Funding, Artists, Organisations, Partnerships

Arts Council announces recipients of £100,000 digital arts programme

25th April, 2022

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, in collaboration with Future Screens NI, today (Monday 25 April 2022) announced the recipients of the Creative Industries Seed Fund, a funding programme which aims to assist arts organisations, entrepreneurs, and creative businesses to undertake projects that contribute to the growth of the creative industries and unlock future income generation.

Two males and one female using virtual reality headset.

The programme will support four partnership projects that use the arts within new and emerging digital, immersive technologies to expand the possibilities of how the arts can be distributed and utilised in new and innovative ways. The Creative Industries Seed Fund, worth £100,000, from The National Lottery and Future Screens NI, offered applicants the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £25,000. This is the second round of the programme and awardees on this occasion include: Niamh Houston/Chipzel, Bad Girl Barre/Jill Rose Jacobs, Accidental Theatre and Belfast Photo Festival.

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

“Today’s announcement is welcome news and we congratulate all of the organisations involved. The Arts Council is delighted to partner with Future Screens NI on this programme and thanks to The National Lottery, it will support four ambitious projects that distribute and utilize the arts in new ways using digital and immersive technologies. This programme reflects our continuing commitment to encouraging innovative practices that cross artform boundaries and build digital capabilities within the Northern Ireland arts sector. I look forward to experiencing these exciting projects as they develop.”

Professor Paul Moore, Director Future Screens NI, said,

“Future Screens NI is privileged to partner with Arts Council NI to deliver the Creative Industries Seed Fund which will enhance the ability of artists to develop ambitious creative projects employing new technologies and to develop specialist skills required to sustain the future of the creative industries. These awards are part of a growing portfolio of partnership work which FSNI is involved in with Arts Council NI and is the latest example of how artists and organisations can unleash the potential of technologies to facilitate news forms of expression and meaning. As new technologies emerge it is essential we continue to develop practices and projects which challenge the idea that art, technology and science operate in different spaces.”

Among those offered funding through the second round of the Creative Industries Seed Fund are:

Niamh Houston/Chipzel
Funding amount offered: £25,000
Project title: TieYourLaces (TYL)

Niamh Houston, aka 'Chipzel', is a Bafta-nominated musician, composer and producer based in Derry-Londonderry. The musician will use her Creative Industries seed Fund award to finance a ‘sprint’ development period working with regional talent on her project, TieYourLaces (TYL). TYL was first developed in 2021 Niamh worked together with Craig Fairweather and Andrew Dyce from, We Throw Switches, to develop a prototype inspired and constructed around her powerful beats to get inter-generational communities more active. TYL is a punksport, movement-based videogame installation, which combines modern videogame design; original music composition; and cutting-edge hardware to answer the question: 'In 2022, what would a real-life, community e-sport look like?

The laser-tracking technology at the heart of the installation invites participants to intuitively move around a pre-set physical ‘court’ sized space (4mx4m), indoors or outdoors, and these movements act as digital inputs for the installation. Participants create competitive scores and opt in to generate digital user content. The game is intended to be accessible - users of any ability can increase movement, create meaningful social interactions motivated by sound. TYL will make previously underused public spaces come alive.

Bad Girl Barre / Jill Rose Jacobs
Funding amount offered: £25,000
Project Title: Jacobs Method of Notation: embodiment of notation using Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and VR

Prior to entering into doctoral research, for 17 years, Jill Rose Jacobs was a professor of dance education in the performing arts professions at New York University; also, a Group Fitness Instructor for a leading corporation where she specialized and launched Barre programmes. Her doctoral research was inspired by the physiological improvements observed in her students’ as a result of combining aspects of fitness and the arts, and, in the benefit/effects of music. Earlier, Jill was also a professional ballet and musical theatre dancer, dance captain and choreographer. Jill will use her Creative Industries Seed Fund award and extensive experience in dance to develop a dance/fitness content creation system for VR based on her original user-friendly notation system for pairing dance-movement to musical accompaniment to create choreography. Her notation system will be realised within a graphical user interface and embodiment of notation. The content will also feature an animated avatar, using motion capture to respond to her notation method.

The project has the potential to impact the performing arts, sports (gymnastics, figure skating), NHS fitness and rehabilitation programmes and all programmes in which movement may be paired to musical accompaniment and sound to improve outcomes. This project will also include a video-recorded documentary.

Accidental Theatre
Funding amount offered: £25,000
Project title: The Belfast Method

Accidental Theatre, a fringe theatre space in Belfast, has been a pioneer in adapting to new technologies both before and during the pandemic. The company now want to take what they have learned in the last two years and develop a system for small venues like theirs to reach larger audiences online through digital only projects, without incurring unsustainable or high production costs.

They will use their Creative Industries Seed Fund award to develop The Belfast Method, a system of remote collaboration that Accidental Theatre developed during the pandemic that allows technical collaborators to control Accidental’s live streaming system from anywhere in the world. They will use their funding to roll The Belfast Method via a series of digital only productions. They also hope to teach other venues how to utilise the same system with the aims of reducing technical team costs, increasing online engagement with the arts, increasing international artistic and technical visibility, reducing project costs whilst increasing online sales through online distribution.

Belfast Photo Festival
Funding amount offered: £24, 982
Project title: Live Visual Motion

Belfast Photo Festival will use their Creative Industries Seed Fund to develop a Live Visual Motion project which aims to explore how new technology allows for new creative opportunities and engaging means of self-expression in a live performance setting, pushing the possibilities of how both visual and performance art is utilised and perceived.

The project will be a cross-sectoral collaboration across contemporary visual art, dance, music and VFX disciplines made possible by new motion capture technologies and real-time VFX software. Belfast Photo Festival will facilitate the creation of performance pieces that explore the idea of the creative journey and the relationship between an artist’s skills, their output of work and the audience sensory experience.

The project will be used as a testing ground to measure success and live physical presentations will be held in 2023 to national and international audiences, and the NI creative sector, including a live showcase and project panel discussion at the creative industries conference, CAPTURE, in Belfast.

The Creative Industries Seed Fund is now closed with all available funding allocated. For details on all Arts Council funding opportunities visit