£217,925 leg-up for a trio of arts groups

Peter Bayne

Reporter:

Peter Bayne

Email:

peter.bayne@newrydemocrat.com

THREE major arts projects in the Newry, Mourne and Down area are major beneficiaries of The Arts Council of Northern Ireland's annual funding programme (AFP)..

Down Community Arts Ltd received £51,588, the Drake Music Project has benefited to the tune of £51,224 and Sticky Fingers Arts have been awarded £115,113 for 2021/22.

The least known of the three is the Drake Music Project Ireland which provides access to independent music-making for children and adults with complex disabilities.

Workshops in composition and performance skills are accessible via the provision of adapted computer interfacing technology which allows people with disabilities the opportunity to express their creativity in an independent but controlled environment.

The awards for 2021/22 totalled just over £13m, with The Department for Communities having provided the Arts Council with an opening resource budget of more than £10m, plus a further £1.1m for capital projects. The balance came from the National Lottery.

The Arts Council’s AFP is the most significant allocation of public funding for the arts in NI. The majority of NI's key arts organisations have received standstill funding, primarily covering their core costs and programming costs.

Seven arts organisations received strategic uplifts with three of the the septet to have been offered annual funding being that above-named trio from the Newry, Mourne and Down area.

Liam Hannaway, who is Chair of the Arts Council, said, “The Arts Council is making offers of annual funding to arts organisations across Northern Ireland, after one of the toughest years on record.

“I wish to recognise, with gratitude, the emergency financial support offered by the Minister for Communities, and distributed by the Arts Council, that helped sustain the arts and cultural sectors over the last 14 months.

“This year’s annual allocation of exchequer and National Lottery funding is largely standstill for most of our key arts organisations.

“In order to mitigate the continuing impact of Covid-19, we have already released upfront payments of 50% of last year’s grant to 97 applicants. This offers an element of stability to many amidst current programming and strategic uncertainty, as the sector prepares to re-open.

“I wish to congratulate all those who made successful applications. The annual funding from the Arts Council is essential to the survival of the entire arts ecosystem in NI. Indeed the arts organisations we fund are supporting the livelihoods of many individual artists, technicians, and creatives who work within and around the entire arts sector.”

Looking ahead, Roisín McDonough, (Chief Executive of the Arts Council) said, “The challenge ahead is to help re-open the arts in NI, and to bring audiences back to live and in-person performances as soon as it’s safe to do so.

“We will support our partners in government to bid for additional funding and resources so that we can welcome people back to safe, live arts and to full, creative lives again.”

Commenting on the Department’s funding allocation to ACNI, Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey, said, “The annual funding awards are an important part of the foundations on which the work of our vital arts and creative sector is built.

“These awards come at a point where the Executive has agreed a series of important relaxations that will make a real difference for participation in the arts and with the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce beginning its work.

“Taken together, these represent an important contribution to supporting the peopand organisations who work across the arts to be able to do their important work.

“I recognise the pressure that continues to be felt financially, creatively and at a personal level across the creative community, even as we begin the process of reopening and recovery. I also recognise that more support will be needed this year and so I was particularly pleased to welcome the Executive’s decision last week to allocate a further round of £13m Covid funding to Arts, Culture and Heritage to support the social recovery.”

The annual funding of £13,005,025 awarded can be broken down as follows:

Exchequer: £8,599,955.

National Lottery: £4,405, 070.

Total: £13,005.025.

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