Northern Ireland news

Arts Council NI announces funding targeted at improving young people's health and wellbeing

Artist Una McCann, who worked with local school children to use music to develop confidence and self-expression skills, as part of the ARTiculate programme
Suzanne McGonagle

AROUND £170,000 funding is to be used to develop arts based projects to help improve the health and wellbeing of young people.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced the funding for youth, community and voluntary groups aimed at projects for 12 to 18-year-olds.

The 'ARTiculate Programme', which will see grants of up to £10,000 made available, is back after a three year hiatus to give a voice to young people through drama, music, visual arts and literature activities.

First launched in 2017, it has awarded 46 grants to organisations to develop projects across a range of arts activities including, DJing, graffiti art, ceramics, drama and creative writing.

It is hoped this year that particular focus will be given to projects for young people experiencing higher levels of disadvantage or exclusion and more vulnerable groups, such as those living with a mental health condition, eating disorders or addiction.

Among the initiatives that previously received a grant is Fresh Minds Education, which developed a series of music workshops for pupils living in and around the Rathenraw estate in Antrim.

Led by artist Una McCann, seventeen 12-18-year-olds worked with younger children from the local primary school to draw out the emotions which affect them most.

Aine Wallace, who developed the project on behalf of Fresh Minds Education, said the ARTiculate programme was "hugely beneficial for all the children who took part in our project".

"Over two months we watched their confidence grow and their real selves shine," she said.

"This programme gave them the opportunity to use music as a vehicle to talk about their feelings and relationships, to learn how to be brave, open to fail, yet courageous enough to rise again."

Roisin McDonough from the Arts Council of NI, said: "Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, we are delighted to announce the reopening of the ARTiculate Programme today.

"The positive links between engagement in the arts and our health and wellbeing are firmly established and we believe that this programme is more important than ever post-pandemic, as young people across Northern Ireland continue to recover from the effects of lock-down and social isolation.

"With this funding, we want to reach out to some of the most vulnerable children in society.

"We are looking for projects that are fun and engaging but also those which enable participants to shape the activity and be involved as decision makers.

"At its very core, this important programme is about opening up opportunities for young people to engage in the arts and to experience the many benefits that brings; promoting self-expression, and developing self-confidence and self-motivation."

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