The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council have announced a continuation of their joint commitment to developing and showcasing artistic excellence from Northern Ireland on an international stage, up to 2024.
This vital strategic collaboration enables the Arts Council and the British Council to support artists and arts organisations from Northern Ireland to showcase their work with agencies, festivals and residencies internationally including those in India, Germany, Paris and other areas of Europe and the UK. With the ever-increasing challenges and pressures on artists in developing, showcasing and touring work as a result of the Covid-19pandemic and Brexit, this support is now more important than ever.
The partnership, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary, has previously supported international showcasing activity, including:
- The Artist Development Fund, a £50,000 annual programme which aims to support individual international developmental opportunities for exceptional artists based in Northern Ireland.
- Attendance in 2020 at the IPAY Showcase (International Association for Performing Arts for Youth) in Philadelphia USA featured five of Northern Ireland’s leading theatre and dance companies including, Prime Cut Productions, Replay Theatre Company, Maiden Voyage Dance, Cahoots NI and Young At Art. Attendance enabled these organisations to showcase their work and network with international touring agents, festival organisers, artists and other theatre professionals, with a view to touring their work internationally.
- In March 2020, the Arts Council attended the OUTSIDE THE BOX: Public Art in Qatar Forum in Doha with the British Council to explore the meaning and power of public art, how public art helps people experience cities, and its ability to create dialogue and broaden perceptions.
- Centre Culturel Irlandais (CCI) in Paris offers opportunities and residencies for artists from NI to showcase their work as part of CCI’s wider annual events programme.
- A number of bursaries are offered annually to Northern IrelandI artists, promoters and arts organisations to attend WOMEX, the leading world music conference which offers performance and networking opportunities with music industry professionals with a view to touring work internationally. The five-day event attracts over 2,250 delegates from over 90 countries, including hundreds of concert and festival bookers, labels, publishers, distributors, managers and the world's media.
- In August 2019 The Arts Council and the British Council supported three Northern IrelandI theatre and dance organisations to perform at Edinburgh’s International and Fringe Festivals, and the inaugural launch of the first ‘Spotlight on Theatre and Dance from Northern Ireland’ also took place. Following this ten major works were showcased at other special online industry events organised by Edinburgh Fringe in both 2020 and 2021.
- India. Over the last three years the partnership has provided residency opportunities for artists at Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi and the Shruti Foundation Vedaaranya residency in Ramgarh Shekhawati, Rajasthan. A number of writers from Northern Ireland have also been supported to attend the world-famous Jaipur Literature Festival and in 2019 this festival held one of their satellite festivals in Belfast. The inaugural JLF Belfast was an international celebration of literature, creativity and music and brought together a wealth of distinguished speakers and cultural thinkers from across the world to packed audiences at The Lyric Theatre and Seamus Heaney HomePlace.
- British Council UK/Italy and UK/Australia Seasons. The Arts Council is represented on the governing board of the British Council UK/Italy Season 2020 and currently the board for UK/Australia Season 2022. Due to the pandemic the UK Italy Season programme was reimagined for presentation online and the Willie Doherty Dove/Where Exhibition was toured to the Ulster Museum in July 2021 . The UK/Australia Season will celebrate and strengthen the partnership between Australia and the UK.
Skinder Hundal, British Council Arts Director, commented, “We are delighted to continue our partnership with the Arts Council in Northern Ireland. Together over the past nine years, we have increased the number of cultural connections between Northern Ireland and the rest of the world, developing vital long-term partnerships.
“As we face global challenges over the next ten years, it is more important than ever that we secure a positive future for the arts. This MOU is testament to the strong international ambitions of Northern Ireland’s creative arts sector and maps out a clear framework for continued international cultural dialogue and exchange.
“There is so much to celebrate, and I look forward to working together with the Arts Council in our 10th year and beyond, showcasing and connecting Northern Ireland’s creativity with the world.”
Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is hugely proud to partner with the British Council NI in our joint commitment to showcasing great art and artists from Northern Ireland on an international stage.
The value of a partnership such as this cannot be overstated and it’s simply vital that world-class work created here has the opportunity to be seen outside of the region. It’s also enormously important that our artists get the chance to take part in inspiring and career-enhancing international residencies. The arts are without boundaries and help us tell our stories, seek out and engage wider audiences. We want to reach out and reach further, bringing people together and this partnerships enables that.
We thank the British Council Nfor their continued support and look forward to working together in the future to put Northern Ireland Arts on the world stage for all to see, experience and celebrate. “
This partnership with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland continues the British Council’s work, building connection, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching. To find out more about their work in Northern Ireland visit nireland.britishcouncil.org or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.