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Arts Council announces £110,000 for arts projects benefitting older people across Northern Ireland

Thursday 14th January 2021 at 12pm 0 Comments Arts and Older People

Arts Care Tool Kit Boxes Image: Arts Care Tool Kit Boxes

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced £110,000 to enable 12 arts organisations in Northern Ireland to deliver a series of community-based arts projects benefitting older people.  The funding is part of the Arts and Older People’s Programme, a pioneering initiative supported by National Lottery, Public Health Agency and Baring Foundation, 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 just under £2m funding to community organisations and voluntary groups across Northern Ireland in the delivery of 196 arts projects to older people.

Each week, National Lottery players raise £30 million for good causes across the UK.  Lorraine Calderwood, Community Development Officer at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, explained how National Lottery funding and 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.  Thanks to National Lottery players, Baring Foundation and the Public Health Agency, we are hugely proud to have supported 196 projects since the programme began and we’re delighted today to announce that a further 12 arts organisations will be supported to deliver projects with funding of £110,000.”

In this exceptional year of pandemic, the Arts Council’s application process was limited to a number of previous recipients with experience in delivering online or socially distanced arts projects to older vulnerable people living with dementia.  Among the successful applicants offered Arts and Older People Programme funding are

Arts Care
Arts Care has been delivering online arts workshops to older people in residential and nursing care homes, across all the five Health Trusts, since the beginning of the lockdown brought about by Covid-19 restrictions.  They will use their Arts & Older People’s Programme funding to design a series of Tool Kit Boxes that will provide online training to over 150 activity workers, nurses and carers across all five Health and Social Care Trust areas potentially engaging more than 2000 older people in the arts.  The training will empower healthcare staff with the necessary knowledge and skills required to deliver arts workshops to residents in person and better understand how they can support access to the arts for the older people they care for. 

The Tool Kit Boxes will contain up to fifteen facilitated arts activities designed by professional Arts Care Artists across four key art forms including music, creative dance, visual arts and creative writing.  The training of healthcare staff will ensure that they become familiar with how to use the arts activities provided within the Tool Kit Boxes combined with a series of online sessions with Arts Care artists.

Armstrong Storytelling
Armstrong Storytelling Trust will use their Arts & Older People’s Programme funding to bring the traditional art of storytelling, music and reminiscence sessions to older people, aged 70+, across Northern Ireland who are experiencing dementia and isolation.  It is anticipated that Armstrong Storytelling will deliver 40 sessions to individuals in their own homes digitally through Zoom, between January and May 2021.  Armstrong Storytelling will partner with Dementia NI, DEED (Dementia, Engaged and Empowered Derry) and Alzheimer’s Society to identify suitable participants.

Prime Cut Productions
Prime Cut Productions will use their Arts & Older People’s Programme funding to deliver a twelve-week visual arts, music, dance and reminiscence project to older people across Belfast, aiming to reach between 50-60 participants.  The project will use photography, dance sessions and music to explore the ballrooms and dancehalls of Belfast’s past.  The project will use the personal memories of participants as well as resources from Northern Ireland Screens Digital Archive and Belfast Exposed.

To view the full list of organisations offered Arts & Older People’s Programme funding visit

Visit for details on all funding opportunities.


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