The programme, which is part of the Arts Council’s Support for Individual Artists Programme, was launched last year, thanks to funding from the National Lottery, to support the work of minority ethnic artists and creative practitioners living in Northern Ireland. The programme aims to create opportunities for specialized training, research, cultural exchange, networking and learning for individual artists, creative practitioners and arts administrators, with artist receiving grants of up to £5,000 each.
The Minority Ethnic Artists Mentoring and Residency Programme aims to help individuals at every stage of their career; supporting skills development and career pathways, inspiring excellence and increasing opportunities for young and emerging minority ethnic artists and creatives. The awards announced today will support a range of artists, at various stages of their carer and working across all areas of the arts, including music, visual arts, community arts and literature.
The creation of the programme has been informed by the Arts Council’s Intercultural Arts Strategy and framed within its current business plan. Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “Thanks to National Lottery Players and the money raised for Good Causes, this important funding programme will directly support our growing community of minority ethnic artists, living and working in Northern Ireland. It will provide the vital support they need to develop their practice, create new creative connections and build future career opportunities.
“Through this programme, we are seeking to create the conditions for the widest variety of art and creativity for both artists and audiences, addressing the numerous and complex barriers to access, progression and representation in the arts encountered by minority ethnic artists.”
Rodrigo Romero Flores, awarded £4,000
Rodrigo is a poet, musician and artist from Osorno, Chile, resident in Northern Ireland. He has undertaken a range of work over the past three years, producing sound and audio visual pieces that have been exhibited and worked internationally. Among his most recent accomplishments in 2022 are an online artist residency in Belgrade Arts Studio in Serbia, Festival Audioblast#10 (France), IV Festival "Sur Aural" (Bolivia) and “Video Sound Archive”. Season 4 (USA). More locally, in 2021 Rodrigo was commissioned by Terranova Productions (Belfast) for their Second Intercultural Cohort Program. The funding from Arts Council will support him to undertake a residency in Iceland, where he will dedicate his time to research, collect, process and create sound pieces from frequencies generated by natural signals tweeks, whistler, sferics, and aurora borealis, captured through an ELF-VLF Receiver. This will be the first opportunity the artist has had to dedicate his time exclusively to a sonic art project and to work with new equipment, in a landscape that is ideal to experiment with these frequencies.
This is the first time Rodrigo has been awarded National Lottery funding from the Arts Council.
Denise Jimena Navarrete Garcia, awarded £2,690
Denise is an early career visual arts facilitator with a formal education background in interior and set design and architectural engineering. This funding will support her to work with a mentor and develop a series of workshops in traditional Mexican visual arts between November 2022 and January 2023, culminating in an exhibition in February 2023.
This is the first time she has been awarded National Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Raquel McKee, awarded £4,000
Raquel is a Caribbean poet, actress, storyteller and singer/songwriter. She will use this funding to work with a mentor to create a piece of writing for mixed media theatre exploring the theme of justice. The impetus for this is the fact that neither UK nor NI are marking the United Nations declared Decade for People of African Descent, 2015 – 2024.
Raquel has received previous National Lottery awards from the Arts Council and was accepted onto the BBC Writer’s Room in 2021. Her work is rooted in the Caribbean but reflects also her unique experience as a migrant to and resident in Northern Ireland.
Elvira Santamaria-Torres, awarded £4,156
Elvira is a performance artist originally from Mexico, who has achieved international recognition for her practice. She has exhibited internationally and her work often has an element of activism and references the politics of the countries she works within.
With this funding, she will undertake a two-month artist residency from March to April 2023 at the Gresol Association in Spain, an organisation supporting female performance artists through residencies and a range of public programming. She will work with a number of mentors, working towards a new project titled ‘The Healing Powers of Creative Processes of Performance Art’, which will lead to a new ‘process art’ performance piece she will capture through video in a forest setting close to the residency centre. She intends to then revisit this work as a chamber performance piece to be presented in Northern Ireland. She has previously received funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to support her work.