The Community Arts Partnership (CAP) was officially launched at its new offices in the Cathedral Quarter by Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín. The launch represented the coming together of New Belfast Community Arts Initiative and the Community Arts Forum – two of the leading community arts providers in NI.
Community Arts Partnership will now offer the widest range of workshops, activities and events, including dance, drama, craft, sculpture, fashion, verbal arts and digital media for individuals, schools, groups, organisations from all backgrounds and communities across Northern Ireland. Importantly, CAP will also take the lead as advocate and information provider to the community arts sector.
Director of CAP, Conor Shields said: “The launch of Community Arts Partnership signifies another staging point, another era in the development of community arts. The newly merged re-organisation will continue to develop creative opportunities for artists, communities and individuals and do all it can to champion community arts through advocacy, research and promotion.”
Speaking at the launch of Community Arts Partnership, The Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín emphasised the importance of accessible arts provision in local communities. She added:
“Community based activities provide so many opportunities for local areas. One of my Departmental priorities is to continue to promote social interventions including community based arts. The Community Arts Partnership can maintain and strengthen provision of community arts in the North of Ireland and beyond.”
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of Arts Council Northern Ireland praised the ongoing work and success of the community arts sector in post-conflict Northern Ireland.
“Community arts play a pivotal role in Northern Ireland’s journey towards a shared future based on tolerance, understanding and mutual respect. The community arts sector in Northern Ireland has flourished over the last 15 years and now sets the standard for community arts practice internationally. The Arts Council remains committed to supporting the development of the sector and enhancing opportunities for local communities to engage with the arts.”
CAP board member and playwright Martin Lynch said:
“Whilst many of us were very saddened to see the demise of the ground-breaking Community Arts Forum, it is terrific to know that at least a dimension of its work will continue in the form of the Community Arts Partnership. But more particularly, I am delighted to know that the pioneering work of the New Belfast Community Arts Initiative will not only continue but will be strengthened and enhanced by the creation of the new organisation. I wish Conor Shields, the Board and his fantastic staff all the best for the new, exciting era.”