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International Women’s Day celebrates women in the arts in Northern Ireland!

Friday 5th March 2021 at 11am 0 Comments

In celebration of International Women’s Day on Monday 8th March, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is shining a light on just some of the many talented women who are working in the Arts in the region. Image: In celebration of International Women’s Day on Monday 8th March, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is shining a light on just some of the many talented women who are working in the Arts in the region.

In celebration of International Women’s Day on Monday 8th March, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is shining a light on just some of the many talented women who are working in the Arts in the region.

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

“I am delighted to help celebrate IWD and in particular the many women artists that the Arts Council supports. It’s an opportunity to remember just what the ARTS can do, how powerful the arts are in their ability to challenge, inspire and give women a voice. And importantly, the power of the arts to bring women and communities closer together across the world.

“The small selection of women we shine a light on today, demonstrates how important a role they play. Their art is a means to communicate to many, and attempts to bring the issues bubbling around us to life in a beautiful, creative and often challenging way; making us think, smile, laugh or sing, making us cry and feel deeply, entertaining us, uniting us in a way only the arts can do. 

“Thank you to all the women artists out there who continue the work of bringing great art and ideas to help express some of the pressing issues bearing down on so many of us at this time, both at home and abroad.”

Some of the tremendous women working in the arts in Northern Ireland include:

Eibhlin de Barra, Director, Young at Art
Eibhlin de Barra was appointed Director at Young at Art in 2016.   She is responsible for leading the Young at Art team and delivering the annual Belfast Children's Festival which is currently taking place online this year from 5-14 March.

She has held the position of Company Manager at Maiden Voyage Dance, Northern Ireland's leading commissioning company for contemporary dance and been a leading arts manager in Northern Ireland for over 10 years, including work for the Crescent Arts Centre, RANSOM Productions, Replay Theatre Co and Castleward Opera.
Eibhlin, who trained at RADA, has a background in Stage Management including the Lyric Theatre Belfast and Abbey Theatre Dublin, and also holds an MSc in Cultural Management.

Eibhlin is passionate about the positive impact the arts can have on young people, something that is core to Young at Art's ethos.

For details of this year’s online Belfast Children’s Festival, supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council, visit www.youngatart.co.uk

Nandi Jola, writer
Nandi Jola is an exceptional playwright, poet, writer and creative writing facilitator originally from South Africa and who now lives in Portadown, Northern Ireland.  
She is a currently a writer for Brassneck Theatre’s, Six Project, and Prime Cut Productions, Ensemble Colours. Her Creative Writing projects include Phenomenal Women and Same-Difference.  Nandi’s play, The Journey, opened the prestigious International Literature Festival Dublin in October 2020. In 2013 she managed the, Home is Neither Here Nor There, exhibition in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. Nandi’s work has been published in several anthologies throughout Northern Ireland.  Nandi is a former SIAP awardee of the Arts Council, a career development award funded by National Lottery funding.

Commenting on International Women’s Day, Nandi Jola, said: “Black women's writing is important in changing the narrative of telling stories about Northern Ireland. Black people are here and so are their poems, stories, plays and we must see them in the literary world.”

Hilary Copeland, new Director of Fighting Words 
Hilary Copeland joined Fighting Words Northern Ireland, the creative writing network for children and young people, as its new Director in March 2021.

Hilary has worked in the arts sector since 2008, for festivals, arts and theatre companies in Edinburgh, Belfast and Dublin. She has worked across business management, strategic planning, creative programming and event delivery. Hilary started her career in literature at the Stanza Poetry Festival and The Byre Theatre before joining the Programming Team at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, working on the Children & Schools Programme.

As a freelance arts manager, producer and programmer, she has worked for clients including Belfast International Arts Festival, NI Science Festival, Kabosh, Culture Northern Ireland, Whittrick Press, Belfast Book Festival and Young at Art. Hilary led long-standing arts and cultural charity, The John Hewitt Society, from 2013 - 2019, where she ran the John Hewitt International Summer School and founded the Hillsborough Festival of Literature & Ideas. In 2019 she joined the Irish Writers Centre as Acting Director, where she successfully led the IWC team during the COVID-19 pandemic, moving to remote online delivery to continue offering courses, resources and support to writers throughout the crisis.  Visit www.fightingwords.co.uk

Lisa McGee, playwright and screenwriter
Lisa Magee is a multi-award-winning playwright and screenwriter from Derry-Londonderry and the name behind the exceptionally successful TV show, Derry Girls.  In summer 2020, the Arts Council through National Lottery funding, supported the Lyric Theatre, BBC NI, & BBC Arts, on an exciting collaboration – Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama – a collection of five minute theatrical pieces exploring life in lockdown.  One of the films, The Girl at the Window, was written by Lisa McGee, and was filmed on location, in accordance with social distancing guidelines over several weeks. The pieces explored the positive and negative aspects of social isolation and lockdown.  Each short film was broadcast on BBC Two Northern Ireland and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer and Splendid Isolation went on to be nominated for an award by the Royal Television Society. 

You can watch The Girl at the Window on BBC IPlayer BBC iPlayer - BBC Arts NI presents - Splendid Isolation: 4. The Girl at the Window

Nicola Curry, Artistic Director, Maiden Voyage 
Nicola Curry is the Artistic Director of the contemporary dance, commissioning company Maiden Voyage. The company have commissioned over 34 new dance works from national and international choreographers, composers, performers and collaborators, offering essential professional development for the dance sector here and providing a wide range of engagement opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.

Originally from Armagh, Nicola was inspired by many women from or based in Northern Ireland who forged careers in dance including: Caroline Robinson, Sandy Cuthbert, Jill Burns, Anne Marie Morgan, Mags Byrne, Anthea McWilliams and Jane Mooney. After graduating from QUB and knowing that career in law was not her path, Nicola was fortunate to be mentored in arts management by Anna Cutler, the founding Director of Young at Art and worked on the first four Young at Art Festivals 1998-2000. She left to undertake an MA in Dance Performance and founded Maiden Voyage on her return to Belfast in 2001 at a time when there was no dance company to perform with.

Nicola has worked on children’s TV programmes, opening ceremonies for Odyssey Belfast, and for the Special Olympics World Games, choreographed theatre productions, school events and short films (Flying Saucer Rock n’Roll being an early career highlight).

Maiden Voyage’s latest commission, Turnabout, from choreographer Jennifer Rooney and composer Elaine Agnew, will premiere online at Young at Art’s Belfast Children’s Festival 6-14 March 2021, supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council. Visit www.youngatart.co.uk and www.maidenvoyagedance.com

Justine Gormley, pianist and BBC/Arts Council Young Musicians’ Platform (classical) Awardee 2021
Justine Gormley, from Saintfield, Co.Down, discovered her love of music when she was found as a toddler playing nursery rhymes by ear on the family piano. Initially taught by her mother, she was later enrolled into private piano lessons with EPTA tutor, John McParland, in Belfast, at the age of 12. Justine remained under his tutelage until 2017, when she was accepted into the Royal Northern College of Music to study with Senior Tutor in Piano, John Gough.  In January 2021, Justine was announced as one of six BBC/Arts Council NI Young Musicians’ Platform Award recipients, a prestigious career development award for exceptional, young musicians, supported by National Lottery funding.

Justine has had various successes in competitions, including a prize at the Irish Heritage Bursary Competition at Wigmore Hall, the Rose Reilly Memorial Award at the Barry Douglas’ Camerata Ireland Academy, and the Alen-Buckley award presented by the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival.

Justine has been fortunate to have Barry Douglas as a mentor for two consecutive years at the Clandeboye Music Festival. Other internationally known pianists she has received masterclasses and lessons from include Bernard d’Ascoli, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Stephan Möller, Noriko Ogawa, Kathryn Stott, Grigory Gruzman, and Dmitri Alexeev.

Justine has performed in various notable venues including the Ulster Hall, the Kevin Barry Recital Room at the National Concert Hall, the Carmo Convent Ruins, Portugal, as part of the Lisbon International Youth Music Festival, and recently the Irish Embassy in London as an Irish Heritage artist. She has also been broadcast on both BBC Radio Ulster and RNCM Radio.  Justine Gormley - Home | Facebook

Roisin Donald (ROE), singer-songwriter and BBC/Arts Council Young Musicians’ Platform (classical) Awardee 2021
Roisin Donald (ROE): Devastatingly sincere and intensely relatable, ROE is a songwriter that pours her heart into every word that she writes. Her work spills truths from her own life, and from speculations on the planet on which we exist.  In January 2021, Roisin was announced as one of six BBC/Arts Council NI Young Musicians’ Platform Award recipients, a prestigious career development award for exceptional, young musicians, supported by National Lottery funding.

Hailing from Derry-Londonderry, ROE left college before finishing to travel the world playing festivals and to focus on writing songs that felt real. Her 2020 EP ‘Things We Don’t Talk About’ saw ROE cross 1 million streams on Spotify and is the culmination of 4 years of relentless writing, releasing and touring as a completely independent artist.

At 18-years-old she received a coveted slot on the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury in 2017, which led her on to perform across Europe, North America, India and beyond; supporting local legends Snow Patrol on their 2018/19 UK Arena Tour. The winner of Best Emerging Artist - Northern Ireland Music Prize, 2018 and recipient of the PRS Foundation Momentum Fund, 2020, ROE’s music has been used as part of a TV and radio campaign for BBC Music NI, in ITV’s ‘The Only Way is Essex’, Channel 4’s ‘Made in Chelsea’ and Netflix’s ‘Terrace House’.

With her previous releases, she has gained extensive support and plays from BBC Radio 1 and Radio 6 Music, regular playlisting across Irish radio on RTE2FM and Today FM, and her monthly listeners on Spotify continue to grow steadily.  ‘Things We Don’t Talk About’ was released on 21st August 2020 on all streaming platforms and limited edition 10” vinyl (available at Merch - ROE (musicglue.com))

Rose Connolly, composer, instrumentalist and BBC/Arts Council Young Musicians’ Platform (classical) Awardee 2021
Composer and multi-instrumentalist Rose Connolly was born in County Fermanagh. Her body of work includes ensemble, large-scale and small-scale works, solo pieces, electronic solo/ensemble pieces and short film/multi-media works also.  As an accomplished performer in the Classical and traditional field, Rose studies Music Composition in The Royal Irish Academy of Music under the direction of Jonathan Nangle.  In January 2021, Rose was announced as one of six BBC/Arts Council NI Young Musicians’ Platform Award recipients, a prestigious career development award for exceptional, young musicians, supported by National Lottery funding.

Rose maintains a busy performance schedule in Ireland and she has composed for the Contempo string quartet, and various RIAM ensembles, electronic and solo works for Dublin’s esteemed musicians, David Collins and Ailbhe McDonagh. In 2018, she collaborated with the Irish Dance theatre. The two dancers interpreted through ballet and created a short video in the Gardens at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham In 2019, she was commissioned to write the Fanfare for the closing concert of Dublin Brass Week, performed by the esteemed Adam Rappa, Alan Thomas and David Rejano.

From December 2018 to March 2020, Rose Connolly and Imogen Gunner set up a duo collaboration where they played original, folk and traditional music and songs.  As a duo, they also performed at the ‘Finding a Voice’ concert in Clonmel for International Women’s Day 2020.

Her more recent work includes a series of saxophone quartet works for the Chatham quartet, solo piano works written and most recently she won the Finding A Voice Composition Competition for Emerging Women Composers.  Rose Connolly was also awarded a Royal Television Society award for best sound in June 2020 for her score in the short animation, CTRL + ALT +Z.  Rose Connolly Composer - Home | Facebook

Corrina Askin, illustrator and animator
Corrina Askin is an illustrator and animator who has created and developed her own IP for Channel 5, MTV, RTE and Cbeebies. She has created, designed and wrote two pre-school animated series, Castle Farm on Milkshake, Channel Five and Joe and Jack on RTE, and has a third in development. Her work also broadcasts on Disney, ABC Australia and Canal+.  She was awarded the White Ravens Award at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, as well as being presented the Bisto Illustration Award. She was awarded the prestigious Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris residency and the first John Springhall residency in Flowerfield, Portstewart. Her work is playful and intelligent and draws on elements of nature, philosophy, invention and self-awareness.  Corrina was a recent recipient of funding from the Arts Council’s Individual Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP). 

Niamh Scullion, writer
Niamh Scullion is currently working on her first novel, using some free time funded by the University of Atypical's iDA award for deaf and disabled artists. Niamh has dealt with progressive hearing loss for many years, which has given the writer many challenges in her career as journalist, PR and community developer, socially and even in writing since she misses out on an essential source of inspiration for many writers - eavesdropping.

Niamh completed an MA in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast in 2010, and participated in an NI Screen Short Steps script development programme a few years later. She has written many short stories and short film scripts as well as regular feature articles for community organisations or newspapers, including a recent feature story in Freckle Magazine on Lagan Currachs, a boat building and rowing charity she helped set up in 2016. She is currently several drafts into her first Young Adult novel which she will be reading from this Saturday and inviting people to discuss its themes and afterwards participate in a read-through of a new short film script.

In March 2020, Niamh was announced as one of sixteen disabled artists from Northern Ireland to receive the University of Atypical’s, Individual Disabled Artist (iDA) Award.  The iDA is a career development award supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and enables each artist to produce a new high-quality work, receive training or professional mentoring.  Join Niamh and the University of Atypical online this Saturday 6th March from 3-4pm, to mark International Women’s Day.  For details see below or visit www.universityofatypical.com

EVENTS TO MARK INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
A number of arts organisations will be celebrating International Women’s Day this weekend and throughout next week:


Hard Rain Soloist Ensemble: presents, Elemental: Celebrating International Women's Day.  Join Hard Rain Soloist Ensemble for a concert of music by some of our finest female composers from Ireland and further afield, inspired by the natural world. From swirling seas to starry skies, this music inspires and challenges us to rediscover the elements we all share.  Ticket holders will receive a link via email on Monday 8th March to watch the concert broadcast. The concert stream will expire 48 hours after the broadcast begins. The concert can be watched at any time during this 48-hour window.  Free tickets can be booked at Elemental: Celebrating International Women's Day Tickets, Mon 8 Mar 2021 at 19:30 | Eventbrite

University of Atypical: join the University of Atypical online on Saturday 6th March from 3-4pm, to mark International Women’s Day with Niamh Scullion. The theme for this year’s IWD is “the new phenomenal” and Niamh’s prospects as a new novelist is exciting. You’re invited to gather online where Niamh will read a short excerpt from her novel in progress, invite you to join in a read-through of a short film script, and have a discussion on some of the themes.  For details visit www.universityofatypical.com

On the same evening, 7-8pm, University of Atypical presents, I’m Not Normal, with multimedia artists Hari MacMillan and Michael Curran.  Hari and Michael will converse on the impact identity and experience have had on their lives and artistic practice.  Visit www.harimacmillandotcom.wordpress.com

International Women’s Day ‘White Ribbon’ Anthem Launch with Northern Ireland Opera and the Ulster Orchestra: On International Women’s Day, Monday 8th March, Women’s Aid ABCLN, Northern Ireland Opera and the Ulster Orchestra will launch ‘White Ribbon’, a collaborative anthem co-written by pianist Ruth McGinley and songwriter Duke Special, reflecting the voices and experience of women affected by domestic abuse.

Guests attending the event will be amongst the first to preview 'White Ribbon', following its live recording in the Waterfront Hall with vocalist Jolene O'Hara, Northern Ireland Opera's Associate Artists and the Ulster Orchestra.

White Ribbon is a global movement to end male violence against women and the ‘White Ribbon’ anthem has been commissioned by Northern Ireland Opera, working jointly with the Ulster Orchestra and Women’s Aid ABCLN, in response to the devastating impact of domestic abuse witnessed at this time. 

Join Women’s Aid online on Monday 8th March from 7pm for the 40-minute event to launch the ‘White Ribbon’ anthem.  The ‘White Ribbon’ anthem will also be available on YouTube and other audio streaming channels.  For more information about the ‘White Ribbon’ anthem you can call Women’s Aid ABCLN on 028 25 632136 or to register and receive your link for the online launch email events@womensaidabcln.org 

International Women’s Day Festival at The MAC: until 11th March, The MAC has a packed programme of events to celebrate International Women’s Day.   For full details visit International Women's Day 2021 (themaclive.com)

Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich: will celebrate Seachtain na Gaeilge 2021 and Féile an Earraigh with a varied programme of events between the 6th and 17th of March.  The celebration of women will be central to this year’s programme as Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich will broadcast a series of three interviews during the week beginning the 8th of March with artists who have long held ties with the Cultúrlann including,  Nuala Ní Néill, Eimear Nic Roibeaird and Therese Bann. These interviews will be conducted by members of Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich’s staff.

The celebration of International Women’s Day will continue throughout the week with the premiere of a multi-artform short film ‘Spéirbhean a collaboration between writer Máire Zepf, dancer Clara Kerr and director Jo Guthrie on the 12th of March. The film will take a fresh look at how women inhabit their bodies across the span of their lives and will be a celebration of the beauty of female resilience, told through spoken word, dance and photography.

The public will then be given an opportunity to see how a multi-artform film is made (during a pandemic) with a special event on the 13th of March when the four women behind the film ‘Spéirbhean’ will shed a light on the inspiration, the challenges and the creative processes behind this ground-breaking work.   For further information visit www.culturlann.ie

Beyond Skin: is asking women to get involved in the Peace In Mind: 100 Project, a one-of-a-kind project in Northern Ireland, focused on sharing the stories from 100 women.  The plan for this project is to create 100 pages, with 100 pieces of art from 100 women. This artwork will then be bound into a beautiful book, hand crafted with sustainable & ethical materials by

Wilhelmina Peace.  This book will travel, and a temporary digital version will be made available online.  This book will then be placed in a time capsule to be opened in, you guessed it...100 years! To sign up visit Peace in Mind: The 100 (google.com)

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Through Our Eyes: Five new films about the lives of young carers

Thursday 4th March 2021 at 4pm 0 Comments Dance

DU Dance filming on location around Magherafelt. Joe Fox Photography. Image: DU Dance filming on location around Magherafelt. Joe Fox Photography.

Young carers from across Northern Ireland form the central focus of five short films, collectively entitled Through Our Eyes, which will be screened together for the first time at Belfast Children’s Festival on Friday 5 March at 6.30pm.

Produced by DU Dance (NI), in partnership with Barnardo’s Northern Ireland, this dance film project is the result of a groundbreaking programme of work, which began in 2018, funded by BBC Children in Need.

The carers, who are aged between 10 and 18 years, came together in five groups drawn from several health trust areas. They embarked upon an intensive series of exploratory workshops, which culminated in filming at stunning locations chosen by the participants. For the majority, this was their first foray into the worlds of dance, film and the performing arts.

The project’s aim was to give a physical expression to the personal experiences of the individual group members and create five distinctive, arts-based short films. The results offer recognition and affirmation of the challenges faced by these fine young people, whose voices are rarely heard in the wider world. 

Current census data estimates over 8,000 children in Northern Ireland take on the role of providing significant care for a family member.  Their average age is 12 years old yet many go unnoticed so the true scale of this is hidden. Many are caring for an adult with a terminal, progressive or degenerative illness; many live in fear and uncertainty about the future; almost all surrender much of their childhood to their responsibilities.

Michele Janes, Head of Barnardo’s Northern Ireland, said:

“This partnership with DU Dance gave our young carers a creative and imaginative form of ‘escapism’, to leave behind their everyday caring responsibilities and to immerse themselves in a journey of self-discovery using dance and film. These young people show great resilience, but due to their additional responsibilities at home, young carers often miss out on opportunities that are available to their peers. It is really important that programmes like this continue to support the young carers community and everyone at Barnardo’s NI is extremely proud of the young people who took part and what they achieved.”  

“Emma, a young carer who took part said:
“It was such a fun time and I made so many new friends, and we all loved it so much. I loved the final result and I hope everyone who watches it, loves it too.”

Mags Byrne, Artistic Director of DU Dance (NI), said:

“It has been a privilege to work and create alongside the young people in these films. By sharing the films we hope to raise awareness of some of the issues they face in their daily lives and, at a time when COVID-19 restrictions put extra pressures on all young people, to acknowledge their amazing strength and resilience.

Terry Burns, National Officer at BBC Children in Need, said:

“BBC Children in Need is committed to improving the lives of those children and young people who need it most by supporting projects like this which work locally to make real and lasting changes to young lives.”

The films will be available free to watch online on QFT Player throughout the festival going live from 5th March at 6.30pm extending to 16th March in recognition of National Young Carers Day. Contact Young at Art Box Office on 028 9099 4425 Monday to Friday 10am-2pm or email boxoffice@youngatart.co.uk

See digital brochure for more festival events.

DU Dance (NI) is core funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. It has also been supported in 2020 through the Arts Council’s Organisations Emergency Programme and Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations, thanks to funding from the Department for Communities.

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Geordie McAdam, Traditional Musician (1938-2021)

Tuesday 2nd March 2021 at 3pm 0 Comments

Tributes have been paid to Bangor-based musician and fiddle maker, Geordie McAdam, who has died.

Born in 1938 in Belfast, Geordie’s early introduction to music came as a boy, playing with his local flute band. Around 1966, while playing Tin Whistle in a traditional folk group, the Decent Folk, formed with a group of friends, he fell under the influence of the local traditional music scene, led at the time by some of Ireland’s most influential traditional musicians, including the legendary Belfast fiddle player, Seán McGuire.

He became, in his own words, a “fiddle fanatic”, fascinated by the players and the makers of this “perfect instrument”. In the mid-1970s, he discovered Appalachian and Bluegrass music, which would form the next major influence over his musical direction and lead to tours of north America with the Appalachian Strings, the Black Mountain String Band, Ragged and Rough, and the Lagan Valley Boys.

From 2003 to 2013, his Broken String Band played widely throughout the island of Ireland and Scotland. He would later continue to perform at regular traditional music sessions in Belfast and Co. Down, and at music events further afield. Geordie McAdam’s shop, The Music Box, which he established in Bangor in the late 1990s, and where he would make and repair fiddles, would become a favourite spot for visiting international Traditional music players to drop in and play a tune with the great man.

Maria McAlister, Music Development Officer at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, paid tribute:

“Geordie McAdam was known to everyone as a tremendously gifted and knowledgeable artist. His contribution to the traditional arts, to all those who made music with him, will be remembered with a sense of the good fortune of having known a generous talent, now sadly lost to us.”

Geordie McAdam talks about his life in music in a 2018 interview with Ciarán Ó Brolcháin, recorded as part of the ‘Our Generation’ series for NVTV, available at: https://www.nvtv.co.uk/shows/our-generation-geordie-mcadam/

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Learn to sing with some of the biggest names in the biz!

Monday 1st March 2021 at 10am 0 Comments

Sing from Your Soul course participants Image: Sing from Your Soul course participants

If you’ve always wanted to learn to sing but never had the opportunity, now’s your chance.  Sing from Your Soul is an eight-week online singing course headed up by Salwan Cartwright-Shamoon, a postgraduate student in Vocal Performance at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and a recent recipient of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Individual Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP).  The next course starts on 1st March and there are still a few places left.

In response to the challenges presented by the restrictions around Covid-19 pandemic, Salwan used his IERP funding to purchase technology which enabled him to offer his courses online.  The course provides a supportive and friendly platform for singers of all abilities to learn and develop their singing technique.

Course participants also have the opportunity to work with distinguished teachers and musicians from the industry and benefit from weekly performance opportunities including a performance showcase at the end of the course.  Musicians and teachers include, Robin Bowman (the former Head of Vocal Studies at Guildhall School of Music and Drama); Kyron Bourke (Northern Irish jazz musician, actor and songwriter); Sara Dylan (Northern Irish actress in HBO's Game of Thrones and BBC's The Fall); and Northern Irish Opera Singer, Glenn Tweedie.

Each week the course will feature a different guest teacher who will offer their perspective on an important topic related to singing and life. Topics include: Curiosity, Awareness, Breath, Support, Being in Our Body, Performance Art and Performance Craft. The final week of the course will feature a Performance Relay, where participants will have the opportunity to showcase their learning from the course in a concert-style performance which will be open to the public.

Joanne Wright, Arts Development Officer for Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support Salwan Cartwright- Shamoon through our Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme.  This programme offers much-needed financial support and employment to individuals working within the wider Creative Economy, at a time when essential elements of the arts sector have been decimated due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Thanks to the IERP funding, Salwan has been able to quickly adapt and continue his work during a very challenging time.”

Salwan Cartwright-Shamoon, added,

“I am very grateful for the funding which I received through the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme. The funding has enabled me to purchase new technology which has supported the development of the online singing course.”

All courses are run in a friendly and supportive way and the next Sing from Your Soul course will run for 8 weeks from 1 March – 26th April.  More information can be found on the course website https://www.onlinesingingcourse.org/singfromyoursoul

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Arts Council announces £6.9m emergency funding to individuals working in the Creative Economy in NI

Wednesday 24th February 2021 at 3pm 0 Comments

Jordan Adetunji, Belfast Alternative hip hop artist Image: Jordan Adetunji, Belfast Alternative hip hop artist

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, on behalf of Department for Communities (DfC) and in collaboration with Future Screens NI, has announced details of 1,562 individuals working in the Creative Economy, who are set to benefit from £6,910,794 of emergency funding.

This second round of the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP) is in addition to £4.274 million already awarded to individuals since April 2020; it makes up a total of £33m of emergency Covid-19 funding from DfC to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors which have been severely impacted by the pandemic.

IERP is designed to provide much-needed financial support to those working in the Creative Economy at a time when essential elements of the arts, cultural and creative sectors have been decimated due to venue closures, festival and event cancellations and the disappearance of live audiences.  The fund offered individuals the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £5,000 each and £7,500 each for those with a disability. 

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

“The Arts Council is today offering 1,562 awards to creative individuals across Northern Ireland totalling £6,910,794. This is the second call this year for the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP 2); an exceptional response from the Minister and NI Executive in the ongoing pandemic to support those working in the creative sector. The programme was co-designed with the Department for Communities and we received applications from a footprint much broader than ACNI’s usual remit for individual artists. It also included all those working in the creative economy such as venue support staff, set designers, technicians, comedians, DJs, rappers, editors and proof-readers among others.

“Today’s announcement of support to these individuals will provide reassurance to those facing enormous personal challenges as artists and creatives at this time. We are hopeful that our artists, arts organisations and the wider cultural and entertainment sectors can resume creative activity safely at some point later in 2021. These are the sectors that have been disproportionately impacted throughout this crisis and are likely to be the last to emerge from the lockdown.”

Minister, Deirdre Hargey, Department for Communities, said:

“I am pleased to say that my Department has been able to meet all of the eligible claims for financial support from the Individual Emergency Resilience Programme 2 (IERP).

“This fund built on the initial, Artist Emergency Programme (AEP) opened in April 2020 as a direct response to the impact on the sector of Covid-19.

“These latest allocations bring the total number of individual artists my Department has been able to support from this fund, to 2865 people.

“The allocations are in recognition of the crucial importance of the arts and culture sector and the social, creative and economic contribution it makes to our entire society. I will continue to do everything I can to help the sector during this hugely difficult time”.

Professor Paul Moore, Director Future Screens NI said:

“Future Screens NI welcomes this second round of much needed emergency relief funding. It provides those individuals who are the backbone of creativity across the region with a much-needed lifeline during these difficult times while investing in the future sustainability of the arts and creative industries in the region.

“Throughout successive lockdowns the creative sector has strived to deliver high quality experiences in safe and socially distanced ways, including digital performances and workshops.  Future Screens NI has been proud to have provided funding for these crucial endeavours during the crisis and we will continue to do so.”

Examples of individuals offered funding include:

  • Bernadette Morris - Tyrone/Armagh Musician/TV Producer/Director - £1,998.00
  • Enda Kenny - Belfast Costume designer, Milliner, textile artist and leather worker - £3,000.00
  • Iain Young - Ballymena Lighting Designer/Engineer - £5,000.00
  • Felicity McCall - Derry-Londonderry Writer - £5,000.00
  • Emma Buchanan - west Belfast DJ - £5,000.00
  • Justin McGurk - Cookstown Singer/Songwriter - £5,000.00
  • Diane Henshaw - Fermanagh Visual artist - £5,000.00
  • Tara Vij - Derry-Londonderry Freelance marketing, copywriter and designer - £2,000.00
  • Luna Kalo - Newry Actor and performing artist - £7,426.00
  • Jordan Adetunji - Belfast Alternative hip hop artist - £5,000.00
  • Scarlett Clarke – Crossgar  Stationer - £1,299.00

 

Bernadette Morris (Tyrone)
Bernadette Morris is a gifted singer-songwriter from Co. Tyrone who now lives in Armagh.  She is also a TV producer and director.  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.

Enda Kenny (Belfast)
Enda Kenny is a costume designer and has been working in Costume departments in theatre, film and television as a designer maker for the last 20 years. He is trained in dyeing/ textiles, prop costume and millinery.  He has been based in Belfast for the last 10 years where he works from his studio space.

After graduating from a Degree in Model making and design from Arts University in Bournemouth Enda moved to London to pursue a career in costume.  He has worked on theatre productions for Saddlers wells, National Theatre, London, Tokyo Ballet, Ballet Lorent, Palace Theatre, London, Lyric Theatre,Belfast. His opera work includes work for English National Opera, Royal Opera House  Covent Garden, Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos-Lisbon, Northern Ireland Opera and Opera de Montpellier.

His impressive TV and film work includes Krypton Superman 2(Assistant Costume Designer), His Dark materials-BBC (Specialist Leather Worker), Outlander S4-Starz ( Prop Costume Supervisor) and Game of Thrones.

Iain Young (Ballymena)
Iain Young is a freelance lighting technician and engineer working in the entertainment industry in Northern Ireland whose year-round work has been severely impacted with the closure and cancellation of live music events and festivals.  Throughout the year he works with touring artists, DJs, production crews and club nights.  He also works on major summer music festivals such as VITAL, AVA, Belsonic, CHSQ and Electric Picnic.

Emma Buchanan (Belfast)
Emma Buchanan is a DJ based in Belfast whose work has been decimated as a result of the closure of the bars and nightclubs where she performs.  Having excelled on the DJ circuit throughout her career, Emma is becoming one of the top Female DJs in the province. Playing regularly in bars and clubs in Belfast and all across Northern Ireland with a music style that covers House, Disco, Funk, Soul and RnB.  Emma has also been featured on Cool FM, has been a finalist in a MixMag DJ competition and has an upcoming guest mix on Jon Boi's Shutdown Spotlight podcast.

Justin McGurk (Cookstown)
Justin McGurk is a full-time singer, writer and performer with popular Co Tyrone based, country, rock ‘n roll band, The Boogie Men. The 5-piece band has toured extensively throughout Ireland, UK & Scotland with St Patrick’s Day performances in San Francisco USA and Australia. 

In 2006 Justin won the nationwide “Search for Star Ireland” and went on to represent Ireland at the CMA Global Artists Showcase in Nashville Tennessee where he had the pleasure of sharing the Riverfront stage with some of his idols including Keith Urban, Brad Paisley & Alan Jackson. 

He has written songs with Grammy-Award winner Josh Kear, Kris Bergsnes who have had their songs used by Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood and Lady Antebellum.  He has also written songs for two of Ireland’s biggest stars, Nathan Carter and Mike Denver.

Diane Henshaw (Fermanagh)
Originally from Islandmagee in Co. Antrim, visual artist, Diane Henshaw, studied her BA and MFA in Fine Art at UUB & practised in Belfast at Queen Street Studios artists collective for just under a decade before moving to Fermanagh where she is now based.

Diane Henshaw has exhibited her work in Europe, North America, Asia and Indonesia. She has held numerous international artist residencies in Antwerp, New York, Kerala, New Delhi and Orissa, South India, and has been artist-in-residence in Ireland at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Monaghan, Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Mayo, and The Model in Sligo.  The artist is a founding member of Outland Arts and The Drawing Box and her work is in many private collections both nationally and internationally.

Tara Vij (Derry-Londonderry)
Tara Vji runs a marketing a small pr company in Derry-Londonderry called Highlight PR.  She also creates and publishes a free monthly magazine, Highlight Magazine.

Felicity McCall (Derry-Londonderry)
Felicity McCall is a talented full-time writer from Derry Londonderry who won the Tyrone Guthrie Award for script/playwriting in 2009. She has written many novels.  Her first novel, Reckoning, was published by Guildhall in 2006 and her book, Agnes Jones, was made into a feature film which aired on UTV in 2007. Her novel, Finding Lauren, appeared in 2007 and her factual book, A Mother's Nightmare, was published by Blackstaff.  In 2011, her collection of short stories was published by Guildhall and her teenage novel, Large Mammals, Stick Insects and Other Social Misfits, was published by Little Island in 2012 followed by The Pigeon Men; and most recently Tombstones Lie, a memoir. 

The writer is also very active in the writing community in Northern Ireland, in prose, film and drama and she is also a creative writing tutor in the community working in mental health, and has worked consistently with The Playhouse in youth theatre. Felicity was Derry City and Strabane District Council's, Woman of the Year for the Arts, in 2011.

Luna Kalo (Newry)

Luna Kalo is an award-winning theatre, film and TV actress, known for performing complex, strong, unique female leads. She has worked professionally as a versatile, multilingual performer in the creative sector in Northern Ireland and abroad. She has trained in European theatre schools, thanks to several merit based scholarships: Lecoq in Paris, Estudis de Teatre in Barcelona, and Antonio Fava’s Commedia dell’Arte School of Performing Arts in Reggio Emilia, Italy. She won an Individual Artists Award from the University of Atypical to attend the Ivana Chubbuck studio in Los Angeles, California.

She has toured professionally in theatres throughout France, Spain, Italy, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Scotland and Portugal. Notable film credits include, HBO Game of Thrones, Maeve Kincade in Her Very Own (Belfast and Cork film festivals) Annie Walsh in, Racht, for Paper Owl Films, TG4 and the title role in, Banshee, an independent, experimental horror film.

Jordan Adetunji (Belfast)
Jordan Adetunji is currently taking the UK Hip Hop scene by storm. At such a young age and hailing from Belfast, he is making waves locally and further afield.  He is a nominee for the Urban Music Awards ‘One to Watch’ and has racked up well over 300,000 streams on Spotify alone. He has released videos on huge UK Platforms such as GRM Daily as well as Link Up TV and has been featured by the BBC performing many of his pieces.  His style of music ranges from Afrobeat to Trap and heavy rock with some influences of soul and funk.  Jordan has done campaign shoots with Puma and has featured in Dazed magazine.

Scarlett Clark (Crossgar)
Scarlett Clark is a stationer, at The Design Hut, who creates beautifully designed, bespoke greeting cards, wedding invites and prints. As many occasions have been cancelled this year, she has lost the majority of her work.  Scarlett studied Media and Production at university and later graphic design and photography where she developed her skills and passion for wedding stationery and photography.

List of IERP awardees

The Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme is now closed, with all available funds now allocated.  Visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding

 

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Lockdown theatre project showcases NI’s prominent and emerging Intercultural Artists

Tuesday 23rd February 2021 at 5pm 0 Comments

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Terra Nova Productions, Northern Ireland’s intercultural theatre company creating culturally diverse, professional and community-led projects for over 13 years, has been working with some of Northern Ireland’s most exciting freelance artists, from diverse backgrounds, throughout the lockdowns. The company is delighted to announce that the first set of work developed by the artists is ready to view and will be released weekly online (www.terranovaproductions.net) from 26th February to 31st March.

Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Organisations Emergency Programme, this project provides a platform to showcase artists who, through various art forms, explore and highlight a range of current issues including the impact of the pandemic, family separation and loss, social justice and #BlackLivesMatter.  

The short pieces are wide ranging in style and are based on the artist’s investigations. They include everything from how languages other than English may influence the performance of Shakespeare, intimate storytelling, to compelling work about injustice and reparations and a piece capturing the sound of mornings all across the globe. 

Looking forward to sharing the artists’ commissions online, Andrea Montgomery said:
“Terra Nova is delighted to be releasing this first wave of work, through the support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Organisations Emergency Programme and of course the ongoing support of the Department for Communities and Belfast City Council are key. We have focused our work during the pandemic on our network of freelance artists, and we are proud of that.  Whilst this pandemic is challenging for everyone in the arts, it continues to be especially difficult for freelance immigrant and ethnic minority artists.  There is incredible talent wanting to work both locally and through our global arts networks. We hope this project will inspire more intercultural artists to get involved in future Terra Nova projects, and will feed into our on-going drive to innovate in the area of intercultural arts.”

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts & Participation, added:
“Congratulations to Terra Nova and everyone involved in creating these new works which use the arts to explore and understand difficult issues faced by our immigrant and ethnic minority artists.  The Arts Council is delighted to support this important work through our Organisations Emergency Programme, a vital funding scheme designed to help arts organisations respond to the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis by continuing producing creative work and to plan for recovery in the long-term.  We look forward to experiencing the new works presented by Terra Nova over the coming weeks and months ahead.”

The commissioned pieces will be released weekly online from 26th February until 31st March and are free to view. For details visit www.terranovaproductions.net or follow Terra Nova Productions on Facebook @terranovaproductions, Instagram,Twitter @TerraNovaDrama and You Tube using #TerraNovaDrama.

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£94,000 awarded to d/Deaf and Disabled Artists

Monday 22nd February 2021 at 2pm 0 Comments Arts & Disability

Deaf and Disabled Artist Support Fund Image: Deaf and Disabled Artist Support Fund

Forty-four d/Deaf and disabled artists have been awarded £94,000 in funding to create new work and support them through the Covid-19 crisis.

The University of Atypical, on behalf of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities, has awarded the grants at a time when artists’ potential to generate income has been seriously impacted by the closure of art galleries, theatres, music venues and other creative outlets.

Department for Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey, said

“Our local arts sector is so important in terms of the contribution it makes socially, creatively and economically to the lives of individuals, communities and wider society.  I am therefore delighted that this funding has been awarded which will provide our local d/Deaf and disabled artists with much needed financial assistance throughout the current crisis. The support will help enable the artists to invest in developing their careers, improve their skills and buy equipment and materials.”

The 44 awards were made to individual artists with 41 receiving grants of £2,000 each.  Three artists received grants of £4,000 each in recognition of the quality of their professional practice. They are musician and composer, Ruth McGinley from Belfast, filmmaker Jamie Baker from Comber, and painter Ciaran Magill from Newcastle.

Damien Coyle, CEO of the University of Atypical, said,

“This funding is of vital importance as it provides much needed assistance to d/Deaf and disabled artists who are struggling for financial survival.  This support underpins the role University of Atypical plays in facilitating career enhancement opportunities for and in promoting the work of d/Deaf and Disabled Artists.  The awards recognise the important contribution d/Deaf and disabled artists make to our society and they will create a legacy beyond the current pandemic as the visual arts and crafts works produced through the commissions go on display at public venues across Northern Ireland.”

The d/Deaf and Disabled Artists Support Fund awarded grants in two categories, Firstly, commissioning new work from visual arts and crafts practitioner with commissioned work being made available for exhibition in public spaces including special educational needs sector schools, libraries and disability organisations.  Secondly, career development grants from practitioners in all other disciplines. Grants will enable d/Deaf and Disabled Artists and performers to buy time to create, purchase equipment or materials, and access mentoring and training to enhance their professional practice and career development.

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

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is committed to improving access to the arts for people with disabilities and to providing meaningful opportunities for disabled artists to develop their professional artistic careers.  We welcome this critically-needed funding for 44 artists which will help them create new work and support them at a time when many artists have been left struggling as a result of the pandemic.”

 

 

DDASF AWARDS from University of Atypical on Vimeo.

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Artists from NI showcased at the Jaipur Literature Festival, the greatest literary show on Earth!

Friday 19th February 2021 at 10am 0 Comments Literature , Northern Ireland Music

Paul McVeigh, Jason O'Rourke, Jack Warnock, Stephen Sexton Image: Paul McVeigh, Jason O'Rourke, Jack Warnock, Stephen Sexton

Described as the ‘greatest literary show on Earth’, the Jaipur Literature Festival is a sumptuous feast of ideas.  The past decade has seen it transform into a global literary phenomenon having hosted nearly 2000 speakers and welcoming over a million book lovers from across India and the globe.  This year the Jaipur Literature Festival will be presented entirely online due to the pandemic and will feature a number of artists from Northern Ireland including, poet, Stephen Sexton, writer, Paul McVeigh, musician, Jason O’Rourke and BBC NI & Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Young Musicians’ Platform Awardee, Jack Warnock.

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

“It is great to see the Jaipur Literature Festival thriving in spite of the pandemic and also good to see writers and artists of the calibre of Jason O’Rourke, Paul McVeigh, Jack Warnock and Stephen Sexton engaged in this year’s online edition. We wish everyone a splendid festival over ten days.”

Acclaimed poet, Stephen Sexton, from Northern Ireland, will join Namita Gokhale, Syima Aslam, Joshua Ferris and Francesca Rhydderch in conversation with Elaine Canning on Saturday 20th February at 7:30am GMT.  The writers will discuss their individual literary disciplines, the new literary landscape and the significance of words in transcending borders and cultures.  There will also be a special reading from Welsh actor, Michael Sheen. 

Tune in again on Sunday 21st February, 11:30am GMT, to hear writer, Paul McVeigh, from Belfast, in conversation with Glaswegian writer, Douglas Stuart.  The two writers will discuss Stuart’s 2020 Booker Prize-winning debut novel, Shuggie Bain, where they will unravel the thought and process behind bringing this heart-breaking story out into the world.

Later on Sunday 21st February at 2:30pm GMT, Jaipur Literature Festival presents, ‘Belonging’: A Belfast-Kolkata musical collaboration between Jason O'Rourke and Deepmoy Das.  The project was supported by National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s, Artist Emergency Programme (AEP), a programme established in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to support individual artists to develop their creative practice and create new work.

Jason O’Rourke, commented,

“The idea behind this project was to carry out an online musical collaboration that could be delivered in socially-distanced settings taking into account public health.  It brings together the traditional music of India and Ireland by finding common ground between the two ancient musical cultures, as well as incorporating new material.  We encourage responses to our music from viewers on the theme of ‘belonging’, particularly from those who’ve never participated in the arts before.”

On Thursday 25th February at 2:30pm GMT, the Jaipur Literature Festival will present traditional musician, Jack Warnock.  Jack who is from Maghera, Co.Derry, was recently announced as one of six recipients of the prestigious BBC NI and Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s, Young Musicians’ Platform Award (YMPA), supported by National Lottery funding.  Jack will perform a range of much-loved traditional songs at the festival including, County Derry song, The Faughanside, Oro Mo Bhaidin, Slan le Maigh, The Kilglas Lakes/Joe Derrane's and the well-known folk song, Mary and the Soldier. 

An exceptional young musician, in addition to his BBC NI/ACNI YMPA, Jack has won multiple awards including the An Ré Nua Competition and Senior Accompaniment Competition at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.  He was also nominated for the hugely prestigious BBC Young Folk Award in 2018.  In 2021, Jack is due to release his highly-anticipated debut solo album with support from National Lottery through Arts Council’s Support for the Individual Artist Programme (SIAP).

Each week, National Lottery players raise £30million for good causes across the UK.  Jack Warnock commented,

“It's an absolute honour to be included on the bill for this year’s online Jaipur Literature Festival. The opportunity for young artists to showcase their music at international arts festivals like this are so few and far between, particularly at present, so I would like to thank National Lottery and the Arts Council for providing the opportunity to get involved. Festivals like this are an integral part of what keeps the world spinning, allowing creators from all types of artistic practice across the globe to connect, collaborate and share their creativity with audiences from east to west. I can't wait to share my stories, songs and tunes with those audiences, and look forward to being on the receiving end of those experiences too.”

Where to watch: The entire Jaipur Literature festival will be held online from 19th-28th February 2021 and is free to view at jaipurliteraturefestival.org

Register: Please register at https://online.jaipurliteraturefestival.org to be able to view the events.  Registration is now live so feel free to register & explore the virtual venue!

Programme: To view the entire programme visit https://jaipurliteraturefestival.org/programme

Jaipur Music Stage Schedule: The entire music stage schedule can be viewed at http://jaipurmusicstage.com/schedule/

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Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics Returns with Virtual Programme

Thursday 18th February 2021 at 4pm 0 Comments

One of Belfast’s most innovative and engaging festivals, Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics (22nd – 28th March) returns for its seventh year. The festival launched its virtual programme for 2021 today (18th February) with comedian Tim McGarry. Image: One of Belfast’s most innovative and engaging festivals, Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics (22nd – 28th March) returns for its seventh year. The festival launched its virtual programme for 2021 today (18th February) with comedian Tim McGarry.

One of Belfast’s most innovative and engaging festivals, Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics (22nd – 28th March) returns for its seventh year. The festival launched its virtual programme for 2021 today (18th February) with comedian Tim McGarry.

The week-long festival will host 115 webcasts (the great majority of which are free) during March and will explore the theme, ‘The State of Us’ and pertinent topics including, the centenary of the formation of Northern Ireland, Brexit, climate change, COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter. 

The virtual nature of this year’s event means it has attracted leading global figures and experts from around the world including Noam Chomsky, regarded as one of the leading intellectuals of our age, renowned playwright and commentator Bonnie Greer and a host of local talent.  Other ‘headliners’ include Bill McKibben, Angie Drobnic Holan
Paul Mason, Claire Fox, Gavin Esler, Roman Krznaric, Neil Hegarty, Sinead Gleeson, Charles Leadbeater and Senator Eileen Flynn.  Working with over 50 festival partners, events have been organised, for example, with the British Academy, Ulster Orchestra, Ballet Black, the Chilian arts group Memorante, open Democracy and the Victoria & Albert Museum. The strictly non-partisan festival offers up an eclectic week of online talks, workshops, theatre, comedy, music, film and poetry to help us navigate the challenges of tomorrow. 

Speaking at the festival launch, Peter O’Neill, founder and festival director said:

“We are delighted to launch the Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics virtually this year.  The virtual element means we have been able to bring some of the world’s most important experts and commentators to our festival.  This year’s festival will allow us to look outside of Northern Ireland, to discuss and debate new perspectives and to enable us all to broaden our horizons and viewpoints.”

He continues,

“2020 really was ‘the year that never was’ and as such we have designed a programme that resonates with that sentiment and reflects on the first anniversary of the UK Covid lockdown on 23rd March. Whilst we must address the pandemic, it is by no means the central focus of the festival which looks at the state that we’re in by examining constitutional, social, economic and cultural challenges.  We are encouraging people to submit ideas for our ‘Building Belfast Back Better’ campaign which is a nod to the future.  We want people to submit ideas on what should be different and better in Belfast post-pandemic via our website which will also showcase a number of other exciting projects during the festival.”

Peter concludes:

“We encourage everyone to review our 2021 programme at imaginebelfast.com and find something that resonates with them.  The absence of live events has been sorely missed and our virtual webcasts provide an opportunity to connect with that experience once again.  So, whether its film, comedy, a political debate or simply an evening with Tim McGarry there truly is something for everyone.  Come explore ‘the state of us’ with Imagine! Belfast!”

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

“The Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics has a tremendous track record for introducing Northern Ireland audiences to new ideas and work from the world’s leading creative and cultural representatives. The timing couldn’t be better, as we need innovative thinking and the inspiration of the arts possibly now more than ever, as everyone begins to negotiate their way around the ‘new normal’, post-Covid and post-Brexit. The Arts Council is delighted to support this year’s online festival through our emergency Covid-19 support programmes for arts and cultural organisations, with funding from the Department for Communities.”

The Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics 2021 programme is now available to view online via imaginebelfast.com

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First NI Writers Day will Celebrate Home-grown Talent

Thursday 18th February 2021 at 10am 0 Comments Literature

Pictured: Writer Paul McVeigh, RSL Director Molly Rosenberg, playwright Shannon Yee, short-story writer Wendy Erskine, novelist Glenn Patterson and Chair of the RSL, Daljit Nagra Image: Pictured: Writer Paul McVeigh, RSL Director Molly Rosenberg, playwright Shannon Yee, short-story writer Wendy Erskine, novelist Glenn Patterson and Chair of the RSL, Daljit Nagra

The Royal Society of Literature has joined with the Arts Council to celebrate Northern Irish writers and writing as part of the first NI Writers Day in March (Tuesday 23rd March).

Linked to RSL Open – in which the RSL is seeking public recommendations of excellent UK writers who are underrepresented in the literary culture – this free online day of events, hosted in partnership with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, will shine a spotlight on our acclaimed poets, playwrights and authors.

NI Writers Day is part of a UK wide drive by the Royal Society of Literature to broaden its reach and celebrate diversity in literature.  Founded in 1820, RSL is a long-established and respected voice for writers and champion for the arts. Through its RSL Open Fellowship Programme, 60 new fellows will be elected this year, from communities under-represented in UK literature - particularly working class writers, writers outside of London, writers of colour, and LGBTQ+ writers.

This is the first time that the RSL has joined with the Arts Council to host an event like this in Northern Ireland and the planned programme has been designed to appeal to both readers and writers.

The day’s proceedings will be hosted by award-winning Belfast-born writer Paul McVeigh. In conversation with Director of the RSL Molly Rosenberg, they will discuss the RSL Open Fellowship Programme, why a community of writers is important, and how to recommend a writer to the programme.

At lunchtime, award-winning poet and Chair of the RSL, Daljit Nagra, will deliver a free hour-long workshop. Open to all, whether you have recently started writing or are regularly performing work, Daljit’s writing exercises and infectious energy will encourage writers to experiment with form and imagination.

Events will come to a close with a very special panel discussion featuring some of the finest Northern Irish writers working across form and genre today. Short-story writer Wendy Erskine, novelist Glenn Patterson, playwright Shannon Yee and poet and Chair of the RSL, Daljit Nagra, will discuss their work, routes into writing and the Northern Irish literary scene.

Director of the RSL Molly Rosenberg, explained:

“The RSL and ACNI believe that literature is at its best when it includes voices from the greatest breadth of backgrounds and experiences from across the UK. I’m thrilled to be working with ACNI on this day-long programme to celebrate the great writing and writers of Northern Ireland, and am excited to see our relationship only deepen into the future with the RSL Open Fellowship programme."

Head of Literature at the Arts Council, Damian Smyth said:

“We are delighted to work in partnership with the Royal Society of Literature to help raise the profile of writers from NI. This will be a great day of discussion, showcasing and promotion, where all varieties of literature, from flash to poetry to performance, fiction, non-fiction and memoir, across the genres and ages, engaging with diversity in every sense, can be recognised. It marks a key moment in the visibility of writers as a whole and we can’t wait!”

At the heart of the RSL is its Fellowship, which encompasses around 600 of the most eminent authors working in the English language in the UK. The RSL’s Fellows inform all their activities —from judging prizes to writing new work for our young people’s outreach programme, from speaking at events to leading new initiatives to bring literature to the greatest possible number of people across the UK. Guided by your recommendations, RSL seek to celebrate the great diversity of the UK’s literary writing and writers in our Fellowship.

To read more about RSL Open and how you can nominate your favourite NI author visit https://rsliterature.org/rsl-open/

Tickets for NI Writers Day are free and can be booked via the RSL website. Numbers are strictly limited for the poetry workshop with Daljit Nagraand, so early booking is recommended. Visit https://rsliterature.org/rsl-event/rsl-open-northern-ireland-writers-day/ 

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Open House Presents The Court House Sessions

Wednesday 17th February 2021 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Florentinas Image: The Florentinas

For the first time in a year, Open House Festival Bangor is opening its doors for a series of events – albeit not live ones just yet.

The doors in question are of the old Court House on Bangor’s seafront which the charity took possession of last December in the first ever community asset transfer, following a five-year development and fundraising campaign. And the performances, which will be filmed in various rooms inside the building following strict Covid guidelines, are all by artists who are based in the Bangor area – including NI Music Prize nominees, The Darkling Air, up-coming young band The Florentinas, who recently signed a major publishing deal with BMG, and internationally acclaimed author, Colin Bateman.

Funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Court House Sessions will feature eleven recorded performances lasting from ten to twenty minutes. The sessions will be released in a staggered schedule from Friday 26th February through to mid-March on the Open House YouTube channel, and available to view through the organisation’s website and social media platforms.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to show people the interior of the Court House as it stands right now, before the full restoration project begins in April,” says Open House director, Kieran Gilmore.

“When planning the project, we felt it was fitting to celebrate the wealth of talent we have on our own doorstep, something we haven’t been able to do for a while! We weren’t able to involve all our local artists, but believe the line-up reflects a strong cross-section of established and emerging musicians and writers. And we look forward to welcoming many more artists and performers to the Court House once the renovation work is completed, and to the festival in general just as soon as we can safely do so.”

As well as Darkling Air, the Florentinas and Colin Bateman, the other participating acts are singer-songwriters Stephen Macartney and Ken Haddock, funk rock band, Aeons, poets Moyra Donaldson and Amy Louise Wyatt, and electronic artists Bríen, Opmst, Gilmore, and the JBR Project with vocalist Ada Storm.

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

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support Open House’s, The Court House Sessions, through our Organisations Emergency Programme, a vital funding scheme designed to help arts organisations respond to the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis by continuing to produce creative work and plan for recovery in the long-term.  The Court House Sessions also offers a vital performance platform to local artists and I would encourage everyone to tune in online for this unmissable series which celebrates words and music.  Congratulations to all involved.”

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Survey of Freelance Theatre and Dance Practitioners in Northern Ireland

Tuesday 16th February 2021 at 11am 0 Comments Dance , Drama

Dancers Image: Dancers

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has commissioned a piece of independent research to explore new ways of working for freelance theatre and dance practitioners.  This follows a request from the Freelance Theatre Collective for funding to help artists develop, create and produce work independent of existing company structures. Annabel Jackson Associates Ltd have been appointed to complete this assignment and will report back in March, 2021.

The Covid-19 crisis has created the need to identify new mechanisms to protect the social, economic and working conditions of artists.  Theatre and dance practitioners, lying at the heart of the industry, have been identified as particularly vulnerable to the economic shock caused by the virus because of their freelance status.  With this in mind, this project will review funding and structural opportunities available to freelancers to develop, create and produce work independently; to investigate alternative models; and assess the viability of instituting new models.

The Arts Council had intended to conduct a series of interviews with practitioners to explore these issues in more detail but, because of the level of interest expressed, we have chosen to run a survey instead, allowing more workers to get their voice heard. It can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NorthernIrelandTheatreDanceFreelancerResearch

If you are a freelance theatre or dance practitioner working in Northern Ireland, we would love to hear from you.  The survey should take no more than 20 minutes to complete and is open until Wednesday 3rd March.  We are hoping that all the artists who expressed interest in the interviews will reply. You are also welcome to send the link to other freelance theatre/dance artists you know in Northern Ireland. Please reply whether you are starting up or long established as an artist in NI, whether your views are positive or negative. We need a range of views.

For more information on the survey, or if you have any further questions please contact Annabel Jackson on ajassocs@aol.com

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Play in a New Way at the 2021 Belfast Children’s Festival

Monday 15th February 2021 at 10am 0 Comments Youth Arts

Maeve McGreevy, Clara Kerr, Adam Ashford and Michael McEvoy, Maiden Voyage Dance at the launch of Belfast Children's Festival 2021, which will take place online from 5-14  March. Image: Maeve McGreevy, Clara Kerr, Adam Ashford and Michael McEvoy, Maiden Voyage Dance at the launch of Belfast Children's Festival 2021, which will take place online from 5-14 March.

With contemporary dance based on the theme of hope, a ‘part Lord of the Flies, part Animal Farm’ theatre performance set in a post pandemic future, and an exhibition that explores the magic of everyday items found in the home, the line-up for Belfast Children’s Festival 2021 feels very much like art imitating life.

Young at Art Director, Eibhlin De Barra said: 

“We’re delighted to be announcing our programme for the 2021 Belfast Children’s Festival, which will take place online for the first time over an extended period of 5-14 March.    

“Who would have thought when we started to put the festival’s programme together almost 18 months ago the resonance that our opening festival performance from Replay Theatre Company would be a show about the aftermath of a global pandemic! We certainly didn’t think we would be delivering the entire festival online, which is a brand-new approach for us! We’ve all had to learn to adapt quickly since last year’s festival closing show on 14 March 2020, and we’ve learnt that we can still play in a new way. One thing remains constant: it is jam packed with exceptional creative experiences for children, young people and the adults in their lives. And this year that is vital, as we believe arts & creativity is needed more now than ever before.   

We’re working with a dynamic range of artists and producers from NI, Ireland, Scotland, England and Australia. The festival programme will premiere a new horror opera for children from the Belfast Ensemble; feature a magical audio theatre experience for the whole family from Australia called Mountain Goat Mountain; and Grass, a beautiful piece of dance inspired by the insects that inhabit a world beneath our feet from Second Hand Dance; and we also welcome Catherine Wheels and Barrowland Ballet from Scotland.  We’re also delighted to welcome Maiden Voyage Dance back to this year’s festival to premiere their new performance, Turnabout.”

In addition, the 2021 programme will feature Cahoot’s NI’s brain-bamboozling interactive ‘The University of Wonder and Imagination’.   Festival favourites like the Book Clinic from Children’s Books Ireland and Baby Rave at Home from Young at Art have been specially adapted for online audiences and Cherrie OnTop who performed ‘Dragtime Bedtime Stories’ at last year’s festival will read a selection of diversity and inclusion themed bedtime stories especially for under 5s, throughout the festival. Meanwhile, Young at Art Artists Jane Butler and Duncan Ross asked schoolchildren across Belfast to tell their stories about lockdown and the pandemic from the perspective of the special objects they found within their homes resulting in the ‘My Place’ virtual exhibition.  

Eibhlin continued:

“Belfast Children’s Festival performances will be hosted across a range of digital platforms including QFT Player and Zoom and all bookings can be made through Young at Art’s website or our Box Office which is open 10am-2pm Monday to Friday.  As always we are pleased to be able to make the festival as accessible as possible, with many performances offered free of charge.” 

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

“It has been truly heartening this year, of all years, to see how our wonderful arts and cultural organisations have gone that extra mile to ensure that the people of Northern Ireland can continue to enjoy the enrichment, the pleasure and the entertainment that the arts bring to our lives. Keeping the arts alive and available has probably never been more important, and indeed more valued and appreciated, as we have all needed our spirits lifted during these exceptional times.  

As the principal funder of the Belfast Children’s Festival, through our National Lottery funds plus additional emergency Covid-19 funding from the Department for Communities, the Arts Council is delighted to have been able to support this key organisation as it has adapted and risen to meet the challenges. The Festival will feel a little bit different this year, but it will still deliver unforgettable, transformative experiences that will live long in the hearts and minds of the children, their families and carers.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Frank McCoubrey welcomed the launch of the Festival.
 
“We are thrilled to see Belfast Children’s Festival 2021 launch its programme and bring some much-needed light and hope into the city during what is such a challenging time for families and young people,” said Alderman McCoubrey. 
 
“Belfast Children's Festival is one of four organisations to be awarded four-year funding through Belfast City Council’s Imagine grants in 2020, part of the Cultural Strategy 2020-2030. While this year it’s not possible to bring people together physically, this is a great opportunity to showcase our beautiful city to a global audience through the power of digital technology. We wish Young and Art and all the participating performers and artists every success with the festival.”  

For more information and to view the brochure visit www.youngatart.co.uk

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£10.86 million emergency funding offered to 168 arts and cultural organisations across Nl

Thursday 11th February 2021 at 4pm 0 Comments

SSE Arena, Belfast Image: SSE Arena, Belfast

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (Thursday 11th February 2021) announced funding offers of £10,864,610, from their Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations (SRPO), to support 168 cultural organisations affected as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Stability and Renewal Programme is part of the £29 million NI Executive allocation that was made to the Department for Communities to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors which have been severely impacted by Covid-19.
The 168 organisations were offered grants to help them respond to the continuing negative impact of the Covid-19 crisis; the programme was specifically designed to stabilise organisations financially to prevent closure and/or to allow continued delivery of outcomes, and support renewal plans. 

Thirty-nine of the 168 organisations offered funding are first-time applicants to the Arts Council, representing the commercial entertainments sector and creative industries.

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

“Today’s announcement of £10.86 million of funding will be of benefit to 168 cultural organisations and the Arts Council thanks the Minister for Communities for making this emergency fund available.  It is very much needed to help stabilise the wider arts, cultural and entertainment sectors in these difficult times and to plan for eventual recovery.”

Deirdre Hargey, Communities Minister said:

“I know that the arts and creative sectors have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and that this financial support is vital to stabilise organisations and prevent many from closing permanently.

“This funding will eliminate deficits which organisations have accumulated from 1 April 2020 because of reductions in income, coupled with unavoidable ongoing costs.

“The arts and creative industries have an important role to play in helping us all emerge from this pandemic, and this support is designed to stabilise organisations until they can reopen and resume delivering their important benefits to our community.”

This Fund marks the third round of funding to provide much-needed financial support to cultural organisations which have been decimated under the Covid-19 lock down. The closure of theatres and venues, the cancellation of festivals and events and the disappearance of live audiences has been devastating to those who work within these sectors, those who helped drive the regeneration of our local economy.

Some of those organisations offered SRPO funding include:

  • Greater Shantallow Community Arts (GSCA), Derry~Londonderry - SRPO funding offer £84,000
  • Derry Theatre Trust (The Millennium Forum), Derry~Londonderry - SRPO funding offer £103,034
  • OML Belfast Limited / SSE Arena, Belfast - first award from the Arts Council - SRPO funding offer: £809,763
  • Rockstar Logistics, Maghera - first award from the Arts Council - SRPO funding offer: £409,628
  • Up Productions (AVA), Belfast -  SRPO funding offer £207,458
  • Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre, Fermanagh - SRPO funding offer £15,352
  • Newcastle Community Cinema, Down  - SRPO funding offer £55,366

 

Please see below, details of some of the organisations offered funding:

Greater Shantallow Community Arts (GSCA)
SRPO grant offer: £84,000
Greater Shantallow Community Trust is GSCA a community organisation based in Derry~Londonderry and their aim is to provide direct access to the arts for those living in disadvantaged communities. The key objective of GSCA is to bring arts and cultural activity to areas of significant marginalisation and deprivation and address complex social issues like social exclusion, isolation, lack of opportunity and poverty. They are a trusted partner delivering key services to some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in their community. GSCA is core funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland which enables the organisation to offer a year-round programme of creative activities benefitting over 1400 people every week, delivered from their purpose-built, high-quality community arts centre, 'Studio 2'.

Derry Theatre Trust (The Millennium Forum)
SRPO funding offer: £103,034

Located in Derry~Londonderry, the Millennium Forum is one of Northern Ireland’s largest purpose-built theatres, conference centres and event spaces.  They present a number of productions throughout the year including their popular annual pantomime which attracts audiences of over 35K every Christmas and New Year. 

The Millennium Forum also produces and tours work throughout the UK, Ireland & worldwide and in the past has toured Brian Friel’s Translations, Frank McGuinness', Factory Girls, and Colin Bateman’s, Teenage Kicks- A Punk Musical. 

The Millennium Forum has developed a range of educational and mentoring partnerships with Ulster University, schools, colleges and the North West Regional College, to create opportunities for children and young people to access the arts and find potential routes to employment within the creative industries.

Their Access and Inclusion team has developed community outreach initiatives designed to help combat social isolation and improve the wellbeing of older people with dementia and also for adults with learning difficulties.  More recently they set up a pilot Arts and Business project with Foyleside Shopping Centre which offered work placements, training and mentorship opportunities for young adults with learning difficulties. 

OML Belfast Limited / SSE Arena - first award from the Arts Council
SRPO funding offer: £809,763
The SSE Arena Belfast is one part of the Northern Ireland Premier Entertainment facility located on the Odyssey site in Belfast.  The venue is multi-purpose and committed to providing cultural events and inclusive, accessible services for people from across Northern Ireland. 

Since opening in December 2000, the Arena has hosted approximately 2,000 performances and had an attendance figure hitting an incredible 9,000,000.  Due to its design the Arena is able to host shows with audience capacities ranging from 2,500 in an intimate setting up to a large-scale part-standing format of 10,000.
The Arena has attracted and hosted major high profile events such as the MTV European Music Awards, and a wide range of events straddling music, comedy and sport, the venue is a premiere music and concert venue.

Up Productions (AVA)
SRPO funding offer: £207,458

Established in 2015 in Belfast, AVA is an Audio Visual Arts Festival & Conference.  The Festival & Conference has grown from a 1-day conference & event, into a multi-day, multi-stage, multi-city, globally recognised event with their headquarters based in Belfast and an international platform based in London.

Over the last 6 years, AVA has developed Northern Ireland's only urban festival which offers a platform to develop local electronic artists.  Through their international platform in London, they have developed an electronic conference which features leading electronic music artists, producers and industry partners including, Abbey Road Studios, Soundcloud, Pioneer & Ableton.  AVA was named in the Top Ten Best City Music Festivals by The Guardian. 

The Festival is broadcast to a global audience, in partnership with Boiler Room in Belfast, and has reached 15 million viewers since they began.  They have worked with 670 artists, many of them based in Northern Ireland and have worked directly with 53 electronic artists in their artist development programme, in partnership with PRS Foundation, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Help Musicians NI.

Rockstar Logistics - first award from the Arts Council
SRPO funding offered: £409,628
Rockstar Logistics is a unique music company based in Maghera, providing logistical support to artists in many genres of music, theatre and comedy, with full coverage of luxury tour buses and tour trucking. Notable clients include Bon Iver, Tenacious D, ASAP Rocky and Lucinda Williams.  The company also offers major artists a storage service for their touring equipment at their custom-built store and production facility when artists are based in Northern Ireland preparing for touring. 

Rockstar Logistics routinely perform pre-production for tours locally in Northern Ireland, bringing in high profile artists that would otherwise omit Northern Ireland from their touring schedule.  Consequently, this connection also allows local artists to have access to a level of artist that they would normally not be in a position to work with.
The company also provides professional management and career guidance to And So I Watch You From Afar, among others NI acts and has previously managed the careers of several artists, providing personal consultancy services and road management services. 

Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre, Enniskillen, Fermanagh
SRPO funding offer: £15,352
Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre supports the development of dance and is the only professional and participatory dance organisation in Northern Ireland that is based in a rural location in Fermanagh.  The company has three primary areas of work including; professional dance performance locally and internationally, a programme of participatory and community development and a schools education programme that runs in conjunction with curriculum needs.  In response to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the company moved its participatory dance programme online and created two online festivals, Inside Out which took place in May and November 2020.  They also created an online movement programme for older people with limited movement.  The company is run by award-winning Artistic Director, Dylan Quinn.

Newcastle Community Cinema (NCC), Down
SRPO funding offer: £55,366
Since its inception 11 Years ago NCC has grown from its humble beginnings, screening films once a month in rented community halls, to taking on an unused church hall and converting it into a unique cinematic and arts space.  NCC has developed a unique brand of immersive cinema experiences blending screenings that entertain, challenge and raise awareness of important social issues.  It creates memorable cultural events including their annual Full Moon Film Festival, a long weekend of film, events and workshops.

NCC also curates a schools programme with Into Film and participates in their annual film festival. They run a number of programmes alongside students studying moving image arts courses in local schools, encouraging students to engage and programme their own films screenings to showcase their own work.

Over the years NCC has collaborated with Belfast Film Festival, Cinemagic, Soma Music Festival, Belfast Culture Night, Sunflower Festival, QFT, Strand Arts, Access Cinema, Cinema for All and Into Film.  They also represent community cinemas and film societies on the NI Film Hub steering group.  In 2012 and 2013, NCC won the British Federation of Film Societies ‘Film Society of the Year’ award. 

 

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Warrenpoint band hits the high note

Thursday 11th February 2021 at 2pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Rinn Mhic Giolla Rua CCE Image: Rinn Mhic Giolla Rua CCE

Warrenpoint-based Rinn Mhic Giolla Rua CCE has been awarded £6,000 as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Musical Instruments Programme. The award will allow the band to purchase new instruments including uileann pipes and button accordions.

The grant awarded this week to Rinn Mhic Giolla Rua CCE by the Arts Council is just one of sixty-nine awards made, worth a total investment of £494,000. Thanks to capital investment from the Department for Communities, the scheme, set up to increase the quality of music making in Northern Ireland, offers grants to a range of professional and non-professional musicians and groups. Among those set to benefit are schools groups, community choirs, marching and brass bands and individual professional musicians.

Rinn Mhic Giolla Rua CCE was formed in 1980 to promote traditional music, song and dance both in the local community and further afield. Weekly classes in all the traditional Irish instruments take place in St. Marks High School, Warrenpoint, where they cater for beginners through to intermediate and advanced levels with an age range from 7 to over 70 years of age.

Speaking about the award, Jimi Quinn from Rinn Mhic Giolla Rua CCE, said:

“Rinn Mhic Giolla Rua Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann are absolutely delighted to have received this award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. We intend to use our new instruments to enrich the depth, tone, sound and instrumentation of our Grupaí Cheoil (ensembles).

“The instruments will allow some of our young musicians, under the guidance of our expert Branch tutors, to diversify their not inconsiderable talents, and to  widen the pathway of their musical journeys, locally, nationally and indeed internationally.”

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

“Northern Ireland has a fine history of musicianship, one which is celebrated all over the world. Today’s  funding announcement will go a long way in supporting that legacy, benefitting so many performers across a broad range of genres including classical, jazz, traditional, contemporary and electronic.

“We are very pleased this year to have been able to award grants to a number professional individual musicians, bands and schools as part of our Musical Instruments Programme. These award will allow players, like those in Rinn Mhic Giolla Rua CCE, to really develop their musical talents and increase their skills as performers.”

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey also welcomed the programme, saying:

“The Arts Council’s Musical Instruments Scheme supports players at all stages of their musical journey, from those just starting out, through to highly skilled professional musicians and non-professional groups and bands, ensuring their skills can continue to grow and that our musicians have everything they need to reach their full potential as players and performers.

“This programme makes a significant contribution to the quality of music and musicianship here.  It supports our professionals and our talented youth and recognises the vital role that amateur bands and players have in our rich musical heritage. The importance of music and the wider arts sector is appreciated now perhaps more than ever and I am delighted to continue to support this very practical measure.”

To see the full list of awards made under the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s 2021 Musical Instruments Programme, go to:

List of Awards for Programme 1: Musical Instruments for Bands

List of Awards for Programme 2: Professional and Non-professional Performing Groups

List of Awards for Programme 3: Individual Professional Performing Individuals

 

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Dunseverick Primary School awarded funding for new harps

Tuesday 9th February 2021 at 12pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Students from Dunseverick Primary School have been learning the harp under the guidance of Katy Bustard from Causeway Harp School. Image: Students from Dunseverick Primary School have been learning the harp under the guidance of Katy Bustard from Causeway Harp School.

Nestled on the edge of the Giant’s Causeway, Dunseverick Primary School is celebrating some BIG news this week after it was awarded £6,000 to purchase new harps for its young musicians.

The funding awarded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland through its Musical Instruments Programme will be a giant leap forward for the students who have been developing their skills under the guidance of experienced tutor Katy Bustard from Causeway Harp School.

Currently a small number of 20 string harps are being rented for school use and pupils need to purchase their own instrument to practice at home, potentially presenting a financial barrier to young players. Today’s good news will mean the school can purchase six new 26 string harps and one 34 string learner harp, providing a clear path for students hoping to develop their skills and improve their public performance.

Leanne Smyth, Principal of Dunseverick Primary School, commented:

“We are absolutely delighted to have received this grant to purchase new harps for our school. This will allow our harp tuition to be more accessible to all our pupils and the musical culture in school to be further enhanced. We strongly believe, especially during these current times, that music is of great benefit to the mental health and wellbeing of all our children.”

The grant given this week by the Arts Council to Dunseverick Primary School is just one of sixty-nine awards made, worth a total investment of £494,000. Thanks to capital investment from the Department for Communities, the scheme, set up to increase the quality of music making in Northern Ireland, offers grants to a range of professional and non-professional musicians and groups. Among those will benefit are schools groups, community choirs, marching and brass bands, and individual professional musicians.

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

“Northern Ireland has a fine history of musicianship, one which is celebrated all over the world. Today’s  funding announcement will go a long way in supporting that legacy, benefitting so many performers across a broad range of genres including classical, jazz, traditional, contemporary and electronic.

“We are very pleased this year to have been able to award grants to several schools, including Dunseverick Primary School. The students there are obviously hugely talented and eager to learn and this grant will provide them the instruments they need to continue their musical progression.”

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey also welcomed the programme, saying:

“The Arts Council’s Musical Instruments Scheme supports players at all stages of their musical journey, from those just starting out, through to highly skilled professional musicians and non-professional groups and bands, ensuring their skills can continue to grow and that our musicians have everything they need to reach their full potential as players and performers.

“This programme makes a significant contribution to the quality of music and musicianship here.  It supports our professionals and our talented youth and recognises the vital role that amateur bands and players have in our rich musical heritage. The importance of music and the wider arts sector is appreciated now perhaps more than ever and I am delighted to continue to support this very practical measure.”

To see the full list of awards made under the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s 2021 Musical Instruments Programme, go to:

List of Awards for Programme 1: Musical Instruments for Bands

List of Awards for Programme 2: Professional and Non-professional Performing Groups

List of Awards for Programme 3: Individual Professional Performing Individuals

 

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Arts Council invites artists to submit work for its Collection

Friday 5th February 2021 at 2pm 0 Comments Visual Arts

Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection Image: Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is inviting applications to its Collections Open Submission Programme.

This scheme invites artists to put forward a piece of their artwork which the Arts Council will consider buying for its Collection. Priority will be given to work which is high quality, challenging and innovative, as well as work from emerging artists and from those whose work is not currently represented in the collection.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland recognises the importance of purchasing contemporary work as a vital support mechanism for artists and does so annually through its Collections Acquisition Scheme.  Art works included within the Collection can then be shared with audiences across Northern Ireland and beyond in public galleries as well as in schools through the Arts Council’s Loan Scheme.

Artists can submit work in all visual media for consideration, including painting, sculpture, craft, print, photography, as well as digital and video work. Only works up to a maximum purchase price of £5,000 will be considered.

Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts at the Arts Council commented: “This open call for submissions is a fantastic opportunity for artists to submit an example of their work to the Arts Council and potentially to have their work held as part of a public collection. This programme is open to artists at all stages of their career from new and emerging, through to those more established in their practice.”

The Collections Acquisition Programme is open from now until 16:00, Friday 26th February 2021. Applicants will initially be invited to submit an application form, an image or a digital video clip sample of the work to be considered, as well as an Artist Statement and History of Artistic Practice. To find out more and how to submit your work go to: http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/open-submission-scheme

In addition to the Arts Council’s Collections Open Submission Programme, the Northern Ireland Civil Service will also be inviting submissions for its Collection. Artists may submit artworks to both organisations for consideration, we would advise that you submit different works to the two schemes.  Further details of this scheme will be announced shortly by the Northern Ireland Civil Service. 

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Strabane Brass Band Hits the High Note

Thursday 4th February 2021 at 1pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Strabane Brass Band Image: Strabane Brass Band

Strabane Brass Band has been awarded £10,000 as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Musical Instruments Programme. The award will allow the band to purchase five new silver-plated cornets.

Strabane Brass Band currently has around 70 players, with opportunities for young musicians aged 7 and just starting out, right through to experienced senior players. The band prides itself on promoting quality music making, with veteran players tutoring younger musicians, helping them to grow their skills and confidence.

The grant awarded this week to Strabane Brass Band by the Arts Council is just one of sixty-nine awards made, worth a total investment of £494,000. Thanks to capital investment from the Department for Communities, the scheme, set up to increase the quality of music making in Northern Ireland, offers grants to a range of professional and non-professional musicians and groups. Among those set to benefit are schools groups, community choirs, marching and brass bands and individual professional musicians.

Speaking about the award, Thomas Barr from Strabane Brass Band said:

“The recent Arts Council award that we have received under the Musical Instruments Programme is very welcome and will be essential in helping us to achieve our goal in being the best band that we can be. We will use the award to finance the purchase of top quality cornets that will be played by some of our existing band members but also by our youth members and beginners. As we strive to produce consistently high quality music it is imperative that we use high quality instruments to do so. We wish to thank the Arts Council for their continuing support.”

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

“Northern Ireland has a fine history of musicianship, one which is celebrated all over the world. Today’s  funding announcement will go a long way in supporting that legacy, benefitting so many performers across a broad range of genres including classical, jazz, traditional, contemporary and electronic.

“We are very pleased this year to have been able to award grants to a number professional individual musicians, bands and schools as part of our Musical Instruments Programme. These award will allow players, like those in Strabane Brass Band, to really develop their musical talents and increase their skills as performers.”

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey also welcomed the programme, saying:

“The Arts Council’s Musical Instruments Scheme supports players at all stages of their musical journey, from those just starting out, through to highly skilled professional musicians and non-professional groups and bands, ensuring their skills can continue to grow and that our musicians have everything they need to reach their full potential as players and performers.

“This programme makes a significant contribution to the quality of music and musicianship here.  It supports our professionals and our talented youth and recognises the vital role that amateur bands and players have in our rich musical heritage. The importance of music and the wider arts sector is appreciated now perhaps more than ever and I am delighted to continue to support this very practical measure.”

To see the full list of awards made under the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s 2021 Musical Instruments Programme, go to:

List of Awards for Programme 1: Musical Instruments for Bands

List of Awards for Programme 2: Professional and Non-professional Performing Groups

List of Awards for Programme 3: Individual Professional Performing Individuals

 

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JAMES FENTON (1931-2021)

Thursday 4th February 2021 at 10am 0 Comments Literature

The Arts Council has learned with regret of the death of poet, lexicographer, teacher and writer James Fenton, described by Chief Executive Roisín McDonough as “a poet of cultural importance, whose legacy reached beyond the Ulster-Scots his work so eloquently documented and enriched,  to wider society, he was an advocate for community respect and understanding”.

Born in 1931, he attended Dalriada Grammar School, Stranmillis College and Queen's University Belfast. By profession a teacher, he became a school principal and in later years was President of the Ulster-Scots Language Society and the Ulster-Scots Academy, and his many interests included wildlife conservation as a member of the Ulster Wildlife Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

But it will be as a poet in and a chronicler of his native Ulster-Scots that his legacy will endure. He spent his formative years on his father’s farm a few miles outside Ballymoney in County Antrim, in the townlands of Drumadarragh and Ballinaloob (Belnaloob), a deep heartland of Ulster-Scots.

Over many years, mostly in private, he gathered, compiled and annotated what became a comprehensive dictionary of words and phrases which captured not only the rich store of musicality in the speech of his neighbours, but the logistics of how language itself navigates the complicated transactions of daily life. ‘Greenin’ for longing, ‘cancel’ for spreading gossip, ‘gurry’ a dog’s snarl, ‘rotten wae’, loaded with … The publication of what became The Hamely Tongue (Ulster Scots Academic Press, 1995) was a landmark, celebrated not only in its own terms as “a personal record of Ulster-Scots in County Antrim”, but as a scholarly record of a distinctive speech and clear tracery of original phraseology and structures. The work sits alongside research classics of the genre and is the go-to popular handbook for Ulster-Scots.

His aim was to produce “an authentic, comprehensive record of a living language: its vocabulary, idiom, characteristic turns of phrase and modes of expression, its aphorisms and its humour". While achieving this, he also produced an extraordinary narrative, deriving a context for individual words and motifs which was itself teeming with lore and flourishes and memorable approaches to sense.

The publication of his own debut poetry collection Thonner and Thon (Ullans, 2000) confirmed all the impressions of exceptional quality – a beginner at 69, no less. The context, of course, is of an embattled language in Ireland, but it’s far from an alien one; expression certainly outside the mainstream; a speech beset by misunderstanding, disdain, much class-based dislike; happily, though, a noticeably declining hostility on traditional political grounds, as familiarity with the talk and the wide variety of its people increases and deepens.

His work had champions within Ulster-Scots, in particular fellow writer Dr Philip Robinson; Prof Frank Ferguson at Ulster University called Fenton’s “approach to the language … innovative and fresh and he attempts to propel the tradition forwards”; seeing his work as a whole as “of towering significance”; his reputation had also grown steadily in wider society. Indeed, in his second collection, On Slaimish (Ullans, 2009), the 78-year-old demonstrated that his lyrical powers remained robust and had all the self-confidence of the true poet at large in the world for good:

He’d whiles awa tae Slaimish tap,
A brither tae the hare and whap.  [curlew]
An witless in the rashes lie:
But thrang’s the road, the brae sae stie. [crowded] [steep]
.
But noo he’s fun this pair of wings,
An leppin frae the greeshoch, sings,  [embers of a fire]
An lake the leverock, licht as wun,  [skylark] [wind]
Flees heech an heecher nixt the sun.  [high]

He is survived by his wife Pam, his son Roger and grand-daughter Katie Fenton.

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Appointment of Chair, Vice-Chair and Members to the Board of the Arts Council NI

Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 9am 0 Comments

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has appointed Mr Liam Hannaway as Chair and Mr William Leathem as Vice-Chair of the Arts Council NI Board.

She has also appointed the following individuals as Board Members:

  • Mr Paul Boyle
  • Mr Paul Brolly
  • Mr Joe Dougan
  • Mrs Laura McCorry
  • Dr Gearoid Trimble

 

The appointments are effective from 1 February 2021 until 31 January 2025. Mr Hannaway previously served as an Arts Council NI Board Member from 1 July 2020 to 31 January 2021.

Commenting on the appointments Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,

“I am delighted to welcome our new Board members, in particular, sitting Board member Liam Hannaway, now Chair of the Arts Council.

On behalf of my executive team and staff I want to congratulate all on their good news and I look forward to getting to know them. They each bring strengths to the table and I am delighted to see a valuable set of skills from diverse backgrounds; from local government to creative media and leisure, through to the live entertainments industry and local tourism."

The Arts Council has a key role to play in developing and improving the knowledge, appreciation and practice of the arts, and increasing public access to and participation in the arts. It is also responsible for the distribution of Lottery grants. Its statutory functions are set out in The Arts Council (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.

 

Biographical details:

Mr Liam Hannaway – Chair: Mr Hannaway is a former Chief Executive and Chief Accounting Office of Newry Mourne and Down and Banbridge 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 has a long history of interest and involvement in the Arts: in a voluntary capacity as an actor and director with Lislea Dramatic Players and as a former Chair of the Ulster Region of the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland ; in local government, he was instrumental in the development of the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Sculpture Park. He has had no political activity during the last five years.

Mr William Leathem – Vice Chair: Mr Leathem is a former elected member of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, where he served as Chair of both the Development Committee and Governance & Audit Committee. He is presently the Chair of USEL (Ulster Supported Employment Limited). This has a time commitment of 11 meetings per year with a remuneration of £270 per meeting. He was a former member of the District Policing Partnership and a former Board Member of both the Ulster-Scots Agency and Libraries NI. Mr Leathem has varied audit and governance experience, project management experience and financial management skills, which he will bring to this role. In the last five years he has undertaken political activity for the Democratic Unionist Party.

Mr Paul Boyle – Member: Mr Boyle is currently a Director for Active Belfast Limited, which is the Board responsible for overseeing the provision of leisure services within Belfast and the implementation of Belfast City Council’s £105m Leisure Transformation Programme. He is also the Head of Sport at Belfast Metropolitan College and has managed a number of significant capital and community outreach projects. He has been involved in education for over 25 years and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He has extensive experience in strategic and business planning, performance review and risk management. He does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Mr Paul Brolly – Member: Mr Brolly is Chair of the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, a publicly funded contemporary art gallery and member of the Plus Tate network. In this role he has responsibility for overseeing the gallery’s governance, strategic direction and growth plans. He is also Chair of the Board of Greenisland Primary School and a member of the Antrim and Newtownabbey Council Arts and Cultural Advisory Panel. He is Head of Creative for BBC Northern Ireland, with over 20 years media experience working across high profile BBC output within the areas of television and radio broadcasting, digital platforms, communications and marketing. He does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Mr Joe Dougan – Member: Mr Dougan’s background is primarily in the live music industry. He has been a key senior organiser of the Belsonic and Custom House Square outdoor music events in Belfast for over 12 years. During this period these events have grown from attracting 5,000 attendees annually to attendances in excess of 150,000 patrons p/a, and have hosted some of the world’s largest names in entertainment. He oversees venues such as The Limelight, The Telegraph Building in Belfast and The Academy in Dublin, as well as internationally established electronic music brand Shine. He is responsible for an annual programme of live music and entertainment across Northern Ireland encompassing upwards of 300 events p/a, ranging from grassroots venues to large outdoor spaces. He personally promotes events for many internationally successful Northern Irish musical acts through long standing relationships and has prioritised developing new musical talent from across Northern Ireland for over 15 years. He also manages comedy and media talent, and produces live comedy events up to arena level. These varied roles have given him an oversight of, and responsibility for, financial, audit and governance matters as well as procurement processing and budgeting. He does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Mrs Laura McCorry – Member: Mrs McCorry is Head of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens where she leads an expert term in the conservation, development and management of the historic visitor attraction, whilst also ensuring the Castle fulfils its role as Northern Ireland’s Official Royal Residence and home for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.  Prior to this, she held a variety of strategic and leadership roles locally and internationally. Her previous positions include Public Engagement Director at National Museums Northern Ireland where she led and managed the visitor facing services across the group. Her remit involved the development and co-ordination of public programming, learning and outreach as well as marketing and communications. She was also a Director at Tourism NI for nine years and worked previously in the United States in business and economic development. She is currently a member of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce, a group set up by the Minister for the Economy to support the post Covid Tourism recovery effort.  She does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Dr Gearoid Trimble – Member: Dr Trimble is a senior public servant and currently works with Foras na Gaeilge, the North-South implementation body for the promotion of the Irish language. With over 20 years’ experience working with the Community and Voluntary sectors, both as a practitioner and as a policy-maker, he has extensive experience in grant administration, corporate governance and budgetary management and he has overseen the implementation of national policies and island-wide funding schemes. He holds a PhD in Irish Literature and is also a published author. He does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

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Arts projects in Northern Ireland receive a boost from Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together Arts Fund

Monday 1st February 2021 at 4pm 0 Comments

Photo credit: Carrie Davenport Photographer and featured in the photo are Chip Bailey front and Paul Kane from OTH Music Collective. Image: Photo credit: Carrie Davenport Photographer and featured in the photo are Chip Bailey front and Paul Kane from OTH Music Collective.

Nine arts projects in Northern Ireland are set to benefit from funding received through Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together Arts Fund.

Bank of Ireland partnered with Business to Arts and Arts & Business NI to support 36 music, theatre, dance, traditional arts and visual arts projects across the island of Ireland.  The fund will distribute a total of €1 million in arts funding, between 2020 and 2022, across the island of Ireland.  This will build on our rich culture and heritage, and continue Bank of Ireland’s long history of supporting the arts.

In this current round of funding each project, inspired by the experience of living through the Covid-19 pandemic or adapted in response to the pandemic, will receive between €3-€10k (or the Sterling equivalent) out of a total amount of €300k.

The nine projects to be supported in Northern Ireland include:

Over the Hill Music Collective – The Room Songs Project, Antrim
The project will focus on four older musicians in the rooms where they live alone. Songs will be produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Oh Yeah Music Centre. The recorded work will be available by August 2021 and performed live when possible.

Northern Ireland Opera – The Night of the Big Wind, Antrim
An operatic musical reimagining of the infamous 1839 storm, this piece will trace the stories and encounters of six fictional characters in an all-Ireland tour that will visit six venues. NI Opera’s main objective is to give as many children as possible the opportunity to see the opera. This goal will be supported by professionally filming the piece and sending it to schools and community groups, as well as broadcasting it on the company’s YouTube channel.

Bench Marks, Antrim
Two bench seats with low backs formed from flotsam tree trunks, washed and bleached by the elements on Runkerry Strand, close to the Giant’s Causeway. Glass, ceramics and copper will be used to transform the rugged timber into a narrative of their response to COVID-19. The two seats will be placed opposite each other and significantly, they will be more than two metres apart. Their location will be on the freely-accessible, public footpath and cliff path that joins the National Trust Visitors Centre at the Giant’s Causeway to Innisfree Farm, which houses the administrative HQ of the Trust, and the Boat House Gallery.

At The Margins, Armagh
‘At The Margins’ will be based on the poet Maria McManus’s large-scale, public engagement, letter-writing project “Filling The Void” (2018/19). A site-specific literary event, it will animate the library for the public, responding to the letters through dance and an original score. The project will be adapted with film, for online distribution, outside performance or projection onto the building.

Caffrey/Seamus Heaney HomePlace, Derry-Lononderry
This is new musical work based on several poems from Seamus Heaney’s ‘Death of a Naturalist’ and will be performed at Homeplace in the 190-seat auditorium, The Helicon. This work will be filmed and a video created which can be exhibited, disseminated and drawn upon for years into the future. It has great potential to broaden the audience for Heaney’s poetry beyond literary enthusiasts.

Covid Care Concerts, Derry-Londonderry
This is a new project devised by Mobile Music Machine (MMM) in collaboration with local partners in Ireland.  Covid Care Concerts will visit ten residential care homes across the county or city, with each performance lasting one hour and taking place in the grounds of the nursing home.

Lyric Theatre - Locked Up in Lockdown, Down
The aim is to develop a piece of theatre with a number of current or former students from Hydebank Wood College, a Young Offenders’ Centre in Belfast. Lyric Theatre staff worked with staff in the college, encouraging students to write about their perception of the pandemic. The result was a 36-page booklet of letters, poems and prose summed up by the title, ‘Locked Up in Lockdown’, describing so many interesting and unexpected responses to the situation – both positive and negative.

I am Here: short film series, Fermanagh
‘I am here’ is a series of new media/social media-friendly short films further exploring the relationship between two people separated by the current pandemic and in need of connection.

Music to your Ears, Tyrone
A two-hour musical concert featuring members of ‘Music To Your Ears’ Group, Strabane, will be broadcast through Derry and Strabane District Council’s Alley Theatre portal. ‘The Music To Your Ears’ Group is comprised of over 30 men all over 55 years of age and some as old as 84. Members include widowers, retired men in all types of health and social situations, mostly from Strabane Town.

For a list of all 36 projects supported through Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together Arts Fund visit https://personalbanking.bankofireland.com/campaigns/begin-together/begin-together-arts-fund-webpage/

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Call for freelance theatre and dance practitioners interested in a new model of independent working

Monday 1st February 2021 at 3pm 0 Comments Dance , Drama

Dancers Image: Dancers

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has commissioned a piece of independent research to explore new ways of working for freelance theatre and dance practitioners.  This follows a request from the Freelance Theatre Collective for funding to help artists develop, create and produce work independent of existing company structures. Annabel Jackson Associates Ltd have been appointed to complete this assignment and will report back in March, 2021.

The Covid-19 crisis has created the need to identify new mechanisms to protect the social, economic and working conditions of artists.  Theatre and dance practitioners, lying at the heart of the industry, have been identified as particularly vulnerable to the economic shock caused by the virus because of their freelance status. 

With this in mind, this project will review funding and structural opportunities available to freelancers to develop, create and produce work independently; to investigate alternative models; and assess the viability of instituting new models.

The Arts Council is looking for between 10–15, Northern Ireland based theatre and dance practitioners to participate in the research.  If you would be willing to be interviewed by Annabel, you can express an interest by going to:  https://forms.gle/6CL7G2H8X77wEuMC7

Participation will be voluntary, with each interview conducted via Zoom and lasting no more than 30 minutes.  Questions will be forwarded to participants ahead of each interview.  Expressions of Interest will close on Monday 8th February.

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Talented Fermanagh Drummer receives £10,000 career boost

Monday 1st February 2021 at 10am 0 Comments

Kieran Leonard, freelance percussionist, timpanist, drummer and Irish Music specialist. Recipient of Musical Instruments Scheme award 2021 Image: Kieran Leonard, freelance percussionist, timpanist, drummer and Irish Music specialist. Recipient of Musical Instruments Scheme award 2021

A talented young percussionist from County Fermanagh has been awarded a grant from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to help develop his musical talents.

The award of £10,000 was made to Kieran Leonard from Enniskillen, who has been making a big noise on the international music scene as a freelance percussionist, timpanist, drummer & Irish Music specialist.

The funding will be used to help him purchase his own timpani– a specialist set of kettle drums with a distinctive dome like base.

Educated at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, London, Kieran is well known on both the Irish & UK orchestral scene, working regularly with English National Opera and the Philharmonia Orchestra, as well as the Ulster Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

His wide and varied performance career to date has seen him make his West End debut, deputising on the musical Chess at the London Coliseum, as well as the percussion & drum chair on Bridges of Madison County (2019) and The Boyfriend (2019/20) at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London, 2019.

As one of the world’s leading exponents of the Bodhrán, his film credits include soundtrack work on How to Train Your Dragon, episodes 2 & 3 and Victoria & Abdul.  He has also toured Europe and America as a member of the Grammy nominated Celtic Woman and performed onstage alongside Stockton's Wing, Four Men & A Dog, Goitse, Tara Breen Band, Knockmore Ceili Band, and Emma Sweeney.

The grant given this week by the Arts Council to Kieran Leonard is just one of sixty-nine awards made, worth a total investment of £494,000. Thanks to capital investment from the Department for Communities, the scheme, set up to increase the quality of music making in Northern Ireland, offers grants to a range of professional and non-professional musicians and groups. Among those will benefit are schools groups, community choirs, marching and brass bands, and individual professional musicians.

Commenting on his award, Kieran said:

“I'm absolutely stunned to be a recipient of this award on behalf of the Arts Council Northern Ireland. The funding will be put towards the purchase of a complete set of pedal Timpani.

“As a freelancer, access to these instruments is incredibly difficult, and generally, is only available when working with a professional orchestra. Having 24/7 access to Timpani, will really open doors for me in terms of competing for full time jobs and auditions throughout the UK and abroad.

“The COVID pandemic has had a significant impact on everyone that works within the arts sector. I, like the rest of my colleagues, have really struggled at times. I had just started a 15 week tour of the USA with Celtic Woman, and then it was time to come home, with the arts sector across the UK and Ireland decimated. At that point, all live performances were cancelled, and my ability to earn a living went with it."

He continued, “I am back home in Enniskillen now, surrounded by an incredibly supportive family who have helped me so much. While everything has been really quiet, I count myself so fortunate to have been able to undertake some work with our own Ulster Orchestra in recent months. I'm incredibly grateful to Sam, Mark and the Ulster Orchestra for giving me the opportunity to do that.

“I cannot thank the Arts Council of Northern Ireland enough for supporting me, and countless other artists throughout this pandemic. It is an absolute honour and a privilege to be one of the recipients. My hope is now for the door to every concert hall and theatre throughout the world to open, so audiences can participate in, and take joy from our artform.”

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

“Northern Ireland has a fine history of musicianship, one which is celebrated all over the world. Today’s  funding announcement will go a long way in supporting that legacy, benefitting so many performers across a broad range of genres including classical, jazz, traditional, contemporary and electronic.

“We are very pleased this year to have been able to award grants to a number professional individual musicians as part of our Musical Instruments Programme. Kieran is a hugely talented percussionist and to be able to purchase his own timpani will open up all sorts of future opportunities for him, allowing him to further develop his skills as both a player and performer.”

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey also welcomed the programme, saying:

“The Arts Council’s Musical Instruments Scheme supports players at all stages of their musical journey, from those just starting out, through to highly skilled professional musicians and non-professional groups and bands, ensuring their skills can continue to grow and that our musicians have everything they need to reach their full potential as players and performers.

“This programme makes a significant contribution to the quality of music and musicianship here.  It supports our professionals and our talented youth and recognises the vital role that amateur bands and players have in our rich musical heritage. The importance of music and the wider arts sector is appreciated now perhaps more than ever and I am delighted to continue to support this very practical measure.”

To see the full list of awards made under the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s 2021 Musical Instruments Programme, go to:

List of Awards for Programme 1: Musical Instruments for Bands

List of Awards for Programme 2: Professional and Non-professional Performing Groups

List of Awards for Programme 3: Individual Professional Performing Individuals

 

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UPDATE: Arts Council Funding Programmes

Friday 29th January 2021 at 3pm 0 Comments

Subject to Board decisions on 5th February, letters will be issued to Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations applicants the week beginning 8th February.

On 5th February the Board will be discussing the approach to the Annual Funding Programme 2021/22 and we will be communicating arrangements in due course.

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£494,000 public funding awarded to musicians to help develop talent

Wednesday 27th January 2021 at 4pm 0 Comments

Kieran Leonard, freelance percussionist, timpanist, drummer and Irish Music specialist. Recipient of Musical Instruments Scheme award 2021 Image: Kieran Leonard, freelance percussionist, timpanist, drummer and Irish Music specialist. Recipient of Musical Instruments Scheme award 2021

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. Sixty-nine awards have been made and 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 £494,000 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, offers grants to a range of professional and non-professional musicians and groups.

There are three strands to the funding. Under Programme One: Musical Instruments for Bands, twenty-four bands are set to benefit, including:
The Church Hill Sliver Band, county Fermanagh, with a strong youth programme and good regional performance success, received £9,815 towards a mix of cornets, trombone and drums. While The Strabane Brass Band, county Tyrone, received £10,000 towards the purchase of cornets which will contribute to their strong youth development programme, tuition and expansion of repertoire.

Under Programme Two: Professional and Non-Professional Performing Groups, thirty-three awards have been offered, including grants for:
Dunseverick Primary School in Bushmills, county Antrim, which received £6,030 towards instruments for their Harp ensemble; this extraordinary small, rural primary school has managed to build an enthusiastic group of young harpists who, with tutoring from Katy Graham of the Causeway Harp School, are committed to keeping the tradition of Irish harping alive on the beautiful Causeway coast and glens. 

While under Programme Three, twelve Individual Professional Performing Musicians will receive support, including:
Kieran Leonard, a freelance percussionist, timpanist, drummer & Irish Music specialist from Enniskillen, Co.Fermanagh. Educated at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, London, he is very active on the both the Irish & UK orchestral scene, working regularly with English National Opera and the Philharmonia Orchestra as well as the Ulster Orchestra (Guest Principal Timpani & Percussion), RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (Guest Principal Timpani). If that wasn’t enough, he is one of the world’s leading exponents of the Bodhrán, his solo film credits include, Academy Award winning composer John Powell’s ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ soundtrack and ‘How to Train Your Dragon 3’. 

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:  “Northern Ireland has a fine history of musicianship, one which is celebrated all over the world. Today’s  funding announcement will go a long way in supporting that legacy, benefitting so many performers across a broad range of genres including classical, jazz, traditional, contemporary and electronic.

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey said: “The Arts Council’s Musical Instruments Scheme supports players at all stages of their musical journey, from those just starting out, through to highly skilled professional musicians and non-professional groups and bands, ensuring their skills can continue to grow and that our musicians have everything they need to reach their full potential as players and performers.

“This programme makes a significant contribution to the quality of music and musicianship here.  It supports our professionals and our talented youth and recognises the vital role that amateur bands and players have in our rich musical heritage. The importance of music and the wider arts sector is appreciated now perhaps more than ever and I am delighted to continue to support this very practical measure.”

List of Awards for Programme 1: Musical Instruments for Bands

List of Awards for Programme 2: Professional and Non-professional Performing Groups

List of Awards for Programme 3: Individual Professional Performing Individuals

 

 

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Holocaust Memorial Day 2021: “We must learn lessons from the past to create a better future”

Wednesday 27th January 2021 at 2pm 0 Comments

Csilla Toldy, 'Here I Stand' video still Image: Csilla Toldy, 'Here I Stand' video still

As part of HMD 2021, The Executive Office has unveiled a video poem by Co. Down-based artist Csilla Toldy, which was created last year to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.

The powerful artwork, entitled Here I Stand, is based on a story of a survivor of Auschwitz, Ivor Perl, who was only 11 years old when he was deported with his family. As they entered the concentration camp, Ivor’s mother told him to leave her and join the other queue where his older brother was standing, saving his life. The poem is voiced by the mother (Sinead Lunny) and boy - as an old man looking back (Jason Benson).

Csilla, who was born in Hungary, said: “The six-minute video poem, based on the theme ‘Standing together’, not only commemorates the liberation of the camps, but is sensitive to all those affected by the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. At the same time, I made a short documentary film which will be used for educational purposes, to teach people about the Holocaust and the dangers of allowing prejudice and hatred to go unchallenged.”

The First Minister and deputy First Minister said: “Csilla’s video poem is a powerful reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust and the unthinkably heartbreaking decisions so many parents were forced to make to save their children’s lives. Her poem and documentary film will be useful tools in helping future generations learn vital lessons from the past.”

"We must learn lessons from the past to create a better future" – Foster and O’Neill

Holocaust Memorial Day is a powerful reminder that we all have a part to play in tackling prejudice, ending division and creating a better future, First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill have said.

The First Minister and deputy First Minister are among a number of political and religious leaders who will feature in today’s annual commemoration organised by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

Due to the ongoing public health emergency, this year’s event saw participants contribute to an online commemoration to remember the many victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

The HMD 2021 ceremony will be streamed online on 27 January at 7pm. For further details log on to https://www.hmd.org.uk/uk-holocaust-memorial-day-2021-ceremony/

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “It is important that we continue to remember those who lost their lives in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. Society has to learn lessons from the past to create a better future for us all.”

“The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 is ‘Be the light in the darkness’. That is particularly poignant at the present time. Not only is it associated with the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, but the challenges we face with the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on everyone’s lives.  It urges all of us to show the better side of our humanity.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “The Holocaust is a poignant and powerful reminder of what can happen when bigotry and discrimination go unchecked. Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity for all of us to remember the millions of people who were persecuted during the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

“We must do everything we can to ensure such atrocities never happen again. Holocaust Memorial Day reminds us that we all have a role to play in tackling prejudice, ending division and building a shared future. We must embrace and celebrate difference and diversity in order to create a better society for all.”

 

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Have a laugh online with Tinderbox Theatre Company

Thursday 21st January 2021 at 2pm 0 Comments Drama

Pictured are honorary M.D.s of Comedy, Gary Crossan and Chris Grant who will be dosing out some state funded comic relief in weekly episodes of The Waiting Room. Image: Pictured are honorary M.D.s of Comedy, Gary Crossan and Chris Grant who will be dosing out some state funded comic relief in weekly episodes of The Waiting Room.

Laughter has long been hailed as the best medicine and local theatre company Tinderbox are dishing out giggles by the spoonful. For the next month, production is moving online with a new series of performances and workshops.

Created in response to new lockdown restrictions, the Belfast based theatre company have radically overhauled their latest planned tour to create E-Motion 21, a special online series guaranteed to brighten hearts and minds during the longest month of the year.

With support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Organisations Emergency Programme, every week from now until 5th February, Tinderbox will deliver dance, creative writing, music, physical theatre, mental health and laughter yoga workshops on a Pay-What-You-Can basis. While over on their YouTube channel each week they will create brand new comic content, free to enjoy from the comfort of your living room.

Included in the line-up are:

The Waiting Room
The Waiting Room Meet Chris and Gary - your newly appointed, state funded comic relief. They should be taken aurally once a week for 15-20 minutes. Artists from across the country have been subcontracted to work in the area of mental health. Due to their experience of going on tour and speaking to the public, Chris and Gary have been put on a fast track course to become fully qualified M.D.’s and pioneer the new State Funded Comic Relief. The show will be a fast-paced, variety style. Including all the different types of comedy Chris and Gary can think of in order to find your perfect prescription. The Waiting Room - Tinderbox YouTube Channel every Friday at 6pm. Premiering 15th January 2021.

Daisy DIY
Daisy DIY Daisy refuses to let lockdown get her down. Not one bit. Daisy decides to open herself to the world of social media influencing and starts a weekly online creative DIY programme to lift her and our spirits during the long days and nights. Daisy loves being a social influencer and posts all of her videos on all social media platforms. Daisy does realise that the arts and crafts shops aren’t open but that doesn’t stop her! Oh no, Daisy decides that she can make anything an act of creation- Everything is creative for Daisy. Daisy will present her Daisy DIY show live on Tinderbox’s YouTube channel every Saturday at 6pm. Premiering 16th January 2021.

The Rise and Fall of Derek Bubble
The Rise and Fall of Derek Bubble Derek is planning his ultimate showdown - his latest neighbour bubble bust-up on his street. Derek is a member of his community neighbourhood watch and is held in high regard by the local police. Since lockdown he has busted numerous social bubbles in his area such as Aoife’s 8th Birthday party, New Year gatherings and late night caller shenanigans. Nothing gets past Derek and his commitment to public safety. However as with all stalwarts of the community, his rise to fame immediately crashed as the result of a meeting in Ormeau Park with one of his ex-boyfriends. Derek states he was framed. His ex says otherwise. Who do you believe? A 30 minute documentary premiering on Tinderbox’s YouTube channel on Thursday 4 th February 2021 at 7pm.

The Arts Council of Northern is supporting Tinderbox and E-Motion 21through its Organisations Emergency Programme, a fund that was created to help organisations respond to the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 crisis by enabling them to continue producing creative work, assist with operational costs and to help plan for recovery in the long-term.

Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Drama and Dance Office Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The arts are so important for our health and wellbeing and a survey commissioned by the Arts of Northern Ireland last month revealed the high numbers of people turning to the arts for solace and relief during the Covid-19 pandemic. As one of our leading theatre company’s, Tinderbox’s Emotion 21 is something to really look forward to, drawing together an exceptionally talented host of cast and crew to produce an exciting line up of performances and more over the coming weeks.”

Patrick J O’Reilly, Artistic Director for Tinderbox Theatre Company stated:

“It is essential that we reach out to as many people as we can during the current lockdown. We have created a programme of workshops and comedy performances with the intention that people can find humour, creativity and hope during this time. Tinderbox’s mission focusses on empowering the individual through play. We use play to liberate the imagination, to discover, explore and realise our unique creative potential and the E-Motion 21 programme will invite participants to engage with us through the month of January.”

Emotion-21 is funded by Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, The National Lottery Community Fund and the Halifax Foundation Northern Ireland.

Watch short promo film here: Tinderbox BUBBLE 2021 - YouTube

Cast: Gary Crossan, Chris Grant, Louise Conaghan, Tony Flynn
Director: Patrick J O’Reilly
Producer: Meg Magill
Production Manager: Rory Casey
Stage Manager: Kerri McGimpsey
Set/Costume: Diana Ennis
Lighting: James McFettridge
Editor: Dan Leith
Sound Design: Stuart Robinson

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Six exceptional young musicians awarded the Young Musicians’ Platform Award

Monday 18th January 2021 at 10am 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

The six award recipients include classical awardees, opera singer, Andrew Irwin, cellist, Angus McCall and pianist, Justine Gormley; traditional music awardees, Jack Warnock and Rose Connolly and, singer-songwriter awardee, Roisin Donald (ROE). Image: The six award recipients include classical awardees, opera singer, Andrew Irwin, cellist, Angus McCall and pianist, Justine Gormley; traditional music awardees, Jack Warnock and Rose Connolly and, singer-songwriter awardee, Roisin Donald (ROE).

Six exceptionally talented young musicians from Northern Ireland have been awarded the Young Musicians’ Platform Award, supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and BBC Northern Ireland.  The six award recipients include classical awardees, opera singer, Andrew Irwin, cellist, Angus McCall and pianist, Justine Gormley; traditional music awardees, Jack Warnock and Rose Connolly and, singer-songwriter awardee, Roisin Donald (ROE).

The biennial awards which are run by the Arts Council in collaboration with BBC Northern Ireland, aim to showcase and support the development of young musicians from the region by providing individual funding awards of up to £5,000. This funding 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.  For the first time, the awards have been extended beyond the classical and folk music arenas reaching out to singer-songwriters in the region.

As well as this training opportunity, the awardees will receive two professional radio broadcast engagements, including one with the Ulster Orchestra in 2021. Performances at this level raise not only the professional profile of the young musicians but also give a boost to their performance experience.

Highlighting BBC Radio Ulster’s continuing commitment to specialist music and to developing new musical talent, three presenters from the station will mentor the new awardees in helping them prepare for their upcoming performances with the Ulster Orchestra which will be broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle.  John Toal, a classical pianist and presenter of Classical Connections will mentor the three classical musicians while Folk Club presenter, Lynette Fay, will mentor the folk musicians and Stephen McCauley of The Stephen McCauley Show will mentor the singer-songwriter.

Each week, National Lottery players raise £30 million for good causes across the UK.  Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, explained how National Lottery funding is making a difference to the young musicians in the region,

“The Arts Council is committed to providing valuable, meaningful opportunities for our artists to develop their professional careers and we are hugely proud to partner once again with BBC Northern Ireland to offer these awards to exceptional young musicians.  Thanks to National Lottery players, all six musicians will have a unique opportunity to develop musical skills, learn from the best and perform live with our tremendous Ulster Orchestra.  All of the previous recipients of this award have gone on to have incredibly successful careers in music and I’ve every confidence that the new recipients will benefit greatly from this experience.”

Paul McClean, Executive Editor Arts and Music, BBC Northern Ireland, said:

“At BBC Radio Ulster we are dedicated to providing our listeners with the best in specialist music and nurturing new talent is something we are extremely passionate about. We are delighted to be involved in finding new classical, traditional and singer/songwriting artists and to be able to have our listeners engage in their journey as they grow and develop with some help from John, Lynette and Stephen, each of whom has a deep love of music.”

Previous recipients of the Young Musicians’ Platform Award include acclaimed classical pianist, Michael McHale, soprano, Laura Sheerin, harpist, Richard Allen, violinist, Michael Trainor, folk artists, Conor Mallon and Niall Hanna and jazz drummer, Ed Dunlop, among others.

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

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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 http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/ACNI-AAOP-Awards-2020-21.pdf

Visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding for details on all funding opportunities.

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Arts Council publishes findings from its 2019/20 Annual Funding Survey

Wednesday 13th January 2021 at 9am 0 Comments

Anna Burns event at the Lyric Theatre Belfast in April 2019. Image: Anna Burns event at the Lyric Theatre Belfast in April 2019.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today published findings from a survey of 97 arts and culture organisations in receipt of funding through its Annual Funding Programme.

The survey collects data on organisation staffing, financial statements (income and expenditure), numbers of performances, participation based events, exhibitions and festivals. It also records details of known and estimated audiences.

The Survey is used to provide evidence of the use of funding for reporting to Government and other key stakeholders and it also helps support the Arts Council’s detailed understanding of grant recipients, informing future planning and policy development.

In addition to the report, a dashboard has been created allowing the interrogation of data by artform type and organisation size (as determined by income). This valuable resource will enable arts organisations to benchmark their activity at a sector level. 

The enforced lockdown in March 2020 came just at the end of the 2019/20 reporting period*.  It had a devastating impact on all activity levels that month as organisations were required to stop all public facing activity. Although this can be seen reflected in some of the high level data reported in the summary report and table, the true impact of the pandemic will be evident in next year’s report which will examine the 2020/21 financial period.

Key findings:

  • Income overall fell by £3.4million among the 97 organisations surveyed. Income from earned sources fell by 9% compared to the previous year.  Organisations reported that they continued to offset limited income by attempting to keep expenditure as low as possible.
  • Together, organisations in receipt of Annual Funding from the Arts Council created 6.2m individual engagement opportunities in 2019/20 via performances, participation based events, visual art exhibitions and festivals.  This represented an increase in of 3.5% compared to the previous year. Children/young people (47%) and deprived neighbourhoods (42%) remain the two most significantly targeted societal groups.
  • Almost two-thirds of activity was delivered in either Belfast (36%) or Derry and Strabane (27%) Local Government Districts. The proportion of activity delivered outside these areas fell by 8% compared to previous years. 21% of activity was delivered in rural areas, up 4% compared to the previous year.  Nine per cent of all activity was delivered outside Northern Ireland. Of this activity, over half (57%) was delivered in RoI, with a further 10% in other EU countries. 
  • There were reductions in employment across all category types, with the number of managers, employed on a contract basis, falling by over 10%.  Most of the workforce were employed on a contract basis: for every one person in a permanent role, there were 6 employed on a contract basis. Volunteer numbers fell by 20% compared to the previous year, with the number of male volunteers fell by a quarter. 

 

To access the report and data tables go to: http://artscouncil-ni.org/research-and-development/research-publications

*Please note, the reporting period for this survey is 1st April 2019-31st March 2020.

 

Notes to editors

  • The report contains analysis on the financial, operational and artistic activities of funded organisations and is being released by the Arts Council under its capacity as a producer of Official Statistics.
  • For more information on the survey please contact Graeme Stevenson by e-mail at gstevenson@artscouncil-ni.org
  • A constant sample of organisations has been created to allow for like-for-like comparison over a four-year period.
  • Data has been aligned to allow users direct comparison between findings at the overall portfolio level and a range of useful variables, including artform.

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Career development awards for fifteen artists with disabilities from Northern Ireland

Tuesday 12th January 2021 at 11am 0 Comments

The iDA funding programme is a dedicated annual arts development scheme enabling deaf and disabled artists who are working in a range of art forms to develop their professional artistic careers. Image: The iDA funding programme is a dedicated annual arts development scheme enabling deaf and disabled artists who are working in a range of art forms to develop their professional artistic careers.

Fifteen artists with disabilities from Northern Ireland have been announced as recipients of the University of Atypical’s Individual Disabled Artist (iDA) Awards.  The iDA programme is supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The iDA funding programme is a dedicated annual arts development scheme enabling deaf and disabled artists who are working in a range of art forms to develop their professional artistic careers.  The awards provide valuable opportunities for award recipients to produce new high-quality creative work, receive training or professional mentoring.

Sean Fitzsimmons, Chairperson of the University of Atypical, said

‘the iDA scheme is invaluable in supporting D/deaf and disabled artists to produce exciting new work and has a successful track record in enhancing the careers of D/deaf and  disabled  artists. We welcome the support of our partners, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in this important initiative’.

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

“Congratulations to all fifteen artists.  These grants 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 delighted to support this important programme through National Lottery funding, which encourages the creation of new, high-quality artistic work and addresses the need for disabled and D/deaf artists to have on-going training and skills development within the sector.”

Through the University of Atypical’s support, D/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.

iDA recipients are:

Billy Woods

Catherine McCabe

Colin Dardis

Cinzia Savonitti

Fionnula Doran

Jacqueline Wylie

Louise McClean

Luna Kalo

Robert Whiteman

Robin Price

Ruth McGinley

Sinead McDonnell

Steph Harrison

Vikkie Patterson

William McClean

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A taste of Belfast in Brussels at the 2021 Out to Lunch Festival

Tuesday 29th December 2020 at 10am 0 Comments

Pictured (L-R) is Lynsey Moore, Director of the Northern Ireland Executive Brussels, Anthony Toner, musician and Sean Kelly, Director, Cathedral Quarter Arts. Image: Pictured (L-R) is Lynsey Moore, Director of the Northern Ireland Executive Brussels, Anthony Toner, musician and Sean Kelly, Director, Cathedral Quarter Arts.

As part of this year’s digital Out to Lunch Festival, the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels will showcase a selection of artists from Northern Ireland online on Tuesday 19th January at 1pm.  The pre-recorded programme features musicians, Anthony Toner, Ursula Burns, Ciara O’Neill and writer, Stephen Connolly, performing in the beautiful and historic Rosemary Street Church.

Since 2012, the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels has worked with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to present a Culture Night showcase of the best of Northern Irish arts and culture, bringing a host of musicians, writers and performers to Brussels and introducing their work to an appreciative international audience.  Over the years the programme has featured acclaimed Northern Irish talent including Joshua Burnside and Grainne Holland and the event has now become a highlight of the Brussels cultural calendar.

For obvious reasons, the 2020 edition has had to be reimagined for the post-COVID world and, as a result, the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive is delighted to present this online version of the event featuring some of the artists who have taken part in previous years.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is the principal funder of the Out to Lunch Festival, Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council, commented,

“The Out to Lunch Festival is always an annual highlight in the arts calendar, brightening up an otherwise dull January.  We are delighted to support this year’s Out to Lunch Festival through National Lottery and exchequer funding and congratulate Sean and the team in curating an excellent programme of digital content despite the huge challenges presented by the pandemic.  We are also very proud to partner with the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels to showcase our fantastic artists every Culture Night and would encourage everyone to tune on 19th January to enjoy this special event.”

For details of this event and to view the full Out to Lunch Festival programme visit www.cqaf.com

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Foyle O-Bon and Project Sparks receive emergency funding from the Arts Council

Thursday 24th December 2020 at 10am 0 Comments

Pictured (L-R) are Mark Roberts, Liberty Consortium, Sora Umetsu, Trish Kelly, Katsu Umetsu, Ami Umetsu, Fortan Umetsu, Fiona Umetsu, Nicola Schnurr and Gilly Campbell, Arts Council. Image: Pictured (L-R) are Mark Roberts, Liberty Consortium, Sora Umetsu, Trish Kelly, Katsu Umetsu, Ami Umetsu, Fortan Umetsu, Fiona Umetsu, Nicola Schnurr and Gilly Campbell, Arts Council.

Foyle O-Bon and Project Sparks, two arts organisations based in Derry-Londonderry, recently received funding from the Arts Council’s Organisations Emergency Programme (OEP) and Health and Safety Programme to enable them to adapt to the Covid-19 restrictions by creating new work online and install equipment to help them to safely deliver their in person.

Foyle O-Bon is an organisation that uses Japanese arts and culture as a way of improving community engagement, breaking down barriers and using the arts to improve wellbeing.  Using the art of taiko drumming, Japanese dance, arts, crafts and games, they deliver outreach projects in the community throughout the year and also host the annual O-Bon Festival at the Playtrail site.  Foyle O-Bon received OEP funding to enable the organisation to adapt and establish a stronger online presence to deliver workshops digitally.  They also received funding through the Health and Safety Programme which has enabled the organisation to purchase marquees and a mobile van to take their work out on the road where they can deliver workshops safely outdoors to communities.

Fiona Umetsu, Foyle O-Bon said,

“This funding is a game changer for our organisation and in 2021 we will be able to bring our work out to communities, bringing workshops, festivals and performances to people across the city to engage with safely outdoors.”

Project Sparks / Liberty Consortium is another organisation from Derry-Londonderry that received funding through the Health and Safety Programme.  The organisation has an inclusive approach to play and outdoor learning at its Playtrail site within the grounds of Ardnashee School and College whilst providing Day Opportunity & Social Provision for young adults with learning disabilities at their HUB within Northside Village Centre.  Their wider services are currently utilised by a cross section of organisations, as well as many youth clubs and schools. The Playtrail facility is also open to the wider community outside of school hours and hosts a year-long programme of activities.

The Health and Safety Programme funding will enable Liberty Consortium to upgrade a 200 seater, three-tiered outdoor covered amphitheatre located within the Playtrail by installing heaters, padded seating and sanitising stations. The outcome will make the existing space warm, welcoming and usable in all weather, particularly for children and young people with physical restrictions.

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support Foyle O-Bon and Project Sparks through our Organisations Emergency Programme and Health and Safety Programme, funds that were created to help organisations respond to the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, helping them to continue producing creative work, assist with operational costs and to help plan for recovery in the long-term.  As a result, both Foyle O-Bon and Project Sparks will be able to continue their work, reach a wider audience and bring communities closer together through participation in the arts.”

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

 

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‘The Show In Your Street’ must go on as Christmas comes to the community

Monday 21st December 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments Community Arts , Drama

Pictured is actor, Andrew Porter, who played the role of Buttons. Image: Pictured is actor, Andrew Porter, who played the role of Buttons.

Cinderella did go to the ball - oh yes she did! And the leading lady was also among a host of local stars who brought some festive magic to the streets of Derry/Londonderry, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's Organisations Emergency Programme.

It was literally a case of he/she’s behind you as north west based theatre company, Blue Eagle Productions, staged a quick-fire version of the fairytale classic in a number of local housing estates.

With the well-known panto cast from the Millennium Forum away from their usual venue closed due to the COVID-19 restrictions, producer/director Jonathan Burgess ensured the popular live show would still go on in a new outdoor format apty titled as ‘The Show In Your Street’.

The fun and frolics of the traditional Christmas show were instead transported to local communities in the Waterside area of the city for six evenings of safe, socially-distanced outdoor street entertainment.

The unexpected treat featured the stars of previous local pantomimes with Cinderella played by Rachael O’Connor; Andrew Porter as Buttons; the Ugly Sisters Keith Lynch and James Lecky; Conor O’Kane as Prince Charming; and the Fairy Godmother Orla Mullan.

Thanks to Organisations Emergency Programme funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Department For Communities, the performances lifted spirits and provided some light relief for adults and children alike who are missing out on all the festive shows which usually take place in schools, theatres and community centres during the Christmas and new year period.

Blue Eagle Productions producer/director Jonathan Burgess was delighted at the response from the local communities where ‘The Show In Your Street’ brightened up a few otherwise uneventful winter evenings for many households as a result of the ongoing restrictions to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 within the community.

Jonathan said: “With so many indoor theatre events cancelled, we wanted to bring some of the magic of a live show to actual audiences in a safe but amusing way. The idea was that we would take the show to the people, travelling around various locations where they would be able to view it from their windows, gardens or front walls while still maintaining social distance from other households.”

“We encouraged people to keep well apart from their neighbours to ensure the health and safety of the community was not compromised and the show could continue as planned. Everyone did exactly what was asked of them and this meant we were able to proceed in the spirit intended.”

“By staging the 25-minute production multiple times over the six consecutive dates, we managed to strike the perfect balance of having an appreciative audience without crowding the area and therefore keeping everyone safe while entertained.”

Jonathan added: “There is nothing quite like a live show and the feedback we got from everyone who saw it, young and old, was totally heartwarming. They all really enjoyed the humour and particularly appreciated having the spectacle right on their doorstep.”

‘The Show In Your Street’ was staged in Strathfoyle, Caw/Nelson Drive, Irish Street, Gobnascale, Newbuildings/Magheramason and Tullyally/ Currynierin from December 15th-20th, amounting to an epic 36 performances for the dedicated cast and crew.

Jonathan added: “I want to add my applause to everyone involved, it was a mammoth task but we were all so glad to have the opportunity to bring the show to life thanks to funding from the Arts Council together with valued support from Derry City and Strabane District Council and the Millennium Forum. Our sincere thanks go to Gilly Campbell, Amanda Biega and David McLaughlin respectively from each of these organisations for their support.”

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support Blue Eagle Productions through our Organisations Emergency Programme, a fund that was created to help organisations respond to the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, helping them to continue producing creative work, assist with operational costs and to help plan for recovery in the long-term. We’re thrilled that ‘The Show In Your Street’ was such a success, bringing people and communities together to enjoy the arts safely and adding a real festive atmosphere to local neighbourhoods. We know people are really feeling the loss of live entertainment and 2020 has been such a difficult year for those involved in the arts, so it’s great to end the year with a smile. Congratulations to all involved.”

You can enjoy the live streamed street performance of Cinderella on Blue Eagle Productions Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/blueeagleproductions

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Cre8 Theatre presents Jack and The Beanstalk panto at the drive-in cinema Belfast

Friday 18th December 2020 at 4pm 0 Comments Drama

Pictured are actors Holly Greig and Mark Claney. Image: Pictured are actors Holly Greig and Mark Claney.

Christmas is cancelled! Oh no it isn’t! Cre8 Theatre, in partnership with Let’s Go Hydro, presents a family-friendly drive-in pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, at the drive-in cinema, Belfast, featuring the Giant, Jack, Jill, Dame Ms. Pinch, Daisy Cow and more, supported by the Organisations Emergency Programme through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. 

Jack and the Beanstalk is a colourful, high energy contemporary performance featuring typical pantomime elements; dancing, singing and banter with the audience. As well as the pantomime streamed directly to the big screen, Cre8 Theatre has devised a hilarious programme of pre and mid-show entertainment with live actors to truly entertain audiences from the safety and comfort of their cars.

Sarah Lyle, Artistic Director, Cre8 Theatre, commented,

“We are excited to bring a show stopping, interactive and magical family pantomime to Let’s Go Hydro especially after our award-winning presentation of Jack and the Beanstalk live at The Braid Arts Centre Ballymena, Christmas 2019 and our Zoom show summer 2020.  The people of NI deserve a sprinkle of Christmas magic and we are delighted to be giving them this opportunity to attend a Christmas pantomime. Bursting with show stopping music and catchy dance routines this show will literally dust off the Covid cobwebs and blow you away. Join us for a fun filled positive end to 2020. Merry Christmas from all at Cre8 Theatre.”

Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Arts Development Officer for Drama and Dance, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“Congratulations to the team at Cre8 Theatre in bringing us this terrific show to enjoy this Christmas.  The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support this production through our Organisational Emergency Programme (OEP), a vital funding scheme established to help organisations respond to the immediate impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, including helping them to continue producing creative work and plan for recovery in the long-term.  Cre8 Theatre’s Jack and the Beanstalk panto is an unmissable, magical treat for all the family and I would encourage everyone to snap up your tickets while you still can.”

Cre8 Theatre’s Jack and the Beanstalk continues on the following dates: 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th December and includes, panto performance, popcorn, soft drinks and massive amounts of festive cheer!  Tickets cost £45 per vehicle and are available at https://letsgohydro.com/drive-in-cinema/drive-in-panto/

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Nine schools to take part in landmark educational programme

Friday 18th December 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

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Nine post-primary schools in Belfast and Derry~Londonderry are preparing to take part in a landmark programme which aims to boost educational outcomes for students by bringing more creative skills into the classroom.

The schools have been awarded grants of up to £8,000 each as part of the Creative Schools Partnership - a three-year £300,000 initiative backed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The Executive Office’s Urban Villages Initiative and delivered by the Education Authority.

The Creative Schools Programme, which had been put on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic, is based on research which indicates that access to quality arts experiences in school can benefit all aspects of learning.

Groups of students within each participating school will have an opportunity to work with professional artists to develop a range of skills from script writing and theatre production, to musical composition and performance. Many of the projects will see students engage with the local community, including care homes and day centres, while others will help students process the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their lives and find a positive outlet to communicate its impact to others.

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

“Thanks to National Lottery players and money set aside for good causes, the Arts Council is pleased to continue to support this important programme. Working in partnership with the Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative, today’s announcement sees funding awarded to nine schools, providing teachers with the support they need to engage professional artists and explore new creative ways to engage students in the classroom.

“While each of the projects taking place this year are all very different, what they have in common is that they will help the young people involved develop their own sense of self-belief, as well as supporting their learning and development in all aspects of school life.  We very much look forward to hearing how their work progresses over the coming months.”

First Minister Arlene Foster said:

“The Executive Office is proud to be supporting this programme and its delivery to a number of schools serving Urban Village areas across Belfast and Londonderry. Creative Schools will provide great opportunities for young people to enjoy new learning experiences through a wide range of creative projects, helping to boost their educational outcomes.

“Working alongside professional artists and teachers, the students will be able to learn new skills, build their confidence and perhaps even develop exciting new career paths. The projects will also bring real benefits to those partner organisations in local communities such as care homes and day centres. I wish all those involved every success.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill added:

“The Creative Schools Partnership provides enhanced resources for creative learning projects in schools serving some of the most deprived communities in the north. I am delighted that one of the main aims of this programme is the promotion of positive mental health and well-being, which is a key theme for the Urban Villages Initiative, and particularly important at this time.

“The challenges thrown up by Covid-19 have made it a very difficult 10 months for our children and young people, and this programme will help students process the impact of the pandemic on their lives. It will also be a gateway which gives young people the opportunity to connect with their wider community, develop relationships and build solid foundations for the future.”

Chairperson of the Education Authority, Sharon O’Connor, said:

“The Education Authority is delighted to welcome the re-start of the Creative Schools Programme, at a time when young people and schools continue to face many challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Creative Arts play a pivotal role within education, enabling the young person to experience a sense of freedom, expression and enjoyment, all of which help to contribute to their mental health and well-being. The Creative Schools Programme has been recognised as a highly effective collaborative approach which harnesses the power of creativity to support learning and well-being. We look forward to seeing its continued positive impact in the lives of the young people who participate this year.”


Case Studies
Lisneal College

Lisneal College will create two drama productions with community groups in their local area.  The drama department will work alongside industry professional and build experience in conjunction with academic delivery.  There will be two groups of approximately 6-8 students each who will be partnered with a community group and the process will focus on the production of an intergenerational community based project looking at relationships between young people and older people within a community setting.  They will look at intergenerational issues, promoting empathy and therefore improving community cohesion. Each group will develop their own script and production and subsequently the two shows will be staged in both the community venue and the school on successive nights.  There will be a variety of roles for the young people to experience - from writing to acting to various aspects of productions including, lighting, sound, costume, stage management and production management. 

St Colm’s High School

St Colm’s project will focus on writing, music and drama.  Since Covid-19 they have notices a marked different in their young people.  Their project will focus on building confidence, self-esteem and communication skills.  The young people’s experiences with Covid-19 will form part of the stimulus for this year’s work. Through their creative writing, they will develop an anthology of the students’ work, creating a platform for their voices.  Part of this year’s work will include a virtual performance and a celebration of their work, which will be shared with the whole community.

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Arts Council provides update to Communities Committee on impact of Covid-19

Thursday 17th December 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments

Ryan McMullan and the Ulster Orchestra Image: Ryan McMullan and the Ulster Orchestra

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland was invited to attend the Communities Committee today to provide an update on how a share of the £33 million Cultural Recovery Fund announced earlier this year, has been put to use. The Arts Council put expert analysis and information in front of Committee members in order to provide them with a better understanding of what is facing Northern Ireland’s arts and creative sectors right now.

Arts Council Chief Executive Roisin McDonough said,

“We were able to convey to the committee that the arts sector in Northern Ireland is largely surviving Covid-19 thanks to emergency government funding from the Minister and the Department for Communities. It has not been easy and our theatres and venues remain closed under NI Covid-19 restrictions. In light of this, the emergency funding has been a lifeline; it has allowed the majority of the arts sector here to sustain itself during this pandemic and indeed we have expanded our remit as asked and delivered emergency support to the wider culture and creative industries sectors also.

The Arts Council Chief Executive continued, “The Arts Council has been asked to support an extended cultural footprint with emergency funding packages, many of which are non-traditional arts organisations and creatives. For example we have received requests from large commercial organisations operating in the areas of live entertainment and independent cinema who are under stress and, given the pressures on the limited budget available, it would be helpful if there could be a cross-cutting approach within the NI Executive to help determine the support it can deploy for those vital larger organisations in desperate need.

“However the loss of income evidenced, and devastation of the arts and creative sectors this year, means that the reopening and renewal of the arts in 2021 will cost more than we currently have available to spend. There are big decisions yet to be made at government level and funding priorities to agree for next year that will affect how quickly and in what manner the arts can be sustained.

“We also put on record the positive impact of emergency funding on our artists, arts organisations and other creatives. Many have been able to produce amazing creative work, often of great ingenuity, freely available online, and reaching audiences across the world and at home. The positive side of this pandemic situation is that a whole new section of online audiences have turned to the arts for creative solace and entertainment during lockdown and since, largely older in age and from a much wider international reach.

“We spoke too of the enormous effort and work rate that the staff of the Arts Council have demonstrated in order to ensure 6 emergency funding rounds for the arts sector have been completed, effectively doubling the number of funding programmes we have administered this year. We have been utterly determined to get that funding out to those most in need in the wider arts, culture and creative industries sectors as quickly as possible.”

The Arts Council remains hopeful that the Minister and her Department will continue to support the case for the arts, and the value they bring to our society and to our economy; a fact demonstrated by the Arts Council’s latest survey showing high numbers of people turning to the arts for solace and relief during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Latest research on participation and access to the arts during the Covid-19 pandemic was released by the Arts Council yesterday. Full survey can be accessed here: Public turning to the arts for comfort and welcome distraction during the Pandemic | Arts Council of Northern Ireland 

  •  Of 1,003 people surveyed, 60% had participated in or viewed online arts activity:

✓ 43% watched live social media streams/ broadcasts (e.g. of music events)
✓ 28% watched filmed performances of theatre, concerts and /or dance shows online
✓ 18% looked at art, paintings, and photographs online (e.g. from a virtual collection)
✓ 14% participated in an online arts class / group / tutorial (e.g. via zoom or Microsoft teams)
✓ 31% said the arts they took part in online or via social media were from Northern Ireland

  • Among those engaging with the Arts during lockdown, 13% did so for the first time, 25% engaged more than they used to, 32% less than they used to, 20% engaged to the same level and 9% were unsure
    • 68% engaged with the Arts for personal enjoyment and wellbeing
    • 33% did so because they were curious and wanted to try something new
    • 21% did so to engage with friends and family not in their household
    • 15% did so to engage children and young people in their care
    • 12% did so to extend their social circle
    • 5% did so to engage older people in their care
    • Of the 13% engaging with the arts for the first time were more likely to be older, be from lower down the socio-economic scale and have a disability

 

Evidence from the survey also shows that the public would be more comfortable attending arts events or activities in outdoor settings, although a majority did say they would attend an arts event in an indoor space if public health measures were in place, with social distancing being the most important. Most respondents in the survey supported the ‘free for view’ model of consuming arts with limited support for pay for view or donation based models.

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Public turning to the arts for comfort and welcome distraction during the Pandemic

Wednesday 16th December 2020 at 9am 0 Comments

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A new survey commissioned by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland reveals the high numbers of people turning to the arts for solace and relief during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Responses showed that many are choosing to turn to books, crafting, playing a musical instrument, photography and painting, as a source of comfort and distraction, while more people than ever are switching to online sources to access concerts, theatre performances and classes. 

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland commissioned Social Market Research (SMR) in October to undertake a survey to establish the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the consumption of the Arts in Northern Ireland. The survey captured the opinions of more than 1,000 people from a broad range of ages and backgrounds to gain an understanding into the extent to which engagement in the arts has enhanced education provision and supported mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic.

Key findings from the report include:

  • 76% of respondents had attended an arts activity or event in the year prior to lockdown in March 2020, with this falling significantly to 23% in the period since lockdown
  • Reading for pleasure was the most common arts-related activity (51%) that respondents had engaged in in the year leading up to lockdown, with the same holding true for the period since lockdown (47%)
  • 60% had participated in or viewed online arts activity:

✓ 43% watched live social media streams/ broadcasts (e.g. of music events)
✓ 28% watched filmed performances of theatre, concerts and /or dance shows online
✓ 18% looked at art, paintings, and photographs online (e.g. from a virtual collection)
✓ 14% participated in an online arts class / group / tutorial (e.g. via zoom or Microsoft teams)
✓ 31% said the arts they took part in online or via social media were from Northern Ireland

  • Among those engaging with the Arts during lockdown, 13% did so for the first time, 25% engaged more than they used to, 32% less than they used to, 20% engaged to the same level and 9% were unsure
    • 68% engaged with the Arts for personal enjoyment and wellbeing
    • 33% did so because they were curious and wanted to try something new
    • 21% did so to engage with friends and family not in their household
    • 15% did so to engage children and young people in their care
    • 12% did so to extend their social circle
    • 5% did so to engage older people in their care
    • Of the 13% engaging with the arts for the first time were more likely to be older, be from lower down the socio-economic scale and have a disability

 

Evidence from the survey also shows that the public would be more comfortable attending arts events or activities in outdoor settings, although a majority did say they would attend an arts event in an indoor space if public health measures were in place, with social distancing being the most important. Most respondents in the survey supported the ‘free for view’ model of consuming arts with limited support for pay for view or donation based models.

Karly Greene, Director of Strategic Development and Partnerships, commented: 

“The evidence from this survey demonstrates that COVID-19 has had a huge impact on how we are accessing and participating in the arts. We have seen a significant fall in attendance at arts-related events and activities in Northern Ireland and a shift in people’s behaviours, towards online consumption.  The survey has also confirmed that the majority of people place a high value on the arts and, although venues are closed and most live events and classes are cancelled, that they still want to find ways to engage and take part.

“Personal enjoyment and wanting to try something new were the main reasons cited for engaging with the arts during lockdown. But, thinking about life after lock down, this survey has also confirmed that while there is a desire to return to live events, people need to feel comfortable and safe, with a preference for more events happening in outdoor settings and when indoor, with appropriate public safety measures in place.”

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The Irish Writers Centre announces new opportunities for Northern Irish writers

Thursday 10th December 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments Literature

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With thanks to funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, 80 writers will be offered support through one of the newly announced schemes for Northern Irish writers at the Irish Writers Centre. Writers from the North can now apply for one of the 40 Writing Course Bursaries , 20 opportunities to receive One-to-One Mentoring and 20 Professional Memberships on offer at the IWC. Each of these schemes are specifically designed to help writers to further their professional development goals.

The Irish Writers Centre is home to a robust network of writers, and these new support schemes for Northern Irish writers will help to strengthen the vital connection between writers both north and south of the border. The 20 ACNI supported Professional Members at the Irish Writers Centre can expect a range of benefits including discounts and employment opportunities, while those receiving One-to-One Mentoring will gain valuable facetime and feedback from an established writer.

Northern Irish writers will also have until 16 December 2020 to apply for a course bursary with the Irish Writers Centre. The IWC offers a range of writing courses, spanning genres and catering to writers at each stage of their writing development.

Damian Smyth , Head of Literature and Drama, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“Thanks to funding raised for good causes by National Lottery players, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is pleased to be able to support a range of bursaries and schemes for writers from Northern Ireland with the Irish Writers Centre. This funding will provide opportunities to work alongside skilled tutors specialising in a range of genres including memoir, poetry, playwriting, writing for screen, animation and short-stories, enabling writers to develop their skills and tap into a host of valuable resources.”

Speaking of the new schemes for Northern Irish Writers, Irish Writers Centre Director Valerie Bistany said;

“We are thrilled that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland have given us the opportunity to support writers from Northern Ireland through their National Lottery funding. The Irish Writers Centre, though situated in Dublin, has been a home to writers from across the island and abroad for almost 30 years. These new opportunities for Northern Irish writers mark a continuation of our mission to support writers from across the island of Ireland at each stage of their writing journey."

For more information, visit https://irishwriterscentre.ie/blogs/news/irish-writers-centre-acni-supported-course-bursaries 

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Arts Council awards £1million to support the creative sector to safely re-open

Wednesday 9th December 2020 at 2pm 0 Comments

Drake Music Project NI senior musician, Tim Leathem picture with his sister Helen Leathem. Image: Drake Music Project NI senior musician, Tim Leathem picture with his sister Helen Leathem.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland to distribute £1,075,335 capital funding grants on behalf of Department for Communities (DfC).

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has awarded, on behalf of Department for Communities, £1,075,335 capital funding to 108 arts and cultural organisations to help them prepare to safely reopen following the Covid-19 pandemic. 

70 awards, totalling £499,997k, were made through the Small Capital Programme and 54 awards, totalling £575,338k, were made through the Health and Safety Capital Programme

The Small Capital Programme is designed to enable organisations to purchase equipment and carry out minor works to their premises that enhance their artistic services and may include; lighting equipment, stage equipment, sound equipment, minor building works, transport and office equipment.

The Health and Safety Capital Programme is designed to support arts and cultural organisations as they prepare to safely re-open by providing funding for the necessary adjustments and protective equipment required by venues and organisations to ensure that social distancing is maintained and that audiences, performers and staff are kept safe.

Communities Minister Caral Ní Chuilín, said,

“I am delighted that my Department has been able to secure these vital capital funds which will further support our arts sector at this very difficult time. These programmes will be invaluable in helping to ensure that organisations in the sector have the necessary equipment to carry out their work; and to enable them to adhere to government guidance and prepare to safely reopen their doors when the situation allows.”

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

“The Arts Council welcomes the support shown by Minister Ní Chuilín for the arts and culture sectors. The capital funding announced today will bring us closer to re-opening our venues and cultural spaces safely.  Both programmes were developed in response to Covid-19 and are much needed to help our arts and cultural organisations prepare for the future.


“Theatres as well as cultural and live performance venues, all play a vital economic and social role in Northern Ireland; it is here where many artists and creative practitioners develop their skills and their craft and most importantly, it’s where they collaborate, creating great art that inspires us, and supports our local economy.  We want to ensure that organisations have proper measures in place to welcome the return of their staff, artists and audiences and these grants help to ensure that.”

Organisations offered funding include:

Cumann Cultúrtha Mhic Reachtain (CCMR) (Belfast)
Health and Safety Capital Programme grant: £6,204
Small Capital Programme grant: £35,640

Cumann Culturtha Mhic Reachtain (CCMR), established in 1999, is an Irish language arts and cultural venue on the Antrim Road, Belfast. They deliver a significant Irish language summer school, year round concerts, sean-nós singing and dance classes, set dancing workshops, a broad programme of language classes; literary events, poetry reading and book launches, coffee mornings for older people, youth club, historical walks and lectures. 

The organisation has received Small Capital Programme funding to refurbish their building through the rewiring, upgrading and replacement of all lighting and ceiling tiles to bring them up to current standards for the health and safety of all users.  The also wish to install nested speakers in the concert hall to enhance the acoustics and improve the audience experience for the broad programme of arts activity.

The organisation has also received Health and Safety Capital Programme funding to purchase equipment to ensure they can continue to function as an arts centre ensuring the safety of their staff, artists and audiences through the purchase of hand sanitizing stations, Perspex screens, infrared thermometers and signage.  They also have received funding to purchase equipment to ensure that all staff can safely and securely work from home in the event of further restrictions.

Ulster-Scots Community Network (Belfast)
Health and Safety Programme grant: £7,209

The Ulster-Scots Community Network has received Health and Safety Programme funding for their project, Lukkin Efter Wursels, to enhance safety in their city centre premises and among participants.  They will purchase gazebos for the outdoor delivery of small, socially distanced performances, Perspex screens for their indoor performance space and a fogging machine to dispense disinfectant at ultra-low volume to ensure hygiene standards are maintained within the venue and to ensure that seating is cleaned before shows and events.

Liberty Consortium - Playtrail (Derry-Londonderry)
Health and Safety Programme grant: £11,477

Liberty Consortium aims to provide an inclusive approach to play and outdoor learning at its Playtrail site within the grounds of Ardnashee School and College whilst providing Day Opportunity & Social Provision for young adults with learning disabilities at their HUB within Northside Village Centre.  Their wider services are currently utilised by a cross section of organisations, as well as many youth clubs and schools. The Playtrail facility is also open to the wider community outside of school hours and hosts a year-long programme of activities.

The Health and Safety Programme funding will enable Liberty Consortium to create a multi-functional, branded mobile staging/workshop facility through the purchase of a van, two marquees with heaters, padded seating and sanitising stations.  The outcome will make the existing space warm, welcoming and usable in all weather, particularly for children and young people with physical restrictions which can impair movement and create more difficulty for them to stay warm in an outdoor space.  The van will enable them to safely transport drums and facilitators to deliver safe workshops outdoors at different locations.

Killyman St Marys GAA Club (Dungannon)
Small Capital Programme grant: £1,284

Killyman St Mary’s GAA Club has been awarded Small Capital Programme funding to purchase equipment that will enable the organistions to deliver arts classes online through social media.  They will purchase equipment to record lessons in music, dance and language and deliver these online to participants.  They also will use the funding to purchase sounds equipment to use for indoor and outdoor events.

Dungannon Silver Band (Dungannon)
Small Capital Programme grant: £2,993

Dungannon Silver Band has a very active Youth Academy which has continued to receive tuition through remote Zoom teaching throughout the Covid-19 restrictions and the organisations wishes to build its online audience.  The band has performed across the region with support from Mid-Ulster Council, Armagh, Craigavon and Banbridge Council as well as Belfast City Council. They have performed at two of the Belfast Tattoo events in recent years, as well as one in Glasgow.

The organisation has received Small Capital Programme funding to purchase equipment to enable them to record, mix, share their music online and enter online competitions.  They will use the services of a local recording studio and engineer to create an entry for a competition and also record a series of Christmas carols to share on social media.

Drake Music Project Ireland (Newry)
Health and Safety Programme grant: £36,008

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

Drake Music Project has been awarded Health and Safety Programme funding to enable the organisation to purchase equipment so they can adapt and continue their delivery of assisted technology music workshops to groups that are at high risk from Covid-19, many of who have had to isolate for a number of months.  The organisation will purchase sanitisation units, Perspex and polycarbonate medical grade desk dividers and screens, individual personalised controller units and computer equipment to suit the new distanced and safe working spaces. 

The organisation’s core work involves the creation, building and provision of assistive music technology and adapted instruments for people with complex and profound disabilities so they will purchase laptops and I-Pads as these are at the heart of a musician’s adapted instrumental setup, with interfaces and controllers added, to create an independent accessible musical environment for composition, performance and non-real time processing.  Post-Covid, these kits of instruments can serve across the community in outreach workshops, so they will have a shelf life beyond the current restrictions.

 

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Webinar: ACNI Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme 2

Wednesday 9th December 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments

Mircrophone Image: Mircrophone

We are pleased to host four information webinars for individuals considering making an application to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme.

Event details: when, where, how to book?
This event is for venue support staff, singer songwriters, session musicians, set designers, lighting and sound technicians, artists, actors, DJs, musicians, rappers, writers/poets, comedians, open mike performers, tutors and facilitators, dancers, choreographers, editors and proof readers, craftspeople. This is an indicative list and is not exhaustive.

The event will start with a short presentation on the key points of the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme. Arts Council staff will then be on hand to take your questions.

To get the most out of this information session, you are strongly advised to familiarise yourself with the Application Guidance Notes prior to the event. You will find these on the Arts Council website at: http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/individuals-emergency-resilience-programme-2

Please note: We are limiting the number of attendees in each session to allow for some discussion but it may not be possible to hear from everyone. If you have specific questions you’d like to send ahead of the information session please send to info@artscouncil-ni.org


When: 

  • Tuesday 15th December: 10am – 12pm - FULLY BOOKED
  • Tuesday 15th December: 2pm-4pm - FULLY BOOKED
  • Friday 18th December: 10am – 12pm - FULLY BOOKED
  • Friday 18th December: 2pm-4pm - FULLY BOOKED

 

Where: Zoom– we will send you a link after registration.

How to book: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/arts-council-of-northern-ireland-17018176139

 

About the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme
The Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme is the latest emergency fund administered by the Arts Council (ACNI), on behalf of the Department for Communities, in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

It is a £3.25 million programme of support, providing grants of up to £5,000 to individuals experiencing financial hardship as a result of Covid-19. Funding will help support individual musicians, DJs, artists, actors, craftspeople and freelancers and other creative practitioners who work in the creative industries to sustain and build their creative, professional and technical skills in these challenging times.

The Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme 2 is part of the £29 million Executive allocation that was made to the Department for Communities to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors which have been severely impacted by Covid-19.

The programme will open for applications on Thursday 17 December 2020.

Guidance Notes are available from http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/individuals-emergency-resilience-programme-2

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Snow Water presents Under a Christmas Sky

Monday 7th December 2020 at 7pm 0 Comments Literature , Northern Ireland Music , Drama

Snow Water presents Under a Christmas Sky, 10th – 24th December, 2020 Image: Snow Water presents Under a Christmas Sky, 10th – 24th December, 2020

Under a Christmas Sky features Northern Ireland’s finest musicians, actors, poetry and story-telling, filmed live at the Ulster Folk Museum. From traditional to contemporary everything you will see and hear has one thing in common. The…magic…of…Christmas!

Snow Water (the creators and curators of Distant Sky) are bringing you one cultural treat per day from 10th – 23rd December, and on Christmas Eve you can watch our full programme, hosted by BBC’s Joe Lindsay. Each day, an advent door will open online to reveal a delicious film for the viewer. Under a Christmas Sky combines beautiful poetry from the likes of Michael Longley, George Bernard Shaw, Thackeray and Frank Ormsby, with songs by Darlene Love, Joni Mitchell, Bing Crosby as well as traditional carols. But with a twist – all are given new interpretations by some of Northern Ireland’s finest artists!

Versatile and well-known actor CHARLOTTE MCCURRY, who has performed leads on the stages of The Lyric Theatre, Grand Opera House and BBCNI in productions of works from Rudyard Kipling to Shakespeare, reads ‘Christmas Wayfarers’ by Cathal O Byrne.

Composer and musician NEIL MARTIN, who has long been an undeniable force in music both in Ireland and internationally, performs a stunningly beautiful ‘A Wexford Carol’, an extraordinarily evocative piece.

It isn’t Christmas without a Grimes and McKee show, and we’re delighted to have the incredible actor ALAN MCKEE reading George Bernard Shaw’s ‘No Music at Christmas’.

21 year old multi-award winning ROE, who is blazing a trail for musicians across Ireland and who’s music has featured from Glastonbury to Netflix, brings an incredible new interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’.

Without a shadow of a doubt, ‘A Christmas Gift For You’ by Phil Spector, is the greatest yuletide album of all time and multi-instrumentalist and singer KATIE RICHARDSON delivers a belter cover of Darlene Love’s ‘Christmas, Baby Please Come Home’ with her band HEX HUE.

Actor CHRIS GRANT, seen most recently in SyFy Channel’s series ‘Krypton’, performs the great Michael Longley’s piece ‘The Goose’.

Sibling fronted indie-pop band, BRAND NEW FRIEND, who have supported Snow Patrol, Lewis Capaldi and Feeder, and who have fired up stages from Reading and Leeds to Radio 1’s Big Weekend, appear as Carol Singers with their version of ‘Silent Night’.

Bangor duo THE DARKLING AIR, who’s ‘Ancestor’ was nominated for Best Album in 2020, instantly bring an air of sublime melodies and harmonies to the minds of anyone who has ever heard them. They truly have a special aura to their music and they envelope and reinterpret Bing Crosby’s ‘I’ll Be Home for Xmas’.

Award winning actress ABIGAIL MCGIBBON reads ‘In Lieu Of Carols’ written by one of our most acclaimed poets and Ireland’s Professor of Poetry, Frank Ormsby.

We defy you to not reach for the tissues to wipe tears of joy at MATT MCGINN’s performance of the classic favourite, a truly epic Christmas song, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’. He was hailed by Hot Press as ‘1 to Watch’ in 2020.

A song so traditional yet timeless it has been covered by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Sufjan Stevens and Mariah Carey, ‘O Holy Night’ is as festive as mince pies and we are definitely treating you with a performance by NI OPERA.

For our finale, William Makepeace Thackeray’s ‘The End of The Play’ read by an actor whose credits are matched only by his awards. A career spanning over three decades and most recently Game of Thrones, The Fall and Derry Girls. We are absolutely delighted and honored to have IAN MCELHINNEY close our festive feast.

On Christmas Eve, a film featuring all the artists will be presented by radio and television broadcaster Joe Lindsay (presenter of BBC 6 Music’s festival Big Weekend, BBC1's The One Show, Our Coast and the award-winning travel series Getaways).

Joe commented:

“Snow Water hopes to bring a little joy, a little beauty, a little magic to the days leading up to this rather unique, strange and unexpected Christmas. Day by day then as a full piece on Christmas Eve. We are bringing together some of the finest pieces of music and poetry with some of the finest talent in the country. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and to all a good night. Until we return to good nights out.”

Director of Snow Water, Carolyn Mathers, commented:

“This project would not be happening without the support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and we are thrilled that, thanks to their support, we are able to work with 18 artists and 6 freelancers at the beautiful Ulster Folk Museum.  We are home to some of the finest artists in the world and, after such a difficult year for the cultural industries and with four of our own live festivals cancelled, we are able to celebrate NI’s artistic excellence and to end the year with some light. It can also be enjoyed every Christmas for years to come and thanks to Tourism Ireland, Under a Christmas Sky will be showcased internationally and watched by digital audiences across Europe and North America.”

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“The Arts Council is proud to support this magical and imaginative project from Snow Water who once again has gathered together some of the finest names from theatre, literature, poetry and music, to lift our spirits and inspire us all this Christmas.  The project is supported through our Organisations Emergency Programme (OEP), a fund which has supported 212 organisations to date and will help them buy creative time to produce new ideas for programming, plan for recovery and withstand the shock to their organisation of the substantial loss of income during lockdown.  Congratulations to Snow Water on creating, Under a Christmas Sky, a beautiful initiative which will bring joy to all this Christmas.”

10th - 23rd December: Advent Calendar
24th December: Film
Watch on YouTube at Under a Christmas Sky
Facebook & Instagram: @distantskysw

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Northern Ireland’s oldest cinema turns 85 with the launch of ‘Strand Stories’

Monday 7th December 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments

Councillor Peter McReynolds, Belfast City Council, Strand Arts Centre Chief Executive Mimi Turtle and Sonya Whitefield, Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Image: Councillor Peter McReynolds, Belfast City Council, Strand Arts Centre Chief Executive Mimi Turtle and Sonya Whitefield, Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s oldest cinema building is celebrating its 85th birthday. The Strand in East Belfast was opened by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Sir Crawford McCullagh, on 7th December 1935. Since then, three or four generations of the same families have been through its doors. This week also sees the launch of ‘Strand Stories’, a new project supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund that aims to record, cherish and promote the social and architectural heritage of this iconic local landmark.

The Strand is the only survivor from that golden age of cinema when Belfast alone boasted over 40 picture palaces. Architect John McBride Neill’s stunning design was heavily influenced by the Strand’s proximity to Harland & Wolff. The exterior of the building is shaped like the bow of a ship, and the nautical theme continues inside with curved walls, porthole windows and light fittings.

Strand Arts Centre Chief Executive Mimi Turtle said:

“The Strand has adapted to community needs over the decades and has enjoyed spells both as a cinema and a variety theatre. No longer a commercial cinema, the Strand Arts Centre charity took over the tenancy of the building in 2013 with the support of key stakeholders including our principal funder, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The ambition was to meet an evidenced need for more arts provision in the area. Since then, Strand Arts Centre has demonstrated an overwhelming appetite for more live entertainment. Last year over 60,000 people attended a busy programme of film screenings, live theatre and music events, creative workshops and education projects for young people. The venue is widely used by many festivals and by the local community for school visits, film premieres and charity fundraising events.”

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

“We warmly congratulate the Strand Arts Centre on their 85th birthday and are proud to support them in providing a wonderful range of arts activities to people of all ages in east Belfast.  The venue itself is an Art Deco gem and we wish the team continued success as they embark upon an impressive refurbishment to make the building even more inviting.”

Strand Arts Centre is planning a £4.6m transformation in the near future thanks to £1.8m catalyst funding from Belfast City Council.

“The Strand is full of character and we want to preserve and promote its heritage,” said Mimi, “but the building requires extensive renovation to improve facilities for audiences and performers, including disabled access throughout, and to meet the demand for youth and education activities. We are hugely grateful to the council for its vote of confidence and much-needed investment in the local community.

“Through our Strand Stories project we want to encourage Strand audiences, past and present, to share their memories of, and future aspirations for, this treasured East Belfast venue. I know lots of people out there will have great stories to tell about visits to the Strand. Many went through the life cycle of attending the Saturday Minors Club as children, progressing to first dates in the back row and subsequently bringing their own children, and very often their grandchildren too. And let’s not forget the dozens of projectionists, usherettes and concierges over the years.”

Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland, The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“We’re delighted to support The Strand as they celebrate their 85th birthday and launch Strand Stories. This is a really exciting project which will bring to life the unique history and memories associated with the history of this iconic and much-loved east Belfast cinema. Thanks to National Lottery players, this project will involve people of all ages in shaping and sharing the stories of its fascinating past.”

Having been closed due to COVID-19 restrictions for a second time since mid-October, Mimi and her team are preparing to re-open the doors of Strand Arts Centre on 11th December.

“It’s such a shame that we have to celebrate our 85th birthday in self-isolation!” said Mimi. “But we know that our audiences will return as soon as they are allowed. A family outing to Christmas classics such as Elf or Home Alone is a festive tradition for many of our regulars. We have other seasonal favourites including screenings of Katherine Jenkins and Bolshoi Ballet’s The Nutcracker. And we have a following desperate to see the return of live performances once restrictions are lifted.”

To find out more about Strand Stories, and what’s on at the venue over the festive period, visit www.strandartscentre.com

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Festive Show Set to Bring Joy to Hundreds of Older People across NI thanks to National Lottery

Monday 7th December 2020 at 10am 0 Comments Drama , Arts and Older People

Commedia of Errors are one of three organisations to have been awarded National Lottery funding through the Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme. The funding will be used to bring a special online interactive show to care homes, folds and dementia specia Image: Commedia of Errors are one of three organisations to have been awarded National Lottery funding through the Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme. The funding will be used to bring a special online interactive show to care homes, folds and dementia specia

Northern Ireland theatre company Commedia of Errors has been awarded funding from the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Radius Housing and Accidental Theatre to bring a very special festive show to care homes, folds and dementia specialist facilities across Northern Ireland this Christmas.

The organisation is one of three to be awarded money through the Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme. The £5,000 grant will be used to provide interactive performances to older people living in care who due to the COVID-19 pandemic may feel more isolated than ever this Christmas.

Through a combination of live streaming and video conferencing software, the company are beaming their hit variety show, Plays Aloud, featuring a selection box of comedy, nostalgic music, poetry and performance. Each performance is specially curated to individual settings and designed to invigorate, reenergise and connect with older audiences.

Clare Mahon from Commedia of Errors said,

“We are over the moon to be awarded Small Grants funding to support our ever-growing project, 'Plays Aloud'. Now in its fourth year, Plays Aloud has been adapted for a digital experience 'Plays Aloud At Home.' This Christmas we will live-stream a nostalgia-inspired variety show into the lounges of care homes across the province.

“We will also provide bespoke DVD recordings for homes without strong internet connections, as well as posting Christmas cards to every resident in every care-home taking part. Arts Council Funding will ensure this project can reach more older audiences than ever, and bring music and comedy to isolated older people this Christmas.”

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

“As the pandemic continues, many of us have learnt to really appreciate the positive impact that the arts can have on our health and wellbeing. It is fantastic to see how organisations like Commedia of Errors are adapting their practice so that they can continue to spread joy and connected with  hundreds of older people living across Northern Ireland.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised every week for good causes, many of which are supporting the most vulnerable in communities. Often a small investment in arts projects can make a big difference to people’s lives and that’s exactly what we are seeing with these fantastic initiatives supported through our Small Grants Programme.”

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

November Small Grants Funding will also support:
Richmount Rural Community Association, Armagh, £9,075
Ballymena Festival of Speech, Drama and Dance, £2,600

Plays Aloud at Home is supported by Radius Housing, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The Halifax Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation and Tesco Bags of Help.

Please note, the Small Grants Programme is temporarily closed. Details of when the scheme will reopen will be announced via www.artscouncil-ni.org/news.

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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‘Sky, You Are Too Big’ - Artists for International Migrants’ Day

Wednesday 2nd December 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music , Literature , Drama , Dance , Visual Arts

Sound artist Una Lee, who is part of 'Sky, You Are Too Big', a free online arts showcase for International Migrants' Day on Thurs 17 December. Image: Sound artist Una Lee, who is part of 'Sky, You Are Too Big', a free online arts showcase for International Migrants' Day on Thurs 17 December.

Artists from Italy, South Africa, South Korea, Romania and France who have made their homes in Northern Ireland will come together for 'Sky, You Are Too Big', a special showcase event for International Migrants’ Day on Thursday 17 December at 7pm.

Organised by Quotidian - Word on the Street, a literary arts production company and supported by the Community Relations Council,  'Sky, You Are Too Big' is inspired by a poem about migration written by Viviana Fiorentino, an event participant who moved to Northern Ireland from Italy six years ago.

Speaking about the event, Viviana says:

“Created by the United Nations in 1990, the theme of this year’s International Migrants’ Day is #WeTogether - we learn together, create together, work together, sing, dance and play together.

Featuring music, poetry, theatre, dance and visual art from a variety of international perspectives, the aim of 'Sky, You Are Too Big' is to reflect on the experience of migration and the enrichment of diversity in renewing and changing Northern Ireland.”

Artists participating in the online event include soul singer-songwriter Siobhan Brown, visual artist and printmaker Wilhelmina Peace, visual artist Frederic Huska, sound artist Una Lee, poet and playwright Nandi Jola, multi-disciplinary artist Dragos Musat and poet and activist Viviana Fiorentino.  'Sky, You Are Too Big' will be introduced by Maria McManus, Artistic Director/ Founder of Quotidian - Word On the Street.

Tickets for this online event are free and can be booked now by searching for 'Sky, You Are Too Big', on www.eventbrite.com.  

Quotidian – Word on the Street is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and through National Lottery funds.

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Felim Egan (1952-2020) Internationally-acclaimed Strabane-born painter

Monday 23rd November 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments Visual Arts

Red Pool by Felim Egan, 2014. Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection Image: Red Pool by Felim Egan, 2014. Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with regret of the death of the acclaimed Strabane-born artist, Felim Egan, who died in Dublin on Thursday 19th November.

Felim Egan was born in Strabane in 1952 and studied in Belfast then at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, before moving to Dublin, where he would remain and work as an artist. He exhibited throughout the world, with 72 solo exhibitions, including major shows in the 1990s at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. He represented Ireland at the 1981 Xie Biennale de Paris and the 18th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (1985), and his work hangs in numerous collections, including the National Gallery of Ireland and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1986 he was elected to Aosdána, the Irish association of artists whose work is deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland.

Egan was one of Ireland’s most respected abstract painters. Yet, as the artist himself has said, his painting is tied intrinsically to the long horizons, big skies and empty sands of Sandymount Strand and Dublin Bay, where he lived and worked. They are, in this sense ‘almost landscapes’, with subtle references and symbols adding layers of meaning and depth to the formal composition. As Seamus Heaney wrote in 1986, Egan was an artist with a ‘genius for filling the cleared spaced in his canvases and drawings and constrictions with the pressure of something withdrawn or withheld.’

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council paid tribute:
“In the last year we have sadly lost two of the most important painters to emerge from Northern Ireland in the early 1980s: first, Micky Donnelly and now his contemporary, Felim Egan. Both exhibited at the Arts Council Gallery in Belfast and both were key artists represented in the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection. Felim leaves behind an exceptional body of paintings and major exhibitions, which earned him a place amongst that coterie of artists from these islands who have achieved a truly international status.”

Felim Egan’s remains were removed today from Quigley`s Funeral Home in Stabane for cremation in Lakelands Crematorium, Cavan.

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Ryan Vail and Ruth McGinley release brand new collaborative track ‘Chrysalism’

Monday 23rd November 2020 at 11am 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Award-winning electronic producer and musician, Ryan Vail with contemporary classical concert pianist, Ruth McGinley Image: Award-winning electronic producer and musician, Ryan Vail with contemporary classical concert pianist, Ruth McGinley

Award-winning electronic producer and musician, Ryan Vail has collaborated with contemporary classical concert pianist, Ruth McGinley, on new track, “Chrysalism: the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm”.

Written and recorded remotely during the COVID-19 lockdown in their homes, both artists found solace and inspiration in their work while a pandemic stormed outside the walls of their studios.  The track is supported by Moving On Music and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Through this one-off collaboration, Vail and McGinley look to make sense of the world and document their frustrations via their effortless blend of alternative electronic and classical composition with the track moving smoothly between minimalist expression and Ryan Vail's trademark sweeping, vibrant electronica.
Of the track, Vail says “We wrote this piece together at the peak of lockdown, we had to work remotely from our own studios, blending the worlds of classical and electronica to document our mood and frustrations with what was happening around us.”

In the track Vail and McGinley seek to document their frustrations through the melding of alternative electronic and classical composition on this one-off collaboration. With seismic tonal shifts between minimalist expression and sweeping, vibrant electronica, ‘Chrysalism’ was inspired by the silences and space that self-isolation has wrought.
McGinley says of the track “I found deep inner peace in lockdown as the world slowed down and I could stay indoors and connect back to my true nature at a slower pace. But you only had to put on the tv/radio/media to realise that there was a full-blown storm outside in the world. A fusion of sounds and musical worlds, Chrysalism sums up the feels of lockdown for me fully.”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council, added,

“This is an exciting collaboration between two exceptional artists and the output is extraordinary.  Thanks to a commission from Moving On Music, these musicians were enabled to create new music at a time when work for artists has been decimated as a result of the pandemic.  Congratulations to both Ruth and Ryan on Chrysalism, a track which magically weaves the uniqueness of each artist and truly captures the spirit of the times we’re all living through, giving us all hope for the future ahead.”

Ryan Vail is the award-winning artist and producer whose most recent record 'Borders' – a collaborative project with Elma Orkestra – won the Northern Irish Music Prize in 2019, was the subject of a BBC documentary and saw the pair appearing together again for a special edition of the BBC Proms in September.  Ruth McGinley is a renowned concert pianist who plays regularly for with BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra and RTE Concert Orchestra.

Chrysalism is available to listen to now on all the usual streaming platforms, Spotify and iTunes.  https://open.spotify.com/artist/0vAfBmdtRZEAYgsoH66VhU

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New Award for Civic Arts Organisations

Monday 23rd November 2020 at 10am 0 Comments

New Award for Civic Arts Organisations Image: New Award for Civic Arts Organisations

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch), in partnership with King’s College London, opens submissions for a new award that celebrates the civic role of arts organisations in society.

Offering one award of £100,000 and two of £25,000, the Award for Civic Arts Organisations aims to shine a spotlight on the vital role that arts organisations play in society.

The world has changed rapidly in the last year. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought devastation, but also a reset in how we live our lives and how communities operate. As we emerge into the ‘new normal’, it is arts organisations that will help us shape the future: culture, creativity and the arts are the basis through which we tell stories of our past, our present and our future, enabling us to realise what it means to be fully human, individually and collectively. As we face the challenges and opportunities of the coming months and years, arts and culture have an important role to play.

This Award will highlight and celebrate civic arts organisations and their responses to the pandemic, providing funding and further support to continue their work and share learning. It will shine a spotlight on the vital role that arts organisations play in sustaining a thriving, creative, and connected society, particularly during challenging times. At this difficult time, this feels even more important.

Applications close at 1pm on 30th November 2020.

Visit https://gulbenkian.pt/uk-branch/our-work/the-civic-role-of-arts-organisations/the-award-for-civic-arts-organisations for more information and to apply.

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It’s crossed-finger selfie time!

Thursday 19th November 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

Edward Horner, Thomas Horner and Jim Webster from Streetwise Community Circus Image: Edward Horner, Thomas Horner and Jim Webster from Streetwise Community Circus

To mark the 26th anniversary of the National Lottery, on Thursday 19th November 2020, people in communities across the UK will post crossed finger selfies to say a massive collective thank you to the National Lottery players for their colossal contribution to good causes across the UK.

Since 1994, £40 billion has been raised for good causes by National Lottery players, supporting 620,000 projects. Celebrating this important milestone are Edward Horner, Thomas Horner and Jim Webster from Streetwise Community Circus, who, thanks to Arts Council National Lottery funding, are currently producing a series of training videos for people living in Sheltered accommodation and unable to attend their regular classes during lockdown.

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Calling for Nominations for the Aisling Awards 2020

Monday 16th November 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

Aisling Awards 2020 Image: Aisling Awards 2020

The Aisling Awards are the community Oscars of Belfast and have celebrated the bridge-builders and grassroots community champions transforming the city of Belfast.

This year, the Aisling Awards are being reshaped to shine a light on those unsung heroes whose actions have kept our spirits high throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The Awards will be an opportunity to thank them for their big hearts. Categories include the ‘Urban Villages Covid Hero’ award and 'The Show will go on Culture & Arts Award'. To nominate someone you know is deserving of an award, click on the link below to complete the short nomination form. 

Nominations close at midnight on Friday 20th November 2020.

Nominate now: https://aisling-events.com/event/aisling-awards-2020/?

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Lyric Theatre, Crescent Arts Centre, Ulster Orchestra and the MAC set to receive Funding Lifeline

Wednesday 11th November 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

The MAC Belfast Image: The MAC Belfast

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has confirmed that four flagship arts organisations have been offered additional funding support totalling almost £620,000.

Money has been awarded to The Lyric Theatre, the MAC, Crescent Arts Centre and the Ulster Orchestra to help them prepare and plan for reopening, following closures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The funding, which will be administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, is part of a range of measures supported by COVID emergency funding from the Department for Communities to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors, which have been severely impacted by the pandemic.

The four organisations which will benefit from today’s announcement are all facing major deficit costs heading into 2021. Current restrictions have resulted in significant losses of income and an uncertain future ahead. The grants will provide a much-needed lifeline, providing financial stability and enabling them to meet the significant costs of reopening to staff, professionals and public, by ensuring they comply with all measures set out by Government protocols relating to safety under COVID-19.

As a result of the Departments support,

• The Lyric will receive £174,804
• The MAC will receive £157,520
• Crescent Arts Centre will receive £25,590
• Ulster Orchestra will receive £261,850

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: 

“I am pleased to see offers being made to help in the preparations for the safe reopening of our venues when the time is right.  We miss visiting our venues in person and this £619k funding package for the MAC, the Crescent Arts Centre, Ulster Orchestra and the Lyric Theatre will help them survive and thrive and to be ready to welcome back audiences, when it is safe to do so.”

Arts Council Chief Executive Roisin McDonough commented:

“These four organisations are major employers in the arts sector and, in the case of the MAC and The Crescent, a home for other arts companies too. They are at the very heart of creative and cultural life in Northern Ireland and a hub for people to come together to enjoy the many benefits that the arts bring to our lives.

“In addition to their core staff, they contract hundreds of freelancers throughout the year, providing employment for artists, actors, performers, technical staff and back stage crew. This funding will alleviate some of the burden they are currently facing, helping them to effectively plan ahead for welcoming back audiences, performances and events as soon as it is safe and possible.”

The MAC’s chief executive, Anne McReynolds added:

“We very much welcome the announcement from the Arts Council that the MAC will receive £157,520 in emergency funding and we acknowledge the work by Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín in bringing this forward.  The doors of venues across the region closed over 6 months ago; our stages and galleries have been silent and empty since then.  Freelancers and artists who rely on shows, festivals and events lost their livelihoods overnight and we still do not have a date or plan for when theatres, music venues and community arts spaces across NI will all be able to perform to live audiences again.  The MAC, like others, has felt the overwhelming impact of this public health crisis and we now look forward to working with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and our colleagues across the whole sector, to get back on our feet.”

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BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine – New Commissioning Strand to support disabled artists

Monday 9th November 2020 at 2pm 0 Comments Arts & Disability

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BBC Arts partners with Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland to announce Culture in Quarantine’s new commissioning strand to celebrate the work of disabled artists

As different restrictions are put in place across the United Kingdom, BBC Arts continues its Culture in Quarantine initiative, which aims to keep the arts in the homes of the public during lockdown and support artists at a difficult time with the launch of a new commissioning opportunity to celebrate the work of disabled artists. The strand has been established in partnership between BBC Arts, Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland and forms part of the wider disability season across the BBC, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act, supporting disabled artists across England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to produce new works that will be hosted across BBC platforms.

D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled professional artists will be invited to apply to produce new video or audio works. The fund aims to commission ten new works, with support from digital production specialists.

The new commissioning programme marks the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act into law on 8th November 1995. The strand of programming is designed to help artists produce work at such a challenging time for the arts, and when some may be self-isolating, recognising that some disabled people are regarded by health professionals as being ‘vulnerable’ to the medical conditions associated with Covid-19. Artists can - but do not have to - create work that responds to the disabled experience of living through the pandemic. The commissioning strand will also work with the UK Disability Arts Alliance which amplifies the voices of D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled creative practitioners and disability arts organisations.

This new commissioning opportunity builds on the success of BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine artists’ commissioning strand, launched in April 2020 by BBC Arts and Arts Council England, which invited artists to give a creative response to the challenges of lockdown. A total of 25 commissions were produced, which achieved audiences in the millions across BBC and social platforms.

Jonty Claypole, Director BBC Arts commented: 

“The Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 is one of the most important civil rights landmarks in British history. To mark this important anniversary, the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine initiative is joining with Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland to commission a range of film and audio projects that celebrate the talent of D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled professional artists today.  This is more important than ever in the age of Covid-19 when the need for extreme shielding threatens to silence many disabled artists who would otherwise be producing work for galleries, stages and other platforms around the UK.”

Artist, curator and producer, Cathy Mager, whose film ‘Sign Night’ was previously commissioned for Culture in Quarantine said:

"Being commissioned by BBC Arts and Arts Council England to produce work for the BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine initiative was incredible.  I was supported to create a film that explored British Sign Language culture in an authentic and powerful way and I'm delighted that this funding scheme is being expanded. It is vital to continue to invest in deaf and disabled artists, so that the stories of their diverse lived experience can come to the fore."

Noirín McKinney, Director, Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,

“We are delighted to be part of the BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine initiative on this important anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act. It is a timely partnership managed by the expertise of the digital support agency The Space, and provides valuable commissioning and production support for the artists involved. They will have the chance to increase their digital knowledge and skills, essential to creating and distributing new arts content in these times. The Arts Council is looking forward to seeing two significant and digitally accessible works from disabled artists in NI emerge from this commission next year, we are delighted to have received  funding from the Department for Communities to enable this partnership and provide opportunities to this vital sector .”

Information concerning the commissioning opportunity is available from https://www.thespace.org/commissioning

The deadline for applications is noon, Tuesday 12 January 2021. 

Commissions will be selected by a panel including representatives from BBC Arts, Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland and the UK Disability Arts Alliance. It is expected that the works will be produced between March 2021 and June 2021, airing on BBC platforms later in 2021.

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Funding to help musicians purchase new instruments announced

Friday 6th November 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Pictured are: Críostóir Ó Bradáin and Gráinne Ní Bhradaín, from the Armagh Pipers, one of the groups to benefit from the scheme last year. Image: Pictured are: Críostóir Ó Bradáin and Gráinne Ní Bhradaín, from the Armagh Pipers, one of the groups to benefit from the scheme last year.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is offering a number of funding opportunities under its Musical Instruments Scheme. Thanks to capital investment of £300,000 from the Department for Communities three funding programmes have opened offering support for artists and groups to purchase instruments up until March 2021.

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
Grants of up to £10,000 are available through this scheme. 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.http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/musical-instruments-for-bands-2020

Programme two: Professional and Non-Professional Performing Groups
Grants of up to £30,000 are available through this scheme. This strand is open to schools and to professional and non-professional performing groups in any genre of music, including amateur / youth orchestras and ensembles, choirs, community music groups, musical societies and pop and rock ensembles. Primary and post primary schools are also encouraged to apply for funding for non-core curriculum activities. http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/musical-instruments-for-professional-and-non-professional-performing-groups

Programme three: Individual Professional Performing Musicians
Grants of up to £10,000 will be available through this scheme. 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. http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/musical-instruments-for-individuals

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said:

“The Musical Instruments Scheme is a recognition of the importance of supporting musical potential and excellence across the range of the musical culture here.  

“From our rich banding tradition with its many forms, all of which have been impacted heavily by COVID, through to our aspiring and talented individuals.

“It is important that we don’t lose sight of the important contribution that musical performance makes not just to the lives of the performers but to the well-being of us all. “

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 reopen this popular scheme for a second year. This valuable range of programmes offers bands, musical groups, schools and professional musicians the opportunity to buy new instruments, helping to increase skills for all types of 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. “

Please note, limited funds are available to support this programme and it is anticipated that demand for funds is likely to be high. The Arts Council will aim to distribute funds as widely as possible in order to provide maximum benefit.

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Ulster Orchestra collaborates with Ryan McMullan in an emotive new song that honours the NHS

Friday 6th November 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

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Commissioned by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to write a song marking the commitment and contribution of the NHS and its staff during the Covid19 pandemic, rising international star Ryan McMullan, joined forces with the Ulster Orchestra who provided a special arrangement, performed by its string section, to record a beautiful new piece titled If This Is The End.

Ryan, who has toured internationally with Ed Sheeran and Snow Patrol, took inspiration for the song from the incredible work of the NHS, paying a poignant tribute to those who have lost someone during 2020 and have been unable to mourn their loved ones in the usual way. Combined with the Orchestra’s soaring string arrangements by Paul Campbell, it brings to mind a spirit leaving this realm and entering the next.

Ryan explains;

“When the Arts Council asked me to write a song, the only story that I could think of was the one I had heard of John Wilson. John’s wife got sick during full lockdown, which meant he couldn’t visit her in the hospital or hold her hand as she passed - he never got to say goodbye to the person he spent his life with - and then I thought of the countless others who were going through the same thing. The song wrote itself after that I guess. Having the Ulster Orchestra arrange and perform it with me was so amazing and I’m incredibly grateful to them for being such an integral part of such a meaningful song.”

Patrick McCarthy, Ulster Orchestra’s Head of Artistic Planning and Operations, comments;

“The Ulster Orchestra was delighted to collaborate with Ryan to compose and record a string arrangement to accompany his inspiring song which honours the work of the NHS and its staff.  I feel that the role of the Ulster Orchestra at this time is to find ways to give space to artists and to give a voice to the emotion that we’ve all been dealing with through this time.  I think Ryan’s song has truly captured that emotion - it’s incredibly special.”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added;

“All the stars aligned when we were able to realise this special collaboration between Ryan McMullan, singer-songwriter and rising international star, and the Ulster Orchestra with a new commission dedicated to the NHS and its staff, acknowledging their heroic response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  This is a year like no other and our health service staff have felt all of those emotions which we’ve all felt during this time and which resonate deeply throughout Ryan’s Song.  The song reflects our worry, isolation, loneliness, uncertainty but also hope and strength in love and connectedness for all of our futures.  It reminds us just how essential and vital the arts are to the very fabric of society and to ourselves.  It shines a light on what it means to be human and for the arts we’re all richer.  We are hugely proud to support this incredibly powerful tribute to the NHS by Ryan McMullan and the Ulster Orchestra, a song that will move and inspire many at this challenging time for all.”

The video of the song recording is available to watch on https://youtu.be/RRCHVs9jB2Q . Ryan will be officially releasing If This Is The End on 4 December 2020.

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Arts Council awards £900,958 emergency funding to 62 cultural organisations across Northern Ireland

Friday 6th November 2020 at 11am 0 Comments

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The Arts Council of Northern Ireland to distribute £900,958 emergency funding grants on behalf of Department for Communities (DfC).

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has awarded, on behalf of the Department for Communities, £900,958 emergency financial support to 62 arts and cultural organisations to help them recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Through the Organisational Emergency Programme (OEP), 62 organisations are set to benefit from grants of up to £25,000 each to help them respond to the immediate impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, including helping them to continue producing creative work, assist with operational costs and to help plan for recovery in the long-term. 

The OEP provides much-needed financial support, a lifeline to arts organisations, at a time when essential elements of the arts sector have been decimated due to venue and gallery closures, festival and event cancellations and the disappearance of live audiences.  This is the second round of the OEP which to date has supported 212 organisations with a total of £2,850,071 emergency funding.

OEP is part of wider Covid emergency funding from the Department for Communities, to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors which have been severely impacted by the pandemic.  Today’s announcement is the latest package of support to be awarded from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, on behalf of DfC, which has so far included, the Organisations Emergency Programme, the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme and the recently announced Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations.

Carál Ní Chuilín, Communities Minister said:

“I am delighted that recipients from the Organisation Emergency Programme (OEP) will be informed this week.   The impact of Covid-19 has been acutely felt by the Arts sector and this funding will provide valuable support to ensure that our arts organisations can continue to deliver their work and enhance their artistic services. ”

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

“Today’s announcement will be welcome news for 62 arts organisations who will now be able to continue to programme work and prepare for recovery and we thank the Minister for making this funding available. Twenty one of these awards are going to arts organisations who have never received Arts Council support before and we are looking forward to seeing the wonderful projects that they have planned in the coming months.

“Funding for the arts in Northern Ireland was already in a fragile state pre-Covid-19 and we estimate that as a result of the pandemic organisations are facing multimillion pound deficits. 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.

“The Organisations Emergency Programme has supported 212 organisations to date and will help them buy creative time to produce new ideas for programming, plan for recovery and withstand the shock to their organisation of substantial loss of income during lockdown.  We hope now to see even more engagement with audiences and participants in a safe and meaningful way.”

Organisations offered funding include:

Red Box Ltd.
First funding award from the Arts Council

One of Northern Ireland’s leading independent film and media companies, Red Box Ltd, has been offered OEP funding to produce a brand new online arts magazine series which will showcase emerging and established talent from the region and from all creative genres.  Not only will this create a welcome new platform to showcase arts from Northern Ireland, but it will also create much-needed employment for at least 30 musicians, artists and performers, as-well as employment for technical crew at a time when a lot of work dried up as a result of the pandemic and help sustain the business. 

BEAMA
BEAMA is a non-profit social enterprise offering opportunities for young people to take part in creative digital art workshops including; DJing, sound recording, filmmaking, animation, coding, and music.  The organisation primarily works with vulnerable and at risk young people in the community sector.  Over the past two years, BEAMA has delivered more than 20 digital arts programmes in communities to over 388 participants.

They have been offered OEP funding to create 16 audio-visual videos to showcase emerging musicians, electronic music artists as-well as visual artists.  The project will provide an opportunity to increase artistic activity, provide employment for all of the artists and managers involved, as well as developing artistic practice.

SILVERINK
First funding award from the Arts Council

Founded in 2000, SILVERINK is Belfast-based creative development company who specialise in website design, brand development, video production, live streaming and digital marketing.  Many of their clients stem from the arts sector in Northern Ireland and they have produced web applications, mobile apps, virtual/augmented experiences and e-commerce integrations for QFT, Crescent Arts Centre, Output Belfast, Belfast Book Festival, Down Arts Centre, Belfast City Council, Tourism NI and the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh.

SILVERINK has been offered OEP funding to develop a 360-degree video-streaming platform to deliver socially distanced live music events.  This will enable the organisation to a new way for audiences to enjoy and engage with live music events.  SILVERINK aim to broadcast a multi-artist event from a single location and possibly with a live, socially distanced audience.  Another branch of the project is to present multiple artist steams from physically separate locations.  Some of the local artists they aim to work with include: Joshua Burnside, Dea Matrona, Ryan Vail and Robyn Shields and others.

Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown
Millennium Court Arts Centre (MCAC), based in Portadown, has been offered OEP funding to enable them to deliver a new, Re-Connect Programme, for both existing and new audiences in the local community. 

Re-Connect is a five-month programme of arts engagement based on the exhibitions, GENERATIONS and SCRATCHING THE SURFACE, showing at MCAC until March 2021. The programme would consist of weekly workshops taking place within the Arts Centre with limited numbers and adhering to all Covid health and safety precautions.  There will also be an online option available for those having to self-isolate with all materials delivered in advance.

For the exhibition, GENERATIONS, MCAC will collaborate with National Lottery Heritage Fund to work with traditional crafters and makers from the area and Loughshore to create a series of engaging workshops based around straw crafts, rug making, willow weaving, preserves and bread making.
The exhibition, SCRATCHING THE SURFACE, consists of two scheduled talks which will take the format of informal chats on selective images of local interest, conjuring memories of specific times throughout local’s lives and delivered by local historians.  Accompanying this is a four-week memoir writing and photography class.

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Lockdown won’t stop the music for Ulster Youth Orchestra!

Friday 6th November 2020 at 9am 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

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Northern Ireland’s award winning and dynamic national youth orchestra celebrates success of online course and releases ambitious lockdown recording.

The Ulster Youth Orchestra was established in 1993 and is regarded as one of the jewels in the crown of the local arts scene with a reputation for excellence in all its activities and performances. Over the years, hundreds of young musicians have had the opportunity to study with international conductors and some of the finest professional musicians and many alumni have gone on to pursue highly successful music careers.

When it became apparent in March 2020 that its annual residential course and concerts were not going to be possible due to Covid-19 restrictions, the board and management were determined to offer their young members a valuable and enjoyable experience and enthusiastically embraced the new challenge of a ten-day online course.  Very soon, one residential course and two public concerts were replaced with over 50 online musical activities and 14 recordings! By the beginning of the project on 16th August 70 young musicians, aged between 14 & 23, had signed up for the first virtual course in 27 years of UYO history.

A highly experienced team of 12 professional tutors and 8 young professional assistant tutors delivered a mixture of interactive rehearsals, classes and talks on a wide range of topics.  In the evenings the orchestra relaxed with the entertainments team who kept them laughing with quizzes, a pizza night and even a game of bingo!

The highlight of the course was the appearance of Daniele Rustioni, well known as the Ulster Orchestra’s Chief Conductor, who directed and encouraged the 70 young musicians in an ambitious recording of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet’s Fantasy Overture, recorded separately at home on phones and tablets and carefully stitched together by producer Tom Wall from TWPost.

The Ulster Youth Orchestra is delighted and very proud to release the recording to the public.

Paula Klein, UYO General Manager, said,

“I am so proud of what everyone has achieved – the professionals and the students entered into this project with an open mind and great enthusiasm and the success of the course and the recordings has exceeded our expectations."

The students and their families had this to say,

“After so much disappointment with all musical activities being cancelled over the summer, UYO really came to the rescue in our home. Nothing can replace the ‘face to face’ experience, but the course was a joy from beginning to end.”

“I really didn't know what to expect - but it surpassed all expectations! It was the real sense of togetherness that you managed to achieve online that amazed me.”

“The Ulster Youth Orchestra has turned my quarantine from foe to friend!”

All of the young musicians’ recordings can be found on the Ulster Youth Orchestra’s YouTube channel, website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Ulster Youth Orchestra is indebted to its Principal Funder, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and to The Leche Trust, Belfast Cathedral Sit Out and The Rev W N Monteith Charitable Trust for their support.  The Orchestra is also indebted to Glandore for the generous loan of one of their offices in Arthur House in Belfast for the duration of the course.  

Special thanks to audio and visual producers Tom Wall and Michael Kielty for their dedication to the quality of the recordings.

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Iconic art galleries join forces to celebrate unheralded champions of the arts sector in NI

Monday 2nd November 2020 at 10am 0 Comments

Arts Care CEO & Artistic Director Dr. Jenny Elliot, and playwright and actor Maria Connolly Image: Arts Care CEO & Artistic Director Dr. Jenny Elliot, and playwright and actor Maria Connolly

Today for the first time, the MAC Belfast will join seven other iconic galleries and the BFI (the UK’s lead organisation for film, television and the moving image), to present a unique photography exhibition where the subjects aren’t celebrities or historical figures, but instead the unheralded everyday champions of the arts sector.

Arts Care CEO & Artistic Director Dr. Jenny Elliot, and playwright and actor Maria Connolly are among the remarkable people throughout the UK who are being honoured by The National Lottery for keeping the arts in their local area alive and accessible for all, or supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities through the arts.

The exhibition – titled, ‘The National Lottery’s 2020 Portraits of the People’ - honours 13 of these artistic champions for making a significant difference to lifting people’s spirits this year, using some of the £30million raised by National Lottery players every week for good causes. The digital exhibition can be visited on the websites and social media of: The MAC in Belfast, Summerhall in Edinburgh, Ty Pawb in Wrexham, The National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, Ruthin Craft Centre in Ruthin, Wales, The National Portrait Gallery, London, IKON Gallery in Birmingham, The Photographers’ Gallery in London and BFI (The British Film Institute). The portraits will also be on display at the BFI Southbank in London.

Photographer Chris Floyd, who has spent his 25-year career photographing household names such as Sir Paul McCartney, Victoria Beckham and Sir Mo Farah, has been commissioned by The National Lottery to capture the portraits. The works aim to create a ‘moment in history’, preserving the work of these unheralded champions for posterity and encapsulating the varied and innovative ways art can be expressed.

Dr Jenny Elliott is the CEO & Artistic Director at Arts Care, an arts and health organisation that delivers a weekly programme of art in all its forms, including visual art, dance, music, film-making, creative writing, and even clown doctor visits across five health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland. When lockdown happened, they quickly moved their classes online; the group also began providing art boxes for older people in residential care and for children across healthcare services.

Dr Elliott, who lives in Belfast, said: “Many of the artists are rising up in the context of healthcare, and showing a terrific strength and flexibility in meeting the creative needs and requirements as requested from the core of the NHS. It’s a very powerful thing and demonstrates the significant role of the artist and the arts during this global pandemic.
Arts Care receives funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and is just one of the many wonderful causes that benefit from the £30 million raised every week by players of The National Lottery, which has been “the mainstay of not only supporting our programme but supporting the central core of the operations of the organisation,” Dr Elliott said.

Maria Connolly, from Belfast worked creatively during lockdown to write, produce, direct and act in ‘The Broads’ - as part of her 1 Eleven Theatre Company. The show is centred around the lives of Hollywood greats Judy Garland, Bette Midler and Marilyn Monroe. It was inspired by a programme on elderly people living in isolation and created specifically as a socially distanced piece of theatre. It went on tour in care homes, assisted living accommodations, a rehabilitation unit, mental health unit, the Cancer unit at Belfast City Hospital, as well as the Royal Victoria Hospital for patients and NHS workers. They performed over 60 shows, reaching more than 1,600 people in total.

Maria said: “There’s so many people out there who need theatre at the minute. People are starved of entertainment and even before the pandemic I was hearing stories of people stuck inside homes who have nothing, and nobody ever comes to see them. We were doing three shows a day and it was very hard to leave sometimes because we could see the impact we were having on people’s mental health. To think that a play could do that is just incredible.”

Maria received support from the Arts Council Northern Ireland’s Artists’ Emergency Funding to allow her to produce and deliver the play outside or through the windows of people who were isolating in Belfast, Carrickfergus, Dundonald and Bangor with a four-person cast, with rehearsals taking place over zoom.

The exhibition launches as The National Lottery releases insights1 showing that across Northern Ireland, the public turned to a wide range of artistic activities, with 22% seizing the chance to do more arts and crafts, half enjoying listening to music (57%) and enjoying watching films (57%), and 8% enjoying singing.

With many traditional entertainment venues closed, taking on a creative task also became a comfort for many with 61% of those who interacted with arts and crafts crediting it as a factor in improving their state of mind during the crisis. Two thirds (58%) of people in Northern Ireland who listened to music more during lockdown said that doing so had a positive impact on their wellbeing and a further 35% said taking part in arts and crafts helped them feel more relaxed and less anxious. Importantly, almost half of Northern Irish adults (40%), also believed the mental wellbeing impacts would be long-lasting.

The exhibition is accessible free online across all the galleries’ websites throughout November. In addition to the portraits, award winning filmmaker Jayisha Patel, a beneficiary of the BFI NETWORK talent development programme which is made possible by National Lottery funding, has documented Chris Floyd’s shoots with a behind the scenes short film. The piece looks at some of these amazing people and the stories behind them, the film will be available across the BFI’s social media channels.

Chris Floyd added: “All of the people we are meeting in this exhibition have done something special to help keep the soul of their community alive in these difficult and dark times using funding raised by National Lottery players. Humans are pack animals and our desire, as well as need, to come together – whether physically or digitally - and make common cause is one of our dominant instincts.  This group have all shown a ‘can do’ spirit, a refusal to lay down and give up, despite their own personal and national trials this year.  They have created work and projects specifically designed to fulfil that need for communal strength using the power of the arts.  My aim was to document each of them in a way that showcases and honours that sense of integrity and fortitude, as well as their humour and joie de vivre.”

Jayisha Patel said: “The Covid pandemic has been a sobering time for the film industry as a whole, and we have all had to pivot to keep our passion alive. Capturing these incredibly devoted people for this film was a joyful thing to be part of – seeing how they, with the help of National Lottery funding, have fought to keep the fire burning for the arts in a myriad of ways. I hope this film goes to show the strength and support that can come from taking part in arts projects like these – and how, even through adversity, art and film can thrive in the smallest of ways, and be a benefit to so many, helped along by everyone who plays The National Lottery.”

Roisin McDonough, the CEO of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: “People in Northern Ireland have a great love of creativity, art and culture. We know these things can bring us together, enrich our lives, support our emotional wellbeing, and make us happier. Throughout lockdown we've seen that in villages, towns and cities, people have continued to participate and enjoy the arts whether that's at home, digitally, or through socially distanced activities within their communities.

“Artists, arts and cultural organisations, and the individuals within them, have been the driving force behind this. Harnessing vital funding from The National Lottery, they’ve set up creative projects both locally and nationwide for people to enjoy. We want to thank them for making life that little bit better for many people, and we also want to thank the National Lottery players themselves for playing a critical role in supporting the arts during these challenging times. Every week National Lottery players raise an incredible £30 million for good causes, enriching public life in every corner of the UK.”

To find out more about how The National Lottery is celebrating the work done by unheralded people across the UK, visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk

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National Lottery Funding Boost for Budding North Coast Musicians

Friday 30th October 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

Pictured is Sorcha Meehan, with students, Maisie Elliott and Clodagh Watters. Image: Pictured is Sorcha Meehan, with students, Maisie Elliott and Clodagh Watters.

North Coast Trad is one of nine organisations this month to be awarded funding through the Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme. The £5,000 grant will go towards the cost of providing music tuition in the Portstewart and Portrush area.

North Coast Trad is a new independent non-profit making music club based in Portrush. Set up in 2019 with support from the Arts Council’s Rural Needs programme, they provide lessons, family sessions and concerts under the guidance of a talented host of tutors including Sorcha Meehan (fiddle,), Conor Mallon (pipes), Martin Meehan (flute, tin whistle) and Lauren O’Neill (harp).

The award is one of nine made this month to arts organisations through the Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme, with over £50,500 going to local arts projects. The programme, funded through the National Lottery, is designed to support the development of creative community-based projects in any artform, including drama, dance, literature, visual and participatory arts, across Northern Ireland.

At North Coast Trad, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, tuition is continuing on, in person when possible, as well as online.  Commenting on the award, Sorcha Meehan from North Coast Trad, said:

“North Coast Trad is delighted with this Small Grants Award! Without the support from the Arts Council our activities would most likely have ceased during this difficult period. Thanks to the Arts Council and the National Lottery, traditional music is alive and kicking on the North Coast.”

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

“As the pandemic continues, many of us have learnt to really appreciate the benefits that the arts bring to our lives. It is fantastic to see how organisations like North Coast Trad are adapting their practice so that students can continue to receive music tuition during the pandemic in a fun and engaging way.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised every week for good causes, many of which are supporting the most vulnerable in communities. Often a small investment in arts projects can make a big difference to people’s lives and that’s exactly what we are seeing with these fantastic initiatives supported through our Small Grants Programme.”

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

October Small Grants Funding will support:
Tumble Circus, Belfast, £5,475
Brassneck Theatre Company, £9,000
AVA Belfast CIC, £7,200
Northern Ireland Organ Competition, £3,880
Terra Nova Productions, £7,000
Wanda Belfast CIC, £4,430
Kilbroney Community Association, £2,750
North Coast Trad, £5,000
Cruse Bereavement Care, £5,793

Please note, the Small Grants Programme is temporarily closed. Details of when the scheme will reopen will be announced via www.artscouncil-ni.org/news

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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New Children’s Book addresses Mental Health worries

Thursday 29th October 2020 at 9am 0 Comments Literature

Belfast author Dan Leith Image: Belfast author Dan Leith

Belfast author Dan Leith has penned a new story, The Stargazing Otter, to offer comfort and support to children suffering from mental health worries, as rates of young people reporting anxiety and depression soar during the pandemic.

Stunningly illustrated and beautifully written, it tells the tale of an otter who finds himself so caught up with the beauty and details of the world that he is left behind on the riverbank and must find the courage within himself to move on.  The project was one of 88 funded back in April through the Arts Council’s £500,000 Artists Emergency Programme, a support fund set up using National Lottery funds to help artists continue their work and connect with communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although this is Dan’s first children’s book, he has been working as a freelance performing artist and theatre-maker since graduating from Queen’s in 2008. He has produced shows including Hubert and the Yes Sock with Tinderbox, A Boy & His Box and Woofle with  Replay Theatre Company and worked with a host of theatre companies including Spanner In The Works, C21, Young At Art and A Place to Wonder.

Talking about The Stargazing Otter, Dan says the idea for the book first came about some time ago, but it was during the first weeks of lockdown, with theatres closed and work cancelled, that he was able to develop the project.

He said: “This is my first children’s story that I have created in a non-theatrical medium and I am really pleased with how it’s turned out. I’ve worked with the fantastic illustrator, Vicki Firth, and it’s been really exciting to see my ideas take shape on page.

“As a full time artist, like many others, all of the work I had planned for this year - shows, workshops, performances - have been cancelled. Receiving funding from the National Lottery through the Artists Emergency Programme has been a great support over the last few months and allowed me to keep working and really focus on my writing.”

The project is now nearing completion and Dan is making final preparations to launch The Stargazing Otter as an ebook. He has also recorded an audio version of the book, complete with sound recordings gathered from the wildlife and waterways which flow through East Belfast.

Dan continues: “The story is something that I’ve had in my mind for some time. It touches on themes of anxiety and mental health, which I am sure a lot of people have been struggling with this year. I am used to telling my stories through theatrical means, but this just seemed like the right time to tell this story, even if it was in a different format than I am used to. I wouldn’t rule out the story being turned in a piece of theatre for young audiences in the future. I would love to bring it to live audiences someday.”

Like Dan, hundreds of 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, thanks to National Lottery players 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 Dan’s story being published along with all the other projects that this vital funding has helped to support.”

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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£7.75m programme to support arts and cultural organisations

Wednesday 28th October 2020 at 7am 0 Comments

Lyric Theatre Belfast Image: Lyric Theatre Belfast

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland to distribute grants on behalf of Department for Communities.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland will deliver, on behalf of the Department for Communities, a £7.75m programme of support, aimed at helping arts and cultural sector recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Through the Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations, grants of up to £500,000 will be available to organisations working in the arts and cultural sector to help them respond to the immediate impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, including help with re-opening, adapting and stabilising their organisations in the long-term

The Stability and Renewal Programme is part of the £29 million Executive allocation that was made to DfC to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors which have been severely impacted by Covid-19.

This is the latest package of support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department for Communities which has included £1.9m for the Organisations Emergency Programme, and £3.8m under the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme.

The Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations is open to arts, culture and community organisations whose primary role is to create, present or support one (or more) of these categories:

  • ­Dance
  • Drama
  • Literature
  • Music and Opera
  • Traditional Arts
  • Visual Arts
  • Performing arts and theatre
  • Festivals and cultural events
  • Participatory Arts
  • Comedy
  • Cross Art form
  • Community Arts
  • Creative Industries in the following segments:
    • Independent Cinema
    • Product Design, Fashion Design, and Graphic Design;
    • Crafts;
    • TV, Video, Photography, Film, and Radio;

 

Carál Ní Chuilín, Communities Minister said: 

“This funding aims to not only save many organisations from collapse, and to retain specialists within the sector, but to help them adapt to the challenges ahead. I am determined that this sector will emerge stronger than ever and that it will also be fit-for-purpose to take on the huge challenge of helping those who need help the most.”

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

“The Arts Council is pleased to open the Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations today and thanks the Minister for making this funding available.  This financial aid is very much needed to strengthen the durability of the wider sector in these difficult times.   Our research clearly evidences that more funding is needed to help arts and cultural businesses re-open and flourish over the next few years, so that they may continue to contribute fully to our economy and to our society.

“We already have had two rounds of funding to provide much-needed financial support to cultural organisations which had been decimated under the Covid-19 lock down. The closure of theatres and venues, the cancellation of festivals and events and the disappearance of live audiences has been devastating to those who work within these sectors, those who helped drive the regeneration of our local economy. This new funding programme for organisations opening today is absolutely necessary.

“Meanwhile, the Arts Council continues to provide expert advice to our partners in government, making the case for the needs of a sector, still on its knees and facing significant financial challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations will open at 2pm on 28th October for online applications and will close on Friday 27 November 2020 at 12noon.  Further details, including Guidance Notes and FAQs, are available at http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/stability-and-renewal-programme-for-organisations

After applications close at midday on Friday 27 November, decisions on awards will be made by 29 January 2021.

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Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, patron of the arts, 1941-2020

Tuesday 27th October 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council has learned with sadness of the death of the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, who has died at the age of 79.

Lady Dufferin, Lindy Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, was an accomplished artist in her own right, painting as Lindy Guinness. She was taught by Bloomsbury group member, Duncan Grant, studied under the great Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka, attended Slade School of Art and Chelsea School of Art, exhibited in London, Dublin and Belfast, and kept company with some of the foremost artists of her time, including David Hockney and Lucien Freud, when she and her husband were at the heart of the London art scene.  It is, however, as a committed patron of the arts that she will, perhaps, be best remembered by the arts community in Northern Ireland. The Ava Gallery, which she opened at Clandeboye, the family estate in Bangor, Co. Down, regularly hosts exhibitions drawn from the most important collections of Irish Art, from the 18th century to the present day; and her enthusiastic support for the annual Clandeboye Festival provided the opportunity for internationally-renowned pianist Barry Douglas and the Camerata Ireland chamber orchestra to showcase and teach young local music talent in the company of the world’s finest musicians. Memorials are to be held at a later date at both Clandeboye and in London.

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242 artists set to benefit from National Lottery support to develop new work

Friday 23rd October 2020 at 11am 0 Comments Literature , Northern Ireland Music , Dance , Drama , Visual Arts , Community Arts

Pictured is visual artist Kathryn Graham who has been awarded funding from the scheme Image: Pictured is visual artist Kathryn Graham who has been awarded funding from the scheme

The Arts Council has announced details of 242 artists to receive funding through its Support for Individual Artists Programme (SIAP). The funding package worth almost £475,000 has been made possible thanks to the National Lottery and will provide vital support to artists working across all disciplines including visual arts, literature, music and community arts.

Artists awarded grants through the SIAP programme will receive General Arts Awards worth between £1,000-£2,500 each. This funding will be used to help purchase new equipment and to develop of new projects, as well as travel grants and residencies.

Today’s funding announcement will be welcome news to artists who have faced unprecedented hardship as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and is in addition to awards of £3.8m announced earlier this week under the Emergency Resilience Programme for individuals working across the creative sector (This funding was made available by the Department for Communities, click here for full details).

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

“The Support for Individual Artists Programme Is designed to help artists develop their practice and embark on new creative projects. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on an already fragile arts sector here but we hope interventions like this will help to bolster the sector, enabling individual artists to develop new ideas, to adapt their practice and find new and engaging ways to present their art.

“Thanks to National Lottery players 30 million pounds is raised for good causes every week. That means that today we are able to give 242 artists that vital lifeline they need to keep working, to stay creative and continue on with their careers.”

Among those to benefit from the programme are:

Rachel Lawell, Visual Artist
First award from the Arts Council

Rachel Lawell is an emerging painter and Artist Board Member of QSS, where she recently curated and participated in 'Four Female Painters' to celebrate International Woman’s Day 2020.  Since 2016, she has been working as an art facilitator part time, teaching art to adults with learning difficulties and mental health issues and has recently began running workshops with Queens Street Studios as part of her voluntary contribution to the studio. This funding will support the artist’s personal development and help with the purchase of high quality equipment and materials that will support the production of a new body of 10-20 works for two scheduled exhibitions in June and August of 2021.

Gillian Pencavel, Musical Theatre
First award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Gillian Pencavel is a specialist in musical theatre and libretto writing. This funding from the Arts Council will allow her to work on a new musical song cycle for a theatre production based on the story of the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz. From being lost and only found thirty years later, to the exceptional prices they achieved at auction and their mysterious theft from the Judy Garland museum, Gillian’s project will explore the extraordinary story of the famous shoes through music.

Travis Gilbert, Singer Songwriter
First award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Travis Gilbert is a singer songwriter from Belfast, best known under the moniker Travis is a Tourist and Travi the Native. Travis released new music in March 2020 and his two singles ‘Heavy Love’ and ‘Still Hurting’ have continued to receive national radio support across Cool FM, RTE and BBC Radio Ulster. He has also received positive reviews from The Irish Times, RTE, Chordblossom, The Unsigned Guide, Nialler9, Golden Plec and The Irish Jam. In addition his music has been streamed over 400k times on Spotify. Travis proposes to use this funding to produce a debut EP. He will also work with a videographer to create a documentary and music video to capture the highs and lows of self-releasing music.

Kathryn Graham, Visual Artist
Kathryn Graham is a visual artist who has exhibited locally at the Royal Ulster Academy, as well as in London, Sweden and Hong Kong. In 2019 she was awarded an Arts Council residency in India and spent four weeks in January at Ramgarh Shekhawati. As a result of this funding she will create a new body of mixed media work influenced by her childhood in Northern Ireland and time spent in India.

Hannah Anderson, Aerial Acrobatics/Dance
Hannah Anderson is an aerial acrobatics/dance artist. She has trained and performed locally and internationally in Canada, Mexico and Spain and in 2018 was awarded the Arts Council’s Mike Moloney Award. Her SIAP award will enable her to buy specialist rigging, crash mat, and equipment, to support her to progress her career as an internationally recognized professional aerialist.

Viviana Fiorentino, Writer and Poet
Viviana Fiorentino is an Italian writer and poet now living in Belfast. Her proposed project will see her present poems on the theme of prisons of life and how we can overcome them. As part of her project she will research poets who have written in Irish and English on similar themes and hopes to later present her new poems at readings and festivals. The funding she has been awarded from the Arts Council will buy her time to work on this project and to develop collaborations with artists from other backgrounds and languages.

Please Note Total funding awarded to 242 artists is £473,810. Any offers not accepted will be recorded and the final list of accepted offers amended and shared online on www.artscouncil-ni.org.

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Martin Lynch and Margo Harkin elected to Aosdána

Wednesday 21st October 2020 at 2pm 0 Comments

Aosdána Image: Aosdána

Northern Ireland playwright Martin Lynch and visual artist Margo Harkin have been elected to Aosdána, the esteemed Irish association of artists.

Twelve new appointments were announced in total, including the two from Northern Ireland. Also successfully nominated were Kevin Barry (Literature); Gerard Byrne (Visual Art); Pat Collins (Visual Art); Jim Doherty (Music); Gina Moxley (Literature); Valerie Mulvin (Architecture); Mairead O’hEocha (Visual Art); Arthur Riordan (Literature); Liz Roche (Choreography); Jennifer Walshe (Music). The new appointments bring current membership up to 249 members.

Margo Harkin (Visual Art) Margo Harkin is a filmmaker based In Derry. After graduating in Fine Art she first worked as a teacher and art tutor for a number of years until her career changed direction in 1980 with the founding of Field Day Theatre Company in Derry during a highly volatile period in Northern Ireland’s politics. Its founding board members were Brian Friel, Stephen Rea, Seamus Heaney, Seamus Deane, Tom Paulin and David Hammond. Their intention was to create a space, a ‘fifth province,’ that transcended the crippling oppositions of Irish politics. This had an influence on Margo Harkin’s future direction as an artist and most particularly as a filmmaker. Award winning films include Mother Ireland; Hush-a-bye-Baby; 12 days in July and The Hungerstrike. Over 12 years from 1998 she made Bloody Sunday – A Derry Diary which was nominated for the Prix Europa and screened on ZDF, Arte and RTE. Waveriders (2008) won the Audience Award at Dublin International Film Festival and the Irish Film and Televison George Morrison award for Best Irish Feature Documentary. In 2019 Margo was the first recipient of the Belfast Film Festival Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Documentary.

Martin Lynch (Literature) Martin Lynch was born and brought up in the docks area of Belfast. His career spans over 30 years, from resident playwright at The Lyric Theatre, Belfast in 1980 to 1988 to the present day with Lynch continuing as an active playwright. Works include celebrated landmark productions such as Dockers (1981); The Interrogation of Ambrose Fogarty (1982); Lay Up Your Ends (1983-1985) (co-written with Marie Jones & Charabanc Theatre Company) amongst many others, including most recently 1932 – The People Of Gallagher Street (2017) co-written with Gary Mitchell; We’ll Walk Hand In Hand (2018); The Miami Showband Story (2019) (co-written with Marie Jones). As well as writing for the stage, Lynch has written several plays for BBC Radio 4 and a screenplay A Prayer ForThe Dying for Sam Goldwyn Films. Lynch is recognised as a pioneer of theatre in the community and has written many plays in collaboration with communities, creating a unique mix of professional and community participation. He co-founded New Belfast Community Arts Initiative, is a former member of Community Arts Partnership’s Board and now a Patron of Community Arts Partnership.

Commenting the appointments, Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“Congratulations to Martin and Margo. To be elected to Aosdána is among the highest honour an artist can receive, nominated by your peers in recognition for the contribution your work has made to creative life in Ireland. It is wonderful to see two more artists from Northern Ireland included this year. Both have devoted their lives to their practice and continue to be an inspiration to all those who have the pleasure of knowing them and their work.”

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Arts Council announces £3.8m emergency funding to support 1089 individuals in the Creative Economy

Tuesday 20th October 2020 at 5pm 0 Comments

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The Arts Council of Northern Ireland on behalf of DfC and in collaboration with Future Screens NI, has announced details of 1089 individuals, working in the Creative Economy, who are set to benefit from £3,852,000 of emergency funding as part of part of the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP).

More than £3m of this funding is coming from the £29m Executive allocation that was made to the Department for Communities to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors which have been severely impacted by Covid-19.

The IERP is designed to support those working in the Creative Economy including freelancers, musicians, actors, artists and craft workers during the COVID-19 crisis.  The IERP, worth £3,752,000 from the Department for Communities and £100,000 from Future Screens NI, offered individuals the opportunity to apply for grants of £1,200, £3,000 or £5,000 each. 

IERP provides much-needed financial support and employment, a lifeline to individuals working within the wider Creative Economy, at a time when essential elements of the arts sector have been decimated due to venue and gallery closures, festival and event cancellations and the disappearance of live audiences.  The IERP builds on the initial, Artist Emergency Programme (AEP), a fund that was opened by the Arts Council in April 2020 and was heavily oversubscribed. 

IERP is one element of the wider £29m funding package recently announced by Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, Department for Communities, to support the arts, creative industries and cultural sector during the current pandemic. Within weeks of opening the IERP, the Arts Council received a high number of eligible applications.  In response, an additional £2,752,000 funding was recently made available from the Department for Communities to allow the maximum number of eligible awards to be made. This brings the total amount now awarded through the scheme up to £3,852,000.

Successful awards extend across all aspects of the creative industries and arts including: a blacksmith; a milliner; a wedding stationer; a transcriptionist, stage technicians; stage managers; event and venue crew; animators; costume makers; workshop facilitators; graphic designers/creative content designers; photographers; videographers; film-makers and illustrators; musicians, visual artists, actors, circus performers, designer-makers, sound/audio/AV engineers and technicians; lighting technicians; session musicians; DJs and freelance musicians (singer songwriters/live musicians/musical entertainers). 

Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, Department for Communities, commented,

“It is vital to remember that when we talk about the arts, language, culture and heritage sectors, we aren’t just talking about institutions and buildings and sites; we are talking about the people who are at the heart of all the work that goes on.  So it is vital that people are at the heart of our response to the restrictions and hardship that the pandemic has wrought.  I am delighted to have been able to ensure that the first £3 million funding from the Executive allocation will be focused on providing support for people whose creativity, effort and hard work underpin our creative economy and make such a contribution to the quality of life of all people here.”

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

“Today’s announcement will be welcome news for 1089 individuals working in the Creative Economy thanks to the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme.  Many of these awards are going to individuals who have never received Arts Council support before and we thank the Minister for making extra funding available to enable so many applicants to receive much-needed financial support at this time.  The scale of the crisis within our fragile arts sector is unlike anything we’ve known before.  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.”

“IERP is designed to support those artists and freelance creatives who were left struggling with serious financial hardships since their livelihoods disappeared practically overnight as a result of the pandemic. Demand on our previous Artists Emergency Programme for creative workers outstripped capacity by 3:1.  The Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme provides critically-needed support and will help to bridge the gap over the coming months until the Executive has an opportunity to consider and agree a more comprehensive, long-term government support package for arts, culture and heritage in Northern Ireland.”

Professor Paul Moore, Director Future Screens NI said,

“Future Screens NI welcomes the release of £3,852,000 to 1089 eligible applicants within the arts and the creative industries.  We commend the Minister for Communities for the additional allocation ensuring that the maximum number of awards could be made at this time.  The awards will provide freelancers, musicians, actors, artists and craft workers with a much-needed lifeline during these difficult times while investing in the future of the arts and creative industries in the region.  We are delighted to work in partnership with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities to provide this much-needed stimulus to the Creative Industries.”

“Moving forward, Future Screens NI welcome the opportunity to continue to work in collaboration with both the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities to target resources for the sector.  Since the outset of the crisis Future Screens has provided much-needed resources and support to the creative Industries to address some of the most severe implications of Covid-19.  We will continue to do so throughout the ongoing crisis.”

Individuals offered funding include:

Nandi Jola, performer, writer, singer, actor
Nandi Jola, who is originally from South Africa, has been active in the NI arts community as a writer, artist and facilitator for more than ten years where she has been engaged in cultural awareness workshops, poetry, memoir and drama.  She has been involved with the Irish Writers Centre XBorders project; Women Aloud and Terra Nova Productions, an arts organisation that creates intercultural productions with professional artists from around the world. 
Nandi’s work has been showcased at the Duncairn arts centre in North Belfast and also in Armagh alongside leading writer and broadcaster, Lemn Sissay MBE, the official poet of the 2012 London Olympics.  Her work reflects both her origins as an African artist and as someone bedded into the culture in Northern Ireland. Her work has also been showcased on the Poetry Jukebox, an on-street sound installation that celebrates poetry.   Nandi Jola project managed the ‘Home neither here nor there’ exhibition at Stormont to mark Africa Week, in May 2013, and is one of the leading artistic presences in the African community here in Northern Ireland, taking a prominent role as an arts voice and presence in the on-going Black Lives Matter campaign.  Nandi has a one-person show of monologues and dance opening at the International Literature Festival in Dublin on Thursday 22 October, directed by Jo Egan of Macha Productions. 

Rebecca Cooney, sign-language interpreter, writer and director
First award from the Arts Council

Rebecca Cooney is a freelance creative who holds a degree in D/deafness and Sign Language, and uses this training and expertise to create more inclusive work for theatre, with GCSE and A-Level students, and also with the public.  Rebecca has written, directed and produced work for D’Sign Arts, an organisation which aims to give the Deaf community in Northern Ireland access to arts, performance and media training.  With the support of her IERP award, Rebecca will explore the potential to create a new form of performance by using BSL in choreography and has set up a new company, New City Productions, which will create truly inclusive and accessible performances for all. 

Daniel Millar, recording engineer, producer, musician and music teacher
First award from the Arts Council

Daniel Millar has been working in the creative sector for the past nine years in a number of different roles whilst also studying music production to degree level.  The artist has been teaching guitar and music lessons to students through the Nerve Centre in Derry-Londonderry and to young people through various community outreach programmes. As a recording engineer and producer, he collaborates with artists to produce their own original material or to create promotional material for cover artists and entertainers.  As a result of the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the artist hasn’t been able to access studios to carry out his work.  With the support of his IERP award Daniel aims to invest in equipment to enable him to set up a professional, semi-portable studio to allow him to continue working as an artist, recording engineer and music producer.

Ryan MacFarlane, DJ, producer, music collective founder
First award from the Arts Council

Ryan MacFarlane is an electronic artist known as, Optmst, as well as a music producer, label owner, music reviewer and promoter.  His music was release on R&S Records in May 2020, receiving 6,000 combined streams across Spotify, Soundcloud and on Youtube.  Ryan has been selected for performances at key electronic industry and showcase events including, Horst Festival’s Music Lab, Belgium (Red Bull Elektropedia Festival) and Celtronic’s 20th Anniversary as part of their emerging artist showcase and also as a festival opener for the AVA Festival in Belfast.

In 2018 Ryan launched, Born Sleepy, to collaborate and give opportunities to other artists across Ireland and as a music reviewer Ryan is known for this work with Soundspace, promoting not only local but international music to an audience of over 50,000.  Ryan is a tenant of Vault Artist Studios and is current developing his latest project, Ayeland, a performance and broadcast space.  With the support of his IERP award, Ryan will develop the Ayeland space and continue his work as Optmst.

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

The Individuals Emergency Resilience 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.

Details of the Arts Council’s SIAP (Support for the Individual Artist Programme) recipients are expected to be made later this week.

Visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding

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Individual artists first to benefit from £29m funding package

Monday 19th October 2020 at 8am 0 Comments

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín pictured with Charlotte Dryden, CEO Oh Yeah Music Centre Image: Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín pictured with Charlotte Dryden, CEO Oh Yeah Music Centre

Individual artists will be the first recipients to benefit from the £29m funding approved by the Executive earlier this month to support the arts, heritage, culture and language sectors as a result of the impact of Covid-19.

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has given the green light for £3m of the funding to be immediately distributed to individual artists through an existing programme administered by the Arts Council.

The Department for Communities funding will allow more than 1,000 individual artists to be supported through grant funding of up to £5,000.
In addition, Minister Ní Chuilín has confirmed that a number of other funding streams, for other sectors also struggling as a result of the impact of Covid-19, will be launched before the end of the month.

The Minister said: “I wanted to get financial support on the ground at the earliest opportunity and I am therefore delighted that three weeks after the Executive announced that the Department would be receiving £29m for the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors, that 1,000 individual artists will receive vital assistance.

“Using this existing funding mechanism means that freelancers, musicians, actors, artists and craft workers within the creative economy will receive much needed financial support as health restrictions continue to severely curtail the arts sector – a sector that is a beacon in terms of the contribution it makes socially, creatively and economically to the lives of individuals, communities and wider society.”

The Minister added: “My officials are working at pace and in close collaboration with the arts, heritage, culture and language sectors to ensure the remaining £26m is made available without delay.

“I understand the difficult situation individuals and organisations across these sectors find themselves in at this extremely vulnerable time and I can assure them that final preparations are being made for these new funding streams and I expect to be able to make further announcements before the end of the month.”
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) will be issuing letters of offer this week to individuals who had applied to the Individual Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP) in August, which was heavily oversubscribed.

Roisin McDonough, ACNI Chief Executive explained:

“The Arts Council welcomes today’s news of extra funding to support individuals working in the creative sectors and thanks the Minister and her Department.  This is a year like no other and the massive volume of applications we received for financial support from individuals usually employed in the arts, culture and creative sectors spoke for itself.

“Covid-19 has severely damaged the arts and culture eco-system and left the people who normally contribute to it and nurture it, without work or the means to create new work.  As a result, the Individual Emergency Resilience Fund (IERP) was heavily oversubscribed.

“However, thanks to today’s announcement of an extra £3m of public funding for individuals, we are now able to provide IERP funding of £3,852,000 to so many applicants, reaching 1,089 people within these sectors and offer them the support to develop new skills and create new work. Offers of IERP awards will be communicated this week.”

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice

Friday 16th October 2020 at 10am 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: 21 December 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance

Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, additional restrictions will be introduced for people in Northern Ireland on 26 December. These new restrictions are being put in place to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Entertainment and cultural attractions
Leisure and entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, indoor museums, galleries, visitor and other cultural attractions are not permitted to open.

Outdoor visitor attractions are not permitted to open, along with drive-in events.

Community halls are allowed to remain open, but must adhere to current guidelines.

Theatres and concert halls are permitted to open for rehearsals or a live recording without an audience.

For more information on restrictions, visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you
 

 

Updated: 11 December 2020

From Friday 11th December, singing groups and bands in Northern Ireland are permitted to rehearse with others and perform outdoors.

This relaxation of restrictions by the NI Executive brings Northern Ireland into line with current practice in England.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is revising its guidance on Reopening the Arts in Northern Ireland (pp.29-30), as follows:

The core points when playing brass/wind would be the same as for any other instrument and would include:

  • Observing social distancing at all times whilst playing.
  • Group size would be governed by the regulations in place at the time.
  • For professionals (i.e. for work purposes) where social distancing is not possible, using fixed teams which are positioned socially distanced from any other fixed team or anyone else. Note that this fixed team approach is not recommended in non-professional environments unless all the members of the fixed team are part of the same household or support bubble. It is also unlikely that this fixed team approach will be feasible where professional performers work with more than one group or organisation simultaneously.
  • Using back-to-back or side-to-side positioning (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.
  • Playing outdoors wherever possible.
  • If playing indoors, limiting the numbers to account for ventilation of the space and the ability to social distance.
  • Considering using screens or barriers in addition to social distancing.

 

For singing, professional and non-professional, the guidance would adopt the suggested principles of safer singing, the core points of which would be:

  • people with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, or who are known to have been in recent contact with others who have COVID-19, do not participate in singing or attend singing events.
  • Singing takes place only in larger well-ventilated spaces, or outdoors.
  • Performance or rehearsal is for limited periods of time at a reduced level of loudness, using microphones for amplification if available.
  • Maximum group size would be governed by the regulations in place at the time and limited numbers of people sing together.
  • Singers are spaced at least 2 metres apart in all directions

 

Updated: 2 December 2020

Ní Chuilín allocates further funding for individuals in the arts and creative economy

Individuals who work across the arts and wider creative economy are set to benefit from a further £3.25million of funding, Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has announced.

Ní Chuilín allocates further funding for individuals in the arts and creative economyNí Chuilín allocates further funding for individuals in the arts and creative economy
At a meeting with the sector this afternoon, the Minister outlined a further round of the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP) will open for applications on December 17.

Applicants experiencing financial hardship as a result of Covid-19 will be able to apply for support of up to £5,000 - or £7,500 for disabled individuals with support costs.

This is the third emergency programme targeted directly at individuals and will be delivered by Arts Council NI on behalf of the Department. Information on eligibility and guidance is now available from http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/individuals-emergency-resilience-programme-2

Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 30th November 2020

D/deaf and Disabled Artists Support Fund 2020/21

The D/deaf and Disabled Artists Support Fund 2020/21, which is now open for applications, is managed by the University of Atypical on behalf of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities.  The Fund aims to provide much-needed financial support to D/deaf and disabled artists at a time when their potential to generate income has been seriously impacted by the closure of art galleries, theatres, music venues and other creative outlets due to Covid-19.

Through the University of Atypical's support, disabled/deaf artists have developed unique artwork of extremely high artistic quality. Many artists have gone on to attract other types of funding, some to the level where international recognition has been achieved.

  • D/deaf and disabled Artists can apply for awards of £2,000.
  • Advice clinics available until 11th December.

 

Application deadline: Friday 18th December at 4pm.

 

Updated: 11th November 2020

Lyric Theatre, Crescent Arts Centre, Ulster Orchestra and the MAC set to receive Funding Lifeline

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has confirmed that four flagship arts organisations have been offered additional funding support totalling almost £620,000.

Money has been awarded to The Lyric Theatre, the MAC, Crescent Arts Centre and the Ulster Orchestra to help them prepare and plan for reopening, following closures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The funding, which will be administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, is part of a range of measures supported by COVID emergency funding from the Department for Communities to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors, which have been severely impacted by the pandemic.

Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 9th November 2020

Communities Minister announces almost £1.5million funding towards Renewal Projects

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has announced a further £1.465 million funding stream for arts, culture and heritage Renewal projects. This funding forms part of the £29 million Covid-19 Culture, Languages, Arts and Heritage Support Programme 2020/2021. The funding includes:

  • £15,000 to the Arts Council to develop digital skills and knowledge of artists with disabilities.
  • £500,000 to NI Screen to deliver through their Creative Learning Centres digital film archive projects, a range of skills development projects and support to the Amma Centre, Cinemagic and local film festivals.

 

Read the full news release here


Updated: 6th November 2020

Funding to help musicians purchase new instruments announced

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is offering a number of funding opportunities under its Musical Instruments Scheme. Thanks to capital investment of £300,000 from the Department for Communities three funding programmes have opened offering support for artists and groups to purchase instruments up until March 2021.

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.

Read the full news release here

 

Arts Council awards £900,958 emergency funding to 62 cultural organisations across Northern Ireland

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has awarded, on behalf of the Department for Communities, £900,958 emergency financial support to 62 arts and cultural organisations to help them recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Through the Organisational Emergency Programme (OEP), 62 organisations are set to benefit from grants of up to £25,000 each to help them respond to the immediate impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, including helping them to continue producing creative work, assist with operational costs and to help plan for recovery in the long-term.

The OEP provides much-needed financial support, a lifeline to arts organisations, at a time when essential elements of the arts sector have been decimated due to venue and gallery closures, festival and event cancellations and the disappearance of live audiences.  This is the second round of the OEP which to date has supported 212 organisations with a total of £2,850,071 emergency funding.

Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 3rd November 2020

New £2m Community Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund now open

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has announced a new £2 million fund for community based culture, arts and heritage projects in response to Covid-19.

The Community Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund will be distributed by the Community Foundation NI and will prioritise projects which support people with disabilities and those who are vulnerable.

This forms part of the overall £29m Executive funding for the Department for Communities’ Covid-19 Culture, Languages, Arts and Heritage Support Programme.

This new £2m Community Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund is open to all community organisations which can deliver new projects as part of the programme’s renewal strand. Any constituted organisation can apply and their primary purpose need not be related to arts or heritage. Groups can apply for awards from £2,000 to £20,000 for expenditure up to 31 March 2021 for a wide range of projects related to culture, arts, creativity and heritage.

For information and application details visit https://communityfoundationni.org/grants/the-arts-culture-and-heritage-challenge-fund/
 
Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 28th October 2020

£7.75m programme to support arts and cultural organisations

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland to distribute grants on behalf of Department for Communities.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland will deliver, on behalf of the Department for Communities, a £7.75m programme of support, aimed at helping arts and cultural sector recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Through the Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations, grants of up to £500,000 will be available to organisations working in the arts and cultural sector to help them respond to the immediate impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, including help with re-opening, adapting and stabilising their organisations in the long-term

The Stability and Renewal Programme is part of the £29 million Executive allocation that was made to DfC to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors which have been severely impacted by Covid-19.

Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 26th October 2020

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has given the green light for financial support to be released this week to support the creative and heritage sectors.

The Covid support funding will be distributed by Arts Council NI (ACNI), and partner bodies in the heritage and indigenous language sectors.

Full details of the £15.75m will be announced on Wednesday by the Department’s delivery partners:

  • £7.75m will be made available to arts organisations through the Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations, administered by ACNI
  • £5.5m is being provided for a Heritage Recovery Fund
  • £2.5m will be shared among the Irish Language, Ulster Scots and Sign Language sectors

The aim is to stabilise these sectors and preserve the vibrancy and important benefits delivered by organisations and individuals working in culture, languages, arts and heritage.

Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 23rd October 2020

European Investment Bank Institute 2021 Artists Development Programme

The European Investment Bank (EIB) Institute is looking for emerging European artists and collectives to join the 2020 edition of its Artists Development Programme (ADP), a 6-8 weeks long residency programme in Luxembourg, under the mentorship of renowned Finnish photographer Jorma Puranen.

The EIB launched two calls for applications targeting visual artists (EU nationals, aged less than 35) with a thematic focus on:

The deadline for applying is 10 January 2021 at midnight (GMT+1).
For more information about the programme visit https://institute.eib.org/whatwedo/arts/artists-residencies/

 

Updated: 20th October 2020

Arts Council announces £3.8m emergency funding to support 1089 individuals in the Creative Economy

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland on behalf of DfC and in collaboration with Future Screens NI, has announced details of 1089 individuals, working in the Creative Economy, who are set to benefit from £3,852,000 of emergency funding as part of part of the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP).

More than £3m of this funding is coming from the £29m Executive allocation that was made to the Department for Communities to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors which have been severely impacted by Covid-19.

The IERP is designed to support those working in the Creative Economy including freelancers, musicians, actors, artists and craft workers during the COVID-19 crisis.  The IERP, worth £3,752,000 from the Department for Communities and £100,000 from Future Screens NI, offered individuals the opportunity to apply for grants of £1,200, £3,000 or £5,000 each.

Read the full news release here.

 

Updated: 19th October 2020

Individual artists first to benefit from £29m funding package

Arts Council Chief Executive, Roisin McDonough, welcomes today’s news of extra funding to support individuals working in the creative sectors and thanks the Minister for Communities and her Department.

Thanks to today’s announcement of an extra £3m of public funding for individuals, we are now able to provide IERP funding of £3,852,000 to all eligible applicants, reaching 1,089 people within these sectors and offer them the support to develop new skills and create new work. Offers of IERP awards will be communicated this week.

Read the full news release here

 

Under the new Health Protection Regulations approved by the NI Assembly which came into force on Friday 16th October, Businesses subject to immediate closure include:

‘museums and galleries’;
‘cinemas (but not cinemas at which visitors remain in a vehicle)’; and
‘indoor visitor attractions’. 

‘Dance’ has been specifically added to the list of activities which are restricted with immediate effect during the current restriction phase. The new regulations define a sporting event as: “Sporting event” means a gathering for the purpose of exercise, competitive sport, recreational sport or sport training, and “dance of any type shall be deemed to be a form of exercise or sport for the purposes of this schedule”.

The restrictions that now apply as a result of the regulations are set out below:

Restrictions on sporting events
(1) A person shall not organise, operate or participate in an indoor or outdoor sporting event.
(2) Sub-paragraph (1) shall not prohibit or prevent a person from organising, operating or participating in—
(a) an indoor sporting event if all participants are elite athletes;
(b) an indoor sporting event if the participants are one individual and one coach or trainer and there is no contact between participants who are not members of the same household;
(c) an outdoor sporting event, provided all participants are elite athletes; or
(d) an outdoor sporting event if there is no contact between participants who are not members of the same household, provided that the gathering consists of no more than 15 persons.

For more information on restrictions, visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you 

 

Updated: 12th October 2020

New Conversations 2020

UK-Canada artistic partners are invited to apply for funding of up to £3,500 GBP / $6,000 CAD to explore how they can develop new creative ideas, exchange knowledge and practice without meeting in person. The fund is open to Canada and UK-based individual artists, collectives, independent companies and organizations of theatre and dance. Cross art form collaborations are also welcomed. Deadline: 27 November 2020. http://theatre.farnhammaltings.com/portfolio/new-conversations/

 

Open Call for Commissions for Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement

Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company is planning the next edition of its annual festival of dance and movement, which will run 20th - 27th February 2021. As part of the programme, the company will award three small commissions for works that are 'adaptable' to Covid-19 circumstances and restrictions. The work should be created on the island of Ireland and creation and performance of it should not involve any international travel which might put the project at risk should restrictions apply. https://echoechodance.wordpress.com/2020/10/06/open-call-for-commissions-for-echo-echo-festival-of-dance-and-movement-february-20th-27th-2021-derry/

Application deadline: Friday 23rd October.

 

Updated: 29th September 2020

Freelands Foundation Emergency Fund
For artists and freelancers in Northern Ireland in partnership with a-n The Artists Information Company. The Freelands Foundation Emergency Fund is supported by the Freelands Foundation, as part of a landmark commitment of £3m towards emergency funds for artists and freelance creative practitioners across the UK affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Funds will be available for Northern Ireland based practitioners. Applications opened on Friday 25th September 2020.

Who can apply: Freelance creative practitioners based in Northern Ireland who work in the visual arts and are experiencing severe financial hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
What: Grants of £1,500 – £2,500
Deadline for applications: Applications are accepted from 2:00pm on Friday 25th September 2020 and decisions will be made on a monthly basis. You can apply at any time. Applicants will be informed of decisions within approximately 5-6 weeks of submitting an application. We encourage applicants to make a submission early due to the limited funds available.

Enquiries: emergencyfund@a-n.co.uk
https://www.a-n.co.uk/about/freelands-foundation-emergency-fund-2/

 

Updated: 24th September 2020

Allocation of funding to arts and culture

The Arts Council welcomes news from the NI Executive that £29m has been allocated to help the arts and cultural sectors in Northern Ireland endure the Covid-19 pandemic.
There have been devastating financial consequences for all working in and around the arts because of venue closures, the restrictions of social distancing placed on audiences and staff, and the massive loss of earned income since lock-down began.

We are heartened to see that the majority of the funding announced today is aimed at helping our core arts and cultural organisations, as well as artists and creative practitioners, get through this crisis to year-end, in the hope we can press a reset button and open our venues, festivals and cultural activities safely to the public as quickly as possible.

Read full news release here

 

Updated: 21st September 2020

The Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund, in partnership with Arts & Business Northern Ireland, was launched today, 21 September. The Fund will distribute a total of £840,000 between 2020 and 2022, and is designed to support artists and arts projects across the island of Ireland.  Today’s announcement brings the Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together community investment to €3million. 

The Arts Fund will support or commission artists and arts organisations to develop arts projects, enhancing the wellbeing of the participants, audiences and communities involved. All art forms are eligible and the aim is for the projects to benefit a range of audiences. The Fund will also support arts projects that have been adapted due to COVID-19, or are inspired by / respond to COVID-19.

Applicants can request funds between c. £2,500 – £8,400, and average grants will be £4,200, with maximum grants of £8,400. Arts projects with larger budgets that have secured funds elsewhere are encouraged to apply. With each grant round, the Fund aims to provide funding to an arts project in each county on the island of Ireland.

Closing date for the first round of applications is Wednesday, 4 November at 5pm. The second round will open in April 2021. Go to www.businesstoarts.ie/artsfund/bank-of-ireland for information on the application process and to complete the online application form.

 

Updated: 21st September 2020

£25 million Weston Culture Fund to open on 5th October.

The Garfield Weston Foundation is finalising details of a one-off Weston Culture Fund, to launch on 5th October. This £25 million fund will support mid- to large-scale cultural organisations in the UK to restart work, re-engage with audiences, adapt to changed circumstances and generate revenue. The fund is specifically for charitable organisations with a pre-Covid regular annual income of £500,000 or greater; smaller organisations will be able to apply for the Foundation's regular grants programme via its website as usual. Closing date for applications will be 9th November and decisions will be announced by the end of January 2021.

Further details: https://garfieldweston.org/new-weston-culture-fund-coming-soon/

 

Updated: 10th September 2020

£500,000 fund to support the safe re-opening of the arts and culture sectors

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (Thursday 10th September 2020) opened the Health and Safety Capital Programme, a new fund, worth £500,000, designed to support arts and culture organisations as they prepare to re-open after the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Health & Safety Capital Programme is open for online applications and will close at 4pm on October 1st 2020. To be eligible, organisations must demonstrate the purpose of the requested equipment or minor works to be clearly focused on the arts.   For further information on eligibility, guidance notes and to apply, please visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/health-and-safety-capital-programme

Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 3rd September 2020

Arts Council re-opens Organisations Emergency Programme for applications

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has opened the Organisations Emergency Programme (OEP) in a second call to arts and cultural organisations across Northern Ireland.

The fund allows those organisations which did not receive support in the first call made in June, to apply for grants of up to £25,000 each. It is hoped this support may help alleviate the significant financial pressures they are facing as result of Covid-19, while preparing to re-open safely and contribute successfully to the economy.

The Organisations Emergency Programme is one element of the wider £5.5 m Creative Support fund supported by the Minister, the Department for Communities and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; the priority is to protect the arts and wider cultural sectors from the impact of the current pandemic.

Closing date for applications is 4pm on Thursday 17th September 2020. Further information at http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/organisations-emergency-programme

 

Updated: 2nd September 2020

Covid-19 Update on the reopening of arts venues

It was disappointing but understandable to hear on August 27th that the NI Executive could not relax Coronavirus restrictions and allow our theatres and venues to reopen.

An Executive Office spokesperson said,

“The Executive has been condition-led in its relaxations of Coronavirus restrictions. It has made relaxations when it has been right to do so and also consistently stated that it will be prepared to re-introduce restrictions if it is necessary to control the spread of the virus.

“With the increased transmission rate of the virus in the community and the R number at around 1.3, the Executive agreed that no further restrictions will be lifted at this time. The indicative date of September 1 for the opening of wet pubs, private members clubs and audiences returning to theatres has not been ratified by the Executive. Officials have engaged with the different stakeholder bodies and no new indicative dates have been set.”

Communities Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín said in response to the NI Executive’s deferral, 

“We are working in collaboration with other Executive Departments, grassroots groups, industry organisations and others to make preparations for the future. We are listening to people from across the sectors to ensure safe re-opening of venues, when the scientific advice is that we can do so.”

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Fighting Words and Libraries NI challenge primary school pupils to create ‘Fantastic Fictions’

Thursday 15th October 2020 at 4pm 0 Comments Literature

Mylie and Luke from Wheatfield Primary School Belfast pictured with Jim O’ Hagan, Chief Executive of Libraries NI, Glenn Patterson, author, patron & founder of Fighting Words NI and Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts & Education at the Arts Council Image: Mylie and Luke from Wheatfield Primary School Belfast pictured with Jim O’ Hagan, Chief Executive of Libraries NI, Glenn Patterson, author, patron & founder of Fighting Words NI and Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts & Education at the Arts Council

Fighting Words NI and Libraries NI are partnering for the first time this Autumn to deliver a creative writing initiative to up to 20 primary schools across Northern Ireland.

The initiative titled, ‘Fantastic Fictions – new writing inspired by books we love’ invites Primaries 5, 6 and 7 children to write short stories sparked by their favourite books, with the aim of encouraging teachers and pupils to engage with creative writing and reading. New characters, unexpected plots and surprises are anticipated!

Welcoming the initiative, Damian Smyth, Head of Literature, Arts Council Northern Ireland said:

“It is important that funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is supporting new collaborations like this one between Fighting Words NI and Libraries NI.  It is all about increasing access to reading and to creative writing for our young children, a top priority for the Arts Council and Fighting Words is just the organisation to support. It’s a pleasure to know that this programme, aided by first class authors like Glenn Patterson, will reach primary pupils in up to twenty schools across the region. I am really looking forward to reading their fantastic fiction when it’s published this autumn, what a treat!”

Glenn Patterson, author, patron and founder of Fighting Words NI commented;

“I just love seeing how Fighting Words constantly evolves and innovates to forge new collaborative relationships.  Thanks to Libraries NI for the opportunity to work with them.  We’re all really looking forward to reading the stories which will no doubt be bursting with originality and imagination and every single one of them will be published on our website.  I’m so excited to see where ‘Fantastic Fictions’ takes us.”

Libraries NI Chief Executive, Jim O’ Hagan said;

“I am very pleased to be partnering with Fighting Words and local primary schools to deliver the Fantastic Fiction creative writing project over the coming months. This initiative is the perfect opportunity for young people to use their imaginations and develop their creativity and writing skills. Reading and writing for pleasure can have an important impact on children’s literacy and their creativity. I am very much looking forward to reading the short stories the children create inspired by their favourite books or literary characters.”

The online submissions portal will be open until 31st October 2020. Every young person's work will be published online and Fighting Words and Libraries NI will showcase Fantastic Fictions throughout October with a selection of the young writers' readings posted online at www.fightingwords.co.uk

This initiative is supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland (Exchequer) and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland through the New Needs Fund.

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Gifted teenagers receive awards to work with David Lyttle

Thursday 15th October 2020 at 11am 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Pictured L-R: Conor Marcus (15) and Dara McNicholl (13) Image: Pictured L-R: Conor Marcus (15) and Dara McNicholl (13)

Northern Irish teenagers Conor Marcus (15) and Dara McNicholl (13) have each won one of Northern Ireland's most prestigious arts accolades, not-for-profit organisation Jazzlife Alliance's Exceptional Young Musician Award, funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. They will work with MOBO and Urban Music Award nominated musician, producer and composer David Lyttle over the coming months. Both are singer-songwriters who have already reached an audience of millions in The Voice Kids, and they are committed to becoming professional performers and finding their own unique sounds.

Lyttle has worked with the elite of the arts world, collaborating in jazz with legends of today, in hip hop with some its icons and in spoken word with film great Liam Neeson. His latest album was described by Rolling Stone as 'one of the best listening experiences you're likely to have all year' and David holds the rare distinction of receiving radio play on both commercial and specialist radio, from BBC Radio 1 to Jazz FM. Pre-Covid he was performing around 200 concerts a year in fifteen countries and he has run independent record label Lyte Records on the side since 2007.

Dara McNicholl, from Draperstown, stunned the judges on this year's The Voice Kids when he sang Whitney Houston's 'I Have Nothing', later revealing he had only been singing for three years and that his parents first heard him sing at a school play. He became the first Northern Irish contestant to reach the finals last month.

“The Voice was a great opportunity for me to work with quality vocal coaches - I hadn’t really done that before. To stand on those big stages and learn to deliver to huge audiences was class. It was a great look into the TV and music industry. I am over the moon to get the chance to work with Jazzlife and explore different genres of music and to be experimental. It's great to work with David - he has such a broad background in music and I am looking forward to see what we can create!”

Last year Conor Marcus, from Ballynahinch, became the first performer on The Voice Kids to perform an original song, receiving praise from will.i.am, Pixie Lott, Jessie J and Danny Jones, who became his mentor through to the semi-finals. He has since recorded several singles which have received radio play in Ireland. He will release his new single 'Xs and Os' on Friday.

“I’m totally blown away to have received this prestigious award. I had my first session with David last week and it was awesome. I know I’m going to learn so much from working with him. Getting through lockdown, like for everyone, was tough, but one thing that really kept me going, was being asked by Hot Press to take part in the Rave On Van Morrison 75th birthday celebrations. It was great to see everyone else’s performances, including David’s version of 'On Hyndford Street' with Liam Neeson. It really opened my eyes to a whole new genre of music that I’m just not familiar with.”

Lyttle says, “My role as artistic director at Jazzlife Alliance has introduced me to some exceptional talent over the past few years. I'm proud to call Northern Ireland home and feel privileged to be part of the lives of some of our most gifted artists. I am so impressed by Conor's musical depth as a singer and songwriter, as well as his love for music and his excitement in exploring new directions. Dara sings with such maturity and soul, as if he's been doing it for years. He lives for it. The sky is the limit for these gifted young men.”

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

“Congratulations to Dara and Conor in receiving these awards in recognition of their exceptional musical gifts.  The Arts Council is committed to providing valuable, meaningful opportunities for young people to develop their musical skills.  Thanks to National Lottery players, we are delighted to support Jazzlife Alliance in providing this important opportunity for these two young musicians to be mentored by David Lyttle, one of the finest jazz and crossover musicians working in Northern Ireland.”

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Arts for All celebrate Cityside expansion with opening of new exhibition

Wednesday 14th October 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments Visual Arts

Elsewhere – An exhibition of paintings by Fiona Rainey Image: Elsewhere – An exhibition of paintings by Fiona Rainey

Arts for All celebrate opening of second retail space in Cityside Retail Park with the opening of a new exhibition.

Elsewhere will showcase work by Fiona Rainey, a Belfast artist who gained a degree in fine art in 1990 at Ulster University.  Since then she has exhibited her work at home and abroad whilst also basing herself at King Street and Fourth Floor Art Studios, Belfast.  Primarily an abstract painter, Fiona is inspired by the ever-changing and uncontrolled aspects of Donegal landscapes.  During the lockdown, she focused on the idea of occupying that other place…. Elsewhere.

Fiona commented, “The paintings on display are all new works created by me during the lockdown. The difference in the scale of the pieces is designed to challenge our perspective and viewing position concerning each piece.  I strive to create a moody, ethereal place where you get lost, off roads, no boundaries and endless time.”

Arts for All’s work is supported through the Arts Council’s National Lottery Funds. Jill McDermott, Arts Coordinator at Arts for All said they were delighted to host Fiona’s exhibition of newly created work. 

“Fiona is not only a talented professional artist but has been a valuable member of the Arts for All team, for 5 years passing on skills to local art class participants in a fun and engaging style.  Much of Fiona’s facilitation work is teaching and helping others to create and make pieces of art.  At last, we can celebrate the wonderful artworks by Fiona herself! Well done Fiona!

Jill went on to comment. “Fiona has created wonderful new paintings that provide a feast for the eyes with bold brushstrokes, murky colours on large canvases.  And if you are worried about heading out currently, we have all the Covid-19 safeguards in place with track and trace/ temperature checks at Arts for All & The Pod in Cityside.”

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.

Elsewhere, an exhibition of paintings by Fiona Rainey opens on Thursday 15 October 2020 6-8 pm at Arts for All, Cityside Retail Park, Belfast BT15 1WA. ADMISSION FREE

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Young People in Northern Ireland & Afghanistan Join Together in Music

Tuesday 13th October 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments Community Arts , Northern Ireland Music

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Music prevails! Over the past three months an unprecedented music collaboration has been happening involving young musicians from Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. Despite Covid-19 and security challenges there has been no half measures to fulfill an ambitious vision to create three shared music productions. At the helm, a team of producers and logistic managers have enabled the young musicians to record and perform together resulting in three music videos accompanying visual diaries documenting the journey.

The project is part of a wider partnership that was started between the organizations Beyond Skin Northern Ireland and Afghanistan National Institute of Music when both Directors Dr Ahmad Sarmast and Darren Ferguson met at the Batuta International Seminar on Music and Social Transformation conference in Bogota, Colombia in 2016. Over the past three years there have been various Northern Ireland Afghanistan shared activities with Dr Ahmad Sarmast visiting Northern Ireland in 2017. Educational workshops exploring Afghan culture have also taken place in Northern Ireland with youth groups facilitated by partners Yallaa & Unique New Adventure Ltd. This year the Traditional Arts Partnership South Armagh have joined the consortium with young girls from their network participating in the music productions along with members from the Afghan Women’s Orchestra, also known as Zohra Ensemble.

The project has been supported by private donors with The WOMAD Foundation and Arts Council Northern Ireland & Factor Law as principal funders.

“The WOMAD Foundation is so proud to have supported this wonderful collaboration across continents that has taken place in spite of all the adversities that we face today.  To see young women playing music that reflects their separate Irish and Afghani cultural heritages and also creates a seamless uplifting whole, affirms the universality of music and human experience. It is tremendously powerful.” Mandy Adams Trustee, WOMAD Foundation.

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

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support Beyond Skin with this wonderful international collaboration project, thanks to National Lottery players. We know that music and the arts bring people and communities closer together and I’d like to congratulate Darren at Beyond Skin and everyone involved and look forward to seeing the music videos created by these impressive young musicians very soon.”

The first of the videos will be released as part of the One World Festival Northern Ireland 17th October and 18th October for Share Music Day Japan managed by Min-On Music Concert Association.

Darren Ferguson CEO of Beyond Skin said

“Do not underestimate the vast achievement producing these music videos. I cannot commend the production, logistics team and all the musicians enough for navigating through many challenges during a global pandemic and when security risks for the young girls in Kabul are still very real.  I am immensely proud of this collaborative triumph.”

Director of Afghanistan National Institute of Music Dr Ahmad Sarmast commented

“This collaboration between young musicians from Afghanistan and Northern Ireland, in a time that peace talks on Afghanistan is well underway and it might lead to the return of the Taliban back to power, is significant in rising awareness about the future of music in Afghanistan,  given the past draconian policies of the Taliban against music . Taliban did not only violated the musical rights of the Afghan people, but banned music entirely and the people of Afghanistan were not allowed to listen, learn or play music”

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World Mental Health Awareness Day, 10th October 2020

Friday 9th October 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments

Pictured are: Danielle McLaughlin and Alicia Kelly  from St Cecilia’s College with DJ Kwame Daniels from Bounce Culture Image: Pictured are: Danielle McLaughlin and Alicia Kelly from St Cecilia’s College with DJ Kwame Daniels from Bounce Culture

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, with funding from the National Lottery and Department for Communities, is working across government to help improve mental health and wellbeing through the arts.

Over the past five years, appreciation of how arts and culture can support the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities has grown rapidly. Statistics from the Westminster All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Well-being in their 2017 report, ‘Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing’, found that arts and social activities can help meet major challenges facing health and social care. These include issues like ageing, loneliness, mental health, and other long-term health conditions. The report also concluded that the arts can help keep us well, aid recovery and support longer lives and the arts can help save money for the NHS and social care system.

Arts Council funding supports people and organisations to develop creative programmes for the whole of society and, as part of our work, we have developed a series of landmark initiatives which use the arts as tools to enrich lives and promote positive health and wellbeing. These include, the Arts and Older People’s Programme, ARTiculate ‘Young People and Wellbeing Programme’ and the Creative School’s Partnership.

Key Facts and Figures:

Arts and Older People’s Programme
The Arts and Older People’s Programme has now been running for 10 years. Developed in partnership with Public Health Agency and the Baring Foundation, the programme has invested £2million in projects and activities that help older people engage and participate in the arts to combat poverty, isolation and loneliness. So far over 28,000 people have benefitted from the programme and it is now internationally recognised for its pioneering approach. Activities range from intergenerational storytelling, to musical reminiscence for people living with dementia, to stilt walking.
Of those who have taken part in an Arts Council funded project, 88% said they felt empowered by their achievements and 82% said they now want to participate in more arts activities.

ARTiculate ‘Young People and Wellbeing Programme’
Funded by the Arts Council and PHA, The ARTiculate programme was set up in 2016 to support the five local Strategic Suicide Prevention Implementation Groups. Its aim was to engage young people throughout Northern Ireland in custom-made creative activities designed to strengthen their voice and empower them to articulate their story through words, drama and the visual arts. Over the past four years 49 projects have been funded, supporting activities for 2,839 young participants. Each project engaged with vulnerable young people and targeted those at higher risk of suicide or self-harm.  Feedback from the groups showed that:

  • 83% said their self-confidence has improved and they have more belief in themselves as a result of their participation
  • 77% said they are now more confident in expressing themselves
  • 71% said they are now better able to cope with a setback


Creative School’s Programme
The Arts Council, in partnership with the Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative and Education Authority, launched the three-year Creative Schools Partnership in Spring 2018. Its purpose is to bring more creativity into the classroom in order to improve educational outcomes throughout the curriculum for students from disadvantaged areas or backgrounds, reduce educational inequalities, improve community relations and contribute to delivering the TBUC strategy. Eleven schools have participated in the programme and 306 pupils have participated so far. Feedback from the schools has been overwhelmingly positive. All of them said the programme supported their school development priorities, that pupils gained in confidence and participants attitudes towards their education had improved.

To find out more about the Arts Council’s programmes and funding support sign up to the Arts Council’s weekly newsletter http://artscouncil-ni.org/signup

For advice and information on how to take care of your mental health go to www.mindingyourhead.info

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BIAF & the Irish Arts Center New York to co-host showcase feat leading theatre & dance work from NI

Thursday 8th October 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments Dance , Drama

BRINK 2020 Maiden Voyage Dance Company (Photo credit: Luca Truffarelli) Image: BRINK 2020 Maiden Voyage Dance Company (Photo credit: Luca Truffarelli)

Thanks to National Lottery Funding Belfast International Arts Festival will feature leading theatre and dance work from Northern Ireland in a virtual showcase for North America

Seven major works, created by some of Northern Ireland’s leading theatre and dance artists and arts organisations, are due to be showcased at a special online industry event, on 19th October, organised by Belfast International Arts Festival, Theatre and Dance NI, with support from British Council NI and National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.  The event, Spotlight on Theatre and Dance from Northern Ireland, is being co-hosted with the Irish Arts Center in New York and aims to offer a platform to network and promote tour-ready work from Northern Ireland to global programmers and industry leaders in the USA and Canada. 

This event will include a showing of video extracts from the selection of new performance pieces from Northern Ireland followed by a livestreamed and interactive Q&A with the creators and artists.  The theatre and dance works taking part in the showcase event include:

Abomination - A DUP Opera by Conor Mitchell. Originally produced by The Belfast Ensemble and Outburst Queer Arts Festival

BRINK choreographed by Eileen McClory. Produced by Maiden Voyage Dance

Körper & Leib choreographed by Oona Doherty. Produced by Maiden Voyage Dance

Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Produced by Big Telly Theatre Company

Politics of Comfort written and performed by Janie Doherty. Directed by Alessandra Celesia

Questions of a Man devised and performed by Dylan Quinn and Jenny Ecke. Produced by Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre

Removed written by Fionnuala Kennedy. Produced by Prime Cut Productions

The online event will be co-hosted by Richard Wakely, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of  Belfast International Arts Festival, who commented,

“BIAF are delighted and honoured to be working with our partners in Northern Ireland and New York to highlight the great and often innovative practice and works from our own local artistic community. It reflects our on-going commitment to provide professional development opportunities for NI talent. Moreover, in these uncertain times for artists, it is vital that we help them to develop their practice and earn income by identifying and creating opportunities for them to share their work with audiences in other markets”.

Niamh Flanagan, Executive Director, Theatre and Dance NI said,

''It is with great pride that we see the continued development of ‘Spotlight on Theatre and Dance from Northern Ireland’ as part of the Belfast International Arts Festival. Following the success of the presentations at the 2020 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, we have continued to work with our partners to platform the incredible home-grown talent of theatre and dance in Northern Ireland. The performances are testament to the versatility, talent, and ambition of our professional artists and creators who have produced high-quality work for presentation. The screening of the film, followed by a live streamed Q&A is an opportunity to view the breadth of this work and to hear directly from the gifted artists and creators themselves. We are so proud of them all and want to share their work and talent as far and as wide as possible.”

Jonathan Stewart, British Council Northern Ireland Director, said,

“The performing arts sector has been challenged by Covid-19 both economically and in terms of how audiences connect and interact with festivals, venues and events. Despite these challenges, the Irish Arts Center in New York is providing innovative ways to showcase creative works from Northern Ireland to audiences online, including those presented in the superb Spotlight from Northern Ireland programme.  Our partnership with Belfast International Arts Festival, Theatre & Dance NI and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland demonstrates a shared commitment to support artists and to continue championing Northern Ireland’s performing arts sector internationally, both digitally and physically.”

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“It’s vital that our artists and arts organisations are given opportunities to showcase their tour-ready work to industry leaders and programmers outside of Northern Ireland.  Thanks to National Lottery players, it’s incredibly exciting that high-quality work from here is being showcased to USA and Canadian industry leaders in partnership with the Irish Arts Center through the Belfast International Arts Festival.  This platform opens up the potential for these world-class works to be toured internationally and to be seen by thousands of people, helping to put Northern Ireland on the map for all the right reasons.”

For further details of this event visit https://belfastinternationalartsfestival.com

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Appointment of a Chair, Vice-Chair and three Members to the Board of the Arts Council

Thursday 8th October 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

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The Minister for the Department for Communities invites applications for the appointment of a Chair, Vice-Chair and three members to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The Arts Council is the lead development agency for the arts in Northern Ireland. It has a key role to play in developing and improving the knowledge, appreciation and practice of the arts, and increasing public access to, and participation in, the arts.

Details
Applications are welcome from a wide range of people who have an interest in public service, including those who are looking for an opportunity to use their skills and experience. We would particularly welcome applications from women, people with a disability, young people and people from minority ethnic groups for these positions. A Guaranteed Interview Scheme is in place for those applicants with a disability. You do not need to have previous experience of serving on a board to apply.

Further information on the competition including the criteria for the positions can be found in the Candidate Information Booklet.

The closing date is 12 noon on Friday 30 October 2020. Late applications will not be considered.

How to Apply

Due to the current situation, the office is currently not manned so we would request that you please send:

  • a completed application form and
  • equal opportunities monitoring form

via e-mail to publicappointments@communities-ni.gov.uk

If you are unable to return your completed forms via e-mail, and wish to either post or hand-deliver them, grateful if you could advise the Department via the above e-mail address in advance or call (028) 90 819 417. The office address is:

Public Appointments
Governance Unit
Department for Communities
Level 5
NINE Lanyon Place
Belfast
BT1 3LP

Documents

 

For more information, please visit https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/dfc-public-appointments

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Gifted musicians and songwriters invited to apply to NI Young Musicians’ Platform Awards

Friday 2nd October 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music – Funding , Northern Ireland Music

Pictured are four past recipients, traditional music awardee, Martha Guiney, classical awardees, Andrew Douglas and William Curran with jazz awardee, Katharine Timoney. Image: Pictured are four past recipients, traditional music awardee, Martha Guiney, classical awardees, Andrew Douglas and William Curran with jazz awardee, Katharine Timoney.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland in partnership with BBC Northern Ireland, are calling for young, exceptional musicians from across Northern Ireland to apply for the Northern Ireland Young Musicians' Platform Award, supported by National Lottery funding and BBC NI.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland in partnership with BBC Northern Ireland, are calling for young, exceptional musicians from across Northern Ireland to apply for the Northern Ireland Young Musicians' Platform Award, supported by National Lottery funding and BBC NI.

These prestigious biennial awards, supported by the Arts Council’s National Lottery funds, aim to showcase and support the development of six exceptional musicians from Northern Ireland by providing funding awards, worth £5000 each, to three classical musicians, one jazz musician, one traditional musician and for the first time, one contemporary singer-songwriter.  This financial award enables recipients to develop their musical aspirations by spending a sizeable amount of time learning from a master musician, mentor, teacher or composer either in Northern Ireland or abroad.

In addition to this training opportunity, each recipient receives two professional radio broadcast engagements with BBC Northern Ireland, including one with the Ulster Orchestra.  Performances at this level raise not only the professional profile of the young musician but also give a boost to their performance experience.

Highlighting BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle’s commitment to specialist music and developing new musical talent, four presenters from the station will mentor the young awardees as well, follow their progress on their programmes and help them prepare for performances with the Ulster Orchestra for live broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster.  John Toal, a classical pianist and presenter of Classical Connections will mentor the three classical awardees; Folk Club presenter, Lynette Fay, will mentor the traditional awardee, Linley Hamilton jazz musician and presenter of Jazz World will mentor the jazz awardee and Stephen McCauley, presenter of The Stephen McCauley Show, will mentor the singer-songwriter awardee.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, at the Arts Council, commented: “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is hugely proud to support the Young Musicians’ Platform Award through our National Lottery funds.  We are committed to providing valuable, meaningful opportunities for our most exceptional young talent to develop and excel.  The Young Musicians’ Platform Award offers a tremendous opportunity for outstanding young musicians to develop their musical skills, learn from the best in their genre and receive experience of playing with a professional orchestra.  All of the previous recipients have gone on to have successful, musical careers and I’ve every confidence that their experience received through this award acted as a powerful catalyst in shaping their development.”

Paul McClean, Executive Editor, Music, Arts and Events, BBC Northern Ireland, says, “We truly believe that BBC Radio Ulster and Foyle is ‘Where Music Matters’ and we are dedicated to providing our listeners with the best in specialist music. Nurturing new talent is something we are extremely passionate about and we are delighted to be involved in finding new classical, alternative, jazz and traditional artists. Being able to have our listeners engage in these young musicians’ journey will be incredible to watch as they grow and develop with some help from John, Lynette, Stephen and Linley, all of whom are music evangelists.”

Previous recipients of the Young Musicians’ Platform Award include acclaimed classical pianist, Michael McHale, soprano, Laura Sheerin, harpist, Richard Allen, violinist, Michael Trainor, baritone, Brian McAlea, folk artists, Conor Mallon, Martha Guiney and Niall Hanna and jazz musicians, Ed Dunlop and Katherine Timoney, among others.
Applications for the Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform Awards are open from Thursday 1 October and will close at 4pm on Thursday 29th October.  Applications will be assessed by a specialist panel and shortlisted applicants will then be invited to audition between 1-3 December in Belfast, where they will be asked to perform two contrasting pieces in style and period, one of which will be contemporary.  For full eligibility and application details visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/young-musicians-platform-scheme

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Derek Mahon (1941-2020)

Friday 2nd October 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments Literature

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with great sadness of the death of one of our leading poets, Derek Mahon, who has died, aged 78.

Born in Belfast in 1941 to Ulster Protestant working class parents, he attended Skegoneil Primary school and then the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. At the institute he encountered fellow students who shared his interest in literature and poetry. The school produced a magazine for which Mahon produced some of his early poems. According to the critic Hugh Haughton, his early poems were highly fluent and extraordinary for a person so young. He went on to study French literature at Trinity College Dublin and the Sorbonne. His early works, including the collection, Night Crossing (1968), written while teaching at English at Belfast High School, distinguished him as one of the most talented of the younger generation of poets that emerged from Northern Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s. Describing himself as an ‘aesthete’ with a penchant for ‘left-wingery’, many of his early poems explore elements of the Northern Ireland Protestant psyche, and his Northern Irish background is powerfully evoked in poems such as North Wind: Portrush:

I shall never forget the wind
On this benighted coast.
It works itself into the mind
Like the high keen of a lost
Lear-spirit in agony
Condemned for eternity.

Mahon, a member of Aosdána, and residing in Kinsale, Co. Cork since the 1980s, experienced a remarkable late flowering, publishing four highly-acclaimed collections in just five years in the 2000s. Harbour Lights (2006) and Life on Earth (2008) both won Irish Times Poetry Now Awards and, in 2007, in recognition of his lifetime achievement, he was awarded the David Cohen Prize for Literature. This late body of work has been hailed by the Guardian as “one of the most significant developments in poetry this century”.

A distinguished poet, Mahon also produced work for the theatre, including versions of Moliere’s The School for Wives and High Time, Racine’s Phaedra, The Bacchae (after Euripides), Cyrano de Bergerac, which was produced at London’s National Theatre in 2004 and Oedipus (after Sophocles) which was published in 2005. In 2013 his collected plays, Theatre, was published.

Derek Mahon is regarded as one of the most accomplished of contemporary Irish poets, and his work has influenced a generation of younger of British and Irish poets.

His final collection, Washing Up, is published this month.

Derek Mahon’s poem, Everything is Going to Be All Right, captured the national mood in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How should I not be glad to contemplate
the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?
There will be dying, there will be dying,
but there is no need to go into that.
The lines flow from the hand unbidden
and the hidden source is the watchful heart;
the sun rises in spite of everything
and the far cities are beautiful and bright.
I lie here in a riot of sunlight
watching the day break and the clouds flying.
Everything is going to be all right.

(Derek Mahon, from New Selected Poems 2011, Gallery Press)

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, paid tribute:
“In the twelve months in which Irish poetry suffered the loss of Ciaran Carson and Eavan Boland, now Derek Mahon’s departure is a poignant and equally bothersome removal. He wrote some of the great poems of the twentieth century, not just out of Ireland but internationally. His work will be a permanent presence in the anthologies from here on, alongside those of his contemporaries Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley, with whom his work sustains a fruitful and brilliant dialogue. Among his classic poems, several such as On A Disused Shed in County Wexford, A Garage in County Cork, The Chinese Restaurant in Portrush, the radiant Antarctica, Everything Is Going To Be Alright (which took on sustaining relevance during the COVID-19 lockdown of the soul), across many high-grade collections, reveal him as the poet par excellence of the spirit under pressure, the seeker for reassurance in a frequently glacial social environment, the deliverer of lines which live in the memory. Once more today, we find ourselves, without knowing it, with one friend less in the world.”

He takes leave of the earthly pantomime
Quietly, knowing it is time to go.
"I am just going outside and may be some time."
At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime.

You can watch Derek Mahon reading ‘Everything is Going to Be All Right at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNGU11lK_5E

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£500,000 fund opens to support Small Capital purchases

Thursday 1st October 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments

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The Arts Council is now inviting applications to its Small Capital Programme, thanks to an investment of £500,000 from the Department for Communities.

The programme, which opened today (1st October), has a total available budget of £500,000 and has been designed to enable organisations to purchase equipment and carry out minor works to their premises which will enhance their artistic services.

The scheme is open to a wide range of arts and non-arts organisations, although the primary purpose of the requested equipment and/or minor works to premises must be clearly focused on arts activity and provide a public benefit.

Particular priority will be given to applications which:

• address Covid-19 requirements in working remotely;
• improves the accessibility of the arts;
• improves the direct delivery of arts provision;
• enhances or broadens the audience/participants’ experience of arts programming; or
• raises the quality of the artistic work produced

Organisations can apply for any minor work or item of equipment for an arts-related activity such as, lighting equipment, stage equipment, sound equipment, minor building works, transport and office equipment. Although organisations can apply for funding to support the purchase of more than one item, applicants should be mindful that the budget for this programme is strictly limited and demand for funds is likely to be extremely high.

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín commented: “I am delighted that the Small Capital Programme has opened today allowing arts organisations to purchase equipment and carry out minor works to their premises.  It is important that we ensure that our arts and cultural organisations have the right assets to support the delivery of their work and enhance their artistic services.”

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “With much appreciated investment from the Department for Communities, the Arts Council is pleased to announce the opening of this new funding programme today. This vital funding will make a real difference to organisations in need of new equipment and allow them to make improvements to their premises. All the information about how to apply is available on the Arts Council website and we would encourage any organisation interested in finding out more about this scheme to visit the Arts Council website for more details."

Full details of the scheme and how to apply can be found at http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/Small-Capital-Programme.

This programme will close for applications at 4pm on Thursday 15th October, with decision made on Tuesday 1st December.

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Privacy Notice

Thursday 1st October 2020 at 9am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is required by law to protect the public funds it administers. It may share information provided to it with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds, in order to prevent and detect fraud.

Participants in the National Fraud Initiative must inform individuals in a privacy notice that their data will be processed, as required by the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018). Privacy notices were previously known as Fair Processing Notices (FPNs).

The Comptroller and Auditor General audits the accounts of the Arts Council. The Comptroller and Auditor General is also responsible for carrying out data matching exercises under his powers in Articles 4A to 4G of the Audit and Accountability (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.

Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. This is usually personal information. Computerised data matching allows potentially fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is found, it may indicate that there is an inconsistency which requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out.

The Comptroller and Auditor General currently requires us to participate in a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud. We are required to provide particular sets of data to the Comptroller and Auditor General for matching. Details are set out in the NIAO’s website, www.niauditoffice.gov.uk

The use of data by the Comptroller and Auditor General in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority. It does not require the consent of the individuals concerned under the Data Protection Act 2018.

Data matching by the Comptroller and Auditor General is subject to a Code of Practice. This may be found at www.niauditoffice.gov.uk For further information on the Comptroller and Auditor General’s legal powers and the reasons why he matches particular information, see the Level 3 notice on the NIAO website at www.niauditoffice.gov.uk

For further information on data matching at the Arts Council contact James McCumiskey, jmccumiskey@artscouncil-ni.org, 028 92 623532.

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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 http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/small-grants-programme

List of organisiations that received funding through the Small Grants Programme in September 2020: http://artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/news-documents/Sept_SGP.xls

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Allocation of funding to arts and culture

Friday 25th September 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

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The Arts Council welcomes news from the NI Executive that £29m has been allocated to help the arts and cultural sectors in Northern Ireland endure the Covid-19 pandemic. There have been devastating financial consequences for all working in and around the arts because of venue closures, the restrictions of social distancing placed on audiences and staff, and the massive loss of earned income since lock-down began.

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, who will now determine how the allocation is to be spent, confirmed that, “The funding is to support the arts, culture, heritage, languages and the wider creative industries sectors and also includes support for libraries, museums, comedy, music and cinema.” (DfC statement here)

The Arts Council is heartened to see that the majority of the funding announced today is aimed at helping our core arts and cultural organisations, as well as artists and creative practitioners, get through this crisis to year-end, in the hope we can press a reset button and open our venues, festivals and cultural activities safely to the public as quickly as possible.

However we must also consider how government funding can help renew our fragile arts ecosystem beyond this financial year, through a programme of strategic reinvestment.

It is our hope that future reinvestment by government will strengthen the resilience of this important sector over the next few years and provide our arts and cultural organisations with resources to develop innovative, creative ways to bring great arts to all, be that digitally, outdoors, in-person or through live performance.
We thank the Minister and her Department for their help in making the case to government that our arts and culture infrastructure is of value to Northern Ireland and is worth saving.

The Arts Council provided a carefully researched bid to the Department for Communities which evidenced the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the sector and offered expert advice on how to both mitigate against permanent damage to an arts and cultural sector that is of considerable value to our economy, and how to sustain and renew that sector beyond the pandemic. 

We also recognise the campaigning efforts of the many arts organisations, artists and audience members, including MLA’s and many commercial  and cultural business leaders, who took the time to speak up and convey the message of how important a strong arts and culture ecosystem is to our society in Northern Ireland.

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Art galleries safely reopen to the public across Northern Ireland

Friday 18th September 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

Pictured (L-R) is Patricia Lavery, Arts Council of Northern Ireland with Deirdre McKenna and Damien Coyle from the University of Atypical. Image: Pictured (L-R) is Patricia Lavery, Arts Council of Northern Ireland with Deirdre McKenna and Damien Coyle from the University of Atypical.

Stuck for something to do this weekend?  Why not go along to your local public art gallery and enjoy some great art!

A number of the region’s public art galleries have begun to reopen following a significant period of closure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  From R-Space in Lisburn, Millennium Court in Portadown to VOID in Derry-Londonderry and Belfast Exposed, Craft NI, The MAC, Golden Thread Gallery and University of Atypical, all in Belfast, there is a wealth of visual art on display to get out and enjoy safely this autumn!

Whilst we all need to remain vigilant with regard to health and safety during this pandemic, the public can take confidence that every safety measure is in place within those galleries that are open.  All galleries are running a booking system, available on their websites, to ensure that the number of people in the gallery at any one time is fully controlled.  Mask wearing is essential and there are a number of sanitizing stations throughout the spaces.

Dr Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“Whilst we await a date for the reopening of performance venues and theatres, it’s heartening to see parts of our arts sector reopen and welcome people back.  Our galleries have been working very hard to put in place all the health and safety measures required to open their doors safely to the public.  Indeed, the very nature of public art galleries allows for vital social distancing during these challenging times.  I would encourage everyone to go along and support your local gallery this autumn and enjoy great art!

Deirdre Robb, Chief Executive, Belfast Exposed, added,

“Belfast Exposed is delighted to be open and welcoming people back to enjoy our photography exhibitions.  We went through a number of processes to make sure the building was safe to open to the public.  We have sanitizers around the building, we have masks available for people and gloves for anyone wanting to browse through the book shelves.  We currently have an MFA graduate exhibition called Anthology and it really is a reflection of people and places in everyday life with themes similar to what we’re all going through right now – it really is a fantastic exhibition.”

Public art galleries currently showing exhibitions include:

The MAC: Ulster University BA and MFA Fine Art Graduate Show
From now until 11th October, The MAC presents the popular, Ulster University BA and MFA Fine Art Graduate Show, across all three MAC galleries.  The MAC is open from 10am-4pm Wed-Sun and you must book to attend the exhibition at www.themaclive.com

Golden Thread Gallery:  More Bad News and Dissolving Histories Exhibitions
More Bad News – showing now until 19th September
A solo exhibition by Dougal McKenzie.  To book visit: https://www.goldenthreadgallery.co.uk/events/more-bad-news-dougal-mckenzie/?v=79cba1185463

Dissolving Histories: An Unreliable Presence – showing until 30th September
Co-curated by Mary Cremin and Peter Richards, featuring artists: Bassam Al Sabah; Liliane Puthod; Michael Hanna; and Stuart Calvin.  To book visit: https://www.goldenthreadgallery.co.uk/events/dissolving-histories-an-unreliable-presence/?v=79cba1185463

University of Atypical: Brian Kielt Exhibition
University of Atypical is showing Brian Kielt’s exhibition, Confessionals.  Brian Kielt is a painter based in Mid-Ulster who makes work about memory, trauma and anxiety. In 2012 Kielt co-founded the LOFT collective and continues to collaborate with members on numerous projects. This is Kielt’s fifth solo exhibition and his work has featured in several group shows and has work in private collections in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and the USA.  Conscious that many people may continue to shield, they have also organised an online event for those who can’t make it to see the exhibition. A Studio Visit with Brian Kielt will take place on Saturday 3rd of October 2020 from 2pm to 3pm.  Register your interest and receive the Zoom link at https://www.facebook.com/universityofatypical

VOID: echoes are always more muted
VOID in Derry-Londonderry is showing an exhibition by artist, Alan Phelan, echoes are always more muted, from 5th September until 31st October.  To book visit www.derryvoid.com

R-Space: Re: New Wallace #3 and MMM#8 – Obvious
R-Space in Lisburn present two exhibitions including:

Re: New Wallace #3, Robert Peters, 12 September - 16 October 2020 11am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday.  Augmented reality and mixed media by Robert Peters casting an eye on the fraught relationship between Britain and Ireland in the 19th century; absentee landlords, rent strikes, decadent aristocrats, the Famine and Home Rule.  Re: New Wallace #3 is the much anticipated third in their series of Re:New Wallace Collection exhibitions, in collaboration with The Wallace Collection, London.  To book visit: https://www.rspacelisburn.com/

MMM#8 – Obvious, Aimée Nelson, Aoife O'Connor, Gary Shaw, Jill Phillips, Mr. Papers, Pauline Clancy, 7 November - 11 December 2020  11am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday.  Six artists based in Northern Ireland have been selected from an open call as part of our Materials, Messages and Meaning series. Now in its eighth year, these exhibitions explore artists’ different approaches to materials, methods of production and messages within their work.  The works include interactive screenprinting, mixed media installations, digital imaging, and folk art.
To book visit: https://www.rspacelisburn.com/

Craft NI: presents regular exhibitions of the work of craft makers from around Northern Ireland and also a gallery retail space where you can buy from local craft makers.  Visit http://www.craftni.org/

Millennium Court Arts Centre: No Time
Millennium Court Arts Centre in Portadown, is showing their current exhibition, NO TIME, by Martin Boyle.  To book visit http://millenniumcourt.org

Belfast Exposed: present two exhibitions highlighting the work of a selection of recent graduates from the MFA Photography and BA in Photography and Video at Ulster University.  The exhibitions are:

Anthropology (MFA Exhibition) - 3rd September - 24th October
The works presented are universally human and deeply personal navigations of current climates and a response to exactly this moment in time. The exhibition sits with the process of grief and walks along the borders of small towns and fallen cities. Artists reckon with the aftermath of abuse and make sense of fluctuating architecture and the human effort to heal our natural environment. Perception is questioned and subverted to understand home, gender, and community. Exhibition link: https://www.belfastexposed.org/exhibitions/anthropology/

Human Condition (BA Exhibition) - 3rd September - 24th October
The works presented are a broad exploration of human existence plunging into topics from water quality to fluid gender expression and roles. Further observations on mental health spanning youth to retirement, isolation, healing, and recreational space.  Exhibition link: https://www.belfastexposed.org/exhibitions/human-condition/

To support organisations to safely prepare to reopen the Arts Council recently announced the Health & Safety Capital Programme which is now open for online applications and will close at October 1st 2020. To be eligible, organisations must demonstrate the purpose of the requested equipment or minor works to be clearly focused on the arts.  For further information on eligibility, guidance notes and to apply, please visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/health-and-safety-capital-programme

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Bàrd, File, Bardd

Thursday 17th September 2020 at 4pm 0 Comments Literature

Bàrd, File, Bardd Image: Bàrd, File, Bardd

This Friday (18th September), Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich will present Bàrd, File, Bardd,  delving into indigenous Celtic languages in the company of leading poets working in the Irish, Scottish and Welsh language as part of this year’s Culture Night celebrations.

Working with Ciara Ní É (Writer in Residence DCU & Ambassador for Áras na Scríbhneoirí), Ifor ap Glyn (National Poet of Wales & television presenter) and Pàdraig Mac Aoidh (Lecturer in Literature, University of St Andrews), Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich held a series of community engagements looking at mother tongues, their impact on us as a people and the feelings they arouse, particularly within a bilingual context.

The event this Friday, will be presented online. Drawing on the community workshops, the poets will present exciting new work from from Irish, Scots Gaelic and Welsh perspectives, directed by Ian Rowlands.

Brónagh Fusco, Events Manager, Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich said:

“As Celts, it is not only wonderful to look at our own mother tongue, her importance and what it means to us through the medium of poetry, but to also look at the mother tongues of our Welsh and Scottish cousins. Now is the time for further coordinated conversations among stakeholders and communities and we look forward to their continuation.”

Gavin O'Connor, Youth and Community Arts Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

"The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support this wonderful multi-lingual poetry project, Bàrd, File, Bardd developed through an impressive collaboration between Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. This project demonstrates the power of the arts in bringing people and communities closer together, helping us to understand the world around us and to really celebrate our differences and our similarities!"

Bàrd, File, Bardd will begin at 8:30pm on Friday the 18th September on Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich’s YouTube and Facebook channels. This project is funded through Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Literature Wales and Creative Scotland. Creative Team: Tom Clarke (Scots Adaptations), Ifor ap Glyn (Artist Co-ordinator), Pól Mag Uidhir (Animator), Jason Lye-Phillips (Composer and  Film Editor), Ian Rowlands (Media Director).

 

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Culture Night returns this Friday with a packed online programme to enjoy from home!

Wednesday 16th September 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments

Pictured are Susan Picken, Cathedral Quarter Trust, Gilly Campbell, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and performance artist, Sinead O’Donnell. Image: Pictured are Susan Picken, Cathedral Quarter Trust, Gilly Campbell, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and performance artist, Sinead O’Donnell.

Culture Night is one of the most hotly anticipated cultural celebrations in Belfast every September when the streets fill with excited people enjoying everything the Arts have to offer.  Whilst the event cannot be presented in the same way for 2020, due to the challenges of the pandemic, the team at Culture Night has designed a fantastic, jam-packed programme of music, debates, exhibitions and films to be enjoyed online on Friday 18th September, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and Belfast Harbour.

Streaming across a number of virtual platforms, this year’s programme will see venues such as St Anne’s Cathedral, Black Box, the Oh Yeah Centre and The MAC act as the backdrop to what is set to be an exciting evening of entertainment.  Among the performers taking part this year are , Ulster Orchestra, Lyric Theatre, The MAC, Cherrie On Top, Susie Blue, Sinead O’Donnell, tenx9, Charles Hurts, Becha, Stephen Beggs, Paul Currie, George Quinn, Rachael McCabe, Bounce Culture, The Swing Gals and many more.  The programme will also include a specially commissioned piece by filmmaker, Will McConnell, called, We’re Still Here, two documentaries from Trocaire and the premiere of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission film, It Seems, along with a discussion chaired by NIHRC Chief Commissioner, Les Allamby.

Culture Night Online 2020 is one of 150 arts organisations in Northern Ireland who recently received funding from the Department for Communities through the Arts Council’s Organisations Emergency Programme.  This programme aims to offer a much-needed financial lifeline to arts organisations to enable them to continue producing creative work, assist with operational costs and to help plan for recovery.  The programme is part of the wider £5.5m funding package announced by Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, Department for Communities, to support the arts, creative industries and cultural sector during the current pandemic.

Susan Picken, Director, Cathedral Quarter Trust, commented, 

“This year’s online programme is very different from what you may be used to but we hope it captures the varied and eclectic mix of arts and culture you have come to know and love about Culture Night.  There are three main strands for you to enjoy, Core, Showcase, and Gallery. Core is a special programme of performances from iconic venues across the Cathedral Quarter, Showcase is an opportunity to highlight a wide selection of artists, performers, creatives and cultural organisations and Gallery will shine a light on the work of visual artists from the region.”

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

“Despite the enormous challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, Culture Night is back with an impressive digital programme thoughtfully designed against a backdrop of iconic locations in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and featuring a wealth of Northern Irish talent from across the artistic spectrum.  The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is hugely proud to support Culture Night through the Organisations Emergency Fund, supported by the Department for Communities, and I would encourage everyone to get online on 18th September and show your support for our tremendous arts community which contributes so much to our health and wellbeing and to our night-time economy. So, until we can all fill the streets of Belfast safely, in celebration of culture once again, please do log-on and enjoy Culture Night.” 

For more information on this year’s programme go to culturenightbelfast.com or follow #CNB20 #CNBonline on social media.

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Organisations join up to promote Seven inclusive principles for disabled people in Arts & Culture

Tuesday 15th September 2020 at 10am 0 Comments Arts & Disability

Seven Inclusive Principles for Arts & Cultural Organisations working safely through COVID-19 Image: Seven Inclusive Principles for Arts & Cultural Organisations working safely through COVID-19

Campaigning cultural organisations We Shall Not Be Removed, Ramps on the Moon, Attitude is Everything, Paraorchestra and What Next? have joined together to create a new guide for the arts and entertainment sectors to support disability inclusion.

Today they launch Seven Inclusive Principles for Arts & Cultural Organisations working safely through COVID-19 to complement the suite of guidance documents already issued by UK Governments and sector support organisations.

The focus of this unique initiative, which has been broadly welcomed by the sector, is to ensure deaf, neurodiverse and disabled people are not discriminated against as creative work begins again and as venues re-open. The Seven Principles offer practical guidance to arts and cultural organisations to support disabled artists, audiences, visitors, participants and employees.

The Principles highlight the importance of: legal obligations, combating ableism in the sector, consulting directly with disabled people, comprehensive public information on Covid measures, remapping the customer journey, engagement of disabled artists and celebrating disability in the workforce.

The Seven Principles are applicable across all art forms and across all 4 UK nations and come with endorsement from a wide range of leading sector bodies including: British Council, British Film Institute, Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Museums Association, Royal Philharmonic Society, Equity and UK Theatre.

Andrew Miller, UK Government Disability Champion for Arts & Culture and co-founder of #WeShallNotBeRemoved said,

“Disabled people’s continued participation in culture at all levels has been severely threatened by this pandemic. The Seven Principles offer an essential new resource to promote an inclusive cultural recovery and to ensure the UK remains a global leader in disability and inclusive arts through and after Covid-19”.

Michèle Taylor, Director for Change at Ramps on the Moon said, “Disabled and deaf people play a vital role in a flourishing theatre industry, both front and back of house, and this has become increasingly evident in the last five years. The Seven Principles will support organisations to ensure that this trajectory continues and that theatre re-emerges even richer and more diverse than before.”

Jonathan Harper, Chief Executive of Paraorchestra said, “Inclusivity cannot be treated as a project that is cast aside as the cultural sector reopens following the pandemic. I wholeheartedly welcome the Seven Principles and Paraorchestra is proud to have played its part in creating them. This document offers context and the practical steps so that anyone within the sector can have the confidence to ensure that disabled artists, workers and audiences can return safely”.

Lizzie Crump, National Strategic Lead for What Next? said, “This document gives clear, practical guidance and support to everyone working in our sector, from grassroots community projects to large venues. It details everything from our legal obligations to the ways we can access the right help and support. These principles give us the framework we need to champion equity and access, and ensure the quality of our arts and culture over the next decade”.

Jacob Adams, Head of Campaigns at Attitude is Everything said, “The arts sector is a vital positive force in the UK, strengthened immensely by inclusive practice and the participation of Deaf and disabled people at every level. Attitude is Everything is proud to have joined this initiative to support the sector as we rebuild a better and more accessible ‘normal’ together.”

A wide range of organisations from across the arts, museum and film sectors have welcomed the Seven Principles initiative as follows:

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of The Arts Council of Northern Ireland said, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland offers its full and unconditional support to the Seven Principles announced today. They provide a practical and meaningful tool for all cultural organisations in Northern Ireland to ensure disabled people are at the centre of decision-making processes as we navigate our way out of these difficult times”.

Abid Hussain, Director of Diversity at Arts Council England said, “ Arts Council England welcomes and fully endorses the Seven Inclusive Principles announced today which incorporate the social model of disability at their core and ensuring disabled people are directly informing plans to reconnect with Creative Practitioners, Colleagues and Audiences. The principles provide a strong catalyst to combat and eliminate ableism supporting our ambition to develop a more inclusive and relevant sector that offers everyone equitable opportunities to enjoy and participate in culture and creativity”.

Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive of The Arts Council of Wales said, “The Arts Council of Wales offers its unreserved support to this new set of Inclusive Principles for the UK arts & cultural sector. The adoption and implementation of these principles will make a huge difference to disabled people in Wales as they once again engage with arts as participants, audience members and creatives. A fair and equitable approach of this kind is essential to ensure that ALL people enjoy the same opportunities in the arts and cultural sector in Wales.”

Cortina Butler, Interim Director of Arts at the British Council said: “The British Council is committed to ensuring that people of all abilities, genders and ethnicities can take full advantage of opportunities in the creative sector. We welcome initiatives such as the Seven Principles, which continue to put inclusivity at the forefront of conversations around the future of arts and culture both in the UK and internationally.”

Jennifer Smith, Head of Inclusion at British Film Institute said, “The BFI wholeheartedly support and endorse these important principles that give such clarity and structure for cultural venues to work to. They lay helpful foundations for the whole sector, to enable us to re-open our venues safely and inclusively for all cinema lovers.”

Sharon Heal, Director, Museums Association said, “ We wholeheartedly support the Seven Principles which are a timely reminder that museums need to work hard to support staff, visitors and community members that have a disability and that we need to be inclusive now more than ever”.

Jon Morgan, Director of Theatres Trust said, “It is vital that the pandemic doesn't result in a step backwards for accessibility. Theatres Trust fully supports the Inclusive Principles, which will help theatres reopen accessibly and inclusively.

James Murphy, Chief Executive, Royal Philharmonic Society said, ‘We heartily encourage all colleagues in the music profession to make time now to read and act upon these timely and vital Principles. They are packed with positive leads, guidance, ideas and insights for us all to draw upon, not just in light of the pandemic but in helping us advance and embolden our ongoing shared commitment to inclusivity.’

Toki Allison, BFI Film Audience Network Access Officer, Inclusive Cinema said, “ These inclusive principles are invaluable for independent cinemas looking at how they can minimise the destructive impacts of Covid on D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audiences & workers”.

Dr Ian Manborde, Equalities and Diversity Organiser at Equity said, “ Equity welcomes the opportunity to endorse the call for the creative and cultural industries to adopt the Seven key Principles for a recovery which engages with D/deaf and disabled artists and audiences. We look forward to supporting this initiative as part of the union's own focus on activity to support a diverse, inclusive sectoral recovery”.

Naomi Pohl, Deputy General Secretary of the Musicians Union said, “It’s essential that work to reopen the music industry considers access and inclusivity from the very beginning. We have the opportunity to rebuild a sector that works for all musicians and the Seven Inclusive Principles help enable us to facilitate that”.

 

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Jazzlife Alliance announces opportunities for gifted young musicians

Monday 14th September 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

Jazz Musician David Lyttle with fellow musicians Image: Jazz Musician David Lyttle with fellow musicians

Not-for-profit Northern Irish arts organisation Jazzlife Alliance has announced its third wave of opportunities for exceptional young musicians.In this edition it will select a young jazz musician aged 14-24, either early professional or showing strong potential in jazz, and a gifted young music creator again aged 14-24 wishing to broaden their skills.

Both will work with artistic director David Lyttle, a MOBO and Urban Music Award nominated artist who has been performing worldwide for ten years. He has collaborated with some of the arts world's most iconic artists, including jazz legends Joe Lovano and Kurt Rosenwinkel, hip hop stars Talib Kweli and Soweto Kinch, and, recently, film star Liam Neeson, in a much-publicised spoken-word/music collaboration honouring Van Morrison, who he has also worked with.

Previous winners of Jazzlife Alliance awards have toured with David, received mentorship from their heroes and taken part in innovative masterclasses with globally respected artists. Twin brothers Micheal and Conor Murray, described by the Independent as “Irish jazz stars on the rise”, first met David at the age of 15 and became Jazzlife's first young musician award winners in 2018. They now regularly perform with David, joining him in Morocco, Poland, Austria, Belgium and Bulgaria in the coming months, and run their acclaimed Falcarragh Winter Jazz Festival in Donegal each December.

“Jazzlife Alliance allows me to maintain close ties to Northern Ireland and be part of the next generation's development. In the recent years I have got to work with some exceptional talent and watched a healthy jazz scene begin to grow from almost nothing. But these are tough times for the arts and support is essential, not just in jazz. We are very grateful to the Arts Council for its continued support of our work.”

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

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is committed to providing valuable, meaningful opportunities for young people to develop their musical careers.  We are delighted to support these important new initiatives from Jazzlife Alliance which offer young people the opportunity to be mentored by some of the finest jazz musicians working in Northern Ireland as well as developing new audiences for jazz – terrific! “

Applications are now open and will close on 25th September. For more information email info@jazzlifealliance.org

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£500,000 fund to support the safe re-opening of the arts and culture sectors

Thursday 10th September 2020 at 2pm 0 Comments

Health and Safety Capital Programme Image: Health and Safety Capital Programme

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (Thursday 10th September 2020) opened the Health and Safety Capital Programme, a new fund, worth £500,000, designed to support arts and culture organisations as they prepare to re-open after the Covid-19 lockdown.

Many arts and culture organisations are among the last phase five groups eagerly awaiting permission from the NI Executive to re-open. The Health and Safety Capital Programme is one element of the wider £5.5m funding package announced by Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, Department for Communities, to support the arts, creative industries and cultural sectors during the current pandemic.

Communities Minister Caral Ní Chuilín said,

“I am delighted that the Health and Safety Capital Programme has opened today allowing our arts venues and cultural spaces the opportunity to make preparations for their safe re-opening.  This is a vital step towards recovery for the sector while also ensuring its future resilience.

“In addition to this, the Department has submitted a bid to the Executive for £33m to secure financial support here to support culture, language, arts and heritage organisations, local musicians, freelancers and artists at a time when they are struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

This programme will fund necessary adjustments and protective equipment required by venues and organisations to ensure that social distancing is maintained and that audiences, performers and staff are kept safe.

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

“The Arts Council welcomes the public funding partnership and support shown by Minister Ní Chuilín for the arts and culture sectors. The vital health and safety capital programme opened today will bring us closer to re-opening our venues and cultural spaces safely.  It was developed in response to Covid-19 and much needed to help our arts and cultural organisations weather the current adverse conditions.

“Theatres as well as cultural and live performance venues, all play a vital economic and social role in Northern Ireland; it is here where many artists and creative practitioners develop their skills and their craft and most importantly, it’s where they collaborate, creating great art that inspires us, improves our wellbeing and supports our local economy.

“We want to ensure that organisations have proper measures in place to welcome the return of their staff, artists and audiences. The Arts Council provides expert advice on how to do that in our comprehensive guidance manual to re-opening the arts in Northern Ireland.”

The Health & Safety Capital Programme is open for online applications from Thursday 10th September and will close at 4pm on October 1st 2020. To be eligible, organisations must demonstrate the purpose of the requested equipment or minor works to be clearly focused on the arts.   For further information on eligibility, guidance notes and to apply, please visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/health-and-safety-capital-programme

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Arts Council re-opens Emergency fund for Arts and Cultural organisations

Thursday 3rd September 2020 at 1pm 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 (Thurs Sept 3rd) opened the Organisations Emergency Programme (OEP) in a second call to arts and cultural organisations across Northern Ireland.

The fund allows those organisations which did not receive support in the first call made in June, to apply for grants of up to £25,000 each. It is hoped this support may help alleviate the significant financial pressures they are facing as result of Covid-19, while preparing to re-open safely and contribute successfully to the economy.

The Organisations Emergency Programme is one element of the wider £5.5 m Creative Support fund supported by the Minister, the Department for Communities and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; the priority is to protect the arts and wider cultural sectors from the impact of the current pandemic.

Carál Ní Chuilín, Communities Minister said,

“The first round of OEP provided over £1.9m to 150 arts organisations impacted by Covid-19, from festivals and community arts groups to music, circus and theatre companies. I would encourage all creative organisations, from every creative sector, to take advantage of this opportunity.

“Our cultural sector is hugely important for social wellbeing, health and education, as well as for our economy. As a society, now more than ever, we must recognise its value and protect it. This latest round of funding will provide much needed support to many more arts organisations in these difficult times, and I am committed to ensuring that we continue to sustain the sector as we move towards recovery together.”

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

“The Arts Council welcomes the funding for cultural organisations announced today by Minister Ní Chuilín. It is very much needed to strengthen the durability of the wider sector in these adverse conditions. Our research clearly evidences that more funding is needed to help arts and cultural businesses re-open and flourish over the next few years, so that they may continue to contribute fully to our economy and to our society.

“The OEP fund first opened in June, and provided much needed financial support, a lifeline to 150 arts and cultural organisations which had been decimated under the Covid-19 lock down. The closure of theatres and venues, the cancellation of festivals and events and the disappearance of live audiences has been devastating to those who work within these sectors, those who helped drive the regeneration of our local economy. This second call to organisations is absolutely necessary.

“Meanwhile, the Arts Council continues to provide expert advice to our partners in government, making the case for the needs of a sector, still on its knees and facing significant financial challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Key to the future health of the sector will be the distribution of the £33m Barnett consequential for arts, culture and heritage which the NI Executive will decide later this month.”

The Organisations Emergency Programme closes to applications on 17 September at 4pm. Further details, including eligibility Guidance Notes and FAQs, are available at http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/organisations-emergency-programme

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice - Archive

Monday 31st August 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

Updated: 28th August 2020

Support our Arts

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín outlines the support measures that have been put in place and future plans to help our local arts and cultural sector who have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read the Minister’s news release here.

 

Updated: 7th  August 2020

Dates agreed to allow the re-opening of theatres and concert halls in Northern Ireland

Following a meeting of the Executive on (Thursday 6th August 2020) it was announced that Theatres and Concert Halls can re-open from 8th August 2020.

The Department for Communities has worked closely with other administrations, including the Arts Council NI (ACNI), to put forward proposals to the Department of Health and the Executive to bring forward these dates.

The Department recognises that theatre and concert hall staff will need time to prepare for the safe return of their audiences, therefore, they will initially re-open on a restricted basis. During August staff will be able to return to work to make preparations for the return of live audiences and performers can start rehearsals.

To support the safe reopening of performance venues, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland recently published a comprehensive guidance manual, which can be downloaded at http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/In-the-Bubble-of-Our-Making-Reopening-the-Arts-in-Northern-Ireland-July-2020.pdf

Read the full news release here

 

Updated: 5th August 2020

Arts Council publishes manual for the safe reopening of performance venues

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today, Wednesday 5th August 2020, published a comprehensive guidance manual to support the safe reopening of arts performance venues, closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking its title from lines of a poem by Northern Ireland poet, Miriam Gamble, In the bubble of our making: reopening the arts in Northern Ireland, commissioned from Slua health and safety specialists, provides an extensive range of practical measures that will enable performance spaces, including theatres, arts centres, galleries, studios and arts hubs, to re-open to the public safely and in full compliance with current NI Executive and UK Government guidelines and regulations.

The guidance sets out the protocols, adjustments and equipment that will be required by venues to maintain social distancing and protect the health and wellbeing of audiences, performers, staff and participants. It covers all aspects of reopening, including risk assessments, staff training, capacity considerations and special provisions, so that audiences can be reassured that all the appropriate measures are in place and the environment they are entering is safe.

There is also a special section within the manual, ‘Creating Work’, which offers guidance for organisations, arts groups, individual practitioners and everyone engaged within the arts in taking those important steps back into working together safely to present public performances.

Read the full news release here.

Download the manual, In the bubble of our making: reopening the arts in Northern Ireland, here

 

Updated: 31July 2020

Arts Council opens £1.1m emergency funding programme for individuals working in the Creative Economy

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, in collaboration with Future Screens NI, has opened a new funding programme designed to support those working in the Creative Economy including freelancers, musicians, actors, artists and craft workers during the COVID-19 crisis. The Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP), worth £1m from the Department for Communities and an additional £100,000 from Future Screens NI, offers individuals the opportunity to apply for grants of £1,200, £3,000 or £5,000 each.

The IERP provides much needed financial support and employment, a lifeline to individuals working within the wider Creative Economy, at a time when essential elements of the arts sector have been decimated due to venue and gallery closures, festival and event cancellations and the disappearance of live audiences.  The IERP builds on the initial, Artist Emergency Programme (AEP), a fund that was opened by the Arts Council on 27th April 2020 and was heavily oversubscribed.

Read the full news release here

Further information about the programme including guidance notes and application form is available from http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/individuals-emergency-resilience-programme Closing date for applications is 4pm, Monday 17th August 2020

 

Updated: 23 July 2020

Minister announces reopening of the Creative Support Fund

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has today announced the Creative Support Fund will reopen on 31 July with a £4m support package for the arts, creative industries and cultural sector.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, welcomed the announcement by Minister Ní Chuilín, saying:

“The announcement of the Creative Support Fund is welcome news for everyone in the arts and cultural sectors, and particularly for those many artists and freelance creatives who were left struggling with serious financial hardships since their livelihoods disappeared practically overnight as a result of the pandemic. Demand on our previous Emergency Fund for creative workers outstripped capacity by 3:1. The Arts Council emergency funding programmes for individuals and organisations that we will now be able to open, will therefore provide critically-needed support for the creative sector. The funds will help to bridge the gap over the coming months until the Executive has an opportunity to consider and agree a more comprehensive, long-term government support package for arts, culture and heritage in Northern Ireland.”

Read the Minister’s news release here

 

Updated: 9 July 2020

Arts Council’s Box Office Survey shows true impact of Covid-19 on the arts

New research released this week by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland shows the severity of the crisis facing the arts sector as box office income grinds to a halt amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

A survey of box-office organisations by the Arts Council, in collaboration with thrive, has revealed that cultural organisations have on average lost 72% of their box office revenue, equating to a projected loss of £9.5 million this year.

The research brings together responses from 42 organisations, including festivals, venues and other arts organisations. Of the different groups which took part, venues will be hit hardest with expected losses of £8.3 million. In addition to losing out on ticket sales, organisations will also be impacted by the loss of £5.3 million in ancillary income, from food and drink, sponsorships, donations, merchandise and other revenue streams.

Read the full news release here

Read the full report here

 

Updated: 6 July 2020

Arts Council’s statement in response to Chancellor’s lifeline for the Arts

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland stated Monday July 6th 2020:

The Chancellor’s announcement is most welcome and we are delighted that the arts and cultural sectors in Northern Ireland are to get lifeline support;  it signals just how important the arts are to our economy, to our society and to our mental health and wellbeing.

We must view this injection of support against the context of the dire need the arts sector faces and the creative practitioners who work in it. The Minister for Communities is aware of the size of the need within the sector and the near decimation experienced by those working in it. As the primary funding and development agency for the arts, the Arts Council has estimated that the funded  sector in NI is facing an estimated initial loss of box office income of £25 million, while Arts organisations have identified an initial deficit total of £5 million this year alone. We are aware too of the needs of our partners in local authorities which run arts and cultural venues as these have also been seriously affected.

The creative sector in Northern Ireland is projected to lose 20% (6,000) of its creative jobs and see a 23% (£300 million) drop in creative industries Gross Value Added*, while the funded arts sector currently supports approximately 7,500 jobs as per the Annual Funding Survey 2018/19 published by ACNI**. There is an urgent need to save those staff who have been furloughed as well as underwrite risk for the safe reopening of our venues and theatres which will welcome reduced audiences and will need help to breakeven on box office income in that context. We must encourage audiences back to the arts, invest in outdoor events in the interim and increase the digital capacity of the sector.

We must also ensure that support reaches the creative  freelancers who are part of the arts environment and the wider creative industries and who have been badly affected by the loss of events and the closure of venues.

The initial emergency fund opened by the Minister and the Arts Council in April and  May  for artists was massively oversubscribed; applications outstripped the budget available by 3:1 and similarly the Organisations Emergency Programme has been placed under intense pressure in the face of a need that cannot be met by the funding available.

In summary, there are immediate survival needs along with a need for major reinvestment in the arts in Northern Ireland. This will enable the Arts Council to help our artists, musicians, freelancers, venues, theatres and core arts organisations deal with the immediate challenges faced by the arts sector as a result of COVID-19.

The Arts Council estimates that it could take up to a year-and-a-half for the arts sector to recalibrate itself after the crisis. This immediate injection of funding into the sector plus increased sustained investment will enable the Arts Council to introduce the stimulus measures that the sector so badly needs.

The Arts Council looks forward to discussing these priorities with the Minister and the Department for Communities.

* from Creative Industries Federation commissioned from Oxford Economics
https://www.creativeindustriesfederation.com/news/press-release-cultural-catastrophe-over-400000-creative-jobs-could-be-lost-projected-economic

** Official Statistics by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-2018-2019-AnnualFundingSurvey-Report.pdf

 

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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‘Unlocked’ exhibition winner reflects the ‘fragility of life’

Thursday 27th August 2020 at 4pm 0 Comments

Pictured is maker Andrea Spencer with Craft NI Chair, James Toland Image: Pictured is maker Andrea Spencer with Craft NI Chair, James Toland

An ethereal piece of sculpted glass which embodies the observations of its maker as she took her daily exercise along the North Antrim coast during lockdown has been named the winner of Craft NI’s ‘Unlocked’ exhibition.

Andrea Spencer’s piece of work, entitled ‘Return’, was inspired by nature and the natural materials she found along the shoreline close to her Ballintoy home.

The 'Unlocked' exhibition is one of the highlights of this year’s August Craft Month. It is open to the public throughout August and September at Craft NI’s gallery on Royal Avenue, Belfast.

Craft NI has commissioned a film celebrating the craft pieces which were submitted to the Unlocked exhibition. Craft makers were invited to submit pieces of work which were inspired by the lockdown period.

Craft NI Director, Katherine McDonald said the exhibition has been a great platform to showcase the level of expertise within Northern Ireland’s craft community.
She said:

“The work is exceptional, and I have greatly enjoyed viewing the pieces at our gallery. I would encourage anyone to come along and view them but if that is not possible you can watch the film on our website.

“A lot of our programme this year has moved online due to the restrictions, but we have viewed this as an opportunity to promote the work that goes on in Northern Ireland to an international audience.

“We have held webinars with leading figures in the craft world, along with studio tours with some amazing local makers, overall, August Craft Month has been very successful. Many of our videos, webinars and studio tours are still available online for people to enjoy for the rest of August and beyond.

August Craft Month is coordinated by Craft NI on behalf of the craft sector and funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

The Arts Council is delighted to support this wonderful celebration of craft, which offers an important platform to showcase the talent of our local craft makers, bringing great art to all.

“The work from our makers in the exhibition has been excellent and a real joy to see.”

Speaking about her inspiration for ‘Return’ and the impact lockdown had on her studio, Andrea said:

“For my practise, this meant an immediate cessation to the supply of compressed bottled oxygen, the fuel source essential to operating the bench torch that I use to create my flameworked glass pieces.

“This seemed an uncanny metaphor for what was happening around the world, people with severe symptoms of Coronavirus, unable to breathe, literally gasping for breath.”
Andrea was able to borrow equipment which allowed her to sustain a level of practise throughout the height of the lockdown and complete her piece of work for the exhibition.

Exhibition judge, Audrey Whitty who is Head of Collections and Learning at National Museum of Ireland (NMI) described Andrea Spencer's work as ‘stunning’.
Audrey said:

“The combination of glass and mixed media in Andrea Spencer’s Return is refreshingly honest in its execution of the fragile with the robust, thereby reflecting what in essence the pandemic implies, i.e. the fragility of human life, but the strength of our resolve and communal effort to confront and ultimately triumph.

“Return is an expression of the human need for oxygen at a time when rather ironically the world is affected by the ravages of a disease in its targeting of the lungs.”

The film features all the submitted pieces of work including:

Cara Murphy, ‘Bubble Cup’: During lockdown Cara created a series of videos for social media which gave viewers a glimpse into the making process. Her entry, ‘Bubble Cup’ was the result of making during lockdown.

Natasha Rollinson, ‘Unlocked/Locked’: Natasha created an interlocking ring set which unites to frame nature’s most valuable gem with a halo of golden sunshine.

Celine Traynor, ‘Counting Days’: Natasha made a pendant and earring set in silver and gold depicting tally marks. They represent a countdown to a better time in our future and have been made poignant by our present.

Egle Banyte, Curious Construction No. 9: Egle created a 32-segment necklace which represents the unlocking of the circular form. It is joined using fragile hinges. The necklace is unlocked by the wearer and how the hinge piece sits also depends on the wearer.

Patrick Colhoun, Barbed Wire Fence: Patrick’s piece used hardwood salvaged from his late father’s workshop. The lockdown gave him time to evaluate lots of things which would not be possible without his ability to work with clay.

Irene McBride, Escape from Lockdown: Irene painted a stained-glass panel inspired by a photo she took at St Dunstan’s in the East, London. It expresses how she felt during lockdown and her desire to escape.

You can view the Unlocked exhibition film at Craft NI’s website where you can also watch the webinar series hosted by well known BBC broadcaster, Marie-Louise Muir. You can also watch the Studio Tour films which give a glimpse into the processes and inspirations for a number of local makers.

Visit www.craftni.org or follow Craft NI on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can share your own craft stories with #augcraft #supportnicraft

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Ulster American Folk Park launches new tourism experience, Folk Park Live

Tuesday 25th August 2020 at 2pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

The new experience features musical talents such Niall Hanna Image: The new experience features musical talents such Niall Hanna

Tourism NI and Arts Council of Northern Ireland team up with award-winning arts organisation, Snow Water, to bring visitors on a 300 year musical journey

The Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, County Tyrone, launches ‘Folk Park Live’ this week on 27th August, taking visitors through a 300 year musical journey. This is an exciting new tourism experience by Snow Water, an award-winning arts organisation that celebrates NI’s finest artistic talent.

Snow Water has gathered together some of Northern Ireland’s most talented and versatile musicians to take visitors on a journey through music and song that charts the stories of emigration. Visitors will enjoy an immersive audiovisual tour of the museum, with songs that tell of the lives and plight, the hardships and the successes of those who had to leave Ulster over 300 years.

A partnership between Tourism NI and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, ‘Embrace the Place’, was established in 2019 to animate 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, Snow Water was commissioned to present a collection of original art work that reflects the heritage of the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh. 

Rosemary Lightbody, Experience Development Manager, Tourism NI, said:

“Embrace the Place has been an opportunity to collaborate innovatively with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland across some of our most iconic visitor destinations including experiences at Belfast's Maritime Mile, Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy, Navan Fort in Armagh and now, Folk Park Live at the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh.

“Snow Water’s Folk Park Live, the final project in this initiative, delivers a whole new layer of emotion to the visitor experience at the Ulster American Folk Park and a deep connection with the place and its stories of emigration. This new interactive visitor trail also compliments Tourism NI’s new experience brand, Embrace a Giant Spirit, as through the tremendous musical talent of the participating artists and the emotional stories within the songs, visitors are taken on a journey that truly engages with the authenticity of the destination and the spirit of its people.”

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

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to see the final project from the Embrace the Place programme of events, Folk Park Live, launch at the Ulster American Folk Park, where it will be enjoyed not only by visitors to the museum but also to digital audiences around the world. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many of our venues and tourism sites have had to close their doors and it’s heartening to once again see this wonderful space reopen and present this terrific new musical experience that we can all engage with and be inspired by.

“We are proud to partner with Tourism NI on the Embrace the Place initiative which has been a tremendous success and has breathed new life into some of Northern Ireland’s most scenic and iconic locations by re-telling stories of those areas through the arts. Huge congratulations to Snow Water who now present an incredible line up of some of the region’s top musicians to take audiences on an immersive, thrilling musical journey charting the story of Ulster emigration.”

This new experience features musical talents such as Neil Martin, Jack Warnock, Gemma Bradley, Niall Hanna, Maurice Leyden, Eilidh Patterson, Gareth Dunlop, No Oil Paintings, Cathal Hayden, Mary Dillon and ROE.

A live performance from each musician was filmed at 12 locations across the Ulster American Folk Park to create a musical experience that can be enjoyed both online and on site at the Ulster American Folk Park. It includes songs from home and songs written from afar about home; Scottish-influenced fiddle music and piping; Appalachian music; religious songs; fast, lively energising music and slower reflective pieces.

Aaron Ward, Head of Audience Development, National Museums NI, added:

“We are very excited to give a warm welcome back to visitors at the Ulster American Folk Park and to launch this new partnership project, Folk Park Live. This immersive music trail is a great way to creatively and authentically explore new ways of bringing the heritage at the museum to life. The artistry from Snow Water combined with the museum expertise from National Museums NI has created a unique experience that our visitors will greatly enjoy, both from home and while they are visiting.”

Book tickets online in advance to guarantee your timeslot, with a range of ticket options available. The new visitor experience is included in the cost of the ticket. Visit www.nmni.com/whats-on/ulster-american-folk-park-tickets for more information. The experience is also available to view at www.folkparklive.com.

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Children’s theatre show tours Northern Ireland

Thursday 20th August 2020 at 11am 0 Comments Youth Arts , Drama

Replay Theatre Company's latest production, COCO Image: Replay Theatre Company's latest production, COCO

A converted transit van isn’t the normal setting for the theatre but one local arts organisation has taken this unusual approach to bring a very special performance to children at home.

Founded over 30 years ago, Replay Theatre Company creates all kinds of shows for the youngest of children right up to teens, it’s probably best known for its work with children with profound and multiple learning disabilities and complex needs. Funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, its ambitions are driven by the belief that all children should have access to high quality theatre experiences.

Its latest production COCO is a story about a small koala and his adventures through the jungle. Written and performed by Mary McGurk and directed by Andrew Stanford, who also composed the sound design for the show, it is a full sensory experience, set against a brightly colored, feathery backdrop, designed to immerse the audience into COCO’s rainforest home.

Throughout August Replay has been touring Northern Ireland in their van to bring COCO to children at home. Each performance is for just one child and their family, creating a very different and intimate theatre experience.

Andrew Stanford explains:

“This show is unique in how it’s been put together. It’s quite something to see the van pull up outside a house and within a few minutes it become a stage.”

Each performance lasts 25 minutes and to minimise the Covid-19 risk, a Perspex screen separates the performer from the audience, who is seated in cosy area beneath a covered gazebo.

“We been very mindful of COVID-19 in all of our planning,” says Andrew. “This is a pioneering show and it’s allowed us to explore a new format for delivering the high-quality, inclusive experiences our audiences have come to expect from Replay. We are very proud inclusive practice remains at the forefront of innovative thinking within the arts, especially since our young audiences are among the most at-risk members of society and are likely to feel the ongoing impact of social distancing restrictions longer than most.”

Replay receives annual funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to support its year round programme of activities. Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Dance and Drama Officer at the Arts Council, says supporting organisations like Replay to find new ways of working while still delivering quality arts experiences for all is now more important than ever:

“It’s widely acknowledged that the arts can have a really positive impact on our emotional wellbeing and our mental health. So it is vital, particularly during the pandemic, that the Arts Council continues to support organisations like Replay to develop new ways of working to ensure everyone can benefit from the arts.”

COCO will conclude its current tour this week and reflecting on the production Andrew says he believes this show will leave a lasting impression on the company: “Over the last number of months, we’ve had to think about how we can continue to produce high-quality, meaningful theatre experiences during the pandemic and I think we’ve done that with COCO and now we are thinking about using this new way of working in future productions. It’s been challenging but I think we have all learnt a lot from this experience.”

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Edinburgh Fringe 2020 showcases leading theatre and dance work from NI to global industry leaders

Tuesday 18th August 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments Dance , Drama

Removed written by Fionnuala Kennedy. Produced by Prime Cut Productions Image: Removed written by Fionnuala Kennedy. Produced by Prime Cut Productions

Ten major works, created by some of Northern Ireland’s leading theatre and dance artists and arts organisations, are due to be showcased at a special online industry event organised by Edinburgh Fringe 2020, Belfast International Arts Festival and Theatre and Dance NI, with support from British Council NI and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The Fringe, which is the biggest arts marketplace in the world, makes this an unparalleled opportunity for Northern Irish artists to network with international arts industry figures.

Four events have been specially selected for the Fringe Marketplace, a dedicated online showcase platform Edinburgh Fringe has created in response to Covid-19. Its aim is to connect international programmers, presenters and commissioners with professional artists and tour-ready work that was due to appear at this year’s Fringe, based on the trusted curatorial reputation of Fringe venues and programmers. NI artists and events included on this platform include:

  • My Left Nut by Michael Patrick and Oisín Kearney. Produced by Prime Cut Production
  • Removed written by Fionnuala Kennedy. Produced by Prime Cut Productions
  • Two Fingers up by Seón Simpson and Gina Donnelly. Supported by  Tinderbox Theatre Company
  • Ireland Calling by Kat Woods

 

Theatre and Dance NI have partnered with Belfast International Arts Festival on a Fringe Exchange event which has been curated and supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland and British Council NI. This event will include a showing of video extracts from the selection of new performance pieces from Northern Ireland outlined below followed by a livestreamed and interactive Q&A with the creators and artists.

The theatre and dance works below have been included in the Fringe Exchange:

  • Abomination - A DUP Opera by Conor Mitchell. Originally produced by The Belfast Ensemble and Outburst Queer Arts Festival
  • BRINK choreographed by Eileen McClory. Produced by Maiden Voyage Dance
  • Körper & Leib choreographed by Oona Doherty. Produced by Maiden Voyage Dance
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Produced by Big Telly Theatre Company
  • Politics of Comfort written and performed by Janie Doherty. Directed by Alessandra Celesia
  • Questions of a Man devised and performed by Dylan Quinn and Jenny Ecke. Produced by Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre
  • Removed written by Fionnuala Kennedy. Produced by Prime Cut Productions

 

The online event will be hosted by Richard Wakely, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Belfast International Arts Festival, who commented,

“BIAF are delighted and honoured to be working with our partners to highlight the great and often innovative practice and works from our own local artistic community. It reflects our on-going commitment to provide professional development opportunities for NI talent. Moreover, in these uncertain times for artists, it is vital that we help them to develop their practice and earn income by identifying and creating opportunities for them to share their work with audiences in other markets”.

Niamh Flanagan, Executive Director, Theatre and Dance NI said,

“We are pleased to have worked on the continued development of the ‘Spotlight on Theatre and Dance from Northern Ireland’ as part of the 2020 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and to see so many more theatre and dance artists from NI have the opportunity to have their work highlighted on such a prominent platform this year.  With support from Arts Council of Northern Ireland and British Council NI, we are proud to help deliver this support to our talented artists and organisations in partnership with Belfast International Arts Festival. Thanks also to our colleagues in Edinburgh Fringe Festival who have helped drive and support this initiative from the outset.”

Jonathan Stewart, British Council Northern Ireland Director, said,

“Covid-19 has damaged the performing arts sector both economically and in terms of how audiences connect and interact with festivals, venues and events. Despite these challenges, Edinburgh Fringe and International Festivals are providing meaningful ways to showcase creative works to audiences online, including those presented in the Spotlight from Northern Ireland programme.  Our partnership with Belfast International Arts Festival, Theatre & Dance NI and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland demonstrates a shared commitment to support artists and to continue championing Northern Ireland’s performing arts sector.  It is encouraging to see the creative sector opening up again this August. Working closely with Edinburgh Fringe, we’re beginning to see new opportunities develop for Northern Ireland work to tour nationally and internationally, both digitally and physically.”

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“It’s vital that our artists and arts organisations are given opportunities to showcase their work to industry leaders and programmers outside of Northern Ireland.  It’s incredibly exciting that high-quality work from here is being showcased at the Fringe Marketplace industry event which for 2020 has moved online due to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.  This platform opens up the potential for these works to be toured nationally and internationally and to be seen by thousands of people, helping to put Northern Ireland on the map for all the right reasons.”

Programmers and industry representatives wishing to join the online Fringe Marketplace showcase must register at https://bit.ly/3kTkfyc

Register for the Fringe Exchange event on Thursday 20th August at 11am at https://bit.ly/3kBBQKX

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Arts Council awards £1.9million emergency funding for 150 arts organisations across Northern Ireland

Tuesday 18th August 2020 at 10am 0 Comments Dance , Drama , Community Arts , Northern Ireland Music , Visual Arts , Literature

AVA Festival (Photographer Credit: Tremain Gregg) Image: AVA Festival (Photographer Credit: Tremain Gregg)

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (Tuesday 18th August 2020) announced funding of £1,949,113, from their Organisations Emergency Programme (OEP), to support 150 arts organisations affected as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

150 small and medium sized arts organisations will benefit from funding grants of up to £25,000 each, from the Arts Council OEP fund, to enable them to continue producing creative work, assist with operational costs and to help plan for recovery.

The OEP fund provides much-needed financial support, a lifeline to arts organisations, at a time when essential elements of the arts sector have been decimated due to venue and gallery closures, festival and event cancellations and the disappearance of live audiences.

The Organisations Emergency Programme is one element of the Creative Support Fund through the  Department for Communities, to support the arts and wider culture sectors during the current pandemic. 

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

“Today’s announcement will be welcome news for 150 arts organisations who will now be able to continue to programme work and prepare for recovery.  21 of these awards are going to arts organisations who have never received Arts Council support before and we are looking forward to seeing the wonderful projects that they have planned in the coming months.”

“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 of over £6m; 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.”

“The Organisations Emergency Programme will support arts organisations by helping them buy creative time to produce new ideas for programming, plan for recovery and also aid them withstand the shock to their organisation of substantial loss of income during lockdown.  We hope now with outdoor opportunities opening up, to see even more engagement with live audiences and participants in a safe and meaningful way.”

Organisations offered funding include:

Maywe, drive-in entertainment company
Maywe specialises in the ‘drive-in’ experience and offers a unique, live experience of the arts in a safe, outdoor setting.  Maywe will use their OEP funding to produce a project entitled, Lough Down, a festival weekend of music, comedy and arts, which will take place in the iconic setting of Belfast’s Titanic area.  Audiences will be invited to attend in their cars, with sound sent through car radios with on stage action fed live to a large LED screen.

The weekend will consist of 3-4 shows each day with room for 400 cars per show.  Lough Down Festival will give a platform to a variety of established and emerging talent and performances will range from open mic shows for local musicians, to bluesy lunches, concerts, comedy and theatre – all live from the comfort of your own car!

Imagine! Festival of Ideas and Politics
First funding award from the Arts Council

Imagine! Festival of Ideas and politics organises an inspiring, annual, week-long programme of performances, discussions and debates.  The company aims to provide a high quality showcase for new ideas on politics, culture and activism in Northern Ireland and to encourage the participation of under-represented groups in political and cultural debate and discussion.  The popular festival attracts over 25,000 audience members annually and this year adapted to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic by moving the festival online in March 2020, attracting over 12,000 people and over 1m in social media impressions.  Their OEP funding award will support the costs involved in running the organisation to enable them to plan for their next Festival.

AVA Festival and Conference
First funding award from the Arts Council

AVA is an annual audio visual arts festival and conference that takes place in Belfast every May which celebrates and develops electronic music and digital visual arts through commissioning, conferencing, programming and broadcasting of emerging and established talent.  The 2020 Festival is postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in a significant loss and the organisation will now use their OEP funding to support running costs, plan for recovery and programme their next festival.

Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre (DQDT)
Based in the rural south west of Northern Ireland, Fermanagh’s DQDT occupies a very special position in our arts and dance scene. Synthesising cutting edge contemporary dance practice and community participatory work, DQDT uses dance to reach across the many divisions in our society, bringing the remarkable benefits of this bodily performance mode to a huge range of people, participants and spectators alike.  During lockdown this innovative company embraced technological tools to continue their wonderful work online, and put together an inspirational and multi-disciplinary arts festival, Inside Outside Festival.

DQDT will use their OEP funding award to continue and develop their online adult participation activities, develop an online youth dance programme, support the develop of the next Inside Outside Festival and to support the ongoing development of the company’s professional dance practise.

Greater Shantallow Community Arts and Studio 2
Great Shantallow Community Arts and Studio 2, based in Derry-Londonderry, is a community arts charity dedicated to making the arts accessible for all, serving a community that is based in an area of high deprivation.  

Greater Shantallow Community Arts will use their OEP funding award towards the core costs of running the organisation, planning for recovery and long-term sustainability as-well as creating a programme of weekly arts activities to their community, developing an outreach programme, taking part in local arts festivals and developing a Social Prescribing Programme.  Greater Shantallow Community Arts also celebrates their 20th anniversary in 2020 and so will develop a programme of celebratory events in the local community.

Seacourt Print Workshop
Seacourt Print Workshop is an open access printmaking studio, based in Bangor, with fantastic resources, courses and workshops.  They plan to use their OEP funding award to run more workshops at the Print Workshop based on serving smaller groups to ensure social distancing and they also wish to develop a new series of online workshops targeted at people who cannot attend Seacourt in person due to having to shield as a result of the pandemic.

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

To read the Arts Council’s survey on financial impact of Coronavirus on NI Arts sector (April 2020) visit http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-Coronavirus-Survey-Report-April2020.pdf

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King of East Belfast welcomes audiences back to theatre

Monday 10th August 2020 at 4pm 0 Comments Drama

Image:

Kabosh’s latest production 'The King of East Belfast' welcomed audiences back this weekend for the first indoor theatre performance since lockdown in March.

Directed by Paula McFetridge from Kabosh and written and performed by Stephen Beggs, it tells the story of East Belfast bookmaker Clark Groves. Supported through the Arts Council’s National Lottery funds, the socially distanced performances, will all take place inside a shop unit at Connswater Shopping Centre, the site of the old Belfast Ropeworks Company, where many of Clark’s customers would have worked.

Stephen Beggs explained: “My father-in-law is called Clark Groves and ‘The King of East Belfast’ is based on the true life story of his grandfather, also called Clark Groves.  Before gambling was made legal in Northern Ireland, Clark Sr. was a legendary East Belfast bookmaker who strived to be both a successful bookie and a good man.  Through his generosity to local people from what he called ‘this deadly business’, it was said that Clark Sr. ‘married and buried them on the Newtownards Road’.  Clark’s funeral in 1957 was one of the biggest seen before or since in Dundonald Cemetery as hundreds of people came out to pay their respects and to thank him for his help.

“I’ve been really fascinated by the stories I have heard about Clark Sr. from my family for many years and I’m looking forward to breathing life into a forgotten period in the history of East Belfast.”

The performance is one of dozens events taking part this week as part of the Eastside Arts Festival (6th-16th August). Featuring music, theatre, literature, story-telling, visual art, talks and tours under the theme, Moments of Joy, this year’s events can be enjoyed online from the comfort of your own home, outdoors in person, or in a small number of east Belfast locations as part of a live, socially distanced audience.

For the full festival programme and ticket information visit www.eastsidearts.net. Follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #ESAFest20

Watch the Arts Council's short video featuring 'The King of East Belfast' and EastSide Arts Festival 2020 at https://youtu.be/B_hVbXwZD1c

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Dates agreed to allow the re-opening of theatres and concert halls in Northern Ireland

Friday 7th August 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments

Theatres and Concert Halls can re-open from 8th August 2020. Image: Theatres and Concert Halls can re-open from 8th August 2020.

Following a meeting of the Executive on (Thursday 6th August 2020) it was announced that Theatres and Concert Halls can re-open from 8th August 2020.

The Department for Communities has worked closely with other administrations, including the Arts Council NI (ACNI), to put forward proposals to the Department of Health and the Executive to bring forward these dates.

The Department recognises that theatre and concert hall staff will need time to prepare for the safe return of their audiences, therefore, they will initially re-open on a restricted basis. During August staff will be able to return to work to make preparations for the return of live audiences and performers can start rehearsals. 

To support the safe reopening of performance venues, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland recently published a comprehensive guidance manual, which can be downloaded at http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/In-the-Bubble-of-Our-Making-Reopening-the-Arts-in-Northern-Ireland-July-2020.pdf

The Arts Council is also currently developing new funding programmes to support any adjustments required in making venues safe for reopening.  These programmes are expected to be announced in mid-August. 

It is hoped that audiences will be able to return to venues on 1 September, as long as the appropriate social distancing measures are in place.

Welcoming the announcement, Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said:

“Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on all those who work in the creative industries. Our theatres and concert halls are at the heart of our cultural life and the safe reopening of these venues is a welcome step towards a return to live performances.

“There is nothing quite like the buzz of live performance, over the past few months audiences have missed the opportunity to support our artists and enjoy the rich, eclectic and unique arts experiences they share with us.

“It is hoped that some venues can return to hosting live performances at the beginning of September, although we remain mindful of the ongoing challenges we face in dealing with the restrictions of Covid-19.  The final decision to reopen will be dependent upon the safety of our theatre staff and the public”.

Also welcoming the announcement, Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added:

"The Arts Council is delighted to welcome the news from the NI Executive that theatres and concert halls can re-open from tomorrow, 08 August.

This is the day everyone in the arts has been working steadily towards since the onset of the global pandemic closed the doors of arts venues across Northern Ireland. As part of the preparation for re-opening our venues safely to staff, artists and the public, the Arts Council published a comprehensive guide to re-opening which covers all the up-to-date recommendations for safe opening. It can be found here http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/In-the-Bubble-of-Our-Making-Reopening-the-Arts-in-Northern-Ireland-July-2020.pdf

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland will soon be opening two new Capital programmes to support organisations in preparing for the safe reopening of their venues.  We will inform the public when these programmes open on our website and social media.

Of course, there are major challenges still facing these venues – while social distancing remains, it will be very difficult for arts organisations to gather the vital box office revenue from paying customers which is necessary to keep them running properly. This will also have an impact on the very many freelance professionals these venues employ to bring the best of the arts to the public – hardship in that sector remains a serious problem for all of us to address.

But the good news is that the road ahead is at least now visible and the Arts Council will work with colleagues and partners in the arts and the wider society to safeguard both the public and the arts providers.”

In April, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey launched the £1.5m Creative Support Fund to support individuals and organisations in the Arts Sector in response to COVID-19. The fund reopened on 31 July with a further £4m support package for the arts, creative industries and cultural sector.

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Clandeboye At Home: Beethoven 250

Friday 7th August 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Clandeboye at Home 2020 Image: Clandeboye at Home 2020

The Clandeboye Festival is going digital, with a series of online concerts celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.

The festival will premier online from the 18 - 22 August via the Camerata Ireland website. Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland through its National Lottery funds, stay-at-home audiences will be treated to five concerts showcasing the full cycle of Beethoven’s magnificent piano concertos, with Artistic Director Barry Douglas as soloist and conductor.

Barry Douglas, Artistic Director of Camerata Ireland said:

“Initially, we were disappointed that it would not be possible to host a live festival at Clandeboye this year. We will sorely miss performing live for our supportive and committed audiences. However, we were determined to use this time to create something new, something special that encapsulates Beethoven’s spirit of creativity and ingenuity.

“As an orchestra, Beethoven holds such a special place in our hearts. We regularly play his music all over the world, and always relish in how it transcends barriers and creates connections. It’s vivacious, intense, and powerful, but also has a strong sense of personality and charm. During this difficult and testing period, many of us have been turning to art and music for comfort. We hope that our online Beethoven series will give audiences all over the world a sense of connection and joy during this isolating and difficult moment in time.”

Hosted by presenter John Toal, and recorded on site at Clandeboye Estate, Co. Down by a socially-distanced orchestra, Camerata Ireland have created a vibrant celebration of Beethoven’s music adapted for the world in the time of COVID-19. Despite the challenges of bringing an orchestra together in a socially distant environment, the musicians of Camerata Ireland were delighted to return to the concert hall after a four month hiatus.

Continuing his remarks, Barry Douglas said: “It has been such a privilege to perform alongside my colleagues and friends for the first time in months. We are grateful to both the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, our principal funder, and Randox our Global Sponsor for their support in making this project happen. There were a lot of practical considerations to be made while planning our set up: 2 metre spacing between each player, making face-masks available, and of course, liberal applications of hand sanitiser! The socially-distanced layout felt slightly unusual to begin with but we quickly relaxed into the joy of making music together once again. The result is really quite special, and we’re excited to share the finished product with you all in August.”

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

“The Clandeboye Festival is an annual musical highlight of summer in Northern Ireland, offering audiences the chance to hear world-class artists perform an impeccably curated programme of classical music. Due to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, many arts organisations, venues and festivals have had to adapt and bring their work online. We are delighted that Camerata Ireland is bringing the 19th Clandeboye Festival to audiences digitally and look forward to a series of concerts celebrating the music of Beethoven. The Arts Council is proud to once again support the Clandeboye Festival through National Lottery and public funding and wish the team every success for this year’s festival.”

This innovative recording project from the only all-Ireland chamber orchestra will be released over five evenings, from the 18 - 22 August, when the live Clandeboye Festival would have been taking place. ‘Clandeboye At Home’ will then remain online until August 2021 for audiences across the globe to stream on demand.

For further details visit www.camerata-ireland.com, or Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @CamerataIreland

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Job Opportunity: Director of Strategic Development & Partnerships

Friday 7th August 2020 at 11am 0 Comments

The Arts Council is the lead development agency for the arts in Northern Ireland and now has the following vacancy: Director of Strategic Development & Partnerships

Ref: 20/01   Director of Strategic Development & Partnerships
Permanent   37 hours per week
Grade 7   £48,829 - £53,518 per annum (Aug 18)

Reporting to the Chief Executive, the post-holder will be responsible for the provision of strategic advice and policy development to the Arts Council, ensuring that key strategic relationships are developed and maintained to support delivery of the Council’s priorities.

Closed 12 noon on Friday 4th September 2020.

We are an equal opportunities employer and we welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons.

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Arts Council of Northern Ireland publishes manual for the safe reopening of performance venues

Thursday 6th August 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments

The Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts Image: The Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today, Wednesday 5th August 2020, published a comprehensive guidance manual, to support the safe reopening of arts performance venues, closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking its title from lines of a poem by Northern Ireland poet, Miriam Gamble, In the bubble of our making: reopening the arts in Northern Ireland, commissioned from Slua health and safety specialists, provides an extensive range of practical measures that will enable performance spaces, including theatres, arts centres, galleries, studios and arts hubs, to re-open to the public safely and in full compliance with current NI Executive and UK Government guidelines and regulations.

The guidance sets out the protocols, adjustments and equipment that will be required by venues to maintain social distancing and protect the health and wellbeing of audiences, performers, staff and participants. It covers all aspects of reopening, including risk assessments, staff training, capacity considerations and special provisions, so that audiences can be reassured that all the appropriate measures are in place and the environment they are entering is safe.

There is also a special section within the manual, ‘Creating Work’, which offers guidance for organisations, arts groups, individual practitioners and everyone engaged within the arts in taking those important steps back into working together safely to present public performances.

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

“There is an enormous appetite for a return to live, in-person, arts, and we want to make sure that our venues have the most up-to-date guidance that will allow them to safely open their doors and welcome back audiences.  We are also keen to see arts organisations continue to develop the astonishing aptitude they have shown during the lockdown for adapting to circumstances and finding novel ways of reaching out to audiences. We can use this experience alongside the new guidance to expand our horizons and re-engage audiences in different ways, in different shapes and in different places. Out of the current challenges could emerge an altogether new and complementary model of how we make and present the arts in Northern Ireland.”

To download the manual, In the bubble of our making: reopening the arts in Northern Ireland, visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/In-the-Bubble-of-Our-Making-Reopening-the-Arts-in-Northern-Ireland-July-2020.pdf

*The poem is from ‘On Fancying American Film Stars’, published in The Squirrels Are Dead (Bloodaxe Books 2010) by Miriam Gamble, whose third collection What Planet won the €10,000 Pigott Prize in May this year.

Please note the NI Executive steps to recovery for the Sport ,Cultural and leisure activities https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-and-what-they-mean-you

Northern Ireland is currently at Step 3 and we are awaiting a date for concert and theatre rehearsals resuming which we hope will be soon. You will find this guide useful in helping you to prepare safely for this stage, and reopening when next steps for theatres ,art centres and venues are announced.

Please check the NI Executive website before you embark on any reopening activities.

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Live Opera Returns to Belfast in August 2020

Thursday 6th August 2020 at 2pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Festival of Voice in Belfast finalist 2020 Image: Festival of Voice in Belfast finalist 2020

Northern Ireland Opera is bringing The Festival of Voice our much-loved annual celebration of singing to Belfast this August, with a theme of Myths and Legends, in partnership with BBC Radio 3. All events will be performed live in the First Church Belfast on August 28-30th and recorded: BBC Radio 3 will broadcast the recitals in the early autumn while the competition finale will be filmed and released via the Northern Ireland Opera YouTube channel in September.

Usually this celebration of the best young opera voices from the island of Ireland takes place in the beautiful coastal village of Glenarm. While we cannot be there this year due to COVID 19, we are delighted to still be able to bring live performance to Belfast across three days of recitals.

For the competition part of the Festival, five finalists have the opportunity to work with prestigious vocal coaches across the weekend in the build-up to our annual finale where they compete by performing arias, duets and Irish songs in front of a judging panel of opera experts, hosted by our Patron, Sean Rafferty. These events will all take place in the historic First Church Belfast, home to our annual Summer Recital series and Christmas Concert. The winner of the Deborah Voigt Opera Prize will become the Northern Ireland Opera Voice of 2020. The performances will be recorded live in Belfast and released via our YouTube channel on a date to be confirmed in mid-August.

This year’s finalists are David Corr (baritone), David Howes (bass baritone), Andrew Irwin (tenor), Sarah Luttrell (mezzo-soprano) and Jade Phoenix (soprano). The winner is awarded a monetary prize and the chance to attend Canto al Serchio in Tuscany, run by Belfast-born international baritone, Bruno Caproni, one of Northern Ireland’s most successful opera stars.

The Glenarm Festival of Voice also features three BBC Radio 3 Recitals. This year we will welcome soprano Ailish Tynan, mezzo-soprano Anna Huntley and baritone James Newby, with accompanist Simon Lepper.  They’ll be bringing a wonderful range of concerts exploring our theme of ‘Myths and Legends’.  These performances will also be recorded in the First Church, Belfast and broadcast in the autumn on BBC Radio 3.

The Festival of Voice is generously supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, the Esmé Mitchell Trust and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

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Belfast International Arts Festival Reveals Plans for Autumn Festival

Wednesday 5th August 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

Travel virtually at Belfast International Arts Festival this October courtesy of Portuguese theatre maker and performer Pedro Penim’s DOING IT, which explores his secret obsession with remote islands. Photographer Ana Viotti. Image: Travel virtually at Belfast International Arts Festival this October courtesy of Portuguese theatre maker and performer Pedro Penim’s DOING IT, which explores his secret obsession with remote islands. Photographer Ana Viotti.

Northern Ireland’s largest contemporary arts festival returns for its 58th edition this October with a programme of inspirational events that seeks to respond creatively to the current pandemic. Belfast International Arts Festival’s 2020 edition will primarily be hosted online, from Monday 12 October to Sunday 1 November. A cornerstone of Northern Ireland’s cultural calendar, this year’s programme features an extended Talks & Ideas programme; theatre, dance and music performances reimagined for a digital audience; and developmental initiatives for artists from across the island.

The 2020 edition explores contemporary matters of interest such as gender equality, multi-culturalism, representation, the climate crisis, and democracy.

Making the best out of the move online, the Talks and Ideas programme strand sees BIAF embarking on a new cross-border partnership with Westival, an annual arts festival based in Westport, County Mayo, as part of IN-visible ID-entities 2, an ongoing initiative encouraging cultural collaboration across the island and supported by the Government of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs. BIAF deepens its ongoing partnership with the Institut Francais, which promotes French culture internationally, with shared online programming that will bring key and emerging French writers simultaneously to audiences across Ireland, France and the UK.

In response to the financial challenges caused by Covid-19, BIAF has consequently launched a new online donations platform with the aim of increasing support from individuals to invest in future festival editions and projects, either with a one-off gift or monthly donation. Organisers are encouraging the public to support them in creating powerful experiences, working with artists to support the development and creation of distinctive new work, and contributing positively to the cultural and economic revival of the city.

Festival Director, Richard Wakely, is looking forward to the 58th edition of Ireland’s leading contemporary arts event; “In a tumultuous world, art matters. Why – because it can make a positive difference to our lives by allowing us to examine what it means to be human, to voice and express, and to bring people and ideas together. That is what we try to do each year at Belfast International Arts Festival. For 2020, it will obviously have a different feel with so much of it being presented digitally and online but audiences can rest assured that the content will be as entertaining and as enlightening as always. Audiences are at the heart of what we do and their continued support will be more important than ever in sustaining BIAF through these challenging times.”

BIAF regularly attracts audiences in excess of 50,000 each year, from home and abroad. This autumn, audiences can look forward to an exciting and thought-provoking programme comprising specially created performances for online, live-streamed events, events recorded in some of Belfast’s iconic locations, and international film and documentary work.

Among the international work is Portuguese theatre maker and performer Pedro Penim’s DOING IT, an endearing personal piece about his secret obsession with remote islands across the world. In a livestreamed lecture performance, audiences will travel virtually to his ‘island collection’ learning a little more about these places and what drives this secret passion, and may reflect on their own private obsessions.

Local company Big Telly, who have become a world leader in live digital theatre, will open this year’s edition with their premiere of a new online and interactive theatrical production of Macbeth. From their own devices, the audience will enter the world of the three witches and may interact with characters, decode messages and carry out undercover missions.  Macbeth promises to be a fully interactive, intriguing piece of theatre that engages audiences in the action, as well as the moral and ethical nuances of this classic Shakespeare tragedy.

BIAF’s principal funder is the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and it is also supported by Belfast City Council, British Council, the Government of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and a range of funders and sponsors.

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

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is immensely proud to be Principal Funder of Belfast International Arts Festival which for this year will bring the 58th edition of this tremendous festival to audiences digitally due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Richard and the team at the Festival have risen to the challenges brought by the pandemic and have produced another innovative, impressive and world-class programme for audiences to engage with online this year.  BIAF also continues to offer a vital platform for work created in Northern Ireland to be profiled to local and international audiences and I would encourage everyone to get involved.”

Tickets for Macbeth go on sale in mid-August at belfastinternationalartsfestival.com and the full BIAF20 programme, the majority of which will be free of charge, will be revealed in early September.

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Arts Council opens £1.1m emergency funding programme for individuals working in the Creative Economy

Tuesday 4th August 2020 at 10am 0 Comments

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín is pictured L-R with Country Music singer Cliona Hagan from Co Tyrone and Deirdre McKenna, a visual artist/curator and studio member of Flax Art Studios Belfast to launch the reopening of the £4m Creative Support Fund Image: Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín is pictured L-R with Country Music singer Cliona Hagan from Co Tyrone and Deirdre McKenna, a visual artist/curator and studio member of Flax Art Studios Belfast to launch the reopening of the £4m Creative Support Fund

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, in collaboration with Future Screens NI, today (Friday 31st July 2020) opened a new funding programme designed to support those working in the Creative Economy including freelancers, musicians, actors, artists and craft workers during the COVID-19 crisis. The Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP), worth £1m from the Department for Communities and an additional £100,000 from Future Screens NI, offers individuals the opportunity to apply for grants of £1,200, £3,000 or £5,000 each.

The IERP provides much needed financial support and employment, a lifeline to individuals working within the wider Creative Economy, at a time when essential elements of the arts sector have been decimated due to venue and gallery closures, festival and event cancellations and the disappearance of live audiences.  The IERP builds on the initial, Artist Emergency Programme (AEP), a fund that was opened by the Arts Council on 27th April 2020 and was heavily oversubscribed. 

This new funding programme is one element of the wider £4m funding package recently announced by Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, Department for Communities, to support the arts, creative industries and cultural sector during the current pandemic. Further measures will be rolled out to organisations in the creative sector in the coming weeks.

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

“The opening of the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme today is welcome news and we hope to allocate this funding quickly as possible. We also welcome an additional £100,000 provided by Future Screens NI as part of this programme.  The programme is designed to support those artists and freelance creatives who were left struggling with serious financial hardships since their livelihoods disappeared practically overnight as a result of the pandemic. Demand on our previous Artists Emergency Fund for creative workers outstripped capacity by 3:1.  The new Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme provides critically-needed support and will help to bridge the gap over the coming months until the Executive has an opportunity to consider and agree a more comprehensive, long-term government support package for arts, culture and heritage in Northern Ireland.”

Professor Paul Moore, Director Future Screens NI said,

“Future Screens NI welcome the Individual Emergency Resilience Fund of £1.1mn which will provide release much needed resources to freelancers, musicians, actors, artists and craft workers.  We are delighted to work in partnership with the Arts Council NI and the Department for Communities to provide this much needed stimulus to the Creative Industries.  Moving Forward Future Screens NI welcome the opportunity to continue to work with both the Arts Council and the Department for Communities to target resources and support into the sector   Since the outset of the crisis Future Screens have provided much needed resources and support to the Creative Industries to address some of the most severe implications of Covid-19”.

The IERP is open for online applications from Friday 31st July and will close at 4pm on Monday 17th August for grants ranging from £1,200, £3,000 and £5,000.  For information on eligibility, guidance notes and to apply visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/scheme/individuals-emergency-resilience-programme

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

To read the Arts Council’s survey on financial impact of Coronavirus on NI Arts sector (April 2020) visit http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/ACNI-Coronavirus-Survey-Report-April2020.pdf

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