Funding, Organisations

Spark Opera awarded funding to develop new musical work with students at Ardnashee

2nd March, 2023

Spark Opera has been awarded funding to deliver a new music project at Ardnashee School and College in Derry/Londonderry.

Emma O'Kane, Senior Teacher and Assistant SENCO at Ardnashee School and College holding a yellow tambourine with one of the pupils who will be taking part in Tribe, a new musical project within the school.
Emma O'Kane, Senior Teacher and Assistant SENCO at Ardnashee School and College and one of the pupils who will be taking part in Tribe, a new musical project within the school, funded by the Arts Council's ARTiculate Young People and Wellbeing Programme.

Over the next six months students will work with professional artists to devise a new musical work, entitled Tribe. The workshops will be tailored to specifically meet the complex needs of students, with a focus on promoting positive mental health and self-expression.

Spark Opera is one of 24 groups set to benefit from funding worth £190,000, thanks to National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The ARTiculate Young People and Wellbeing Programme was set up by the Arts Council to help give a voice to young people (aged 12-18) through drama, music, visual arts and literature activities. In September, organisations were invited to apply for up to £10,000 each to support arts-led projects, with a particular focus on developing projects which included 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.

Lorraine Calderwood, ARTiculate Young People and Wellbeing Programme Manager at the Arts Council, commented:

“Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, we are delighted to announce grants for 24 organisations today through the ARTiculate Programme. 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.

“The funding announced today will support a fantastic range of creative projects in communities across Northern Ireland. With this funding, we want to reach out to some of the most vulnerable children in society to engage them in fun and creative arts projects, which help build confidence and promote self-expression. It was a pleasure to be able to visit Ardnashee Special School and meet the students as they embark on this hugely exciting project with Spark Opera.”

Kate Guelke is the Director of Spark Opera, a community opera company, committed to making the arts accessible for all.

“We are so excited to be working with Ardnashee. Tribe is a collaboration, harnessing the school's ethos of radical inclusivity and belonging and turning it into a musical. This project will build on a pilot project which we ran with the school in 2022, with funding from the TeleCommunity Fund and will celebrate the power of music to bring people together.

“When people are next to each other, sharing a sound or rhythms, they connect in a way that is beyond words. It's so good for mental health. For young people especially the benefits can be amazing.”

Emma O’Kane, Senior Teacher and Assistant SENCO at Ardnashee School and College, commented:

“Ardnashee School and College are delighted to be able to avail of funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and working in collaboration with Spark Opera to reach our most bespoke set of learners. Pupils with complex needs rely on an immersive multisensory approach to be able to fully engage with the environment around them. Through the production of Tribe our complex needs learners will experience a variety of creative arts methodologies which will take them through a magical theatre production incorporating dance, drama, live music and visuals.

“The process of devising theatre through carefully planned workshops onsite enables our very complex needs learner to have a voice throughout the process. Pupils will undoubtedly reap the benefits of the project in relation to improving mental health and, to quote Professor Barry Carpenter, 'this year more than ever, we need to ensure that wellbeing is at the heart of our education system'."

The 24 organisations awarded funding through the 2022/23 Articulate Programme are:

  • Arts Ekta
  • BEAM Creative Network
  • Belfast Exposed Photography
  • Boom! Inc
  • Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich
  • Derry Theatre Trust Ltd t/a The Millennium Forum
  • eduSOIL CIC
  • Excite - Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership
  • Fresh Minds Education Ltd
  • FUEL
  • Gasyard Development Trust
  • Golden Apples Players
  • Greater Shantallow Community Arts
  • Magnet Young Adult Centre
  • NI Opera
  • Oh Yeah Music Centre
  • Open Arts
  • Spark Opera Company
  • Suicide Awareness & Support Group
  • The Lyric Theatre (NI)
  • Ulster Touring Opera
  • Waterside Theatre Company Ltd
  • WheelWorks
  • Young at Art Ltd