Funding boost for local creatives thanks to grants from Arts Council

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, on behalf of Department for Communities (DfC), recently announced details of £2,711,816 of recovery funding for 1,433 individuals working in the Creative Economy across Northern Ireland.

Composer Matthew Whiteside. Pic by Julie Howden

Fifty of those offered funding were from the Lisburn and Castlereagh area.

The Creative Individuals Recovery Programme (CIRP), was designed by the Department for Communities and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and was launched by Minister Hargey in September. The programme offers grants of up to £2,000 each to help creative individuals to undertake activity linked to their practice or art form.

Among those individuals offered funding in the Lisburn and Castlereagh area are Sunita Tandon, who was awarded £1,900, and Matthew Whiteside who was awarded £2,000.

Sunita Tandon

Sunita Tandon will use her CIRP funding to enhance her employability skills in film by completing a number of specialist Afro hair courses by Tifany Pierre Afro hair specialist and tv/film makeup artist. Sunita will also use the funding towards upskilling in the area of wig application and hair wraps.

Composer, Matthew Whiteside will use his CIRP funding towards the creation of an Instagram Opera with playwright Helene Grøn. The opera will be made of multiple short 1-3min segments for initial release and consumption on Instagram Reels and/or TikTok that is a meditation on world and lived experiences and their cyclical nature, both personally and historically.

The funding will be used towards a self-directed residency with Helene and attending performances of four new and modern operas in Berlin. He will also use the funding towards a one-day recording workshop in London with Marisa Zanotti (film maker) and Emily Thorner (soprano).

The objective of the programme is to help artists and individuals deal with the costs involved in maintaining and enhancing their creative trade, vocation or profession. The strategic aim however, is to prevent NI talent from leaving the creative economy, and instead, encourage individuals to stay and grow their practice while contributing to the health of our social and economic eco-system.

The CIRP fund supports one-off costs associated with their arts practice, and funding to build their professional and technical skills, particularly as so many have been negatively impacted as a result of lockdown and the pandemic restrictions.

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “The Arts Council is offering 1,433 awards to creative individuals across Northern Ireland totalling £2,711,816.

“This announcement is welcome news, and we thank the Minister for making this funding available. The Minister’s funding initiative was designed to help individuals to continue with a creative career in Northern Ireland, to carry on developing important skills, many of which have taken years to develop. Indeed research demonstrates there is currently a significant risk that the talent pool of artists and creatives we need in Northern Ireland to support our creative ecosystem, will disappear as individuals leave to find alternative work. That would take Northern Ireland years to recover from, as these freelancers, artists and individuals are essential to the success of our creative industries. CIRP funding will help our creative individuals to positively contribute, as they did before the pandemic, to the significant cultural value of Northern Ireland as a great place to work, live and invest.”

Minister, Deirdre Hargey, Department for Communities, said, “I am delighted that my Department, through the Arts Council, will be awarding grants to 1,433 individuals to help encourage them to remain within the creative sector here. This sector has been seriously impacted by Covid restrictions as it relies heavily on people’s ability to get together. We cannot afford to lose our creative talent and it is vital that we safeguard the sector for the future.”

The CIRP is now closed, with all available funds allocated. Keep up to date with funding opportunities at