Arts Council announces funding targeted at improving young people’s health and wellbeing

20th September, 2022

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced funding of £170,000 for youth, community and voluntary groups to develop arts based projects, targeted at improving the health and wellbeing of young people.

Group of children enjoying music seated around woman playing the guitar.
Pictured is artist Una McCann, who worked with local school children to use music to develop confidence and self-expression skills.

Made possible, thanks to funding for good causes from the National Lottery, the ARTiculate Programme gives a voice to young people through drama, music, visual arts and literature activities. Groups applying for funding support are asked to give a particular focus to including young people experiencing higher levels of disadvantage or exclusion and more vulnerable groups, such as those living with a mental health condition, eating disorders or addiction.

The fund is now open for applications with grants of up to £10,000 available to develop custom-made arts projects for 12 to 18 year olds. This current phase of the programme marks the welcome return of the ARTiculate programme after a three year hiatus.

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

“Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, we are delighted to announce the reopening of the ARTiculate Programme today. The positive links between engagement in the arts and our health and wellbeing are firmly established and we believe that this programme is more important than ever post-pandemic, as young people across Northern Ireland continue to recover from the effects of lock-down and social isolation.

“With this funding, we want to reach out to some of the most vulnerable children in society. We are looking for projects that are fun and engaging but also those which enable participants to shape the activity and be involved as decision makers. At its very core, this important programme is about opening up opportunities for young people to engage in the arts and to experience the many benefits that brings; promoting self-expression, and developing self-confidence and self-motivation.”

The ARTiculate Programme was first launched in 2017 and since then has awarded 46 grants to organisations to develop projects across a range of arts activities including, DJing, graffiti art, ceramics, drama and creative writing.

Fresh Minds Education received a grant through the ARTiculate programme in 2018 to develop a series of music workshops for pupils living in and around the Rathenraw estate in Antrim.

Led by artist Una McCann, seventeen 12-18 year olds worked with younger children from the local primary school to draw out the emotions which affect them most, including feeling angry, sad, anxious, worried or low. By taking a creative approach, the group was able to explore the feelings and learn the AMBER approach, which is a structure that supports children to develop coping mechanisms in a safe and relaxed environment. To mark the end of their project, the group worked with a professional studio to record some of the music they had created.

Aine Wallace who developed the project on behalf of Fresh Minds Education explained:

“We found the ARTiculate programme to be hugely beneficial for all the children who took part in our project. Over two months we watched their confidence grow and their real selves shine. This programme gave them the opportunity to use music as a vehicle to talk about their feelings and relationships, to learn how to be brave, open to fail, yet courageous enough to rise again.”

Applications to the ARTiculate programme opened on Tuesday 20th September and will close on Tuesday 11th October 2022 at 12 noon. For guidance notes and application details go to