Arts Council of Northern Ireland launches pioneering programme to bring great art to schools across NI

World-renowned sculptor, Brendan Jamison, has officially launched the Art Lending Scheme for Schools, a new visual arts initiative from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.  The scheme offers schools the opportunity to exhibit works from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Contemporary Art Collection and aims to increase opportunities for young people to be inspired by and engage with high-quality visual arts.

With support from the Department for Communities (DfC), the Arts Council’s Art Lending Scheme for Schools is a free programme which enables all schools to choose and exhibit works from the Collection, which currently holds over 500 artworks, by established and emerging visual artists working in Northern Ireland.

The scheme was officially launched at Belfast Model School for Girls in North Belfast, one of four schools who are among the first to take up the scheme.  Other schools that are taking part include; St Cecilia’s College, Derry-Londonderry, Malone Integrated College and Mercy College, both in Belfast.  The Arts Council is keen to hear from schools that are interested in taking part in the scheme and are also on hand to help advise and curate an exhibition for each school if required.

Artist, Brendan Jamison, commented,

“The aim is to inspire the next generation of creative thinkers at a pivotal point in their education, helping to expand the minds of young people and encourage teenagers to dream of ambitious futures where they can bring creative magic to all aspects of society”.

Mr Robin Cahoon, Acting Leader of Learning Art and Design, Belfast Model School for Girls, said

“As an art teacher I always encourage pupils to go, view and experience artwork in galleries and museums.  To have the gallery come to our school will hopefully give all pupils a taste of what it is like to view and enjoy art.  More importantly it is fantastic that the artwork is by artists that work in Northern Ireland. It is my hope that as pupils see these art pieces every day it will ignite a spark to further explore their creative side.  My vision is that the girls will become ambassadors for the school and will be able to give their interpretation of the artwork to visitors at the Girls Model.”

Maeve Walls, Director of Culture, DfC said:

“The Department for Communities is delighted to be able to support the Art Lending Scheme for Schools by the Arts Council.  It is a wonderful opportunity for young people to view, interpret and be inspired by ‘real’ works of art in the classroom while allowing local emerging artists an opportunity to showcase their work”.

Dr Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“Many of the artists represented in the Arts Council’s contemporary art collection have major national and international reputations, such as two-times Turner Prize nominee, Willie Doherty; Cara Murphy, whose work is included in the Downing Street Sliver Collection; and Colin Davidson, who painted the Queens’ portrait in 2016, Brendan Jamison, Ian Cumberland, and Paul Seawright.

“By offering the Collection for public display in schools, we are helping to showcase the work of our artists and to introduce the public to Northern Ireland’s wealth of creative talent. Schools are welcome to curate their own show or the Arts Council’s expert staff can help compile and theme an exhibition suitable for any space. We can provide works in all media, from painting, sculpture, crafts, print, photography and video through to digital art.”

Interested schools should visit for further information or call 028 9262 3555.


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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.