Young people from Craic Arts Centre perform theatre piece highlighting the value of the Arts to Communities Minister at Stormont

30th May, 2024

Young people from Craic Arts Centre in Coalisland recently performed a theatre piece at Stormont. The theatre piece entitled, IDENTITY, was the result of a ten-week project with young people from Coalisland which explored confidence, self-worth, and wellbeing, through a series of multi-arts disciplinary workshops with industry professionals. The result was a passionate performance piece focusing on the value of the arts for young people in rural communities and was supported by funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery Rural Engagement Arts Programme (REAP).

A group of smiling people in black t-shirts standing and sitting outside Stormont's Parliament Buildings.
Pictured at Stormont are (back row l-r) Karly Greene, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Astijus Jakubaitis, Rebecca Hanna, Muireann Sheilds, Dylan Fox, Patricia Lavery, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Sean O’Neill (Craic Theatre facilitator) with (front row, l-r), James Park, Ben Johnson, Keela Donnley, Caoimhe Leonard and Cassie Donnelly.

The Arts Council NI scheme, REAP, aims to provide an integrated, cohesive approach to the needs of rural communities by improving access to the arts and enhancing personal wellbeing for local people. The overarching theme of the Arts Council programme is to tackle isolation and loneliness in rural areas, and with the help of professional artists and arts practice, promote social inclusion.

Watch the video below.

The audience included the Minister for Communities, Gordon Lyons, MLAs, representatives from Mid Ulster District Council, MPs, Arts Council NI, Theatre and Dance NI, NICVA, and others. The performance captivated the audience and offered a profound reflection on a world devoid of artistic expression. Led by the vibrant energy of rural artists and young individuals, the performance served as a powerful testament to the transformative power of creativity and the vital role of the arts in our society.

A group of people standing together inside Parliament Buildings at Stormont.
Pictured are a group of performers from Craic Arts Centre with the Minister for Communities, Gordon Lyons, Patricia Lavery and Karly Greene, both from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. To find out more about Craic Arts Centre visit

Joanne McDonald, Craic Arts Centre, said, “We are helping shape the next generation through the arts here at Craic Arts Centre. Funding and nurturing the arts will help create our future leaders, innovators, and communities. Craic is extremely proud to play our part and thank The National Lottery players for this funding which has been a game changer for us.”

In a time where funding for the arts remains scarce, the young performers highlighted the essential role of creativity in empowering communities and enhancing both physical and mental wellbeing. They called upon society to "Flip the Script," urging for greater recognition and support for the arts in Northern Ireland, particularly in rural areas.

Patricia Lavery, Head of Community Arts & Education, at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to make National Lottery REAP funding available to Craic Arts Centre for their project, ‘Identity’, which highlights the value of the arts and the importance of investing in the arts, for everyone in society. We know that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, boost confidence and motivation, as well as alleviate isolation and loneliness.

“Thanks to The National Lottery players, the National Lottery Rural Engagement Arts Programme has supported 135 arts projects in rural areas across NI with total National Lottery funding of £898,780 since its establishment in 2022. The programme has been making positive impacts in rural communities by increasing opportunities for people to engage and participate in meaningful arts activities, enriching their lives for the better. The Arts Council believes that arts, and coming together as communities, can all make a vital contribution to building wellbeing, confidence, and healthy, integrated communities.”

Craic Arts Centre continues to champion the transformative power of the arts, inspiring change and advocating for a brighter, more vibrant future for all. To find out more about Craic Arts Centre visit

To find out more about Arts Council NI funding opportunities visit