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Armagh and Newry music projects share in £13million arts funding

L-R Norman Bowman, Melle Stewart, Jayne Wisener, Jack McCann

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) has  announced annual funding of £13,005,025 for key arts organisations from its exchequer and National Lottery resources. 

Armagh Rhymers will receive £55,290, while the Drake Music Project in Newry were granted a total of £51,224.

The Armagh Rhymers deliver quality art to a variety of sectors in society, many from the most deprived backgrounds.

A lot of their work takes place in schools providing quality storytelling & bespoke interactive plays using music, song, dance, puppets and masks.

They also take part in a wide range of events and festivals such as the Belfast Mela, Halloween in Derry-Londonderry and the Big Arts Festival in Ballycastle.  The Armagh Rhymers have also toured internationally in USA, China and Europe. 

Drake Music Project Ireland provides access to independent music making for children and adults with complex disabilities.

Workshops in composition and performance skills are afforded by the provision of adapted computer interfacing technology allowing people with disabilities the opportunity to express their creativity in an independent and controllable environment. 

The Arts Council’s Annual Funding Programme (AFP) is the most significant allocation of public funding for the arts in Northern Ireland each year.

Today the majority of Northern Ireland’s key arts organisations received standstill funding, primarily covering their core costs and programming costs, with seven arts organisations receiving strategic uplifts. 

Liam Hannaway, Chair, Arts Council of Northern Ireland 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 reopen.

“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, the Chief Executive of the Arts Council, Roisín McDonough added: “The challenge ahead is to help reopen 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 being made today 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 people and 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.”

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