Studios at Havelock House on the Ormeau Road. To find out more about her work visit: www.flaxartsstudios.org

Her exhibition This Moment of Being, is on at PS² until 15th February. For more details about PS² gallery, opening hours and future exhibitions, visit www.pssquared.org

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Singer-songwriters from NI to perform in Nashville venue that launched the career of Taylor Swift

Tuesday 4th February 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Pictured (L-R) is Reuben Agnew, Emma Horan and Donal Scullion. Image: Pictured (L-R) is Reuben Agnew, Emma Horan and Donal Scullion.

Following their performances at this year’s Panarts Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, 11-13 March, three of Northern Ireland’s finest emerging singer-songwriters, Emma Horan, Donal Scullion and Reuben Agnew, will perform in Nashville, Tennessee, supported by Panarts and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The three musicians will perform on St Patrick’s Day in the Bluebird Café, widely known to singer-songwriters as thee place to play and famous for launching the recording careers of Taylor Swift and Garth Brooks, among many others. During their time in Nashville, the musicians will also have the opportunity to network with music industry professionals, and spend time fine-tuning their song writing skills with Grammy Award winning tutors at Belmont University. 

Panarts Belfast Nashville Festival Director, Colin Magee, commented,

“As well as offering performances of long established artists, the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival aims to offer opportunities to break new talent from Northern Ireland and showcase them on an international stage in the USA to develop their careers.  I’m hugely excited and proud to showcase the three artists going to Nashville this year where I know they will be well received by the famously discerning Nashville audiences”.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland commented,

“The Panarts Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival not only celebrates the art of song writing and brings international talent to Belfast, but it also offers an important platform to showcase and develop the skills of our younger, emerging artists.  To perform at the Bluebird Café in Nashville is an experience that few forget and I wish all the songwriters every success in Music City.”

Catch the three artists closer to home at the Panarts Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, which takes place at the Ramada Hotel, Talbot Street Belfast and Empire Music Hall, 11-13 March.  This remarkable three-day festival celebrates the art of song writing and features a series of concerts, song writing workshops with Grammy Award winning writers Liz Rose, Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey, as-well as the Song Writer of the Year 2020 competition.  For details on all events visit, www.belfastnashville.com

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On the ‘Brink’ of Brexit: dancers scale new heights with show performed on high table

Tuesday 28th January 2020 at 9am 0 Comments Dance

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With less than a week to go until the Brexit deadline of 31st January, Northern Ireland’s leading commissioning dance company, Maiden Voyage Dance, will reflect the ongoing climate of insecurity around the issue by performing a new show called ‘Brink’ - on a 1.5 metre high table!

Presented as part of the Maiden Voyage Dance Double Bill at The MAC on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th February, ‘Brink’ is choreographer Eileen McClory’s response to three years of living with the uncertainty of Brexit.  Describing her thinking behind the topical, innovative show, Eileen says:

“Since the Brexit referendum result, we’ve been in a state of constant, stressful negotiation - this feeling like we're on the brink of something, but we don’t know exactly what it is and have no control over it.  As the negotiations got smaller and smaller and boundaries got smaller and smaller, we ended up - instead of having a seat at the table - being on the table.

Choreographically, the restriction on space presented by our high table has created a lot of obstacles, but also a lot of possibilities.  We have really stripped back the choreography and ended up with two human beings laid bare as they try to negotiate and build a future together.

There's a lot of risk in the piece - reflecting how one wrong word can throw a negotiation the wrong way.  For us, it's one wrong move and you could be off the edge of the table!”

In a co-production with Dublin’s Liz Roche Company, a leading light in the development of contemporary dance in Ireland whose work has toured worldwide, the second part of the double bill is The Here Trio.  Bringing together dancers from Northern Ireland, France and Spain, The Here Trio challenges preconceptions about site, history and the right to belong in a place.

Looking forward to the Maiden Voyage Double Bill, Caoileann Curry-Thompson, ACNI Arts Development Officer, Drama and Dance said:

“New work from Maiden Voyage Dance is always an occasion for much excitement, and we at the Arts Council are delighted to be supporting this Double Bill of new commissions. The first, Brink, is by one of Northern Ireland’s most innovative choreographers Eileen McClory, a former ACES awardee. It draws on the amazing talent we have in Belfast, with the superb dancers Ryan and Vasiliki, and music by Katie Richardson. The second, The Here Trio, is by the incomparable Liz Roche a longstanding friend of the company. As ever, Maiden Voyage will be penetrating the important questions of our time, and doing so in a thrilling, dynamic way which is sure to stay with those lucky enough to see this double bill for a long time to come.”

Maiden Voyage is principally funded by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Supported by Belfast City Council.
Liz Roche Company is strategically funded by Arts Council Ireland and supported by Dublin City Council.

The Maiden Voyage Double Bill will be performed at The MAC at 8pm on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 February.  Tickets are priced £18-£12.50 and are on sale now from The MAC box office at https://themaclive.com/ or tel. 028 90235053.

The Maiden Voyage Double Bill will also be performed at The Market Place Theatre in Armagh on Wednesday 12 February at 8pm.  Tickets are priced £7 and are on sale now from www.marketplacearmagh.com

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Work Begins on £12.2 million Restoration Project at Belfast’s Grand Opera House

Monday 27th January 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments Architecture , Drama

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After five years in the planning, the 10-month project to restore the Grand Opera House has begun. The principal contractor for the £12.2 million project, funded in part through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is Tracey Brothers Ltd, who will complete the work ahead of the Theatre’s 125th birthday in December of this year.

With more than 60 years’ experience of construction, restoration and fit out works, Tracey Brothers Ltd are one of the major building contractors in Northern Ireland. In recent years the company has successfully undertaken major restoration and re-development of many of Belfast’s historic land mark buildings including Riddell Hall at Queens University Belfast, Crumlin Road Gaol, Cleaver House, HMS Caroline Historic Buildings and the Parliament Buildings at Stormont Estate.

Ian Wilson, Chief Executive of the Grand Opera House said: “The Grand Opera House was last restored 40 years ago, and we are delighted that Tracey Brothers have been appointed to oversee this vital project.

“Between January and November of this year, thanks to the support of lottery players and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we will restore the iconic and unique 1895 auditorium and transform the public areas of the building, including installing the first ever permanent exhibition to tell the fascinating story of the Theatre’s 125-year history. We look forward to working with the Tracey Brothers team throughout the months ahead on this exciting project.”

The Grand Opera House was designed by the leading Victorian theatre architect Frank Matcham and completed in 1895. Many of the world’s leading actors, singers, dancers and entertainers have appeared on its stage, including Charlie Chaplin, Sarah Bernhardt, Laurence Olivier, Vera Lynn, Luciano Pavarotti, Darcey Bussell and Laurel and Hardy.

As part of the restoration and development project, the auditorium’s decorative paint and plasterwork will be repaired and restored, and seating, carpets, curtains and drapes will be replaced. The Theatre’s technical infrastructure will be upgraded, and customer facilities including those for customers with access needs will be improved. The design of the foyer and public spaces will be reimagined, a new bar will be installed in the glass extension overhanging Great Victoria Street, and the permanent exhibition is expected to attract thousands of visitors each year.

John Tracey, Director at Tracey Brothers Ltd added: “It’s a privilege to work on such a prestigious heritage project as this. It’s rare to have the opportunity to restore a venue with a history and an auditorium as rich and spectacular as the Grand Opera House. We recognise the importance of these works being carried out in a sensitive manner to ensure this historic value is respected and retained for future generations and we’re very pleased to play a role in securing the Theatre’s future for many years to come”.

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Philadelphia Here We Come! Leading theatre companies from NI celebrated at International Showcase US

Thursday 23rd January 2020 at 9am 0 Comments Drama

Pictured (L-R) are Northern Ireland IPAY delegates, Paul Bosco Mc Eneaney, Cahoots NI, Una Nic Eoin, Prime Cut Productions, Brian Mullan, Replay Theatre Company, Eibhlin de Barra, Young At Art, Nicola Curry, Maiden Voyage Dance and Gilly Campbell, ACNI Image: Pictured (L-R) are Northern Ireland IPAY delegates, Paul Bosco Mc Eneaney, Cahoots NI, Una Nic Eoin, Prime Cut Productions, Brian Mullan, Replay Theatre Company, Eibhlin de Barra, Young At Art, Nicola Curry, Maiden Voyage Dance and Gilly Campbell, ACNI

Five of Northern Ireland’s leading theatre and dance companies, that create work for children and young people, are set to attend the prestigious IPAY (International Association of Performing Arts for Youth) Showcase 2020 in Philadelphia, USA this January.

Young at Art, Prime Cut Productions, Replay Theatre Company, Maiden Voyage Dance and Cahoots NI will attend IPAY Showcase 2020, an immensely valuable opportunity for these professional theatre and dance makers to highlight their productions and network with international touring agents, festival organisers, artists and other theatre professionals, with a view to touring their work outside of Northern Ireland.

For the first time at IPAY Showcase there will be an all-island focus on Ireland with a ‘Cultural Spotlight’ presentation on theatre and dance for young audiences across the island of Ireland, supported by Culture Ireland, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and British Council.

Prime Cut Productions have been selected by IPAY to feature as a ‘Showcase Artist’ performing the full production of ‘Removed, written by Belfast playwright, Fionnuala Kennedy and Cahoots NI will take part in the Show and Tell Spotlight, a mixture of 20-minute live SHOW performances and 5 to 8-minute TELL presentations, where they will perform part of their hugely successful production, Under the Hawthorn Tree. 

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“The value of being showcased at IPAY Showcase 2020 cannot be overestimated.  Northern Ireland punches well above its weight when it comes to producing high-quality, world-class, award-winning theatre for children and young people and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is hugely proud to support five of our leading theatre makers attend this year’s IPAY Showcase 2020 with our colleagues in Culture Ireland and British Council.”

Visit www.ipayweb.org for further details.

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Northern Ireland theatre talent to be celebrated on stage in Brussels

Wednesday 22nd January 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments Drama

C21 has been invited to Brussels to perform its acclaimed black comedy May the Road Rise Up Image: C21 has been invited to Brussels to perform its acclaimed black comedy May the Road Rise Up

One of Northern Ireland’s leading theatre companies, C21 has been invited to Brussels to perform its acclaimed black comedy May the Road Rise Up.

Written by Rosemary Jenkinson and directed by Stephen Kelly, the fast-paced one-woman show tells the story of Mia (Christine Clare) as she makes her way along life’s bumpy road, and her eventual spiral into homelessness.

The show is the latest Northern Ireland work to travel to Belgium as part of the Brussels Platform, a collaboration between the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Executive Office. Launched in 2011, over the last nine years, the platform has provided a regular showcase for local musicians, writers, dancers, theatre practitioners and visual artists, with the aim of promoting the culture and creativity of Northern Ireland in Europe.

Speaking about the production Stephen Kelly, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of C21, said:

"We, at c21, are delighted to be performing May the Road Rise Up at the wonderful Bozar Theatre in Brussels.  The production has come a long way since its debut at the Lyric Theatre in 2018, with our Australian tour in 2019 being a real highlight.  It’s a privilege to be able to showcase our work throughout Europe so thanks to Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Executive Office for helping us to do that."

Damian Smyth, Head of Drama and Literature with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

"To perform at the Northern Ireland Executive Office in the heart of the EU is a unique opportunity for the artists taking part in the Brussels Platform and we are proud to be showcasing the very best of talent from our shores. This superb production has already toured theatres across Northern Ireland to much acclaim, and has also toured Australia last year. We are delighted to be working with the Northern Ireland Executive Office to help bring it to new audiences in Europe."

Lynsey Moore, Director of the Northern Ireland Executive Office in Brussels, added:

"The Brussels Platform continues to provide the ideal opportunity to showcase our talent on a European stage and to highlight the region's ever growing reputation as a centre of excellence in the arts. We very much look forward to welcoming C21 to Brussels in a few weeks time."

Looking forward to the performance, Playwright Rosemary Jenkinson said:

"I am beyond thrilled to see my play performed in such a renowned theatre as the Bozar and we can’t wait to deliver a great show. It’s hugely important to me to continue my close cultural connections with Brussels, especially in light of Brexit. I’d like to thank the Northern Ireland Executive Office and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for this special experience."

The performance will take place in the Bozar Theatre in Brussels on Thursday 6th February. Tickets are priced at €10. For more information and to book your seat go to www.bozar.be.

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Arts Council publishes review of ‘A Year in the Arts’, 2018-19

Thursday 16th January 2020 at 11am 0 Comments

Davy Watson, recipient of an Arts Council Artists Career Enhancement Scheme award, performing with the Ulster Orchestra as part of the their On Your Doorstep series, which aims to grow new audiences by collaborating with artists of various genres Image: Davy Watson, recipient of an Arts Council Artists Career Enhancement Scheme award, performing with the Ulster Orchestra as part of the their On Your Doorstep series, which aims to grow new audiences by collaborating with artists of various genres

The Arts Council today published its Annual Review of 2018-19, recounting many of the highlights of the Year in the Arts in Northern Ireland, supported by Arts Council exchequer funding from the Department of Communities as well as National Lottery funds.

2018-19 represented another outstanding year of accomplishment by artists and arts organisations working throughout Northern Ireland, providing the full range of creative activities, from large-scale festivals to local-level community projects.

Artists, writers and performers promoted Northern Ireland’s creative and cultural reputation at a growing number of high-profile international showcase events, from Brussels and Paris to India and North America. Young people’s health and wellbeing received new levels of support from the arts thanks to the development of a new Creative Schools Partnership, which is increasing creativity in the classroom and boosting educational outcomes for students. Major arts projects took place across eight local authorities as a result of the Local Government Challenge Fund, which offered Arts Council match funding as an incentive to District Council’s to increase their investment in the arts and embed the arts in the planning and delivery of key areas of civic responsibility. Northern Ireland’s first Man Booker Prize-winning author, Anna Burns, returned to Belfast for a special reading and ‘in conversation’ event with fellow Booker-Prize winner, Anne Enright; and the inaugural Seamus Heaney International Visiting Poetry Fellow, the distinguished American poet Mark Doty, presented public readings, workshops and masterclasses at Queen’s University, the Seamus Heaney Homeplace and at a number of arts festivals.

Seventeen up-and-coming artists embarked on the ACES programme, which provides bursaries and career development/mentoring opportunities with professional arts organisations, and the Arts Council acknowledged the contribution to Northern Ireland’s creative life of four mid-career Major Individual Artists – two writers, a composer and a playwright - each of whom were awarded substantial grants to develop a new body of work of lasting value.

The Annual Review provides a vivid account of the (financial) year in the arts, its many highlights reminding us all of the breadth of contribution that a rich creative environment makes to the quality of everyone’s lives in Northern Ireland.

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2020 set to be a year of international opportunities for NI artists

Thursday 16th January 2020 at 9am 0 Comments International Arts , Literature , Craft , Visual Arts

Pictured L-R Kathryn Graham, Sonya Whitefield, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Eleanor Wheeler. Image: Pictured L-R Kathryn Graham, Sonya Whitefield, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Eleanor Wheeler.

Northern Ireland artists will be showcasing their talents in India this year as part of a number of international opportunities developed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to raise the profile of local artists abroad.

Renowned sculptor and ceramist Eleanor Wheeler and up-and-coming visual artist Kathryn Graham will undertake six week residencies at key cultural institutions. While later this month, award winning poet Stephen Sexton and acclaimed director and Executive Producer of the Lyric Theatre Jimmy Fay, will represent Northern Ireland at the Jaipur Literature Festival, the world’s biggest book festival.

The links developed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in partnership with the British Council with key cultural institutions in India provide a valuable platform to promote the culture and creativity of Northern Ireland to international audiences.

Sonya Whitefield, Arts Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“Strengthening international opportunities for artists is one of the Arts Council’s key priorities in 2020 and these exciting ventures in India are just the first in a series of initiatives we will be supporting this year. Both the Jaipur Literature Festival and the artists’ residencies will enable our artists to immerse themselves in a very different artistic community and draw inspiration from another culture, as well as promoting their work and showcasing Northern Ireland. 

“Our strong connections with India will continue later this year when we will host the second local edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival. At JLF Belfast we’ll once again be encouraging creative exchange between our two nations helping to showcase local artists and the work they do to a global audience.”

Colette Norwood, Arts Manager, British Council Northern Ireland commenting on the opportunity said:

“British Council is delighted to continue to offer a series of artist residencies in India, in partnership with the Arts Council.  The festivals and Indian cultural organisations we are working with provide vital opportunities to celebrate our artists internationally and build connections to work with and welcome artists and arts organisations form India to Northern Ireland in future years too.”

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The Northern Ireland playwrights taking a bite of the Big Apple at Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival

Monday 13th January 2020 at 11am 0 Comments Drama

Pictured (L-R) is Rhiann Jeffrey, Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Arts Council, Gina Donnelly, Sarah Gordon, Finn Kennedy, Clare McMahon. Emily DeDakis, Rebecca Mairs, Lyric Theatre, Benjamin Gould. Image: Pictured (L-R) is Rhiann Jeffrey, Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Arts Council, Gina Donnelly, Sarah Gordon, Finn Kennedy, Clare McMahon. Emily DeDakis, Rebecca Mairs, Lyric Theatre, Benjamin Gould.

The 12th annual Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival in New York will welcome six playwrights and two directors from Northern Ireland to showcase newly commissioned work on an international stage.

The festival, which runs from January 7th to February 3rd 2020, is New York’s only all-Irish performing arts festival and is the world’s only festival dedicated to showcasing the work of contemporary Irish writers.

Five women playwrights based in Northern Ireland - Alice Malseed, Fionnuala Kennedy, Gina Donnelly, Emily DeDakis and Sarah Gordon, have each been commissioned to write short plays about Belfast to be performed at the festival, directed by former Arts Council ACES awardee, Rhiann Jeffrey.

Separately, Clare McMahon’s play, The Gap Year, which was developed in the Lyric Theatre’s New Playwrights Programme, has been programmed for a special rehearsed reading which will be directed by Northern Ireland director, Benjamin Gould.

Alice Malseed, Clare McMahon and Sarah Gordon have each honed their writing talent through the Lyric Theatre’s prestigious New Playwrights Programme, a six-month writing and mentoring development programme aimed at emerging playwrights to create and showcase new work.  This valuable programme has enabled these playwrights to take their ideas from page to stage through the expert guidance of the Lyric Theatre’s Literary Manager, Rebecca Mairs.

Rebecca Mairs, Literary Manager, Lyric Theatre, commented:

“We’re thrilled that this exceptional group of theatre makers have the opportunity to present their work on an international platform – they’re wonderful ambassadors for the wealth of talent, creativity and vitality in Northern Irish theatre today.  This is the third year in a row that the Origin’s 1st Irish Festival are presenting a reading of a play developed though our New Playwrights Programme, and it’s very exciting that a further two previous participants of the programme have been commissioned by the festival this year.  We wish all the writers and directors every success!”

Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Literature and Drama Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, speaking about the valuable opportunity added:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to be supporting some of our best, freshest theatrical talent in presenting their work at Origin’s 1st Irish festival in New York.  In particular, I am thrilled that many of these artists are women. They will superbly represent the formidable pool of female talent, voices and imaginations at work in Northern Irish theatre at present. New York audiences are in for a treat as they experience the specificity and the universality of Belfast writing and directing. We are so proud to be supporting these artists and wish each of them all the best for the festival.”

For more information on the festival visit www.origintheatre.org

For more information on Arts Council travel awards visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding

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Lyndon Stephens - Northern Ireland artist manager and music promoter

Friday 10th January 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with great sadness of the death of local artist manager, record label boss, booker and music promoter, Lyndon Stephens, who died this morning following an illness, at the age of fifty-two.

Lyndon Stephens was a high-profile artist manager, representing internationally-renowned singer-songwriters from Northern Ireland, including Ciaran Lavery, PORTS, Ryan Vail, Joshua Burnside and Malojian. In 2010 he launched the record label, Champion Sound Recordings, and the following year founded Champion Sound Music, an award-winning artist development and career management service based at the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast. He sat on the board of the Northern Ireland Music Industry Commission, was a member of Belfast City Council’s Festivals Forum and, in 2019, became Regional Ambassador for the Association of Independent Music, helping to establish a rights holder-based association of music industry professionals in Northern Ireland.

In 2014, Lyndon established his second independent label, Quiet Arch, through which he championed local emerging musical talent, releasing recordings by a wide range of artists and genre, from folk to electo pop. The label produced many successful debut records and critically-acclaimed albums, such as ‘Ephrata’ by Joshua Burnside’s and ‘Let Bad In’ by Ciaran Lavery, both of which won the Northern Ireland Music Prize.

With the support of the Arts Council, he represented artists at the world’s largest music industry events, including Womex, the Folk Alliance in Kansas and South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Attending such events, he was, in addition to promoting the careers of individual musicians, a key player in wider strategical moves to raise Northern Ireland’s reputation internationally as a source of outstanding musical talent.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, paid tribute:

“Lyndon was always a great ambassador for musical talent and creativity from Northern Ireland. He was one of the people at the centre of the music scene, helping to shape the musical landscape here and building up its reputation internationally. He was passionate about encouraging emerging talent and ensuring that local artists have the professional support they need to develop their careers to the next level. It was my pleasure to work with him at a number of international music industry events and I know how much his support meant to so many of our up-and-coming, and, with his help now established, singer-songwriters. Lyndon was simply part of the music fabric of Northern Ireland. He will be truly missed.”

Those wishing to celebrate Lyndon’s life are welcome to attend Roselawn crematorium on Wednesday 15th January at 5pm. Family flowers or donations to the Marie Curie hospice are welcomed.

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Children’s Writing Fellow rings in New Year with Schools Programme

Wednesday 1st January 2020 at 10am 0 Comments Literature

Kelly McCaughrain pictured with students from Carrickfergus Grammar. Image: Kelly McCaughrain pictured with students from Carrickfergus Grammar.

Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland Kelly McCaughrain is celebrating the New Year by encouraging schools to librarians and teachers to set up and run Creative Writing Clubs in secondary schools

The writer of the multi-award winning Flying Tips for Flightless Birds was recently awarded funding through our Support for Individual Artists Programme. Kelly will use the funding to develop the online resource for the schools.

Follow Kelly’s blog and get involved at https://theblankpage.kellymccaughrain.com

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Arts Council announces three new funding programmes for arts organisations

Friday 20th December 2019 at 2pm 0 Comments

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The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is offering a number of funding opportunities under three new programmes. Thanks to investment from the Department for Communities, three new funding programmes will offer support for arts organisations across Northern Ireland. 

Arts organisations will be invited to make an expression of interest to the following funding programmes.

Programme one: Rural Needs Small Grants Programme
Grants of up to £10,000 will be available.  This funding is designed to enable arts organisations to deliver arts programmes to rurally-based communities.  Expressions of interest can be submitted at any time up until Friday 17th January 2020, when the programme will close.

Visit artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/rural-needs-small-grants-programme for more information.

Programme two: New Commissioning Programme for Creative Innovation
Grants of up to £20,000 will be available to arts organisations to support the commissioning of new, creative work. Expressions of interest can be submitted at any time up until Friday 17th January 2020, when the programme will close.

Visit artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/commissioning-programme-for-creative-innovation for more information.

Programme three: Pilot Premium Payments Programme
Grants of up to £5,000 will be available. This pilot programme is designed to enable arts organisations to access support to assist Section 75 accessibility to their arts programming.  This is a rolling programme and expressions of interest can be submitted at any time up until Friday 13th March 2020, when the programme will close.

Visit artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/pilot-premium-payments-programme for more information.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

"With much appreciated investment from the Department of Communities, the Arts Council is delighted to announce the opening of these three new funding programmes. These valuable programmes offer arts organisations the opportunity to deliver arts to communities in rural locations, commission new works and create arts experiences that are both accessible and inclusive.  All the information about how to apply is available on the Arts Council website and we would encourage any arts organisations interested in the new funding programmes to visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding for more details."

 

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Creative Industries Seed Fund now welcoming grant applications for awards up to £10k and £25k

Friday 20th December 2019 at 11am 0 Comments

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The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced a new, Creative Industries Seed Fund, worth £290,000 in total, funded by the Department for Communities and Future Screens NI, and supported by Digital Catapult.

The new fund aims to assist entrepreneurs, creative businesses and arts organisations, to undertake projects that contribute to the growth of the creative industries and unlock future income generation.  The Creative Industries Seed Fund will offer two sets of awards up to £10k and up to £25k and applications are now open.  

The fund, administered by the Arts Council, particularly welcomes collaborative partnerships between arts organisations, creative businesses and academia, to use established and emerging technology to innovate and enhance delivery of the arts in Northern Ireland.  To help facilitate this collaborative approach, a free networking and advice workshop will take place on 10 January 2020, 10am-1pm, at Digital Catapult, Ormeau Baths.  Booking is essential. Please register for your place here https://acni-cisf.eventbrite.co.uk

Further information about each of the awards is available from www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding/for-organisations

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Community artist, Darren Ferguson, recognised with Arts Council of Northern Ireland legacy award

Thursday 19th December 2019 at 3pm 0 Comments

Picture (L-R) is Gail McGarvey, Play Resource, Darren Ferguson, Gilly Campbell, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Olivier Urbain, Director, Min-On Music Research Institute. Image: Picture (L-R) is Gail McGarvey, Play Resource, Darren Ferguson, Gilly Campbell, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Olivier Urbain, Director, Min-On Music Research Institute.

Darren Ferguson, Chief Executive, Beyond Skin, an organisation which uses the arts as a tool for peacebuilding, has been awarded £5000 National Lottery funding by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The career development award is presented in memory of Anne O’Donoghue, Director of Play Resource Warehouse, one of the arts sector’s largest figures, who sadly passed away in 2014.

The award was established under the existing Support for the Individual Artist Programme (SIAP) as part of the Arts Council’s continuing commitment to support artists and create a sustainable arts sector.  Darren will now use the funding towards a project that will significantly impact his professional career.   

Awardee, Darren Ferguson, will use the Anne O’Donoghue Award to take part in research and cultural exchange with the Min-On Music Research Institute (MOMRI) in Tokyo.  Whilst in Tokyo, Darren will be mentored by Olivier Urbain, Director, to learn new skills and develop new ways of working in community peacebuilding.  Darren will also use the award to develop a collaborative creative project between young people in Northern Ireland and Japan.

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts & Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented;

“Anne contributed a huge amount to the life and legacy of the arts in Northern Ireland and we are delighted to make this award available in her memory to an artist in support of their career.  Congratulations to Darren Ferguson whom I know will benefit greatly from this award.”  

Darren Ferguson, Beyond Skin, added, “

This is a very special award which has connected me to the Min-On Music Research Institute in Tokyo, an organisation that will coach, mentor me and show me a totally different way of doing things.  I am delighted to have won this award and will aim to make Anne O’Donoghue proud of how I use this award.”

Anne O’Donoghue’s legacy is significant, joining the Play Resource Warehouse in 1984 where she remained as a committed director for thirty years, championing community arts practice.  With this commitment in mind, the Anne O’Donoghue Award was created to support an individual working in community arts by building their professional capacity through continuing professional development. 

For information on all funding opportunities visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding

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Arty McGlynn (1944-2019) Pioneering Traditional Irish Musician

Thursday 19th December 2019 at 1pm 0 Comments Traditional Arts , Northern Ireland Music

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with great sadness of the death of the renowned Omagh-born guitarist and traditional musician, Arty McGlynn, who died yesterday (18th December) following a short illness, at the age of 75.

Arty McGlynn was born into a musical family in Omagh in 1944, his father playing accordion and his mother the fiddle. Arty showed a prodigious musical talent from an early age. At the age of five he was playing reels on the accordion; at eleven he got his first guitar and by the age of fifteen he was playing professionally with bands. During the 1960s and ’70s he worked as a session musician, touring and recording with some of the country’s most popular showbands, before recording his seminal solo album, ‘McGlynn’s Fancy’ in 1979. This ground-breaking album is widely credited with bringing the guitar into the mainstream of traditional Irish music. It also revealed his talents as an arranger and composer.

Arty would go on to collaborate with the major figures in the traditional and folk music scene, including Christy Moore, Frances Black, Paul Brady, Planxty, The Dubliners and Four Men and a Dog. He played guitar on Van Morrison’s 1983 album ‘Inarticulate Speech of the Heart’, 1989s ‘Avalon Sunset’ and 1995s ‘Days Like This’. He would eventually play on more than 400 albums. His long and successful musical partnership with his wife, the fiddle player Nollaig Casey, led to the highly-acclaimed original albums ‘Lead the Knave’ (1989) and ‘Causeway’ (1995), and their compositions feature on the film soundtracks for ‘Moondance’, ‘Waking Ned’ and ‘Hear My Song’. The two became known for their live performances together.

He was honoured with a Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement award from the Baltimore Fiddle Festival, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish Music Association of America for excellence in the field of Irish Folk Music and, in 2016, the TG4 Gradam Saoil / Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, paid tribute:
“Arty McGlynn was a great guitarist and an exemplary musician who pushed the boundaries of traditional and modern Irish music. His music was pioneering and has influenced a generation of fellow musicians. The Arts Council recognised his achievement and his remarkable contribution to the arts in Northern Ireland with our highest honour in 2012, a Major Individual Artist Award. He was one of the giants of Irish music and he will be sadly missed.”

Arty McGlynn is survived by his wife Nollaig Casey, their two daughters and three sons.

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Arts Council announces £199,714 funding for arts projects for older people across Northern Ireland

Monday 16th December 2019 at 11am 0 Comments Arts and Older People

Pictured (L-R) is project participant, Victor Gormley with Gail McGarvey, Director, Play Resource. Image: Pictured (L-R) is project participant, Victor Gormley with Gail McGarvey, Director, Play Resource.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced National Lottery funding and public funding from the Public Health Agency and Baring Foundation of over £199,714, for 28 organisations across the region, to deliver community-based arts projects benefitting older people.  The funding is part of the Arts Council's Arts and Older People’s Programme, a pioneering initiative which aims to tackle loneliness as-well as promote positive mental health and well-being among older people through engagement with the arts.

The Arts and Older People’s Programme was  established by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2010 and is now a cross-governmental partnership with funding from the Public Health Agency and The Baring Foundation. The programme has been designed to challenge perceptions of what it means to be an older person. To date the programme has provided £1.8m funding to community organisations and voluntary groups across Northern Ireland in the delivery of 184 arts projects to older people.  

Lorraine Calderwood, Community Development Officer at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, explained how the Arts and Older People’s Programme is making a difference to the lives of older people across the region: 

"Research has proven that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, confidence and motivation, as well as aid in relieving stress, worries and also pain. The Arts and Older People’s Programme is committed to providing meaningful opportunities for our older people to take part in arts activities, enriching their lives for the better.  The arts have a vital role to play in helping older people find their voice and express the issues which can often affect them on a day-to-day basis, thus promoting positive physical and mental health.  The Arts Council is proud to have supported 184 projects since the programme began and we’re delighted today to announce that a further 28 projects will be supported with funding of over £199,714.”

Play Resource Warehouse, based in North Belfast, has been awarded £7,092 to deliver a project working in partnership with Libraries NI.  Together they will work with eight groups of older people, four from Belfast and four that are rurally based, to develop a programme creative activities to include personal story-telling, calligraphy, weaving, embroidery, photography, ceramic work, mosaic, felt, clay and sound.    

The 28 projects to be supported by the Arts & Older People Programme include:

Organisation Name Project Title Grant Amount Location
ABC Community Network ENGAGE 3 £8,196 Portadown
Accolade (All Communities Art Communications) Let's get 2gether £7,500 Banbridge
Armstrong Storytelling Trust Do You Mind The Day - Storytelling and Reminiscence £2,052 Cushendall
Arts Ekta Craft-Tea: A Craft Project centered on the theme of Tea £9,599 Belfast
BEAM Creative Network Young at HeART £7,974 Donaghmore, Tyrone
Belfast Exposed Photography Ballybeen Unseen £7,210 Belfast
Beth Johnson Foundation Art 'ur' Age £7,416 Newtownards
Crescent Arts Centre Eng-AGE: Making Memories £9,400 Belfast
Derry Theatre Trust Ltd., t/a The Millennium Forum Tea Dance & Sing Down Memory Lane £5,610 Derry/Londonderry
Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company Body Wisdom in the Community £7,524 Derry/Londonderry
Foyle Deaf Association Sign Language Choir £5,775 Derry/Londonderry
An Gaelaras Ltd Step Into My Parlour £7,170 Derry/Londonderry
Gilford Art Group Art in the local Community £3,130 Gilford
Golden Thread Gallery True Confessions £6,730 Belfast
Greater Shantallow Community Arts Arts in Mind £7,260 Derry/Londonderry
Harmony Community Trust Getting Down Together through Art £4,897 Strangford, Down
Kabosh Theatre Ltd Art Attack £7,474 Belfast
Lisnafin/Ardnalee/Trust CCDA Ageing well through Arts and Creativity £7,200 Strabane
Live Music Now (LMN) The Joy of Remembering Through Music £8,968 Limavady
Open Arts Song and Dance for Dementia £9,980 Belfast
Play Resource Warehouse Meet Me £7,092 Belfast
Prime Cut Productions Ltd Re-Vision 3: Life From Time £8,900 Belfast
Prison Arts Foundation Older Men's Art project £4,922 Belfast
Richmount Rural Community Association INVOLVE £8,910 Portadown
Sticky Fingers Arts Connect Part Two £9,000 Newry
Streetwise Community Circus Age-ility 2019-20 £10,000 Belfast
Ulster Youth Orchestra STRINGTIME! £1,650 Belfast
Queen’s University Belfast Artage, a free, public web-based multimedia arts resource with and for older people £8,175 Belfast

 

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Special Tribute Event held in memory of renowned Belfast Poet Ciaran Carson

Tuesday 10th December 2019 at 2pm 0 Comments Literature

Pictured (L-R) at the tribute event are artists Leontia Flynn, Michael Longley, Sinéad Morrissey and Frank Ormsby. Image: Pictured (L-R) at the tribute event are artists Leontia Flynn, Michael Longley, Sinéad Morrissey and Frank Ormsby.

A special event paying tribute to the life and work of the late Belfast poet Ciaran Carson (1948-19) took place at the Lyric Theatre last night.

Hosted by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast and the Irish Secretariat in Belfast, the free event was hosted in memory of the late writer who died after a period of illness on Saturday 6th October, aged 70.

The event presented by Glenn Patterson, writer and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's, featured readings and reflections from a host of artists, including the current Ireland Professor of Poetry, Frank Ormsby, Sinéad Morrissey, Michael Longley, as well as music from harpist Úna Monaghan, traditional Irish singer Len Graham, and more.

Speaking about the event, Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“From the poems of Belfast Confetti and The Ballad of HMS Belfast, to the prose of The Star Factory and the Booker-longlisted Shamrock Tea, all of it praised around the globe, Ciaran Carson’s writing is intimately connected to the streets and thoroughfares of his native city. It is fitting then that this gathering in the Lyric Theatre, one of the great arenas of our shared cultural life, has celebrated a life well lived and the legacy of first-class literature his genius left to the rest of us as citizens of the world.”

Glenn Patterson, writer and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s commented:

Glenn Patterson, writer and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s commented: “Ciaran Carson was the first Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre, a dear friend and colleague to all there, and an inspiration as a poet, writer, and as a citizen: a great European literary figure who lived his entire life in Belfast. This event has been an opportunity for the city of Belfast and for all who value literature on the island to recognise and to celebrate his work, his life, and his legacy.”

Born in Belfast in 1948 and brought up as an Irish speaker, Ciaran Carson graduated from Queen’s University with a degree in English, before joining the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 1975, where, until 1998, he served as Traditional Music Officer, then Literature Officer. In 2003, he was appointed Professor or English and the Founding Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University. He retired from Queen’s in 2016, remaining Emeritus Professor of the School of Arts, English and Languages at Queen’s.

He published his first collection of poetry, The New Estate, in 1976. He would go on to publish fourteen collections of poems, five prose books and celebrated translations of the Dante’s Inferno (2002), for which he was awarded the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and the Irish saga, Táin Bó Cúailnge (2007).

His award-winning poetry collections include The Irish for No (1987), winner of the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award, Belfast Confetti (1990), which won the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Poetry, First Language: Poems (1993), winner of the TS Eliot Prize, Breaking News (2003), which won the Forward Poetry Prize, For All We Know (2008), shortlisted for both the 2008 TS Eliot Prize and the Costa Poetry Award, and From Elsewhere (2015), shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. From There to Here (Selected Poems and Translations) was published on the occasion of his 70th birthday, in October 2018.

His prose books include The Star Factory (1997), a memoir of Belfast, Fishing for Amber (1999) and Shamrock Tea (2001), a novel longlisted for the Booker Prize. Last Night’s Fun: About Time, Food and Music (1996), a book about Irish traditional music, reflects the author’s life-long interest in, and high level of accomplishment as, a musician.

 

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Northern Ireland’s Creative Industries boosted with new £240,000 Seed Fund

Tuesday 3rd December 2019 at 11am 0 Comments Craft , Drama , Film & TV , Visual Arts

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The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (Tuesday 3rd December) announced  a new Creative Industries Seed Fund, worth £240,000, funded by the Department For Communities and Future Screens  NI, and supported by Digital Catapult.  The new fund aims to assist entrepreneurs, creative businesses and arts organisations to undertake projects that contribute to the growth of the creative industries and unlock future income generation.

Online applications are now open for grants capped at £10,000 and will close at 4pm on Monday 27th January, with decisions expected late February 2020.

The £240,000 fund, administered by the Arts Council, particularly welcomes collaborative partnerships between arts organisations, creative businesses and academia, to use established and emerging technology to innovate and enhance delivery of the arts in Northern Ireland. 

To help facilitate this collaborative approach, networking and advice workshops will take place in Belfast in 2020:
Belfast: 10 January 2020, 10am-1pm at Digital Catapult, Ormeau Baths

Matthew Malcolm, Creative Industries Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: 

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland welcomes this important investment by the Department For Communities into the creative industries here.  Globally there has been a marked shift from the declining traditional ‘heavy’ industries towards the creative industries and that is also reflected here in Northern Ireland.  The use of new and immersive technologies is a fast-growing market and incorporating these into the creation and delivery of arts experiences can open up valuable new ways of generating income for arts organisations.”

He continued:

“We want arts organisations and creative businesses to collaborate, share their expertise and create opportunities for growth.  Our creative sector remains one of the few areas of economic growth and is a vital source of our competitive strength, wealth and job creation, as well as raising the profile of Northern Ireland as a place that’s ready to compete and do business with the world.”


For further information and to apply online visit the funding page at www.artscouncil-ni.org

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Leading artists honoured with £15,000 awards by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Thursday 28th November 2019 at 10am 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music , Literature

(L-R)  Four leading artists, writer, Susan McKay, poet, Moyra Donaldson, musician/composer, Neil Martin and composer, Deirdre Gribbin, pictured with Ciaran Scullion, Arts Council of Northern Ireland Image: (L-R) Four leading artists, writer, Susan McKay, poet, Moyra Donaldson, musician/composer, Neil Martin and composer, Deirdre Gribbin, pictured with Ciaran Scullion, Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Acclaimed artists, writer, Susan McKay, poet, Moyra Donaldson, composer, Deirdre Gribbin and musician/composer, Neil Martin, have each been presented with Major Individual Awards (MIA), worth £15,000 each, from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funding, the highest honour bestowed by the body responsible for the development of the arts in the region.

The prestigious awards are given in recognition of the contribution each of the artists has made to creative life in Northern Ireland and make it possible for these artists to produce a substantial, ambitious project that will make a significant impact to the development of their artistic careers.

Each of the artists will now use the award to develop a series of new works.

Award-winning journalist, Susan McKay, from Derry-Londonderry, will use the MIA award to write a new book about borders provisionally called, Outside in the Navy Dark, from a poem by Leontia Flynn. 
Writer and poet, Moyra Donaldson, from Newtownards, County Down, will use the MIA award towards research and development of a new poetry collection, based on a theme of ‘mothers and daughters’, with publisher, Doire press. 

Composer, Deirdre Gribbin, from Belfast, will use the MIA award to complete two strands of work, Dark Matter Hunting and Kindersang: Outsider Child.  Deirdre will work with astrophysicist, Professor Priya Natarjan, a leading expert on Dark Matter, as source material for the first composition, Dark Matter Hunting with the completed work due to be performed in 2020 at West Cork Music, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Hubble Telescope. 

Musician and composer, Neil Martin, from Belfast, will use the MIA award to compose a new violin concerto, in three movements, for violinist, Maebh Martin, to be premiered in autumn 2020 to mark the launch of a new building housing the music department at St Andrew’s University, Scotland. 

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“Congratulations to Susan McKay, Moyra Donaldson, Deirdre Gribbin and Neil Martin, four immensely talented artists who have already made an enormous contribution to the arts in Northern Ireland.  Each will benefit greatly from being able to take time out to concentrate purely on these innovative new projects with the financial backing they need to produce work of lasting value. This award will help to cement their national and international reputations as artists, and strengthen the positive cultural profile of Northern Ireland, both home and abroad.”

The four join a distinguished list of artists who have previously benefited from the Major Individual Artist award, including writers; Carol Moore, Rosemary Jenkinson, Malachi O’Doherty, Jimmy McAleavey, Anne Devlin, Carlo Gébler, Damian Gorman, Patricia Craig, Sinéad Morrissey, Glenn Patterson and Owen McCafferty; playwright Shannon Sickles (Yee), performance artist, Sinéad O’Donnell, visual artists, Mairéad McClean, Rita Duffy, Susan MacWilliam and Cara Murphy; composers, Ed Bennett, Piers Hellawell, Ian Wilson, Elaine Agnew, Conor Mitchell and Deirdre McKay; musicians, Michael McHale and  David Lyttle plus choreographer, Oona Doherty, among others. 

Major Individual Artist awards form part of the wider Support for the Individual Artist Programme (SIAP) which is administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland annually.  As part of its continuing commitment to supporting the development of individual artists, the Arts Council made 209 SIAP awards to individual artists in 2019/20 totalling £567K.  Visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding for information on all funding opportunities.

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Craft NI hosts exhibition of works from the Arts Council’s Contemporary Art Collection

Thursday 21st November 2019 at 2pm 0 Comments Craft , Visual Arts

Pictured launching the exhibition (L_R)  is exhibition curator and Craft NI Board Member, Kim Mawhinney, Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council Northern Ireland with Katherine McDonald, Craft NI. Image: Pictured launching the exhibition (L_R) is exhibition curator and Craft NI Board Member, Kim Mawhinney, Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council Northern Ireland with Katherine McDonald, Craft NI.

A special exhibition at Craft NI’s new Royal Avenue premises featuring selected works from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s contemporary art collection is now open.  The exhibition has come about as part of the Arts Council’s new Art Lending Scheme, a free scheme which is open to curators, galleries, and organisations interested in putting works from the Collection on public display.

The exhibition at Craft NI has been curated by Kim Mawhinney, Senior Curator of Art at National Museums NI, and Craft NI Board member, who wanted to ensure the works on show were reflective of the breadth, diversity and talent that Northern Ireland excels in.

The exhibition shows work from nineteen contemporary Northern Ireland designer-makers using a range of materials and techniques including beautiful silver pieces, porcelain sculptures, detailed embroidery and flowing glass. There promises to be something for everyone, as the selection includes a range of emerging and established Northern Ireland artists dealing with topics such as grief, identity and the role of technology. 

Katherine McDonald, Director of Craft NI said:

“We are so pleased to have been able to benefit from the Arts Council’s Art Lending Scheme to make these beautiful and stimulating works available for audiences to see and learn about. It’s a great way to open our new combined exhibition, retail and gallery space in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter”.

Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“We are delighted to have works from the Collection exhibited at Craft NI’s new premises in the heart of Belfast city centre.  Many of the artists represented in the Collection have major national and international reputations and by offering the collection for public display, we are helping to showcase the work of our artists and to introduce the public to Northern Ireland’s wealth of creative talent. I would encourage everyone to go along and see this exhibition at Craft NI which promises to be an impressive mix of emerging and established artists.”

The Arts Council Collection Exhibition at Craft NI continues until 17th January. For opening times, visit, www.craftni.org

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The National Lottery Celebrates its 25th Birthday in Northern Ireland

Tuesday 19th November 2019 at 3pm 0 Comments

Pictured at the National Lottery 25th Birthday event is Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland with singer-songwriter, Reevah. Image: Pictured at the National Lottery 25th Birthday event is Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland with singer-songwriter, Reevah.

In the past quarter of a century more than £1.2 billion has been invested in 25,000 local good causes across the arts, sport, community and heritage sectors.

To mark the occasion of the very first draw, The National Lottery has released two special films.

These include ‘What has the National Lottery Ever Done for Us?’ a Monty Python style look at the impact of funding across the UK starring the likes of comedian Jimmy Carr, Derry Girls star Nicola Coughlin and cycling great Sir Chris Hoy. Based on the famous sketch from Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, this new take was and created by BAFTA nominated writer and director David Schneider. It can be viewed here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFzYd7kw1tU&feature=youtu.be

A second short film skips through 25 years funding in Northern Ireland in just 25 seconds, highlighting many of the local organisations who have benefitted from National Lottery support from our local distributors; the Arts Council Northern Ireland, The National Lottery Community Fund, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Sport Northern Ireland.

These include:

  • The first ever National Lottery grant in Northern Ireland - £195,000 to Belfast City Council for the Mary Peters Stadium in 1995
  • The largest single National Lottery award in Northern Ireland - £45 million to build the SSE Arena
  • Funding to a host of Northern Irish sports stars including Rory McIlroy, Michael Conlon, Carl Frampton, Kelly Gallagher, Bethany Firth and Mark Allen.
  • The reinvigoration of the local arts scene from the building or renovation of iconic venues such as the Lyric Theatre, the Millennium Forum and commissioning public art installations such as The Rise sculpture in Belfast
  • Investment in heritage such as the restoration of the likes of HMS Caroline, SS Nomadic, Derry’s Playhouse, the Ulster Museum and St George’s Market.
  • Transforming the community in Northern Ireland by supporting landmark projects like the Connswater Community Greenway and thousands of charities and groups like the NI Children’s Hospice, WAVE Trauma Centre and the creation of healthy living centres throughout Northern Ireland.

The ’25 Years in 25 Seconds,’ film can be viewed below: 

Paul Mullan, chair of the National Lottery Forum in Northern Ireland and Director of Northern Ireland of The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“The last 25 years has seen immeasurable change in Northern Ireland and the National Lottery has been at the heart of this transformation.

“More than £1.2 billion of National Lottery players money has been invested in more than 25,000 local people and projects.

“This has allowed our sporting stars to compete at the highest level and we have the gold medal, world titles and major championships to prove it.

“Our artists and theatre groups have state of the art facilities to produce high quality arts that are appreciated on a local, national and global stage.

“We have been able to understand value and share our heritage which brings people together, inspires pride in communities and boosts investment in local economies.

“And this funding has allowed people in Northern Ireland to do extraordinary things, taking the lead to improve their lives and the community.

“But none of this would be possible without those people from Northern Ireland who have played The National Lottery over the last 25 years and we would like to say a huge thank you for your support.”

Since The National Lottery’s first draw took place on 19 November 1994, more than £40 billion has been raised for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage, culture, film, charity and community.

The 25th birthday is a moment to celebrate the extraordinary impact The National Lottery has had on the UK. Since The National Lottery began, over 565,000 individual grants have been awarded across the UK. That’s the equivalent of 200 life-changing projects in every UK postcode district.

The 25th Birthday National Lottery activities are a great opportunity to say thank you to National Lottery players for contributing around £30 million to good causes every week.

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Funding for Musical Instruments Scheme opens

Wednesday 13th November 2019 at 12pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Pictured helping to launch the scheme are Críostóir Ó Bradáin (13) and Gráinne Ní Bhradaín (11) from the Armagh Pipers Club. Image: Pictured helping to launch the scheme are Críostóir Ó Bradáin (13) and Gráinne Ní Bhradaín (11) from the Armagh Pipers Club.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is offering a number of funding opportunities under its Musical Instruments Scheme. Thanks to capital investment from the Department for Communities, three funding programmes have opened offering support for artists and groups to purchase instruments up until March 2020.

The scheme is good news for marching bands, non-professional and professional performing groups, community groups, professional musicians and schools that may be eligible to apply to purchase instruments and music-making equipment. The Musical Instruments scheme is designed to increase the quality of music-making in Northern Ireland and to ensure as many groups and individuals as possible have an opportunity to purchase new instruments.

Programme one: Musical Instruments for Bands
This existing fund will be ring-fenced and grants of between £500 and £10,000 will be available. This funding is designed to help bands replace worn –out instruments and purchase new ones. It is open to bands based in Northern Ireland, which are constituted, including marching, accordion, brass, concert, flute, pipe and wind bands.

Visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/musical-instruments-for-bands-2019 for more information on the Musical Instruments for Bands scheme and to apply.

Programme two: Professional and Non-Professional Performing Groups
Grants of between £500 and £30,000 will be available. This strand is open to schools and to professional and non-professional performing groups in any genre of music, including community, youth and resource organisations. All organisations must be constituted and instruments applied for must be used for rehearsal, tuition and performance. Instruments must be owned by a constituted group which operates as not-for-profit, that is, a voluntary or charitable body with its own separate bank account.

Visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/musical-instruments-for-professional-and-non-professional-performing-groups for more information on the Musical Instruments for Professional and Non-Professional Performing Groups scheme and to apply.

Programme three: Individual Professional Performing Musicians
Grants of between £5,000 and £10,000 will be available. This strand is designed to provide support for highly-skilled performing musicians based in Northern Ireland, working at a professional level, who seek support for the purchase of high quality instruments that are central to their performing career.

Visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/musical-instruments-for-individuals for more information on the Musical Instruments for Individuals scheme and to apply.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“With much appreciated capital investment from the Department of Communities, the Arts Council is delighted to announce the opening of the Musical Instruments Scheme. This valuable scheme offers bands, musical groups, schools and professional musicians the opportunity to buy new instruments, helping to increase skills for all players, from young musicians just starting out, right through to highly trained performers. All the information about how to apply is on the Arts Council website and we would encourage anyone interested in the scheme to visit www.artscouncil-ni.org for more details."

Debbie McKibben, Head of Arts and Creativity Branch, Department for Communities said:

“This investment by the Department for Communities of £500,000 in a Musical Instruments Scheme is great news and will no doubt help develop musical skills across Northern Ireland. This programme not only supports music-making but celebrates music and its unique ability to bring people together, enrich our lives and support our wellbeing. We know these funding opportunities will be welcomed across the arts sector and will provide valuable support for individual musicians, performing groups and bands across the region.”

Please visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding for more information.

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Arts Council announces funding of £67,000 for 14 talented artists from Northern Ireland

Saturday 9th November 2019 at 10am 0 Comments Dance , Drama , Literature , Visual Arts , Northern Ireland Music

Pictured (L-R) are ACES awardees, writer Scott McKendry, Dr Damian Smyth, Head of Literature, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and writer Dawn Watson. Image: Pictured (L-R) are ACES awardees, writer Scott McKendry, Dr Damian Smyth, Head of Literature, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and writer Dawn Watson.

14 artists from Northern Ireland have been announced as the latest recipients of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s ACES awards 2019-20, a National Lottery supported funding grant bestowed upon Northern Ireland’s most talented emerging artists to enable them to develop their professional, artistic careers through the creation of new work.

Awards under the Artists Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) are made annually to professional artists working in music, visual arts, drama, dance, literature and participatory arts and are among the most prestigious awards bestowed by the Arts Council.  This year’s awardees includes five literature awardees, four musicians, two visual artists, one drama awardee and one dance awardee.

In addition to receiving a bursary of up to £5,000 each, many of the 14 artists have been partnered with a professional organisation or leading artist, at home or abroad, to help each of them to deliver new creative work.  Some of these partners include; Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, Golden Thread Gallery, Dumbworld, international choreographer, Judith Camero, Champion Sound Music, Kabosh, Seamus Heaney HomePlace and Sonic Arts Research Centre.   

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“These 14 artists are already established and highly regarded in each of their fields. The ACES awards are given in recognition of their work to date and also to provide them with financial support to take their careers to that vital next level. The ACES programme has been running successfully now for ten years and addresses the need for on-going training and skills development within the arts sector.”

The 14 artists awarded ACES funding include:

Literature
Ashling Lindsay
Dawn Watson
Louise Kennedy
Mícheál McCann
Scott McKendry

Music
Bernadette Morris
James Thompson
Owen Lamont
Patrick Brennan
Niall Hanna

Visual Arts
Edy Fung
Paul Moore

Drama
Louise Parker

Dance
Maytee Segura

The Artists Career Enhancement Programme (ACES) forms part of the wider Support for the Individual Artist Programme (SIAP) which is administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland annually with funding from the National Lottery.  As part of its continuing commitment to supporting the development of individual artists, the Arts Council made 209 SIAP awards to individual artists in 2019/20 totalling £567K.  Visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding for information on all funding opportunities.

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Funding Alert! Funding for Musical Instruments Scheme set to open in November 2019

Saturday 2nd November 2019 at 9am 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Funding Alert! Funding for Musical Instruments Scheme set to open in November 2019 Image: Funding Alert! Funding for Musical Instruments Scheme set to open in November 2019

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is set to open a number of funding opportunities in the coming month as part of a Musical Instruments Scheme. Thanks to capital investment from the Department for Communities, three funding programmes will be opened in early November 2019 with a procurement process to be completed by early March 2020.

The scheme will be good news for marching bands, non-professional and professional performing groups, community groups, professional musicians and schools that may be eligible to apply to purchase instruments and music-making equipment. The Musical Instruments scheme has been designed to increase the quality of music-making in Northern Ireland and to ensure as many groups and individuals as possible have an opportunity to purchase new instruments.

Programme one: Musical Instruments for Bands
This existing fund will be ring-fenced and grants of between £500 and £10,000 will be available. This funding is designed to help bands replace worn –out instruments and purchase new ones. It is open to bands based in Northern Ireland, which are constituted, including marching, accordion, brass, concert, flute, pipe and wind bands.

Programme two: Professional and Non-Professional Performing Groups
Grants of between £500 and £30,000 will be available. This strand is open to schools and to professional and non-professional performing groups in any genre of music, including community, youth and resource organisations. All organisations must be constituted and instruments applied for must be used for rehearsal, tuition and performance. Instruments must be owned by a constituted group which operates as not-for-profit, that is, a voluntary or charitable body with its own separate bank account.

Programme three: Individual Professional Performing Musicians
Grants of between £5,000 and £10,000 will be available. This strand is designed to provide support for highly-skilled performing musicians based in Northern Ireland, working at a professional level, who seek support for the purchase of high quality instruments that are central to their performing career.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“With much appreciated capital investment from the Department of Communities, the Arts Council is delighted to announce the Musical Instruments Scheme. It will offer bands, musical groups, schools and professional musicians the opportunity to buy new instruments. 

We think there will be a high demand for these funding opportunities and we really want to alert organisations and artists to be ready to apply when the fund opens. Keep an eye open to the Arts Council’s website www.artscouncil-ni.org and get set! “

Please note the three funding programmes in the Musical Instruments Scheme are scheduled to open in week commencing November 4th 2019. Please visit www.artscouncil-ni.org for more information.

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Matt Curry, Artist and Film-maker

Friday 1st November 2019 at 1pm 0 Comments Dance , Drama , Film & TV

Image:

The Arts Council has learned with sadness of the death of Armagh-born film maker, Matt Curry, who has died after a short illness with cancer. Matt enjoyed a background in drama and theatre and was widely known and respected in Northern Ireland media circles for his work in film and production with his Belfast-based company Bluebird Media. Several of his short films were screened at international film festivals and he worked on a series of television productions for the BBC, including Panorama and Spotlight.

Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Drama and Dance Officer at the Arts Council, paid tribute: 

“Our theatre and dance family is heartbroken by the passing of Matt Curry. Matt was a key member of our creative community, a sensitive artist and a kind and generous man. As a film maker he regularly worked in our live performance sector. We will feel his loss personally and professionally. Matt was the beloved husband of Emma Jordan, Artistic Director of Prime Cut Productions, and twin brother of Nicola Curry, Artistic Director of Maiden Voyage Dance. Our hearts go out to Matt’s family, Emma and their three girls, and Nicola. Our community has been devastated by loss in recent times, but we have strength in our compassion and togetherness, and we will once again come together to support each other, especially the Prime Cut and Maiden Voyage families, in this time of great sadness and loss.”

He will be laid to rest in his native Armagh this Saturday in St Patrick’s Cemetery, following Requiem Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral at 10am.

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F.E. McWilliam Gallery launch Linen Lab exhibition

Tuesday 15th October 2019 at 4pm 0 Comments Visual Arts

Linen Lab exhibition, F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio until Saturday 9th November 2019. Image: Linen Lab exhibition, F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio until Saturday 9th November 2019.

A new exhibition which explores the story of linen and its connection to the local area has opened at the F.E McWilliam Gallery & Studio in Banbridge. Developed by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council Linen Lab is the result of  a year-long creative collaboration between eight artists - Rachel Fitzpatrick, Deborah Malcomson, Lyndsey McDougall, Robert Peters, Jill Phillips, Heather Richardson, Archibald Godts and Theresa Bastek of Studio Plastique and 400 young people from 13 local schools.

Linen Lab, which runs at the Banbridge arts venue from 12 October to 9 November 2019, is part of a large-scale engagement programme called Connected, jointly funded by the Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Local Government Challenge Fund. This fund has offered local authorities the opportunity to increase investment in the arts by offering match funding of up to £1.5 million across Northern Ireland.

The Linen Lab exhibition documents the creative interactions between the artists and the young participants and presents new work developed during the project. Each artist’s distinct thematic and aesthetic concerns have emerged and developed to produce an exhibition that reveals the versatility of linen as a material, and reminds us of the significance of linen in our families, homes and industrial past.

The story of linen and Banbridge are intertwined, as it was once one of the main linen producing towns in Northern Ireland.  At the height of the linen industry, there were some twenty mills associated with different processes in the production of linen dotted along the Bann Valley from Katesbridge to Gilford.  Banbridge is the only town in Ireland that still produces Irish double-damask linen, under the auspices of Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen, which was established in 1854. Today, with a new focus on sustainability and biodegradable materials, linen and flax are once again in the spotlight and are being celebrated through the work of Linen Biennale NI.

The Linen Lab exhibition is a celebration of the many creative collaborations that took place over the course of the project and would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and curiosity of all the young people, artists and teachers who engaged in the project along with the support of the project partners: Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen, Banbridge and McConville’s Flax Mill, Dromore and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Community Arts Development Officer and project lead, Louise Rice, said,

“Collaboration and engagement is at the heart of the Linen Lab project.  We are all delighted to have had the opportunity to establish such positive working relationships and look forward to developing and widening further connections with the community in the future. The Local Government Challenge Fund has given three of our borough’s cultural venues a fantastic opportunity to develop innovative creative programmes that help sustain collaborative partnerships between artists and local residents.”

The Arts Council’s Local Government Challenge Fund is supported by the National Lottery, which this year celebrates its 25th birthday. Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Arts Council is pleased to have supported a local project like this which has brought professional artists and communities together to celebrate linen, one of the most important assets of our creative and industrial history. Since the National Lottery’s first draw took place in 1994, more than £40 billion has been raised for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage and community, enabling projects like this to make a big difference in local communities.”

Linen Lab runs at the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio until Saturday 9th November. Admission is free. For further information go to femcwilliam.com.

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Belfast teens create film to highlight dangers of online bullying

Tuesday 15th October 2019 at 1pm 0 Comments

A group of Belfast teenagers have been working on a short film looking at social media and the impact it can have on health and wellbeing. Image: A group of Belfast teenagers have been working on a short film looking at social media and the impact it can have on health and wellbeing.

A group of Belfast teenagers have been working on a short film looking at social media and the impact it can have on health and wellbeing. It examines mental health issues, particularly from the male perspective and looks at online bullying, self-image and suicide.  The film was shown for the first time at a special screening for World Mental Health Day on the 10th October.

The project has been developed by West Belfast based Suicide Awareness and Support Group and Arts organisation Kids in Control (KIC), and the makers hope it will help raise awareness, reduce stigma and build resilience among young people.  The group of participants, who were invited to take part through schools, youth clubs and community centres, decided on the film’s themes, created the script, and perform in the film.

The project received funding as part of ARTiculate, a three-year £600,000 programme funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funds and the Public Health Agency (PHA), which uses artists and the arts to give a voice to issues affecting young people. Kids in Control delivers physical theatre outreach programmes in the community, exploring and devising material around issues that are relevant and important to participants.

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25,000 free books delivered to primary schools across Northern Ireland

Tuesday 15th October 2019 at 9am 0 Comments Literature

Damian Smyth, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, with Carryduff St Josephs pupils ,Muireann Quinn and Conal Caughey, at an announcement to distribute free books to every primary one child in Northern Ireland. Image: Damian Smyth, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, with Carryduff St Josephs pupils ,Muireann Quinn and Conal Caughey, at an announcement to distribute free books to every primary one child in Northern Ireland.

Every primary one child across Northern Ireland is set to receive a free Time to Read pack this Autumn. The delivery comes as BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, commences the latest in its Arts Council of Northern Ireland school author tour series, this time with Marta Altés, author and illustrator of ‘Little Monkey’ starting from Monday 14th October.

The Time to Read packs which include a free copy of the book ‘Little Monkey’ and tips and advice for parents and carers, will be distributed to all 25,000 primary one children to take home and share with their families. With the help of The Education Authority Schools Library Service all schools will receive the packs at the beginning of the Autumn term.

To help celebrate the book distribution, the schools author tour supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland will see Marta visit four schools over the course of two days to run reading and craft workshops, designed to inspire, engage and help to create the authors and illustrators of the future. The school involved include - St Joseph’s Primary School Carryduff, Millennium Integrated Primary School, Saintfield, Moorfields Primary School, Ballymena and Parkhall Primary School, Antrim.

Marta Altés, author and illustrator of ‘Little Monkey’ said,

“One of my favourite parts about my work is getting to visit the children and watch their creativity grow! It’s incredible that my book will be in so many homes around Northern Ireland, and I hope that Little Monkey and her adventures in the jungle not only inspire a love of reading but also remind children that even when you're small you can do amazing things!”

Liz Canning, BookTrust Northern Ireland says

“We are delighted to be able to share ‘Little Monkey’ with children across Northern Ireland with the help of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and The Education Authority Schools Library Service. We really hope the children in the sessions are inspired to get reading and that every child receiving the packs shares a little bit of that magic.”

Marta Altés two day visit is the first in a series of author visits planned for this year, with more schools across Northern Ireland set to benefit from scheme over the coming months. The BookTrust programme is support through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery funds, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary since the first draw in 1994.

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“This wonderful initiative is all about inspiring a future generation of readers to enjoy reading from their earliest years, as they set off on their own journeys discovering new characters, places, stories and ideas. Access to books is something which we know supports all aspects of a child’s development and we are delighted to continue our funding for BookTrust’s author tours once again this year, with a copy of Marta Altés stunning book also going out to every primary one child in Northern Ireland.”

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The Arts Council is relocating

Friday 11th October 2019 at 12pm 0 Comments

Linen Hill House, Lisburn Image: Linen Hill House, Lisburn

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is relocating from The Sidings in Lisburn.

The new address will be:

Linen Hill House
23 Linenhall Street
Lisburn BT28 1FJ
Northern Ireland

To accommodate the office move, The Arts Council will be closed to the public from Thursday 17th October 2019 and will reopen on Wednesday 23rd October 2019 in Linen Hill House. 

Our main telephone line will be unavailable from 12 noon on Thursday 17th October and will reopen on Wednesday 23rd October 2019. We will also be unable to send or receive emails during this period.

The relocation is in keeping with the Department of Finance's Asset Management Strategy.

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World Mental Health Day 10th October 2019

Thursday 10th October 2019 at 9am 0 Comments ARTiculate Young People & Wellbeing Arts Programme

Pictured are Séamus Mullen (PHA), Lorraine Calderwood (Arts Council), Chris Deconink (Extern), artists Glenn Black and Ken Maze (Blaze FX), with some of the staff and young people involved in Extern’s arts project funded through the ARTiculate Programme Image: Pictured are Séamus Mullen (PHA), Lorraine Calderwood (Arts Council), Chris Deconink (Extern), artists Glenn Black and Ken Maze (Blaze FX), with some of the staff and young people involved in Extern’s arts project funded through the ARTiculate Programme

Today is World Mental Health Day and the theme set by World Federation of Mental Health is suicide prevention.

Three years ago the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, in partnership with the Public Health Agency, launched a new £600,000 programme to promote positive mental health and emotional well-being in young people through the arts.

So far the ARTiculate Programme has supported 47 projects across Northern Ireland, linking youth and community groups with professional artists and arts organisations.  Each project has engaged with vulnerable young people, targeting those at higher risk of suicide or self-harm.

The specific aims of the programme are:

  • Improve emotional, physical and social wellbeing of participants
  • Enable participants to express opinions or feeling using arts-based methods
  • Realise and improvement in wider services for young people with mental health issues
  • Empower communities to take a more pro-active role in promoting mental health and wellbeing
  • Reduce stigma associated with mental health and wellbeing through improved education; and
  • Support and promote help seeking behaviour amongst participants

Initial findings from an evaluation of the programme provides self-reported evidence from the young people of improvements in self-confidence and greater awareness of where to seek help and support. 

The ARTiculate programme is funded through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery funds. Since the National Lottery’s first draw took place on 19 November 1994, more than £40 billion has been raised for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage and community. People can discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has had on their community over the past 25 years by using the 25th hashtag #NationalLottery25 .

Find out more about the projects supported so far through the ARTicualte Programme:


For more information on World Mental Health Day, advice on looking after your mental health and how to access support visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk

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Belfast to host First all-island Dance Conference

Wednesday 9th October 2019 at 10am 0 Comments Dance

Co-Motion Dance Conference, Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast on 25-26 October. Image: Co-Motion Dance Conference, Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast on 25-26 October.

The first ever all-Ireland dance conference will take place in Belfast this month in association with Belfast International Arts Festival.

Co-Motion is an initiative between Dance Ireland and Dance Resource Base and will be held at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast on 25-26 October.

Coming just a week before Brexit, its themes are both practical and political, as an essential platform for dancers, educators and policy makers to consider borders, connections and how to develop and promote practices for working together.

Conference curator, Dr Aoife McGrath of Queen’s University Belfast, a professional dancer and choreographer whose research interests include the interplay of dance and politics, said,

“The conference responds to a critical moment, both globally and on the island of Ireland, in which renewed hardening of international borders threatens division and stasis.  It gives us the opportunity to ask, how does dance function as a site of connection and movement?  At junctures of threatened division, how can dance question, confirm and strengthen ongoing currents of fluidity, support and co-motion?

“This conference will bring critical attention to complexities of interrelations in this time of precarity and flux.”

The Co-Motion conference takes place during Belfast International Arts Festival’s big weekend of dance which includes the show-stopping French arts collective (LA)HORDE, who will perform their energetic jumpstyle street dance phenomenon, To Da Bone, at the Grand Opera House; renowned choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh’s dance company performing Staging Schiele at The MAC; Pat Kinevane’s searing solo musical theatre inspired Before; and looking ahead to the Festival’s closing event, the UK and Ireland premiere of Lady Magma, choreographed by Belfast-born Oona Doherty, along with Prime Cut Productions.

Keynote speeches and workshops will be led by these international artists, as well as previous Festival alumnus, Fearghus O’ Conchuir (Butterflies and Bones 2016), as well as Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola and Luc Dunberry of Sasha Waltz.

Adam Knight, Chair, Dance Resource Base said,

“Dance Resource Base is thrilled to be partnering with our colleagues at Dance Ireland to bring to Belfast the first ever All-Island Dance Conference, and to collaborate with the Belfast International Arts Festival and Queen’s University to shine a spotlight on our world-class dance talent from across the island of Ireland. This has been a vision many years in planning. With a host of international dance talent gathering here, it has never been more important, both nationally and globally, to celebrate our creative excellence, and in uncertain times this provides a significant opportunity to explore how we can work together to transcend borders of any kind.”

Paul Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, Dance Ireland said,

“Strategic partnerships, creative collaborations, networking and citizen artists are at the heart of Co-Motion: Dance & Borders. At a time of many challenges for professional dance practice on the island; we are excited to come together and lead in partnership with Dance Resource Base on this momentous moment, shining a light on how critical and creative dance ideas contribute to a better understanding of the times we are living through.” 

Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Arts Development Officer for Drama and Dance, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“With the whirligig of political discourse around at the moment, the Co-motion Conference is a timely opportunity to turn focus on another dynamic, powerful form of discourse, power and engagement: dance. Participants will have the opportunity to reframe discourse around the body, movement and space, to dissect the eloquence and subtlety of the all too often overlooked language of the body. The rich mix of speakers promises to make this a riveting and unmissable event, and a perfect complement to the artistic vibrancy of the Belfast International Arts Festival.”

For more information visit: https://belfastinternationalartsfestival.com/event/co-motion/

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Countdown to seventh International Festival of Dance and Movement

Tuesday 8th October 2019 at 2pm 0 Comments Dance

This Time by Ockham's Razor Image: This Time by Ockham's Razor

Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement will return in November with a major series of performances and events in venues around Derry and beyond.

Now in its seventh year, this year’s edition features world-class circus theatre from England, contemporary dance from around Ireland, cutting edge physical theatre from Hungary and Austria, and acclaimed step dance from Ireland and the USA.

Fresh from stunning success at Edinburgh Festival and multiple five-star reviews, the brilliant Ockham’s Razor company return to the city with the Irish premiere of their new aerial theatre work This Time which will be shown in the spectacular setting of Derry’s Guildhall.

Acclaimed step dancer from Michigan, USA, Nic Gareiss will present unique site-specific performances in Derry city and county and in County Antrim.

Irish choreographers are well represented in this year’s programme with work by Ayesha Mailey, Oona Doherty, Eileen McClory, and Liam Ó Scanlaín; as well as a host of other opportunities for local people and visitors to move and be moved.

Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement is supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Michaela Boyle welcomed the Festival’s return:

“Derry City and Strabane District Council are proud to support Echo Echo’s International Festival of Dance and Movement through its headline events fund. Over the last seven years the festival has developed a reputation for the high standard of its performances and classes. Congratulations to Echo Echo and their partners on developing another exciting 12 day programme.”

Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Drama and Dance Officer, Caoileann Curry-Thompson, said:

“The Arts Council is delighted to support the seventh outing of the Echo Echo International Festival of Movement and Dance. We are very excited by the mixture of leading dance practitioners and innovators visiting Derry/Londonderry from across the world, such as the sublime Ferenc Fehér from Hungary, the singular Nic Gareiss from the USA, and the superb Ockham’s Razor from Great Britain. And then there is our superb home-grown talent: Ayesha Mailey, Oona Doherty and Eileen McClory. The Arts Council has been proud to support each of these local dance artists in the development of their practice, and we are thrilled that this festival gives them the platform to share their work and demonstrate how Northern Ireland punches above its weight in terms of the sheer quality and innovation of dance and movement that we produce. An event not to be missed.”

Tickets for Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement 2019 go on sale Friday 27th September. For more information visit www.echoechodance.com.

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Ciaran Carson (1948 – 2019)

Monday 7th October 2019 at 10am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with great sadness of the death of the highly-acclaimed Belfast poet, writer, musician, and former colleague at the Arts Council, Ciaran Carson, who has died after an illness on Sunday 6th October, aged 70.

Born in Belfast in 1948 and brought up bi-lingual, Ciaran Carson graduated from Queen’s University with a degree in English, before joining the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 1975, where, until 1998, he served as Traditional Music Officer, then Literature Officer. In 2003, he was appointed Professor or English and the Founding Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University. He retired from Queen’s in 2016, remaining Emeritus Professor of the School of Arts, English and Languages at Queen’s.

Ciaran Carson published his first collection of poetry, The New Estate, in 1976. He would go on to publish fourteen collections of poems, five prose books and celebrated translations of the Dante’s Inferno (2002), for which he was awarded the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and the Irish saga, Táin Bó Cúailnge (2007).

His award-winning poetry collections include The Irish for No (1987), winner of the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award, Belfast Confetti (1990), which won the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Poetry, First Language: Poems (1993), winner of the TS Eliot Prize, Breaking News (2003), which won the Forward Poetry Prize, For All We Know (2008), shortlisted for both the 2008 TS Eliot Prize and the Costa Poetry Award, and From Elsewhere (2015), shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. From There to Here (Selected Poems and Translations) was published on the occasion of his 70th birthday, in October 2018.

His prose books include The Star Factory (1997), a memoir of Belfast, Fishing for Amber (1999) and Shamrock Tea (2001), a novel longlisted for the Booker Prize. Last Night’s Fun: About Time, Food and Music (1996), a book about Irish traditional music, reflects the author’s life-long interest in, and high level of accomplishment as, a musician.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, paid tribute:

“Ciaran Carson was a poet of extraordinary breadth and depth, and one of the best and most respected of his generation. His work is steeped in the presence of Belfast, its history, its cityscape, its language and its music, all of which he lived and translated into words of rare insight and brilliance. Even in his later works, which had become more expansive in their scope, he remained an artist who was, to the end, made in Belfast.”

Ciaran Carson is survived by his wife, the acclaimed fiddle player Deirdre Shannon, and their three children, Manus, Gerard and Mary.

Ciaran Carson’s essay, A fusillade of question-marks; some reflections on the art of the Troubles, written for the Arts Council’s Troubles Art Archive in 2009, can be viewed at the Troubles Art Archive, www.troublesarchive.com.

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All Saints Youths turn movie-makers to promote positive mental health

Friday 4th October 2019 at 9am 0 Comments ARTiculate Young People & Wellbeing Arts Programme

Pictured are Jason Givens, Lindsay Armstrong, LJ Youth Media, Gerry McVeigh, Start 360, Jude Pollack, LJ Youth Media, Cate McCarte and Conall Gordon. Image: Pictured are Jason Givens, Lindsay Armstrong, LJ Youth Media, Gerry McVeigh, Start 360, Jude Pollack, LJ Youth Media, Cate McCarte and Conall Gordon.

A group of young people from All Saints Youth Club in Ballymena have got behind the camera to create short film to raise awareness of mental health issues among their peers.

The film , entitled ‘Ask, Don’t Assume’, shows the reality of living with mental health difficulties and how important it is for young people to support each other.

The project coordinated by Start 360 is one of 27 to have received funding as part of ARTiculate, a three-year £600,000 programme funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funds and the Public Health Agency (PHA), which uses artists and the arts to give a voice to issues affecting young people.

Start360 working with several groups in Ballymena, including All Saints Youth Club. Gerry McVeigh from Start360 said,

“It has been a fantastic experience working with All Saints Youth Club on the Articulate programme. The young people have made a film which gives a real sense of what it is like to be struggling with mental health issues.”

As part of the programme Action Mental Health delivered a Mental Health Awareness Workshop with the young people. LJ Youth Media then worked with the young people to develop and produce the film.

Lindsey Armstrong, Director at LJ Youth Media commented,

"We are delighted to be working in partnership with Start360 and All Saints Youth Club. The heart of what we do at LJ is support young people to find their voice and create a short film about a subject that they feel passionate about. The young people at All Saints YC threw themselves into every aspect of our programme and have produced a really meaningful piece of film on mental health issues.”

Louisa Reed, Leader in Charge at All Saints Youth Club said,

“We were grateful to have been given this opportunity to work on such an important topic with Start360 and LJ Youth media in raising awareness on mental health. The young people wanted to create a piece that could have an impact in their community. After viewing the short film young people felt that this could encourage at least one person to speak out for themselves or for their peers. We will continue to support and promote Mental Health Awareness.”

Watch the film below.

 

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Belfast voices feature on new film and album by older people

Thursday 26th September 2019 at 11am 0 Comments Arts and Older People

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A new album, Voices of Belfast, featuring older people from East and West Belfast has been released on Tunecore and other streaming platforms, including Spotify. Recorded as part of a project led by musicians’ development charity Live Music Now, the eleven tracks were arranged and produced by musicians Peter McCauley and Owen Denvir, who worked with older people at Ballyowen Day Centre and Edgecumbe Assessment & Therapy Unit. A short film features participants at Edgecumbe, and captures the spirit of this unique project.

Over six months, the older participants shared their memories and sang favourites such as Lili Marlene, The Mountains of Mourne, Daisy Daisy, My Aunt Jane and I’ll tell me Ma. The result is a unique set of arrangements, featuring guitar, piano, viola and ukulele, bringing together voices from across the city in a blend of nostalgia and Belfast wit. The project was funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast Health & Social Care Trust and the Utley Foundation.

Alice Lewis, Director of the Northern Irish branch of Live Music Now, said,

‘This film and album capture not just the actual voices of older people in Belfast, but their sense of humour and sheer joy in remembering and sharing songs. We hear a lot of laughter and jokes as well as some really poignant moments. Pete and Owen have created a beautiful and evocative sound world which sensitively showcases the talent of the participants and captures the spirit of Live Music Now, which is all about making life better through music.’

Many of the participants are living with dementia and expressed how vital music is to help them retain memories and to lift their mood.   There is growing evidence showing the impact of live music on people with dementia: it helps manage symptoms, has a calming effect, promotes social interaction and can reduce the need for medication.

Paula McHugh, Arts in Health Manager for Belfast Trust said

This project is a brilliant example of how people can ‘live well’ with dementia, continue to make a unique creative contribution to society and feel empowered in relation to their own wellbeing. ‘

Lorraine Calderwood, Community Development Officer at the Arts Council, commented,

"The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support this impressive project which brought professional musicians together with older people to improve their lives through the power of music.  We know that the arts can raise self-esteem, confidence and motivation, as well as helping to relieve stress, worries and pain. The Arts and Older People’s Programme creates opportunities for our older people to take part in the arts by funding a range of projects across the region. The arts have a vital role to play in helping older people to find a voice and express the issues which affect them on a day-to-day basis, adding to their sense of well-being as-well as promoting positive physical and mental health.”

Live Music Now Northern Ireland: Older people living with dementia from Live Music Now on Vimeo.

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Live classical music for little listeners at The Crescent Arts Centre

Wednesday 25th September 2019 at 3pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Pictured at the launch concert are Ciara Burnell and her baby Lucy Burnell-McAleavey, with musicians Kristine Donnan (piano) and Laura McFall (Voice). Image: Pictured at the launch concert are Ciara Burnell and her baby Lucy Burnell-McAleavey, with musicians Kristine Donnan (piano) and Laura McFall (Voice).

Belfast Music Society (BMS), promoter of live classical chamber music, has launched Chamber Cherubs, a new series of live classical music concerts for pre-school children, aged 1-3 years, in partnership with The Crescent Arts Centre, supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Chamber Cherubs follows on from a similar venture, Chamber Babies, established by BMS in 2014, designed to offer the best live classical music to the youngest listeners aged 0-18 months (and their parents too of course!). The new programme was launched at a concert at the Crescent Arts Centre on Friday 20th September featuring soprano, Laura McFall and pianist, Kristine Donnan. 

All Chamber Cherubs concerts are performed by professional classical musicians from Northern Ireland and present selections of short classical pieces that are carefully chosen to be suitable for young children and adults alike.   It’s very informal and children are welcome to walk, dance or just chill out to a careful selection of short classical pieces designed both to engage and enchant. 

Pam Smith, concerts Manager, Belfast Music Society, said,

“BMS is delighted to be introducing this new series at The Crescent Arts Centre. Chamber Cherubs was conceived in response to the huge interest we have had in our existing Chamber Babies concerts, and these new concerts are based on that popular model – relaxed, accessible performances with top local musicians in a really intimate setting – but with a touch more interaction and fun! Hopefully, we’ll be helping to nurture a life-long love of live music in the children – not forgetting their grownups, of course!”

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is the Principal Funder of Belfast Music Society and The Crescent Arts Centre, Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added:

The importance of introducing children to music and the arts at an early age cannot be overestimated.  Belfast Music Society continues to bring the best in classical chamber music and local classical artists to audiences in Belfast and we’re delighted to see the launch of the new Chamber Cherubs series which is sure to be a hit with families everywhere. Get your tickets now!”   

Visit www.belfastmusicsociety.org for details on all upcoming concerts.

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World famous conductor, Paul McCreesh, helps launch Sestina’s Master and Pupil programme

Wednesday 25th September 2019 at 2pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Sestina Singers Image: Sestina Singers

Sestina, the Belfast based early music ensemble, will be joined by their patron and world renowned conductor, Paul McCreesh, later this month for a special performance launching the Master and Pupil Programme for 2020.

Next year Sestina's Easter Mentoring Course in 2020 will feature a programme tracing the artistic influence and legacy of the roles of Master and Pupil following a thread of learning from Jean Mouton (c.1459-1522) to Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) and his own assistants. The rehearsal week and concert tour will take place from 13-18th April 2020 across Belfast, Cork and Dublin, funded by Exitex, Arts Council of Ireland, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Foyle Foundation.

During the Easter tour, Sestina will record the programme, in an exciting new collaboration with the Resonus Classics label. This will be Sestina's first ever recording, and the first of a planned three discs with Resonus on the "Master and Pupil" theme.

On 26th September, Sestina will launch this new programme with a performance featuring Sestina singers, musicians and Musical Director Mark Chambers. Sestina patron Paul McCreesh, who is founder and Artistic Director of the renowned Gabrieli Consort, will join the evening.

Commenting on the launch, Mark Chambers, Sestina’s Musical Director, said; “

The Master and Pupil idea was born out of the ethos at the centre of Sestina's work, which is learning by collaboration and being exposed to excellence-whether that be players or guest professional singers.  Having taught singing in Ireland for many years, I have always been struck by the natural ear of the singers and musicians here and their ability to pick up subtle details of style and inflection very quickly.”

Master and Pupil follows a trail of composers and their pupils across a time span of 1400-1650 in Italy and Europe, proposing that each "great" composer had to learn from someone above them.  This is exactly how we learn with Sestina and this is now borne out by many of our singers singing as full time professionals, and now, they are set to become the "Masters" for a new generation of Irish singers.

The evening later this month is a perfect way to celebrate our Masters and Pupils and to have Paul McCreesh join us will make for a very special evening indeed,” Mark added.

On 27 September at the Ulster Museum, Sestina will play its autumn concert series Beyond the Veil: Revealing the secret music of Italy and the Concerto delle donne, funded by Exitex and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Sestina sopranos Fiona Flynn, Aisling Kenny and Charlotte Trepess, along with some of Europe’s finest early music instrumental specialists, including Steven Devine on keyboards, Paula Chateauneuf on theorbo/lute and Aileen Henry on harp, will bring rarely heard music of late Renaissance Ferrara to audiences.  The following evening, Sestina will play to audiences in St. Ann's Church, Dawson St., Dublin (28 September). For details of all concerts or how to get involved visit www.sestinamusic.com

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Duncairn welcomes GCSE art students to an exhibition featuring work from the Arts Council Collection

Tuesday 24th September 2019 at 2pm 0 Comments Visual Arts

Pictured (L_R) are Dominican College students, Caoimhe Rooney and Mollie Quinn. Image: Pictured (L_R) are Dominican College students, Caoimhe Rooney and Mollie Quinn.

The Duncairn Centre for Culture & Arts recently welcomed over 100 GCSE Art & Design students from schools in North Belfast to view an art exhibition featuring works from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection, as part of the centre’s Creative Industries Week.

The exhibition has come about thanks to the Arts Council’s Art Lending Scheme, a free Art Lending Scheme offered to venues, curators, museums and galleries across Britain, Ireland and Europe that are interested in exhibiting works from its rich, contemporary art collection.

The Arts Council’s current collection holds around 500 works by established and emerging visual artists working in, or from, Northern Ireland.  The Loan Scheme provides an opportunity to make the collection available for the public to view and shine a light on the artistic talent that is inherent to Northern Ireland. 

Debbie Young, Outreach and Development Officer, Duncairn Centre for Culture & Arts, commented,

“We are absolutely thrilled to have part of the Arts Council Collection on display here.  This is an amazing opportunity to bring the work of artists from Northern Ireland to North Belfast to be enjoyed by the local community.  It has also formed part of our Creative industries Week where we’ve brought ten local secondary schools to the Duncairn to enjoy the exhibition and take part in a series of workshops with local working artists.”

Maeve Mulligan, Head of Art, Dominican College, Fortwilliam, added,

“I’m very passionate about art as an art teacher but also as a person from the local area.  The Duncairn makes it more accessible to us as a school to get involved in art activities.  A lot of our art students here today might not have had the opportunity to visit an art gallery before or meet artists and this exhibition is just great to have in our local area.  This whole experience will undoubtedly enthuse and inspire our young art students, as-well as encourage them to think about a potential career working in the creative industries.”

Dr Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,

“Many of the artists represented in the Arts Council’s contemporary art collection have major national and international reputations, such as two-times Turner Prize nominee, Willie Doherty; Cara Murphy, whose work is included in the Downing Street Sliver Collection; and Colin Davidson, who painted the Queens’ portrait in 2016, Ian Cumberland, and Paul Seawright.

“By offering the Collection for public display, we are helping to showcase the work of our artists and to introduce the public to Northern Ireland’s wealth of creative talent. Curators can curate their own show or the Arts Council’s expert staff can help compile and theme an exhibition suitable for any space. We can provide works in all media, from painting, sculpture, crafts, print, photography and video through to digital art.”

The Art Lending Scheme is free and is open to organisations, venues and galleries, locally, nationally and internationally and covers loans of single art works up to full exhibitions.  It offers museums and galleries an opportunity to bring a new audience to contemporary works of art and to interpret the Collection material in new ways; potentially becoming a catalyst for education and outreach or bringing other aspects of a theme into play.

The exhibition at the Duncairn Centre continues until Thursday 26th September.  To view the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Collection visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/collection and for more information on the Arts Council’s Art Lending Scheme email: collection@artscouncil-ni.org

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Arts Council offers residencies for artists to travel to India

Monday 23rd September 2019 at 4pm 0 Comments

Visual artist Mairead McCormack and poet Emily S Cooper travelled to Sanskritti Cultural Centre in Delhi earlier this year as part of the Arts Council’s residency scheme. Image: Visual artist Mairead McCormack and poet Emily S Cooper travelled to Sanskritti Cultural Centre in Delhi earlier this year as part of the Arts Council’s residency scheme.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is offering four residency opportunities for artists to travel to India.

Working in partnership with the British Council, the Arts Council is inviting applications for up to two artists to go to the Sanskriti Foundation residencies in New Delhi and two at the Shruti Foundation Vedaaranya residency in Ramgarh Shekhawati, Rajasthan.

The Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi has hosted over 600 artists, poets, scholars and writers as-well as 300 craft makers from across the world and is offering two six-week residencies for artists from Northern Ireland.  The Shruti Foundation Vedaaranya residency in Ramgarh Shekhawati, Rajasthan are offering one artist a serene, inspiring, stimulating and enabling environment to work, reflect and interact with other artists for a one month residency. The residencies are part of the Arts Council’s Support for Individual Artists programme.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council, commented:

“The Arts Council’s role is to invest in artistic excellence and ensure that quality work is presented to the widest possible audience.  These residencies will support the development of our artists as they pursue their creative ambitions, helping them to present new quality work that can be shared on an international platform, inspired by the rich culture of India.”

Closing date for applications is 4pm on Thursday 10th October. For more information visit artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/indian-residencies

Textile artist Mairead McCormack travelled to the Sanskriti Cultural Centre earlier this year. Read about her experience here

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Musicians Brigid O’Neill and Joshua Burnside arrive in Brussels for Culture Night Showcase

Wednesday 18th September 2019 at 2pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Local singer-songwriters Brigid O’Neill and Joshua Burnside Image: Local singer-songwriters Brigid O’Neill and Joshua Burnside

Local singer-songwriters Brigid O’Neill and Joshua Burnside will bring the spirit of Culture Night to Brussels on Friday for a special showcase performance, as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Brussels Platform.

Hosted by the Northern Ireland Executive Office in Brussels, Culture Night will attract an audience of officials from the EU Institutions, across the diplomatic community and beyond. The event will coincide with this weekend’s Culture Night Culture Day celebrations in Belfast, which showcases Northern Ireland’s arts and cultural scene.

On Friday night Brigid O’Neill will perform a selection of songs from her latest album ‘Touchstone' and previous EP release 'Arrivals and Departures’, as well as a number of as yet unrecorded new songs, including one from her 'Heritage in Song' Project , curated in association with the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society.  While award-winning alternative folk artist Joshua Burnside, who is currently on tour with dates across Ireland, the UK, America and beyond, will share some of his latest music, infused with Latin rhythms and world music.

Speaking about the Brussels Platform, Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of the immense talent we have here in Northern Ireland.  Both Brigid O’Neill and Joshua Burnside are wonderful musical ambassadors for the arts here and the Arts Council is delighted to support this weekend’s showcase in Brussels for Culture Night.”

Andrew Elliott, Director of the Northern Ireland Executive office in Brussels said:

"This region produces far more than its fair share of talent and musical brilliance.  We will continue to showcase our home-grown talent on a European stage and to highlight Northern Ireland’s ever growing reputation as a centre of excellence in the arts. I look forward enormously to welcoming Brigid and Joshua to Brussels for Culture Night.”

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is involved in a range of international platforms including the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris and artist residencies in Indian, at Ramgarh Shekawati, Rajasthan and Sanskriti.

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25 years of National Lottery support marked at the Cathedral on Culture Night

Tuesday 17th September 2019 at 10am 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

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The Arts Council of Northern Ireland will present an evening of music and song to mark 25 years of National Lottery funding for the Arts in Northern Ireland, kicking off with Culture Night Belfast celebrations on Friday 20th September.  The stage will be set this Friday at St Anne’s Cathedral for two of Northern Ireland’s most impressive artists, pianist, Ruth McGinley and jazz vocalist, Katharine Timoney, as part of the wider 25th birthday celebrations of National Lottery funding in Northern Ireland later this autumn.  Catch both artists from 8pm following a performance by the Ulster Orchestra.  Since The National Lottery’s first draw took place on 19 November 1994 more than £40 billion has been raised for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage and community.

Jazz vocalist, Katharine Timoney, from Holywood, County Down, is a current Young Musicians’ Platform Awardee, a joint initiative of the Arts Council and BBC Northern Ireland, which aims to showcase and support the development of exceptional young musicians.  The award provides individual National Lottery funding awards of £5,000 which enables the recipients to spend a sizeable amount of time learning from a master musician, mentor, teacher or composer either in Northern Ireland or abroad.

Concert pianist, Ruth McGinley, is a former recipient of the Arts Council ACES (Artist Career Enhancement Scheme) award, a National Lottery funding award worth up to £5,000, bestowed upon outstanding artists to allow them to develop their professional, artistic careers through the creation of new work.  With her ACES award Ruth produced her critically-acclaimed debut album, Reconnections, which tells the story of the artist’s reconnection with the music that resonated with her most over the years, having taken a break from the pressures of life as a concert pianist.

Sonya Whitefield, Arts Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“Culture Night has firmly established itself as an exciting must-do experience in Belfast and we’re delighted to see it develop across two days this year moving into Saturday 21st September.  As part of the Culture Night celebrations on Friday 20th September, the Arts Council is extremely proud to present two exceptional artists, pianist Ruth McGinley and vocalist, Katharine Timoney, at St Anne’s Cathedral, who have both benefitted from National Lottery support.  Both performances promise an evening of exceptional, mesmerising, world-class music and I would encourage everyone to go along and enjoy.”

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland evening of music and song with Katharine Timoney and Ruth McGinley, will take place from 8pm on Friday 20th September at St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast.  Visit www.culturenightbelfast.com

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Micky Donnelly (1952 – 2019)

Monday 16th September 2019 at 3pm 0 Comments Visual Arts

Micky Donnelly, Lily Among the Hats (1987). Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection (Gifted to National Museums Northern Ireland in 2013) Image: Micky Donnelly, Lily Among the Hats (1987). Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection (Gifted to National Museums Northern Ireland in 2013)

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with great sadness of the death of the acclaimed Belfast artist, Micky Donnelly.

Micky Donnelly was born in Belfast in 1952 and educated at the Christian Brothers Grammar School in west Belfast, before going on to study Mathematics and Computer Science at Queen’s University. After a period working as a social worker in west Belfast, he enrolled at the University of Ulster School of Art and Design, receiving a BA (1979) and an MA (1981) in Fine Art.

In the early 1980s Micky Donnelly was heavily involved in the Artists Collective and Queen Street Studios, and was a founder member of Circa magazine of contemporary art. He was exhibiting large-scale paintings and drawings at the Orchard Gallery in Derry City and was one of the first artists to exhibit at the newly-opened Fenderesky Gallery in Belfast. With interest growing from abroad in Northern Ireland’s visual arts, Donnelly was invited to participate in a series of large group exhibitions by Northern Irish artists which toured to England, Germany, USA and Canada.

In 1985 he was awarded an Arts Council of Northern Ireland Scholarship to the British School at Rome, an event which the artist has acknowledged as a turning point in his work. Italian Renaissance art became a major influence on how he used his painting to critique Irish culture and politics. The ‘Belfast Series’ of the early 1990s, with their street references and allusions to Belfast murals, show the influence of Italian fresco painting. By the end of the decade, the deliberate interpretive ambiguity he had always built into his work had developed into the ‘Reflex Series’, based on Rorschach inkblot tests, asking viewers to interpret his work from their own psychological viewpoints. The work would become still more poetic and opaque in the ‘Proposition Series’ of diptychs, which emerged around 2008.

In 1996 Micky Donnelly’s contribution to the arts was acknowledged when he was elected a member of Aosdána, one of the most prestigious positions in Irish arts. He exhibited nationally and internationally and his work is included in public and private collections throughout the world, including the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Ulster Museum, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection, and the European Parliament.

Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, paid tribute:

“Micky Donnelly was a key figure in the development of the contemporary visual arts scene here in the 1980s and 1990s, and one of the major artists responsible for putting Northern Ireland’s visual arts on the international map. The body of work he leaves behind will ensure his lasting place amongst the front rank of Northern Irish painters.”

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Glass artist Andrea Spencer partners with Queen’s University’s Anatomy Department to create new work

Monday 16th September 2019 at 10am 0 Comments Visual Arts

Pictured (L-R) are Mr Ian K Walsh, Queen’s University Centre for Medical Education, artist, Andrea Spencer and Joanna Johnston, Arts Council. Image: Pictured (L-R) are Mr Ian K Walsh, Queen’s University Centre for Medical Education, artist, Andrea Spencer and Joanna Johnston, Arts Council.

Glass artist, Andrea Spencer, was recently supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, through the Artists’ Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) , a fund which enables artists to take that all-important, vital, next step in their artistic careers by developing a new body of work.  Andrea used the award to learn new skills and create a new body of work through her partnership with Queen’s University Centre for Medical Education.

Artist, Andrea Spencer, commented,

“Through the ACES award I was able to develop new glass making skills by going on a casting course at Northlands Creative  and also being able to work with the scientific glass blowers at Queen’s University. Through my partnership with the university’s Anatomy Department I was able to have regular access into the department and to engage with the students whilst they were going through the process of cadaver dissection, which inspired this new body of work.  I also had the opportunity to work closely with medical students and use the arts to enhance their medical practice and education; an endeavor that was very well received by all.”  

Andrea worked alongside Mr Ian K Walsh on the, Human Beings Being Human Project, an initiative established by Queen’s University medical school which explores and fosters the humanistic aspects of medical education and practice. Their work together has been largely based around anatomical pursuits and visual art.  It involves getting groups of interested students together to discuss their interest in the arts and to see how that aligns with their medical practice.  From this students created representative artwork which looked at ECGs (electrocardiogram) of people who have had terminal events; they also considered aspects of medical care, suffering and humanity using artistic methods. 

Mr Ian K Walsh, Clinical Academic Urologist and Senior Lecturer, Queen’s University Centre for Medical Education, commented,

“There are probably about ten percent of students in any given year, at undergraduate level, that are artistically creative by nature and they feel that they have to give their artistic pursuits up to pursue a career in medicine.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It’s exactly the type of thing that we want to foster and having the established artist, Andrea Spencer here within the department and at the school has been seminal in getting that idea across.  It’s been a very positive move for the medical school.”

Joanna Johnston, Visual Arts Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“The Arts Council’s ACES programme supports serious career artists and gives them the ability to be more aspirational in their practice area through working alongside a partner organisation who gives them mentorship support over one year.   Through her partnership with Queen’s University anatomy Department, Andrea was introduced to a completely different approach of scientific glass blowing which she has been able to apply to create a new portfolio of work.  This will enable her to apply to some of the top craft galleries nationally and internationally which will be really beneficial for her future career development.”   

Keep up to date with Andrea Spencer’s work at www.andreaspencerglass.com

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Chinese links with Northern Ireland marked by cultural celebration

Thursday 5th September 2019 at 4pm 0 Comments

Pictured at the programme launch (L-R) Tim Losty, Mme Zhang and Roisin McDonough. Image: Pictured at the programme launch (L-R) Tim Losty, Mme Zhang and Roisin McDonough.

Chinese Consul General Mme Zhang Meifang and Danny Wong, Chairman of the Chinese Welfare Association, have launched the China Cultural Programme, a series of cultural events taking place in Northern Ireland throughout September 2019.

The programme, launched at The Ulster Hall in Belfast with key figures from Northern Ireland government, includes performances by renowned Chinese artists and aims to celebrate and share the best of Chinese culture with people across Northern Ireland. A performance on September 26th by internationally acclaimed Pipa (Chinese Lute) virtuoso Ms. Zhang Hongyan is a highlight of the programme and a significant coup for Northern Ireland as this is Ms. Zhang’s first performance anywhere in the UK.

The cultural events mark several significant anniversaries: The 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the UK. It is also the 5th anniversary of the agreement to establish a Chinese Consulate General in Belfast and the 5th anniversary of the NI Bureau office in China. 

Mme Zhang Meifang, Consul General said,

“We have always welcomed the business links between China and Northern Ireland, but today we are looking forward to celebrating our culture together.  Chinese culture is one of the richest and oldest in the world, and these events in September will give many people here a flavour of its depth and diversity.

“I am delighted with the growing relationship between China and Northern Ireland and remain optimistic about the potential to develop our connections further. I appreciate greatly the enthusiasm and the welcome we have received from the people of Northern Ireland and from government officials; the Northern Ireland Civil Service, local government representatives and so many others working in the fields of academia, business and culture. We live in a closely connected world; we are committed to building a shared destiny, one of lasting peace, harmony, mutual development and prosperity.”

David Sterling, Head of the NI Civil Service said:

“This programme is a celebration of how well the links between China and Northern Ireland have developed over the years. But it is also an opportunity to look forward to the future, and see how we can continue to strengthen that relationship.”

“The Chinese community has enriched life here in Northern Ireland, and our regional and local links with China have underlined the spirit of partnership and prosperity that connects us.”

For further information on the China Cultural Gala Programme click here:

The Chinese Consulate Belfast: http://belfast.chineseconsulate.org/eng/
Chinese Consulate webchat account: chinaconsulatebfs@gmail.com
The Chinese Warfare Association:  https://www.cwa-ni.org/about-us

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Northern Ireland Opera presents Die Fledermaus

Monday 2nd September 2019 at 10am 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

L-R May McFettridge, Stephan Loges, Ben McAteer and Maria McGrann Image: L-R May McFettridge, Stephan Loges, Ben McAteer and Maria McGrann

Rehearsals with opera singers from across the world, a chorus of over 40 singers from Northern Ireland and the Ulster Orchestra are underway for the much anticipated Die Fledermaus.

This year is the 145th anniversary of the premiere of Die Fledermaus, having first been performed in Vienna in 1874. Die Fledermaus or The Bat, is the jewel in the crown of the real King of the Waltz, Johann Strauss. The tunes stay with you forever. The humour is wicked. The atmosphere indulgent. It is a farce about men taking liberties, women taking control, and the dangers of dressing up as a bat.

Die Fledermaus tells the story of Falke who wakes up on a bench with a killer hangover. Dressed as a bat.  His 'good friend' Eisenstein thought it would be hilarious to abandon him here after partying the night before, leaving him a long walk of shame.  It’s been a long time coming, but tonight’s the night for Falke to get his revenge at the most glamourous party of the season where there’ll be champagne. What could possibly go wrong?

Northern Ireland Opera’s two most recent productions - Rigoletto at the Grand Opera House and Sweeney Todd at the Lyric Theatre – resulted in sell-out performances and a season that has seen a further staggering 70% rise in their audience numbers. Founded in only 2010, Northern Ireland Opera has won international acclaim and awards for the quality of its work and been seen in the UK, Ireland and internationally.  From its inception, the company was determined to produce strongly imaginative, bold risk-taking work and to broaden the audience for opera in Northern Ireland.  Its new Artistic Director, Walter Sutcliffe, has already seen sold out shows and an increase in audiences of over 400% since his arrival. A graduate of the University of Cambridge and the Royal College of Music, London, Walter has directed over 35 critically-acclaimed productions which have been seen in the UK, United States, Germany, Austra, Czech Republic, Italy, France, Estonia, and most recently Chile.

Walter Sutcliffe commented:

“The shows have all been greeted with standing ovations which is a fitting tribute to the quality of the artists on the stage, musicians in the pit and technicians working behind them. Our new operating model has brought in more attendees than ever before, brought us the largest box office since the company began, and has inspired literally thousands of visitors new and old. Thank you to everyone who has helped us take this step.”

On their latest production, Walter commented:

“The Bat, in German Die Fledermaus, is the world’s best and most popular operetta. If you love pure luxurious feel good music there is little more uplifting and indulgent than its incredible array of Viennese waltzes that sparkle even more than the champagne its characters are powered by. And, there’s so much more. It’s a brilliant comedy of male paranoia, bringing out the absurdity of man’s ego mania and obsessions with sexual potency, conquests and status.  In a masterclass of irony, it simultaneously seduces and ridicules us. It may be 145 years old, but its relevance today is probably even clearer than when it was written. Or perhaps it just shows us how little has changed. And if you can’t laugh at yourself then what can you laugh at.”

May McFettridge will be making her operatic debut and will be joined by Northern Irish baritone Ben McAteer (Eisenstein), who trained at the National Opera Studio in London and on the Guildhall School of Music & Drama opera course. He is a former winner of Les Azuriales Opera prize, the Guildhall School's English song prize, NI Opera's inaugural Festival of Voice. Her most recent operatic engagements include the roles of Countess Ceprano Rigoletto, Madame Herz Der Schauspieldirektor , Cunegonde Candide (Opera in the Open), Musetta La Boheme, Zerlina Don Giovanni and Sandman & Dewfairy Hansel and Gretel (OITO). Dresden-born Stephan Loges, who will perform the role of Falke, has given recitals throughout the world, including regular appearances at Wigmore Hall, London as well as Carnegie Hall, New York, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Vienna Konzerthaus, Klavierfestival Ruhr, La Monnaie Brussels, Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Santiago de Compostela, BBC Radio 3 and the Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is immensely proud to be Principal Funder of  Northern Ireland Opera, through National Lottery and public funding.  The company excels at offering vital professional development opportunities for many of our brightest young singers to perform alongside world-class, critically acclaimed talent.  Die Fledermaus is one of the most loved operas and this performance promises an evening full of hilarity and stunning music.  Don’t miss out!”

A key priority of Northern Ireland Opera is to broaden the company’s work in outreach and education through extending the company’s engagements and its reach, lifting the curtain on opera by demystifying it through increased community participation and making the art form more accessible. They’ve provided an unprecedented level of access to stage and orchestral rehearsals to primary schools, post primary schools, young people with disabilities and learning difficulties, young people in care, diversity charities, LGBT charities, health charities, carers, choirs, cross-community groups and homeless shelter user groups. Their most recent dynamic outreach week involving over 40 organisations, proved NI Opera are out to show that opera is for everybody. Northern Ireland Opera will once again be providing open rehearsals to Die Fledermaus and opportunities for over 4000 of our most vulnerable people to see opera free of charge.

Tickets available from www.goh.co.uk/whats-on/die-fledermaus

 

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Luminous Soul celebrates a decade of dance with the ‘MeetShareDance’ festival

Wednesday 28th August 2019 at 8am 0 Comments Dance

Linda Fearon & Andy Paton from disability dance group Luminous Soul celebrate a decade of dance  with a free public performance at Cornmarket on Sat 7 Sept at 1pm. Image: Linda Fearon & Andy Paton from disability dance group Luminous Soul celebrate a decade of dance with a free public performance at Cornmarket on Sat 7 Sept at 1pm.

Open Arts, one of Northern Ireland’s most dynamic arts and disability organisations will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of its dance group Luminous Soul by hosting the inclusive dance festival MeetShareDance in Belfast from 5 - 7 September 2019.

Luminous Soul is the only contemporary dance development programme for disabled people in Northern Ireland and features members who have a range of disabilities: physical, sensory, learning disabilities and mental health illness.

Now in its eighth year, MeetShareDance is an international workshop dance festival which is based around the ideas of inclusivity and exchange.  It aims to raise the profile of integrated dance in artistic and everyday life. The festival has previously taken place in Porto, Madrid, Helsinki, Berlin, Lubjana and Dublin - this will be its first visit to Northern Ireland. 

Eileen Branagh, Chief Executive of Open Arts said:

“MeetShareDance embodies the ethos of what Luminous Soul as a disability dance group has been doing for the past 10 years.  We bring people of all abilities together to learn to dance, make new connections and share their talents with each other and the public.

Over a decade of dance, Luminous Soul members have worked with and been trained by some of the most well known inclusive choreographers in the UK and Ireland and some have even gone on to have their own successful careers in professional dance.  We’re really looking forward to celebrating the group’s achievements with dancers from all over Europe at MeetShareDance in Belfast in September.”

During the festival forty amateur and professional dancers from eight countries - Spain, Portugal, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Luxembourg, UK, Slovenia - will take part in three days of inclusive dance workshops at the Crescent Arts Centre. Participants in MeetShareDance will then showcase their skills to the public with a performance of a newly devised collaborative piece in Cornmarket at 1pm on Saturday 7 September.

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is committed to providing opportunities for everyone to access and engage with the arts.  Congratulations to Open Arts on celebrating ten years of providing high-quality dance development opportunities, for people with disabilities, through the Luminous Soul programme and we look forward to the Meet Share Dance Festival coming to Belfast to mark the occasion this September.”

For further information on Luminous Soul and the MeetShareDance 2019 festival, visit http://openartsni.org/dance/

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Tributes are paid to Belfast actor, Julie Maxwell

Tuesday 27th August 2019 at 1pm 0 Comments

“A wonderful, engaging, instinctual presence”

Tributes have been paid to Julie Maxwell, the Belfast actor who appeared in the BBC Northern Ireland comedy Soft Border Patrol, who died suddenly on Saturday night (24th August).

Julie, a previous winner of the Kenneth Branagh Renaissance Award and an Arts Council of Northern Ireland Individual Artist Award, was a regular on the stage of the Lyric Theatre, appearing in many shows, including Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat, Be My Baby, The Miser, The Crucible, Three Sisters and Ladykillers.

Caoileann Curry-Thompson, drama officer of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, paid tribute:

“We at the Arts Council are deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic news of Julie's passing. On stage Julie was a wonderful, engaging, instinctual presence; off stage she was one of the most generous, warm, funny and unassuming people you could ever meet. Her talents and flair extended beyond acting, receiving an award from the Arts Council for playwriting and assistant directing 'Shirley Valentine' at the Lyric at the time of her passing. Theatre in Northern Ireland is a close knit, familial sector, which survives by the brilliance and dedication of those who work in it. Our sector is devastated by Julie's death and the loss will be felt sorely by all and for a long time to come. Our thoughts are with her husband Rhodri

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Artist, Maurice Orr, tells of life-changing encounter with the Arts

Thursday 22nd August 2019 at 10am 0 Comments Visual Arts

Maurice Orr Image: Maurice Orr

Ballymoney-based painter Maurice Orr is an internationally-recognised artist whose paintings are exhibited and included in public and private collections around the world. He is also disabled, with an ‘invisible’ physical impairment, following illness and life-changing surgery. Today Thursday 22 August, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland published a new piece of research into the benefits of funding awards for deaf and disabled artists like Maurice who claims this award for him was life-changing.

In the case study Maurice shares his experiences in a candid interview with author Una Lynch (Sonrisa Solutions) and talks about the benefits of the Individual Disabled/Deaf Artists funding awards (iDA) managed by the University of Atypical. He discusses how his disability affects his day-to-day  life, the support he has received through the iDA Awards in building his career as an artist, and the transformative impact this support has had on improving his sense of health and wellbeing.

In 1994, following surgery, a heavy cocktail of medication and living with constant pain, Maurice could not return to work as a civil servant. All of this left him in a state of emotional anguish, with a lost sense of purpose in life and contemplating suicide.  A life-changing encounter with the arts came in 2002, in the form of an art bursary from the University of Atypical (formerly the Arts & Disability Forum), which he applied for under duress from his wife Jane, and which he now credits as having activated the artistic career that turned his life around. 

He said, “The University of Atypical has been so good to me. I wouldn’t have this career without them, and I try to encourage other people, ‘for goodness sake! Go and talk to people, get out there and do it’.”
The iDA Awards support disabled and deaf artists, writers, performers and musicians with grants of up-to £5,000 towards developing artistic careers. They offer the opportunity to gain new creative experiences through travel and access to professional mentoring.

Maurice identifies these elements as being at the crux of the scheme’s success. He interpreted the iDA award as a sign of other people’s confidence and belief in him, and found it to be hugely empowering. He was able to travel to Canada to develop his landscape painting then went on to become one of only 29 artists with disabilities to be commissioned by the 2012 Olympiad and Paralympic Games -  a highly successful career as a professional artist had begun. The iDA Award had marked the beginning of a major life enhancing experience for him.   Maurice said, “It gave me a second chance I never thought that I’d have”.

Graeme Stevenson, Researcher,  Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,

“Maurice hopes that by sharing his story he will encourage other aspiring disabled and deaf artists to take that first step and contact the University of Atypical and apply for an iDA Award and he’s a great ambassador.

“Funding the University of Atypical and the iDA Awards are two key ways in which the Arts Council is making a clear statement about its determination to improve access to, and participation in, the arts for people with a disability, and about its commitment to fulfilling the statutory obligations in compliance with Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act (1998) and Section 49A of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. These are priorities of the Arts Council’s five year strategy for the development of the arts in Northern Ireland, 2019-2024.

“In fact the Arts Council is very keen to learn more about how people with disabilities feel about the arts. I’d like to encourage as many people as possible to check our draft Disability Action Plan which is currently out for public consultation and tell us what they think.”

The iDA Awards support disabled and deaf artists, writers, performers and musicians with grants of up-to £5,000 towards developing artistic careers. They offer the opportunity to gain new creative experiences through travel and access to professional mentoring.

To find out more about this case study, commissioned by the Arts Council and authored by Dr Una Lynch from Sonrisa Solutions ltd, plus the range of approaches that are currently being taken to promote positive attitudes and encourage greater participation in arts and culture by people with disabilities in Northern Ireland, visit the Arts Council website, www.artscouncil-ni.org

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Ulster Youth Orchestra set to perform showcase concerts in Derry and Belfast this August

Wednesday 21st August 2019 at 9am 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Ulster Youth Orchestra Image: Ulster Youth Orchestra

Northern Ireland’s award winning and dynamic national youth orchestra set to perform showcase concerts in the Guildhall, Derry-Londonderry and the Ulster Hall, Belfast on 23rd and 24th August 2019.

The Ulster Youth Orchestra (UYO) is regarded as one of the jewels in the crown of the local arts scene with a reputation for excellence in all its performances. Established in 1993, the Ulster Youth Orchestra continues to flourish as the premier showcase youth orchestra in Northern Ireland. 

Following rigorous competitive auditions, 94 talented young musicians have been selected to attend the annual summer course in preparation for two public concerts in Derry-Londonderry and Belfast.  The young players will be coached by a team of highly experienced professional tutors during the intensive 10-day residential course at Greenmount Agricultural College, Antrim.

This year’s programme begins with Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis on themes by Weber – a crowd pleasing entertainer which will open the concerts with a punch!

Lowell Liebermann’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra features Irish flautist Eimear McGeown (an alumna of UYO) who has steadily built a reputation as being one of the world's most versatile exponents of both the classical and Irish flute. Liebermann’s Concerto was commissioned by, dedicated to and first performed by UYO Patron Sir James Galway in 1992.

Arguably Tchaikovsky’s greatest work, Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, (Pathétique), concludes the evening with uninhibited expressions of longing which promises to stir the emotion of the hardest of hearts.

The UYO is thrilled to welcome British conductor Rumon Gamba to the podium for the first time. 

Rumon Gamba studied at the Royal Academy of Music winning the Lloyds Bank BBC Young Musicians Conductors Workshop in February 1998 before becoming Associate Conductor to the BBC Philharmonic, a post he held until 2002. Gamba has held the positions of Principal Conductor and Music Director of NorrlandsOperan and Chief Conductor of the Aalborg Symfoniorkester. He was also Chief Conductor and Music Director of Iceland Symphony Orchestra between 2002 and 2010.  As a champion of new music he recorded new works with BBC National Orchestra of Wales and returned to the BBC Proms in 2017 to conduct the Proms Youth Ensemble. The Royal Academy of Music recognised his contribution to music when they made him an Associate in 2002 and in 2017 he became a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.

Public concerts will be given at the Guildhall, Derry-Londonderry on Friday 23 August and at the Ulster Hall, Belfast on Saturday 24 August.
The Ulster Youth Orchestra is grateful for the substantial funding it receives from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to support its work.

Paula Klein, UYO General Manager, says:

“Excitement is building as we prepare for the annual summer residential course and concerts and we can’t wait to get immersed in this fantastic repertoire. We are thrilled to have someone of Rumon Gamba’s expertise and experience to inspire our young musicians to excel and look forward to producing high quality, sparkling performances!”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“Congratulations to those talented young musicians who have won a coveted place at the Ulster Youth Orchestra summer residential course.  Working with internationally acclaimed conductors and tutors and performing to live audiences in both Belfast and Derry will develop their skills and confidence as orchestral musicians.  I wish them all success in what promises to be a fantastic experience!”

Tickets available from https://uyo.org.uk/exhibits/

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Job opportunity at the Arts Council

Tuesday 20th August 2019 at 12pm 0 Comments Visual Arts

Image:

The Arts Council is the lead development agency for the arts in Northern Ireland and now has the following temporary vacancy: Part Time Arts Development Officer

Temporary to June 2020 18.5 hours per week
Curatorial E grade  £30,149 to £31,760 per annum pro rata (Aug 17 rate)

The post holder will be responsible for the management of the Arts Council’s Arts Collection and be one of the principal professional advisers on all aspects of the Collection.

 


Closing date for applications is 4.00pm on Friday 30th August 2019.

The Completed application form and monitoring form should be returned in an envelope marked CONFIDENTIAL and must be addressed to:

The Human Resources Officer
Arts Council of Northern Ireland
1 The Sidings
Antrim Road
LISBURN
BT28 3AJ

We are an equal opportunities employer and we welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons.

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Tourism NI & the Arts Council join forces to launch spectacular arts programme at key tourism sites

Thursday 15th August 2019 at 5pm 0 Comments

Pictured (L-R) launching the programme are John McIlDuff, Dumbworld, Neil Martin, Snow Water, Dara Vallely and Anne Hart , Armagh Rhymers, with Paula McFetridge, Kabosh. Image: Pictured (L-R) launching the programme are John McIlDuff, Dumbworld, Neil Martin, Snow Water, Dara Vallely and Anne Hart , Armagh Rhymers, with Paula McFetridge, Kabosh.

'Embrace The Place', an exciting new partnership between Tourism NI and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, will animate four key tourism sites across the region by using the arts to tell the stories of that particular area, offering visitors something new and inspiring to enjoy.

Following an investment by Tourism NI of £150,000 and an open call, Dumbworld, Kabosh, The Armagh Pipers and Snow Water, were commissioned to present an original art work that reflects the heritage of some of the Northern Ireland most special locations including, Belfast's Maritime Mile, Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy, Navan Fort in Armagh and The Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh.

Tourism NI Director of Product Development, Rosemarie McHugh, said:  “We have a very vibrant arts sector here. We want this project to enable the best talent to create new innovative content to animate key tourism sites across Northern Ireland. Visitors want to engage with the authenticity of the destination and its people and the best way to get an emotional connection with place is through the arts. This creates memories and gives visitors even more compelling reasons to visit, return and encourage their friends and family to visit. 

“We have had a phenomenal response to this project from the arts sector and were overwhelmed by the quality of entries, given it was a new initiative. We are very excited to have supported the creation of the four projects and look forward to our visitors experiencing them over the coming weeks,” Rosemarie added.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to partner with Tourism NI on this thrilling programme of arts and heritage events to be held at some of Northern Ireland’s most scenic  locations.  There is so much to look forward to and all four projects promise to be wonderful, immersive experiences for the thousands of visitors that will engage with them.”       

The multi award-winning, Dumbworld along with project partner, Titanic Foundation, will present, All The Things We Are, a striking piece of audio-visual contemporary art that uses three shipping containers to reflect the comings and goings of this unique coastal location.  The art work, which is located at the Titanic Slipways, is free to access and marks the beginning of a new multi-purpose art installation that will remain in place for six months, drawing local people and tourists to the Maritime Mile.

Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Titanic Foundation, who also funded the launch project, All The Things We Are, commended all the partners involved, “Embrace The Place is an innovative approach to location inspired art. For us, the initial investment from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Tourism NI was a much-needed catalyst to deliver a project of scale with Dumbworld, which we could never have achieved alone. Through unique collaborations, all the projects have delivered exciting new content, unlocking new partnerships and fresh ways of working.  We are delighted to be involved and look forward to building on this success in the future”.

Theatre company, Kabosh and Seamus Heaney HomePlace, will present, A Bellaghy Tale, across three weekends in September.  A Bellaghy Tale is a theatrical walking tour, beginning at HomePlace and linking key sites throughout the village of Bellaghy that are closely related to the life and works of Seamus Heaney.  Written by Vincent Higgins, the 60 minute experience consists of 6x7 minute long dramas featuring local songs brought to life by Jane Cassidy.   Inspired by the history of each location, these original short plays will give voice to the spirit of each site and how they impacted on the life of Seamus Heaney, ultimately inspiring his life’s work.  The dramas and music will be available to download from the HomePlace and Kabosh websites with the scripts made available in a number of different languages.

On 6-7 September, the Armagh Rhymers and Armagh Pipers Club will present Macha at Navan Fort, a spectacular multi-media performance featuring music by renowned composer, Niall Vallely.  Macha is a unique musical and dramatic celebration of the myths and mysteries of Eamhain Macha, the ancient seat of the rulers of Ulster. Commencing at the Navan Centre, the two evenings includes a dramatic performance by Armagh Rhymers, musicians from Armagh Pipers Club and audio-visual displays together with a promenade to the Fort itself.

Snow Water has created Live at the Folk Park, which takes visitors on a musical journey charting the stories of those who had to leave Ulster over the course of 300 years.  It involves some of Northern Ireland’s finest musicians and singers (including Gareth Dunlop, No Oil Paintings, Jack Warnock, ROE, Eilidh Patterson, Niall Hanna and Maurice Leyden) with Neil Martin as Musical Director and Joe Lindsay as Presenter.  Live performances filmed in locations throughout the Ulster American Folk Park include songs from home and songs written from afar about home; Scottish-influenced fiddle music and piping; Appalachian music; religious songs; fast, lively, energising dance music and slower, reflective pieces.  It will culminate in a new permanent online exhibition, a piece of vinyl, and an innovative app which will be used as a guided tour of the Park and as part of a treasure hunt. 

For tickets and more information on Embrace The Place events visit

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Belfast International Arts Festival 2019 Programme Launched

Thursday 15th August 2019 at 12pm 0 Comments Dance , Drama , Literature , Northern Ireland Music , Visual Arts

Terence Brannigan, Chair Tourism NI, Jonathan Stewart, Director British Council NI, La Dame Blanche, Dr Damian Smyth, Head of Drama and Literature at Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Richard Wakely, Artistic Director Belfast International Arts Festival, Image: Terence Brannigan, Chair Tourism NI, Jonathan Stewart, Director British Council NI, La Dame Blanche, Dr Damian Smyth, Head of Drama and Literature at Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Richard Wakely, Artistic Director Belfast International Arts Festival,

The programme for the 57th Belfast International Arts Festival has been launched, with a showcase performance by one of the Festival’s signature artists, Cuban-born Parisian musician, La Dame Blanche, who will perform at the Belfast Empire on Saturday 19th October.  (Real name) Yaite Ramos Rodriguez is the daughter of the Creative Director of the Buena Vista Social Club.  Reflecting the festival’s key themes of internationalism and artistic fusion, La Dame Blanche brought guests at the launch to their feet with her infectious and unique blend of hip-hop, cumbia and reggae.

Festival Artistic Director, Richard Wakely unveiled the programme, which will this year feature over 200 events from the world of music, dance, film, visual arts, literature and theatre.

He revealed that Belfast has been chosen to contribute to two major international cultural celebrations, Japan-UK Season of Culture and FranceDance UK.  He said, “The 2019 Belfast International Arts Festival will open on 15 October with the UK premiere of Median, a contemporary paring of choreography with digital projection and electronic sound from Japanese multi-disciplinary artist Hiroaki Umeda. Think of the most creative music videos by Radiohead and Aphex Twin, meets the stealth and intensity of The Matrix.  Also featuring in the programme will be ASUNA, a wonderful young artist from Tokyo with his quirky, immersive sound installation, 100 Keyboards. It is an honour to have been selected to host some of Japan’s finest artists.”

Richard went on to reveal another major arts first for the city.  He said, “Showcasing the best of international dance for Belfast audiences has always been one of my biggest goals for the Festival.  I am especially pleased to announce that on the weekend of 25th and 26th October, Belfast International Arts Festival will be co-hosting the first ever all-Ireland dance conference, Co-Motion, in partnership with Dance Ireland, Dance Resource Base and Queen’s University Belfast.

“That weekend’s Festival programme will include performances by Shobana Jeyasingh Dance performing an Irish premiere of Staging Schiele (the story of radical Austrian nude artist and self-portraitist, Egon Schiele) before it heads to Southbank’s Queen Elizabeth Hall for its London run; and acclaimed French company (LA)HORDE performing their high energy jumpstyle piece To Da Bone.  This is a captivating, contemporary rebel-call to the social media generation, both in its narrative and in the way that the cast was crowd-sourced from across Europe, through an open audition on the internet.  The work of (LA)HORDE will be recognisable from the multi-million-viewed music video for Christine and the Queens’ track Girlfriend.”

This year’s Embrace FREE public events programme will be headlined by a breathtaking UK and Irish premiere performance by French all-female circus-arts troupe led by Chloe Moglia, called La Spire, which will take place in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 October. This is a free, unticketed event, no booking required.

In a typically surprising sidestep for the Festival, Belfast architects Hall McKnight will showcase an immersive large-scale installation at Ulster University for three weeks, which was originally presented at the prestigious Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition.  Entitled Unique Instruments, Expectant Spaces, this critically acclaimed installation looks at the re-imagining of civic spaces – an interesting subject, as the Cathedral Quarter and University undergoes its own landscape re-imagining.

Meanwhile, the eclectic musical offering in this year’s programme will feature two shows in the Grand Opera House by Glen Hansard, which have all but sold-out on pre-release, County Down-born Two Door Cinema Club and Joshua Burnside, 70’s ska favourites, The Selecter and a host of classical performances including NI star pianist Ruth McGinley and violinist Darragh Morgan performing as a duo for the first time; and classical pianist Lucy Parham, joined by Juliet Stevenson and Tim McInnerny, performing Beloved Clara which brings to life the love triangle story between Robert Schumann, his wife Clara and Johannes Brahms.

In the field of theatre, and underscoring the continuing importance of cultural relations across the island, the Festival brings together some of Ireland’s finest, including Dublin-based Fishamble with Pat Kinevane’s searing solo choreography and theatre piece Before, which touchingly combines some of the best-loved songs from musical theatre with a family drama centred around the closing day in Dublin’s iconic Clery’s department store; and an edgy, of-the-moment piece by Chalk it Down Productions, Spliced, a study of mental health and male identity in the uber-masculine sports world of gaelic games.

On the lighter side, Forced Entertainment will bring its mesmerising and Beckett influenced hit play, Real Magic to the MAC; while Northern Ireland’s Big Telly Theatre Company will premiere The Worst Café in the World, a special for the Festival, in a make-believe pop-up café in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.  Here, the diners will become flies on the wall as reality theatre unfolds around them through a histrionic chef, a menu of real-life pathos, comedy and drama, and waiting staff who just, well, wait.  With 8 performances from Wednesday 23 to Sunday 27 October this is chaos not to be missed and diners are advised to book a post-theatre meal elsewhere!

The literary and film sections of the programme are packed with highlights and big names, including author Michael Rosen (We’re Going on a Bear Hunt) and Booker longlisted authors Max Porter (Grief is a Thing with Feathers and Lanny) and Kevin Barry (Night Boat to Tangier), along with hotly tipped Kerry Hudson (Lowborn), Emilie Pine (Notes to Self), Meena Kandasamy (Exquisite Cadavers) the Octavia Poetry Collective and a special event on 30 October, the eve of Brexit, featuring journalist and author Gavin Esler talk about his latest book Brexit without the Bullsh*t.  Perfect timing!

Always seen as an important platform to profile some of Northern Ireland’s top artists, this year’s Festival season will close with a tour-de-force UK and Ireland premiere of Lady Magma by Belfast-born choreographer and dancer, Oona Doherty. In partnership with Prime Cut Productions, Oona will come, fresh from Edinburgh Festival, to perform this brand new ode to female strength and new femininity.

Richard Wakely gave heartfelt thanks to Festival supporters and funders, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Tourism Northern Ireland, the British Council, the Department for Communities, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, and Belfast City Council, without whose backing the Festival would not be possible.

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,

“This is a programme of art of a truly international quality, carefully curated from around the world, the likes of which we would not otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy.

“This is not just a boon for local audiences, but it raises Northern Ireland’s creative reputation at home and abroad and strengthens opportunities for cultural exchange between international artists and our homegrown talent.

“The Arts Council is very proud to be the principal funder of this strategically and artistically important festival. We support it with Public and National Lottery funds which allow Belfast International Arts Festival to continue to deliver a hugely ambitious and inspiring programme of artistic excellence.”

Visit belfastinternationalartsfestival.com to view the full programme.

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Kelly McCaughrain announced as the new Children’s Writing Fellow for NI by Arts Council and Queen’s

Thursday 15th August 2019 at 10am 0 Comments Literature

Kelly McCaughrain announced as the new Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland Image: Kelly McCaughrain announced as the new Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland

Award-winning writer Kelly McCaughrain has accepted the post as the new Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University Belfast.

The Fellowship was created as part of Queen’s University and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's (ACNI) joint ten-year Seamus Heaney Legacy project supported by the Atlantic Philanthropies. Kelly follows on from the inaugural Children’s Writing Fellow Myra Zepf, who has held the post for the last two years. Kelly will be based at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s for two years, working with students and engaged in outreach activities.

Speaking about the appointment, Kelly said:

"I feel so honoured to have been invited to be the next Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland. It’s a wonderful role and I applaud The Seamus Heaney Centre and the Arts Council for creating it. Reading offers so many benefits to children’s development, and therefore to our whole society. Children’s literature is something that should be valued and promoted, and I’m thrilled to see that happening in Northern Ireland.

“We have some truly inspiring organisations, teachers, librarians and writers already working hard to promote children’s literacy and reading for pleasure and I’m really looking forward to working with them and learning from them and I hope that I can use my fellowship to support them.

“This is an opportunity to do something really special and I think it’s going to be an adventure!"

Kelly McCaughrain is a Young Adult writer from Belfast. She studied Creative Writing at Queen’s and mentors young writers at Fighting Words. Her first novel, Flying Tips for Flightless Birds, published by Walker Books, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and won the Children's Books Ireland Eilis Dillon Award, Children's Choice Award and Book of the Year Award 2019 and the Northern Ireland Book Award 2019.

Catherine Heaney, daughter of Seamus Heaney, commented:

As the first Children’s Writing Fellow at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Myra Zepf brought incredible energy and enthusiasm to the role, and set the bar in fostering a love of reading and writing among children and teenagers across Northern Ireland. I am delighted with the appointment of Kelly McCaughrain as her successor, and look forward to watching Kelly carry on that vital work over the coming two years.”

Professor Glenn Patterson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “We look forward to welcoming local writer, Kelly McCaughrain, to the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s and working with her over the next two years as the next Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland.

“Kelly is a wonderful writer and I know she will inspire many children and young people to take an interest in creative writing and reading more books.”

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council for Northern Ireland, commented:

“We are delighted to announce Kelly’s appointment today as the new Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland. Working with primary and secondary schools, she will promote reading for pleasure, encouraging children of all ages to discover the joy of books, as well as embarking on their own story-telling adventures.

“We’d like to thank Myra for the incredible work she has done over the last two years, sharing her infectious love of books with hundreds of children across Northern Ireland, through interactive workshops, readings and school visits.”

Kelly McCaughrain will take up her post as the Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland in August 2019.

For more information on the Fellowship and the Fellows’ public programme, please visit www.qub.ac.uk/schools/seamus-heaney-centre/people/fellows

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Northern Ireland to shine at Edinburgh International Festival

Tuesday 6th August 2019 at 11am 0 Comments

Pictured (L-R) is actor, James Doran, playwright, Meghan Tyler, actor, Vincent Higgins and dancer, Sam Finnegan. Visit www.edfringe.com and www.eif.co.uk for tickets and further information. Image: Pictured (L-R) is actor, James Doran, playwright, Meghan Tyler, actor, Vincent Higgins and dancer, Sam Finnegan. Visit www.edfringe.com and www.eif.co.uk for tickets and further information.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and British Council Northern Ireland are supporting three arts organisations from the region to perform at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Kabosh will perform their play, ‘Green and Blue’, written by local writer, Laurence McKeown, PrimeCut Productions and Oona Doherty will perform’ Hard To Be Soft, A Belfast Prayer’ and The Lyric Theatre in partnership with the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, will stage ‘Crocodile Fever’ a play written by Meghan Tyler.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, said,

“It’s vital that our artists and arts organisations are given opportunities to show their work to audiences outside of Northern Ireland .  It’s incredibly exciting that hiqh quality work from here is performed at the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe.   These festivals are hugely popular and these works will be seen by thousands of people, helping to put Northern Ireland on the map for all the right reasons and opening up the potential for these works to be toured nationally and internationally.”

Kabosh’s ‘Green and Blue’ runs from 2 until 25 August at Summer Hall as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 

Traverse Theatre/Lyric Theatre’s, ‘Crocodile Fever’ runs from 2-25 August at the Traverse Theatre as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and returns to the Lyric Theatre from 3-8 September.

Prime Cut and Oona Doherty’s ‘Hard to be Soft, A Belfast Prayer’ runs from 21-24 August at the Lyceum as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.

Visit www.edfringe.com and www.eif.co.uk for tickets and further information.

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Return of spectacular seven-screen film WITHOUT

Monday 29th July 2019 at 12pm 0 Comments Dance

WITHOUT - Bridge Street Image: WITHOUT - Bridge Street

Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company is delighted to announce the return of WITHOUT – the world class seven-screen film installation by Rosemary Lee and Echo Echo that was created for City of Culture 2013.

Without has been described as “a spectacular poem of the city” and “one of the greatest artworks I have ever seen” by audience members in 2013 and the work subsequently toured to Dublin Dance Festival and British Dance Edition in Cardiff to very wide popular and critical acclaim.

Director of Without, Rosemary Lee, is one of the UK’s leading choreographers. Reflecting on the process of making the work in Community Dance Magazine recently she said:

“Without seemed to produce a sense of seeing their city through fresh eyes for some of the general public who came to see it. One lovely piece of feedback from a man in his sixties made me feel that we had done the right thing. He said, ‘Thank you. You’ve helped me see my city through new eyes and see it at peace.’”

Around 500 people were involved in filming Without during April 2013 including cyclists, tea-dancers, skateboarders, dancers, and hundreds of local primary school children. Many thousands of people watched the work being filmed around the city from Bishop Street to the Guildhall, from Ebrington to Creggan.

Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Michaela Boyle, said:

“I am delighted that this event has been included as part of the Council’s Walls 400 programme that sets out to showcase a wide range of local cultural and arts projects across the city and district. Good luck to everyone involved and I hope it is a huge success.”

Echo Echo’s principal funder, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, supported the initial creation of Without in 2013. Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, said,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to have supported the development of this powerful and moving work in 2013; a project that was hugely engaging for the local community that helped to create it. Following a successful tour in Ireland and the UK, we’re absolutely thrilled to see this special work return to the city where it was created to be enjoyed by many.”

The seven films of Without are shown concurrently, in-the-round, in a specially created installation accompanied by an original sound score by Graeme Miller. Each full cycle lasts 22 minutes and is shown on a continuous loop.

Without will return to the city for a month-long exhibition from Friday 23rd August 2019 at Echo Echo Studios in Magazine Street as part of the Walls400 programme of events. Visit www.echoechodance.com/whatson for opening hours and further information.

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