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Funding windfall for 54 groups as Arts Council reveals £1.5m cash boost

By Lisa Smyth

Published 12/07/2016

Beneficiaries: Lisburn Community Circus
Beneficiaries: Lisburn Community Circus
Beneficiaries: Stage Beyond

Arts projects across Northern Ireland have received a £1.5m boost.

It comes in the form of funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the National Lottery.

The money will be used by 54 organisations to support the development and creation of events, exhibitions, performances and workshops across all areas of the arts.

A wide range of groups are in line to benefit from the cash injection, including Community Circus Lisburn, Stage Beyond in Londonderry and the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin.

Community Circus Lisburn is getting £16,000, which will be used to increase the skills of members, providing participants with the opportunity to achieve official certification as an emerging circus artist.

Stage Beyond, a theatre company for young adults with learning disabilities, is set to receive more than £29,000 to help it deliver its work to the community in the north-west.

The Irish Writers Centre, which is getting more than £24,000, will use the money to develop the next generation of writers from Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, a fourth organisation, Dumbworld, will continue its work bringing together a specially formed choir made up of 100 recent migrants, asylum-seekers and established residents from Northern Ireland, thanks to an injection of £34,885.

Roisin McDonough, chief executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said the organisation was delighted to support the 54 organisations in delivering a wide range of projects.

"Lottery funding worth £1.5m spread throughout the region will have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of communities, individuals and artists, offering even more opportunities for people to engage with the arts," she said.

"Lottery funding has contributed vastly to the socio-economic and cultural growth of Northern Ireland, and allows the Arts Council to support organisations that are bringing high-quality, arts programming to all."

The funding represents some good news after Northern Ireland's arts budget was whittled away in recent years as Stormont implemented cutbacks.

Last year, the Arts Council was facing an 8% in-year reduction - a shortfall of £870,000. The organisation had already seen its annual funding from the then Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) for 2015/16 slashed by £1.38m.

Then, last November, funding cuts to 32 groups were reversed after the Stormont Fresh Start deal. A total of £620,000 was restored, but a month later all Stormont ministries - including DCAL - were told to plan for budget cuts of up to 10%.

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