Funding, Organisations

17 Arts Organisations Receive Investment from Arts & Business NI Blueprint Programme

23rd March, 2023

17 Northern Ireland arts organisations have been announced as the beneficiaries of a first round of investment grants, which will total £765,000 over the next two years, as part of Arts & Business NI’s cutting-edge Blueprint programme.

Group of arts organisations to receive investment through Arts and Business NI's Blueprint Blueprint Programme

The funding for Blueprint, a five-year financial growth programme for the arts, was raised by Arts & Business NI from both public and private funders. These investment grants will support the arts organisations to take a long-term approach to generating income. The funding will allow them to test ideas and models for growth, such as the development of new creative projects, building skills, reviewing business models, and growing organisational capacity.

Across the five years of the programme, Blueprint participants will also continue to receive tailored training and mentoring to support long term growth and sustainability.

Blueprint supports and connects a diverse network of 17 creative organisations which includes theatre companies, galleries, festivals, a disabled-led arts charity, a circus and street theatre company, a photography centre, a creative writing organisation, art centres, a dance company, a music school, an artist collective and a printmaking studio.

Ray Giffen, Blueprint participant and Creative Director at the Duncairn said: “Blueprint has challenged us to dream big. It’s an unprecedented opportunity to bring to life what were previously only aspirational ideas. Through Blueprint investment, mentoring and support, we are investing in a financially sustainable future and creating projects which will connect with our wider community and support the next generation of emerging artists.”

Arts & Business NI developed Blueprint following five years of research, which highlighted the financial fragility of the arts sector, and the factors which compounded this. In response, Blueprint is testing a new model, which focuses on building long-term sustainability and allows arts organisations to invest in growth and development without the restrictions that short-term funding can bring.

Mary Nagele, CEO at Arts & Business NI commented: ‘We look forward to seeing these projects being brought to life over the next four years, and the long-term value that this will bring to the organisations involved and the wider creative sector. What sets Blueprint apart is its focus on long-term financial strength. We want to show an alternative to the hamster wheel of short-term funding cycles, which can impact organisational growth and creative freedom and demonstrate a Blueprint for a more sustainable future for the NI arts sector.”

Among the organisations to receive investment grants are:

In Your Space Circus will receive support to help unlock their ambitions to create a new venue for innovative performances, collaboration, and community engagement in the heart of Derry’s Cathedral Quarter. The support received will enable In Your Space Circus to take their first steps towards this goal, as part of a wider fundraising campaign.

Kids In Control a physical theatre company working with young people in Northern Ireland, are expanding their team through the creation of a new role and providing inclusive theatre practice training to increase their reach across the community.

Belfast Exposed has an exciting archive of over one million images, with Blueprint programme support and investment, Belfast Exposed will be able to share some of their ‘Stories of Belfast’ images with the wider public through the creation of a new series of publications.

Replay Theatre Company will be bringing their award-winning children’s theatre productions to new audiences, through the development of a GB and ROI touring programme.

Blueprint is supported by funding from the Dormant Accounts Fund NI delivered by National Lottery Community Fund NI, Department for Communities NI, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Belfast City Council and Arts Council Northern Ireland. To find out more about Blueprint go to: