Apex Music Centre in Cookstown benefits from arts funding

Seventy-three community groups, arts organisations and local authorities in rurally-based communities are set to benefit from the Arts Council’s new Rural Engagement Arts Programme (REAP).
Arts Council or Northern Ireland.Arts Council or Northern Ireland.
Arts Council or Northern Ireland.

The Rural Engagement Arts Programme, worth £500,000, aims to provide an integrated, cohesive approach to the needs of rural communities as they emerge from the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The overarching theme of the programme is to tackle isolation and loneliness, and promote social inclusion and wellbeing through participation in the arts.

The Rural Engagement Arts Programme is one of the Arts Council’s core National Lottery programme areas and to help develop and design the programme the Arts Council consulted with the Rural Deliberative Forum*and the 10 Local Authorities outside of Belfast.

Apex Music Centre in Cookstown will receive £4,852. They will use their REAP funding towards their project, Developing an Engaged and Creative Community.

The project is aimed at all ages and spans 12 months with 12 workshops that range across artforms to help members of the Mid-Ulster community develop the tools and practices to improve and manage their mental health and general wellbeing.

Workshops will cover dance, dj’ing, samba youth, musical theatre, open stage, photography, Christmas crafts, creative writing, exercise and mindfulness in nature, still life drawing and street art.

Apex Music Centre will also develop a ukulele choir and a Christmas showcase event.

Liam Hannaway, Chair, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to make this funding available to rural communities and we are grateful to the Rural Deliberative Forum for their input and advice when designing the programme.

"We know that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, boost confidence and motivation, as well as alleviate isolation and loneliness. The pandemic and the resulting lockdowns across the UK have taken a toll on individual lives, with mental health and well-being adversely effected as families and friends were separated for sustained periods of time, especially intergenerational. This has been particularly compounded in rural communities which are characterised by smaller and more dispersed populations.

“Thanks to The National Lottery players, the Rural Engagement Arts Programme will increase opportunities for people living in rural communities to engage and participate in meaningful arts activities, enriching their lives for the better. ”