Annual Review 2021-22

January, 2022

Highlights of the Year in the Arts in Northern Ireland

Dance group performing on stage.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Annual Review 2021-22 recounts many of the highlights of the (financial) Year in the Arts in Northern Ireland, supported by Arts Council exchequer funding from the Department of Communities as well as National Lottery funds.

With the last remaining Covid-19 legal restrictions coming to an end in March 2022, two years on from the start of the pandemic, we finally welcomed the cautious reopening of arts venues and the return of live in-person performances and activities. The journey to that moment is a story of remarkable resilience and creativity, as the sector rose to the challenges and continued to inspire and entertain audiences with amazing works of art.

Major creative highlights of 2021-22 include:

  • the Lyric Theatre’s production of ‘Sadie’, in association with Field Day Theatre Company, broadcast as part of the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine Season
  • the reopening of the Grand Opera House following completion of its £12.2m restoration
  • the NIO’s centenary programme exhibition at the Golden Thread Gallery
  • the theatre and dance from NI showcase at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
  • Array Collective becoming the first artists in Northern Ireland to win the Turner Prize
  • BBC’s Culture in Quarantine celebrating new works by D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled artists from Northern Ireland
  • Conor Mitchell’s symphonic audio visual work, ‘MASS’, co-produced by The Belfast Ensemble, Outburst Arts and the Ulster Orchestra
  • NI Opera’s multi-award winning film production, ‘Old Friends and Other Days’
  • Belfast awarded the coveted UNESCO City of Music
  • the Arts Council brings the sector together at The MAC to launch ‘Bright Lights in a Dark Year’ and to pay tribute to the outstanding work of so many during the pandemic
  • Sole Purpose Productions’ Festival of Theatre for Social Change.

The Arts Council supported the broadest range of arts throughout the year with its special COVID Recovery programmes funded by the Department for Communities, which enabled the sector to begin rebuilding and welcoming the safe return of practitioners and audiences.

The Annual Review 2021-22 provides a vivid account of the year in the arts and its many highlights, reminding us all of the breadth of contribution that a rich, creative environment makes to the quality of everyone’s lives in Northern Ireland.

Read the full Annual Review 2021-22