The purpose of the Rural Engagement Arts Programme (REAP) is to provide an integrated, cohesive approach to the needs of local rural communities while recognising some specific issues they face.
The primary theme of REAP is combatting isolation and loneliness and promoting social inclusion. The recent pandemic adversely affected many lives as families and friends were separated for sustained periods of time, resulting in a negative impact on mental health and well-being. This was felt deeply in rural communities, characterised by smaller and more dispersed populations, where isolation can be more acute than in towns and urban areas.
There are a number of ways to differentiate between loneliness and social isolation:
- Loneliness can affect any age group; it is the subjective, unpleasant and distressing phenomenon stemming from a difference between an individual’s desired and achieved level of social relationships.
Social isolation is a forced isolation from normal social networks caused by loss of mobility or deteriorating health.
- The impact that loneliness and social isolation can have on the physical, mental and social health of isolated older people is well documented. The Campaign to End Loneliness (opens in a new tab) points to research which shows that lacking social connections is as damaging to health as smoking. Lonely individuals are more likely to visit their GP, use more medication and have a higher incidence of falls. They are also more likely to enter residential or nursing care earlier.
Participating in the arts, and coming together as communities, can make a vital contribution to improving health and wellbeing, building confidence and integrating communities. The Arts Council has worked with local authority community development and arts officers to ensure that information on REAP is available and that this public funding is as widely distributed as possible.
Groups can apply for one-off projects or for a programme of events. Projects do not have to be new – existing, successful programmes which meet the strategic themes of REAP, are also eligible for support.
While engagement must be targeted at rural communities as defined here, Local Authorities and other groups based in urban areas may apply to fund programmes delivered in rural communities. The definition of rural is outlined in Appendix 1 at the end of these guidance notes, page 12, and is taken from the NISRA review of statistical classification and delineation of settlements in March 2015 (opens in a new tab)
Read the full guidelines and apply online at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland website below.
Rural Engagement Arts Programme
Application Deadline: Monday 3rd July, 2023, 12:00PM