Funding, Organisations

Arts Council awards £85,000 to fund community projects

4th January, 2023

Seventeen arts projects have been awarded National Lottery funding totalling over £85,000 as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Small Grants funding programme. The money will be used to support arts initiatives in communities across Northern Ireland, including projects in Belfast, Derry-Londonderry, Bangor, Omagh, Enniskillen, Lisburn, and Cookstown.

A choir performing on stage. All participants are dressed in black and holding music books.
Sperrin Choir

Supported through National Lottery funds, the Small Grants Programme is designed to encourage organisations in Northern Ireland to get more people to engage with the arts through creative, community-based projects. 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.

One of the groups to have been awarded funding in December is The Sperrin Choir. The cross-community choir is based in Mid-Ulster and meet weekly. It has been awarded a grant of £2,000 from the Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme to help rebuild its membership and audiences, following the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the choir’s usual annual Spring and Christmas concerts at The Burnavon, they hope to perform a series of additional concerts at other venues in late Spring 2023.

Niall Cosgrove, Chairman of the Sperrin Choir, welcomed news of the award, saying:

“In the years to 2020, the Sperrin Choir had built a strong group and large audience base. Covid caused great disruption due to lack of rehearsals and concert income. We are trying to rebuild both group and audience numbers so this generous Arts Council Grant will be of great help in facilitating recruitment, rehearsal and performance.”

Commenting on the funding programme, Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“Thanks to National Lottery players and money raised for good causes, we are delighted to announce today funding to support seventeen fantastic projects, creating more opportunities for people to engage with the arts, from grassroots level projects through to professional productions. This valuable funding programme will support a variety of high quality arts projects in locations across Northern Ireland, including performances, workshops and tuition.”

In November and December Small Grants Awards were awarded to seventeen organisations including:

Fermanagh Choral Society, awarded £2,375
Fermanagh Choral Society plan to perform John Rutter’s Requiem in April 2023 accompanied by the Sinfonia Orchestra, along with a professional Soprano Soloist in St Michael's Church in Enniskillen. Funding will help support weekly rehearsals, purchasing of scores and venue costs. The concert will be an opportunity for all members to improve their singing and musicianship skills, as well as improving confidence in their public performance.

Fusion Theatre, awarded £3,320
This funding will help support a production of Evita, featuring music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice at the Island Hall, Lagan Valley Island, in March 2023. It is anticipated that this project will involve a cast of approximately 60 young people from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds who have varying degrees of skill in singing, dancing and acting. The cast will work alongside a professional Director, Musical Director and Choreographer throughout the rehearsal process and during production week, they will also work with a professional sound technician, lighting technician and live nine- piece band.

YMCA North Down, awarded £6,855
The YMCA Ethnic Minorities Support Project provides ongoing support to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the South-Eastern Trust. In addition to hands-on, practical support they aim to tackle social isolation by providing women’s/men’s/youth groups, as well as one to one mentoring sessions. Participants come from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This funding will support an arts project, to help break down social and language barriers. It will explore the ideas of displacement, new home and new beginnings, the importance of persevering one's culture, language and identity and the value of that. It will also provide an opportunity to for participants to experiment and explore new art forms while gaining new skills and new friendships.

Intergenerational Music Making, awarded £5,400
This funding will support an intergenerational music project which will engage five care homes and five schools in Northern Ireland, providing the introductions between participants, the training, tools and resources to support the exchanges, and the musicians and music therapists to lead a series of group projects. Workshops will take place over a six month period, after which the projects will come together to perform a large community concert celebrating the artists, members and their musical creations.

Golden Apple Players, awarded £7,800
Golden Apple Players (GAP) will deliver a 5-month high quality performing arts programme in Omagh from December 2022, focusing on inspiring LGBTQ+ communities in rural Omagh through the Arts. It is expected that 80 individuals aged 17years+ will participate in a series of weekly sessions, concluding with a production of Rent – The Musical in 2023. A theme that will run through the programme will be "expression". Participants will be encouraged to express their feelings, thoughts and emotions relevant to their own experiences of discrimination, and LGBTQ+ issues.

Bloody Sunday Trust, awarded £5,824
This funding will support the early stages of the facilitation and consultation process for the possible creation of a public artwork and gathering space in Rossville Street, Derry, around the location of the Bloody Sunday Memorial. The artwork would be a permanent legacy of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in 2022. It is intended that the artwork will be part of an integrated development plan, which will also enhance the current surroundings of the Memorial, and provide a much more conducive and safe space for larger gatherings and for individual visitors.

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