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New chapter for Belfast bookshop thanks to National Lottery boost

Tuesday 29th September 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments Literature

Pictured are David Torrans and Emma Warnock, No Alibis Press. Image: Pictured are David Torrans and Emma Warnock, No Alibis Press.

No Alibis bookshop in Belfast’s Botanic Avenue is preparing to pen its next chapter, thanks to funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The much-loved independent book store, which made its name as a haven for crime-fiction lovers and a champion of local writers, has been awarded funding through the Arts Council’s National Lottery funds to develop the publishing wing of its business, No Alibis Press.

As a new publisher to the market, the grant of over £8,000 will be used to help secure the publication of new titles from No Alibis Press, starting with Seed, by acclaimed Dublin-based writer Joanna Walsh. The experimental novel from the award winning columnist and commentator will be supported by a free series of public talks and events.

The award is one of five made this month to arts organisations through the Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme, with a total investment of £35,000 going to local arts organisations. The programme is designed to support the development of creative community-based projects across Northern Ireland. 

Grants are awarded by the Arts Council on a monthly basis and organisations can apply for up to £10,000 to support projects in any art form, including music, drama, dance, literature, visual, and participatory arts.

Commenting on the award, David Torrans from No Alibis Press, commented:

“Considering the challenges within the sector, this timely award will help support our authors, editors, designers, along with others working in the hands-on roles of book production. As a bookseller, I spend a great deal of time thinking about the books that readers will enjoy; with this award, No Alibis Press can put such books into readers’ hands.”

Noirin McKinney, Head of Arts Development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Small Grants Programme is supporting arts projects across Northern Ireland, proving that sometimes a small investment can have a tremendous impact.

“We are pleased this month to be able to support five fantastic projects to the value of £35,000. This money will support new publications from No Alibis Press; a virtual edition of the annual Royal Ulster Academy visual arts exhibition; music tuition for young people through Glengormley School of Traditional Music and Murley Concert Band in Fivemiletown, and a brilliant socially engaged series of arts projects in Belfast’s Sailortown district.

“These projects are made possible thanks to the money raised for good causes through the Arts Council’s National Lottery funds.”

September Small Grants Funding will support:

Glengormley School of Traditional Music
Glengormley school of Traditional Music received £9,900 through the Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme. For 18 years the school has provided training in all areas of Irish traditional music skills and musicianship. The funding received will go towards providing high quality and affordable music tuition with skilled tutors in a range of instruments including fiddle, tin whistle, flute, uileann pipes, button accordion, concertina, banjo, mandolin, bodhran, guitar, harp, and ballad singing, with classes moving online during the pandemic.

Household Belfast C.I.C
Household Belfast C.I.C was awarded £7,965 through the Arts Council’s Small Grants programme. The funding will enable the organisation to bring three socially engaged arts projects to the public between now and June 2021. The events will be held in the buildings, streets and surrounding areas of Sailortown, Belfast and will connect the stories of the people and history of the area, past present and future.

Murley Concert Band
Murley Concert Band in Fivemiletown received £2,000 from the Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme to support free music tuition for young music players. The concert band set up in 2018 is the junior bnd of the highly commended Murley Silver Band. This funding will help to provide valuable opportunities for younger players and those wishing to develop their talent to join the senior band, Murley Silver Band.

Royal Ulster Academy
The Royal Ulster Academy received £7,300 from the Arts Council’s Small Grants programme to support the creation of a virtual edition of its annual visual arts exhibition for 2020, which will run alongside the physical exhibition in the Ulster Museum. Organisers hope bringing the exhibition online will attract new audiences and participants to the arts, with a particular focus on young people who have missed out on months of school attendance because of Covid 19.

No Alibis Press
No Alibis Press received £8,255 from the Arts Council’s Small Grants programme to support a series of publications and initiatives around the publication of Joanna Walsh’s Seed. The project includes a standard publication in paperback, a limited edition box set including a paperback and six pamphlets. They will include artwork by the author using experimental techniques of image development via digital technologies.

Funding from the Small Grants Programme is awarded to organisations by the Arts Council on a monthly basis. Application forms and guidance notes are available to download at

List of organisiations that received funding through the Small Grants Programme in September 2020:


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