The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced details of the first 88 artists who will benefit from its Artists Emergency Programme.
News of the £500,000 Artists Emergency Programme was announced by the Minister for Communities Deidre Hargey MLA and the Arts Council at the end of April. It aims to support artists and performers during the pandemic that has decimated their means of earning an income and creating new work.
Those set to receive funding include writers, composers, theatre practitioners, community artists and visual artists, who will each receive grants of up to £5,000 to develop their projects and professional practice.
Roisín McDonough, Arts Council Chief Executive, commented:
“This fund was opened at the end of April and in just two weeks we received over 300 applications from artists who have found themselves out of work and in urgent need of financial support.
“So far we have assessed 111 of those applications, 88 of which have been offered National Lottery and Exchequer funding totalling £263,000. Twenty-one of these were first time applicants to the Arts Council. Our staff are working diligently to ensure the remaining applications are ready for announcement at the end of May.
“There is still much to do. The impact of this pandemic poses the greatest of threats to our cultural life and we need to act now to support our artists and cultural institutions if they are to have a future when society returns to normal.”
Artists offered funding include:
Diana Ennis, Designer
Diana is a costume and set designer and she will use her award and time during lockdown to develop audio visual and design skills for a new piece of physical theatre for young audiences. Her project is a progression from her experience as a designer responding to a script or performance, to an artist using design to initiate a brand new piece of theatre. The piece will explore the mental health impact of isolation for a young audiences in a creative and accessible format, using non-verbal physical performance, design, colour and AV content. This is the first time that Diana has applied to the Arts Council for funding support.
Jason O’Rourke, Composer and Musician
“Belonging: a Northern Ireland-India socially-distanced collaboration” is a remote collaboration between Jason O’Rourke and Deepmoy Das, an Indian musician. The project will deliver performances online to benefit the NI Indian community, employing a network of partner organisations in NI and India. Ambitions are to tailor a programme of NI-Indian folk music to engage audiences online, through music, arts, crafts and dance. The collaboration will encourage the Indian diaspora in NI to reflect on issues of identity and belonging, and encourage participation in arts practices. It will pave the way for further sustainable community projects.
Vasiliki Stasinaki, A dance and visual artist working in the intersection between both practices
Vasiliki experiments with the creation of performative installations, using video, sound, sculpture and movement and this is the first time she has applied to the Arts Council for funding. She hopes to research and develop a new project that investigates how social and traditional dance has been used historically as a tool for political and societal change during uncertain times. She plans to develop a series of cutting edge, experimental films using both archival footage and new material created during lockdown, in order to explore this subject and develop ideas for a future installation.
Paul Corcoran, Writer
Paul plans to write and publish a science fiction novel to be produced as an eBook, audiobook and print book to be widely available to potential readers. He is a published author and plans to provide employment for Northern Ireland based editors, cover designers and audio artists. This is Paul’s first funding application to the Arts Council.
Ken Fanning, Circus Artist
Ken is a founding member of Tumble Circus and an experienced circus artist who has trained and performed across the globe. This funding will enable him to employ five other circus performers and choreographers to create a style of circus reflective of the grassroots arts scene unique to Belfast. The work will be captured on camera and shared online and has the capacity to lead to future work like films, new acts for shows, new street art and movement projects.
Alana Barton, Visual Artist
Alana will be using her funding to create a series of figurative paintings inspired by art made by families and which explore family, childhood and home. She will design a series of free online art tutorials tailored for adults and children to work on jointly, with the aim of creating positive memories during time spent at home. Participants will be invited to send their creations as reference to inform the series of figurative paintings. Along with the paintings and the families’ creations, the project will be documented and compiled into a public online exhibition/ebook.
Louise Mathews, Actor and Playwright
Louise Mathews is a Northern Ireland actor and has enjoyed success with theatre companies including Prime Cut, Tinderbox and Anu. As a first time applicant to the Arts Council, her project will give her time to develop her skills and practice, as well as research and develop a new collaborative work inspired by the 90s dance scene in Northern Ireland.
The Artists Emergency Fund is temporarily closed due to a large volume of applications. The Arts Council is currently assessing the remaining intake of applications, decisions on which will announced at the end of the May.
This is a funding programme with a finite resource and inevitably it will have to close permanently at some point. The Arts Council will do everything it can to give notice of this eventuality and is working hard with Minister Hargey and the Department for Communities to determine the level of need within the sector. It remains the Arts Council’s key priority to offer as much support as possible with the resources it has to individual artists and creative practitioners at this stressful time.