Funding, Organisations

Older people to benefit from £169,994 arts funding for 22 creative projects, supported by The National Lottery

20th October, 2023

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced £169,994 funding to support 22 arts organisations across Northern Ireland in delivering a series of community-based arts projects benefitting older people. The funding is part of the National Lottery Arts and Older People Programme, a pioneering initiative funded by The National Lottery and Public Health Agency, which aims to tackle loneliness as-well as promote positive mental health and well-being among older people, through engagement with the arts.

A group of people smiling and standing outside the Music Yard with a musician holding a guitar.
Pictured L-R are Norman Richmond, Helen Hamilton, Thomas Hamilton, Mayor, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, Mid & East Antrim Brough Council and Lorraine Calderwood, Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Watch a video featuring National Lottery Arts and Older People Programme award recipients, The Prom Friendship Group, based in Larne, below.

The National Lottery Arts and Older People Programme was established by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2010 and is now a cross-governmental partnership with funding also from the Public Health Agency. The programme has been designed to challenge perceptions of what it means to be an older person, empower participants, and give older people a voice. To date the programme has provided over £2m funding to community organisations and voluntary groups across Northern Ireland in the delivery of over 272 arts projects to older people.

Lorraine Calderwood, Community Arts Development Officer at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said,

"Thanks to The National Lottery players and the Public Health Agency, we’re delighted today to announce that a further 22 arts organisations across Northern Ireland will be supported to deliver projects with funding of £169,994. Research has proven that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, confidence and motivation, as well as aid in relieving stress. The National Lottery Arts and Older People Programme is committed to providing meaningful opportunities for older people to take part in arts activities, enriching their lives for the better. The arts have a vital role to play in helping our older people find their voice, bring people together and promote positive physical and mental health.”

Among the successful applicants offered National Lottery Arts and Older People Programme funding are:

The Prom Friendship Group’s ‘This Is Me’ Dementia-Friendly Choir, Larne.

Funding award offered: £5,287

The National Lottery Arts and Older People Programme funding will support the ‘This is Me’ Dementia-Friendly Choir. Participant in the choir includes older people, carers of people with dementia and widows. The choir runs every week at the Music Yard, Larne and is facilitated by Thomas and Angela Hamilton, who provide music and teach songs to up to 40 members. The choir gives members a sense of belonging and provides a strong support network to people affected by dementia. It reduces isolation and loneliness for its members who say the choir is their ‘musical family’ and creates lasting friendships in the community.

Two older ladies from the 'This is Me' Dementia-Friendly Choir singing and smiling at each other.
‘This is Me’ Dementia-Friendly Choir participants, Helen Hamilton and Elizabeth Boyd.

Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company, Derry-Londonderry

Funding award offered: £9,000.

Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company will use their National Lottery Arts and Older People Programme funding to work with three organisations as part of their Body Wisdom in the Community project engaging residents, service users and care staff. These include Connects at Praxis Care, Deanfield Residential Care Home and Eglinton Community Hall. Echo Echo will deliver 45 creative movement and music sessions which will be led by Echo Echo artist-teachers alongside an accompanying musician. Echo Echo will also create a toolkit of creative movement and mindfulness exercises for use by staff and carers when working with residents and service-users following completion of the project.

South West Age Partnership, Fermanagh & Omagh

Funding award offered: £7,760.

South West Age Partnership will use their National Lottery Arts and Older People Programme funding for a project called Our Townlands Own Place. The project will bring forty older people from the Fermanagh & Omagh areas together to use art and reminiscence in a project aimed at preserving local stories and the historic use of townlands. Participants will include those living independently, those in sheltered accommodation, those who continue to work, volunteer, participate in hobbies or are part of community associations. Each participant will be encouraged to complete a piece of textile art for inclusion in an end of project exhibition aswell as an individual piece to keep at home. The artworks will be displayed in local community centres creating a focal point for others to share in the stories of their area. The project will be included as part of Positive Ageing October 2023 with the final exhibition showcase on 10 September 2024 as part of European Heritage Day.

Tullycarnet Neighbourhood Collective, East Belfast

Funding award offered: £6,020.

Tullycarnet Neighbourhood Collective, in East Belfast, will use their National Lottery Arts and Older People Programme funding for their project A Creative and Colourful Place to Live. This project aims to collect the voices and stories of local older people in Tullycarnet and improve the skills, abilities and quality of life for participants. Working with Arts Care, a creative writer, a photographer, and other professional artists, the group will create a collection of memories that will be collated into a public exhibition. Their artwork will be displayed in the local community centre for everyone to see after the programme is complete and will be recorded as part of the history of the area that they have lived in for many years. After the exhibition their artworks will be placed in a time capsule.

BEAM Creative Network, Mid-Ulster

Funding award offered: £8,134

BEAM Creative Network in Mid-ulster will use their National Lottery Arts and Older People Programme funding for their project Young at heArt. The project will engage forty older people from the Coalisland & Dungannon Neighbourhood Renewal area between in a project using arts-based techniques including ceramic art, textile art, fine art, and reminiscence songwriting. The project aims to introduce artistic mediums that appeal to both older men and women and are not currently available in the area. It also encourages the participation of older people not currently involved in older people's groups within the community and organisers will closely collaborate with Age NI, Alzheimer's Society, local GP surgeries, clergy, and carers coordinators, to identify those who would benefit most from the program. Rurally isolated participants will also have access to community transport services.

Beth Johnson Foundation inc Linking Generations NI, North Down & Ards

Funding award offered: £6,514.

Beth Johnston Foundation - Linking Generations NI (LGNI) will use their National Lottery Arts and Older People Programme funding for their project, Arty Generations. The project will engage older people in rural areas and those who live alone in intergenerational arts projects with school children and youth groups. A session with older people in each setting will be held to get to know the participants and their capabilities and to hear their thoughts on the activities. Organisers will facilitate age/dementia awareness sessions between the older and young participants and an artist will facilitate art sessions which will conclude with a celebration event to showcase artwork and involve the wider community, family and friends.

View the list of all Arts and Older People Programme awardees below: