Arts Council NI – Young people in Care to benefit from new arts award

In celebration of the province’s inaugural, Care Day NI on Friday 19 February, one of the Northern Ireland’s leading arts venues, the MAC, has launched a new initiative aimed at enabling disadvantaged young people to achieve an accredited arts qualification.

As part of their continuing outreach and engagement work and also to celebrate Care Day NI, the MAC is currently training 60 disadvantaged young people for an Arts Award.

As part of the scheme, the MAC has collaborated with Include Youth to deliver a superhero-themed comic workshop benefitting 12 young people from a Care background.

This workshop, facilitated by Revolve Comics, will act as the first step towards these young people achieving an accredited Arts Award with the MAC.

Within the workshop, participants and local artists created graphic novel styled artwork themed around superheroes.

With many of the world’s best known superheroes and literary figures coming from a Care or fostering background (Batman, Spiderman, Superman & James Bond, participants had the chance to share the stories of the challenges faced by young people, especially as they move towards leaving Care.

Ciaran McQuillan, Learning & Participation officer at the MAC said:

“The MAC is delighted to be the first arts organisation in Belfast to deliver Arts Award, a unique scheme that supports young people up to the age of 25yrs to achieve an accredited qualification.

The aim is to support any young person to enjoy the arts while achieving a valuable qualification to add to their CV.

I’ll be part of the team of trained advisers who will deliver the accredited courses with specific groups of young people, particularly those who may not achieve a qualification elsewhere.

As we roll out the scheme, we’ll be offering Arts Awards from introductory level right up to the highest ‘Gold Award’ which is equivalent to achieving an A-Level”.

Fionnuala Walsh, Head of Participatory Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The arts have an intrinsic, powerful value in allowing us to approach difficult, complex issues and understand ourselves, the world and our place in it. With this in mind it’s imperative that the arts reach out to everyone in society to better our lives and promote positive experiences all-round.

We are proud of the immense work many of our funded organisations carry out with young people in Care and welcome this fantastic new initiative from the MAC.”

All organisations funded by the Arts Council engage fully in education and outreach programmes with 49% of the activity of all organisations funded by the Arts Council being outreach work.

There were 21,718 outreach activities delivered at 1,530 locations across Northern Ireland in 2014/15.

Many of these organisations use the arts as a tool in bettering the lives and experiences of children and young people in Care. Some examples include:

  • Beat Carnival will provide entertainment at the Card Day NI event The Care Factor – VOYPIC rocks at Belfast City Hall of Friday 19th February.
  • Kids In Control will hold its annual spring showcase event at the Lyric theatre, 2-3 March, with many cast members coming from a Care background.
  • BookTrust NI have delivered a series of children’s author and poet visits to children and young people from a Care background including, Lemn Sissay, Sheena Wilkinson, Nick Sharratt, Petr Horacek, Malachy Doyle and Paul Howard. In addition to this all LAC (looked After Children) receive Letterbox Club parcels of books from BookTrust each month and n 26th April, there will be a very special visit from Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, at Antrim Library for LAC.
  • The Armagh Rhymers deliver over 140 performances every year including a number to LAC
  • In Your Space, in Derry, held workshops in the city with VOYPIC (Voice of Young People In Care).
  • Arts Ekta, will host a creative writing workshop with Lemn Sissay in Belfast on 24th March. Lemn will work with the young people from VOYPIC in a creative writing and storytelling workshop to examine the possibilities of using writing and storytelling to claim a care identity, a theme which fits with VOYPIC’s new manifesto campaign, to promote a more positive image of children in care and to support children in care’s efforts to be included and engage in community activities.
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New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.