Investment Programme Case Studies

The Investment Programme promotes mutually beneficial relationships between commerce and culture. It is designed to encourage inspirational, sustainable partnerships between businesses and the arts organisations they sponsor to maximise the benefits of working together. 

Below are some examples of projects we have been delighted to support this year through the Investment Programme:

Book Trust & Belfast Harbour

Book Trust and Belfast Harbour established a mutually beneficial partnership to encourage and support Belfast families to enjoy and read books with their children.

With support from the Investment Programme, families from across Belfast were invited to celebrate National Bookstart Week (5 - 11 June).  This annual celebration reinforces the importance of reading every day by providing fun activities and resources for families.

The launch event on 5 June held at Streamvale Farm in conjunction with Fane Street Nursery School and Belfast Harbour saw children come together to celebrate National Bookstart Week and 25 years of BookTrust’s flagship book gifting programme Bookstart. The gathering in Northern Ireland's only open Dairy Farm kicked off a week of celebrations up and down the country, celebrating all that’s great about the charity’s flagship book gifting programme.

Parents, staff and 25 children from Fane Street Nursery school got together in the Swallows Barn at Streamvale Farm to celebrate National Bookstart Week and 25 years of the Bookstart programme. Complete with puppets and percussion, there was plenty of singing and dancing as children were read the Everybunny Dance! story and took part in a fun filled rhyme time session led by a local librarian. Much to their delight the children got to visit the rest of farm, take away their very own bunny masks to make at home and cuddle Holly, Molly and Peter, the resident rabbits.  

Set in woodland and country, Everybunny Dance! is a beautifully illustrated story with themes of empathy and friendship. It’s full of music, dance and positive messaging. Everybunny Dance! has also been developed into an interactive online story book. Popular TV presenter and Radio DJ Lauren Laverne voiced the online book, to bring this year’s National Bookstart Week title to life. The interactive version is device enabled so you can read/watch on the go and is also available to watch as a British Sign Language video.

Liz Canning, National Development Manager of Book Trust Northern Ireland said, “We are delighted to be celebrating 25 years of Bookstart in Northern Ireland and we are privileged to receive both support and funding from Belfast Harbour, to help us continue to encourage more children. This year’s theme ‘Let’s Explore Outdoors’ was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone and we are overwhelmed with how many families and communities have come together to make it such a wonderful celebration.”

Jenni Barkley, Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager said, “Belfast Harbour is thrilled to be involved in supporting BookTrust’s continuous efforts. Their 25 years of work has encouraged thousands of children to take up reading and experience the joy received from it. The unique and interactive storytelling experience at Streamvale Farm gave those attending the ability to see the stories come to life which is a priceless and mesmerising opportunity.” 

Millennium Forum & Richmond Centre 

The Millennium Forum recently completed an exciting new access project called ‘Through Our Eyes’ in partnership with pantomime sponsors, Richmond Centre and Stage Beyond.

Supported by the Arts & Business NI Investment Programme ‘Through Our Eyes’ is a film directed by Ronan Carr and stars the talented Stage Beyond Theatre group (young adult theatre group with learning difficulties).  The short film takes you on an accessible journey through the Richmond Centre and the Millennium Forum, highlighting barriers and access issues for people with disabilities as they shop and visit the Millennium Forum.  It is a thought provoking film produced with a fun and entertaining narrative.

Cara McCartney, Sponsorship and Development Officer, Millennium Forum said, “As a registered charity, the Millennium Forum is very grateful for the support of the Richmond Centre and Arts and Business NI who have helped fund this delightful film.  As the premier arts venue in the Northwest, we continue to lead the way in accessibility and look forward to forming new partnerships which help the Millennium Forum deliver award winning performances and impactful educational accessible projects for all our communities.”

Kate Livingston, Arts Development Officer, Arts & Business NI commented, “This Millennium Forum and Richmond Centre project delivered on every level. Through Our Eyes proved how a local arts and business partnership can creatively tackle the everyday issues people with invisible disabilities face while shopping or going to the theatre. By reimagining their public spaces through the eyes of users with additional needs, the partners helped young individuals connect with their environment.”

Jennifer Taylor, Marketing Manager of the Richmond Centre, added, “It’s been a great honour to be part of this innovative and thought-provoking project. It is our aim to ensure that the Richmond Centre is a centre for everyone and that all customers can have a relaxed and enjoyable shopping experience. We are delighted to build on our existing partnership with the Millennium Forum and Arts & Business, working collaboratively to showcase local talent and advocate for accessibility for everyone in the community.”

Watch the ‘Through Our Eyes’ film via the link below.

Grand Opera House & Lockton 

Showing their dedication to inspiring the next generation of Northern Ireland’s business leaders, leading commercial insurance broker Lockton recently celebrated the conclusion of its ‘Locked-On’ project held in conjunction with the Grand Opera House and supported by Arts & Business Northern Ireland. As a global company Lockton is committed to playing a meaningful role in local communities. To celebrate their 50th birthday David Lockton has challenged all Lockton Associates to participate in the “50 for 50 challenge”, during the coming year to globally volunteer in 50,000 hours of activities focused on helping and developing children and young people. This project was an arts-based mentoring programme to help a group of GCSE boys develop an awareness of their essential skill sets and how these would apply to future career paths. The programme paired up twelve Year 11 students from Belfast’s Malone and Corpus Christi Colleges with mentors from Lockton’s growing Belfast office for an 8 week series which included creative arts workshops, hands-on coaching and mentorship and a mock interview.

“The partnership forged between Lockton’s team and the students of Malone and Corpus Christi Colleges has been a mutually beneficial one which we hope continues to inspire both the mentors and mentees for years to come,” said Nigel Sloan, VP, Lockton Belfast.  “While Lockton’s team members have developed essential skills for coaching and mentoring young people, which can be applied to future team members on our graduate schemes or indeed young students in coming years, the students have also developed the tools required to make positive decisions as they progress toward GCSEs and their desired careers, whether they choose to navigate down an academic route or if they choose a vocational or trade-focused career.”

“We have been delighted by the dedication shown by the Lockton team to this programme throughout its execution” said Áine Dolan, Partnership & Development Manager, Grand Opera House Belfast. “The success of the Locked-On Initiative demonstrates how the arts can work in partnership with local business for the benefit of the community.”

Joining students and staff at the final session of Locked-On, renowned mentalist, business mentor and motivational speaker David Meade, added anecdotes of his own personal career path and the importance of skills such as decision making and problem solving to his inspirational talk for students and mentors alike before presenting students with miniature ‘Oscar’ awards for their excellence while on the ‘Locked-On’ programme. 

At the culmination of the Locked-On project held this week at Belfast’s Grand Opera House Kate Livingston, Arts & Business NI added, “Arts & Business NI were delighted to be involved in this project. ‘Locked-On’ is a prime example of how arts can positively impact on professional development and the students of Malone and Corpus Christi Colleges obviously had a lot fun taking part and learning new skills which will be beneficial throughout their school and professional career paths.”

Ulster Orchestra & Ulster Carpets

Ceara School is a fully integrated school and teaches children from age four upwards with a range of challenges which make learning more difficult. Janet Warwick, the teacher in charge of Class 18 (the Leavers Class), explains that teaching her pupils social skills which can be used beyond school is vital as they prepare to leave education at the end of the school year. This is why projects such as the ‘Music Room’, supported by Ulster Carpets and the Arts & Business NI Investment Programme are so important.

The Music Room is a community engagement project, run by the Ulster Orchestra and this set of workshops in Ceara School has been supported and enhanced by Ulster Carpets sponsorship. 

Through Arts & Business NI and Ulster Carpets’ financial support students will enjoy the Music Room project, which enlisted the services of a specialist trainer, Eve Harrison, from Jessie’s Fund. Eve will lead the first series of interactive workshops and will equip teachers, classroom assistants and the Ulster Orchestra players with the skills required to continue the workshops beyond the initial three-month programme. Working towards a final showcase at the end of March, the pupils work alongside the Ulster Orchestra players and Eve to create a soundtrack to a short film. The pupils very much lead the process, using their imaginations and creativity to direct the players as to the sounds they want to create. This increases confidence, encourages decision making and creativity and also advances social interaction with other adults. Thanks to the support of Ulster Carpets and the match funding from Arts & Business NI, the workshops will not only deliver a lot of fun and new experiences for Class 18, it will also leave behind a tangible benefit to both the Ceara School and the Ulster Orchestra players who will continue the Music Room Project.

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Arts & Business is generously supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.