For over 30 years, working to sustain and strengthen the arts has been at that heart of what we do at Arts & Business NI.
We champion and celebrate creativity, and passionately believe that the arts are a fundamental part of how we function as a society.
Now, more than ever, we’re focussed on supporting cultural organisations to realise their artistic ambitions and secure their future through a more diverse funding model and increased creative and financial independence.
Blueprint is a pioneering 5-year financial growth programme enabling small to medium sized cultural organisations in Northern Ireland to take a more long-term approach to income generation.
In addition to the core programme, peer learning and mentoring, participating organisations will also be able to access financial support over four-years via a range of investment grants that will help free up capacity, test new income generating ideas and invest in financial growth.
Blueprint is informed by five years of research and development led by the team at Arts & Business NI in conjunction with a cohort of public and private funders.
The rationale for Blueprint started in 2016, when we commissioned an in-depth piece of research, ‘Socially Investing in the Arts’ report conducted by Niamh Goggin and Margaret Bolton of Small Change NI, and funded by Building Change Trust.
This research showed that the arts sector was financially fragile, due to short term funding cycles, weak core infrastructure and an inability to plan ahead or to build reserves. It also challenged funders to think about how they fund organisations, and highlighted the need to look at building longer term financial strength.
Based on the recommendations of this report, we then commissioned ‘A Blueprint for the Future’ (Small Change NI), funded by Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure/Department for Communities This looked at the specifics of what a long-term capacity-building scheme should look like, and directly informed the foundations of the Blueprint programme.
The financial fragility of the arts sector, as highlighted in 2016, has only been compounded further by the COVID-19 pandemic. Blueprint is about investment in long term growth and finding that chink of light that can lead to greater financial security and artistic freedom.
Pictured for the announcement of this first larger investment from the Dormant Accounts Fund NI, a £500,000 grant to enable delivery of the Blueprint programme, are Martin Bradley, Chair, Arts & Business NI; Brona Whittaker, Head of Arts, Arts & Business NI; Mary Nagele, Chief Executive, Arts & Business NI; Paul Sweeney, Chair of Northern Ireland Committee, The National Lottery Community Fund; Conor Murphy, Finance Minister and Kate Beggs, Northern Ireland Director, The National Lottery Community Fund. Read the full press release here.
We are so proud of the five years of research and development that underpins Blueprint. Public and private funders supported us along the way and share our excitement about what the programme can enable. It is just wonderful that now, as a result of our multiple annual grant from Dormant Accounts NI, we can plan to launch Blueprint and open it for applications in early November.
Full details of the Blueprint programme, criteria and how to apply will be unveiled at our launch event, which you can sign up to attend via the link at the bottom of this page.
The delivery of the programme will commence in January 2022.
Arts & Business NI is generously supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.