Board Bank

What is the Board Bank programme?

Board Bank is a long standing and successful programme, founded by Arts & Business NI, which strategically places executive business professionals onto the boards of leading local arts organisations.
Making use of our unique and unrivalled network of business and arts contacts across the province, applicants will work closely with the A&BNI team to find a position that suits both their personal creative passions and professional expertise.  

Why should I consider joining?

  • Because you have a passion for the arts, and a desire to work with personal impact to help the cultural sector thrive locally.

  • Because facilitating the local arts and culture sector is a crucial part of ensuring that Northern Ireland is an attractive and enjoyable place for you and your employees to live and work, both now and in the future.

  • Because you have strategic, commercial knowledge that can add immense practical value to the work of the local arts sector.

  • Because peers in your industry who have participated all agree the experience has been profoundly rewarding.

What is included?

A one-to-one diagnostic session with a member of the A&BNI team. This consultation will discuss your personal passions and career objectives, capturing SMART data to enable successful board placement.

‘Fundamentals of Board Membership’ induction seminar, delivered by A&BNI's Head of Arts. This seminar will help you understand more about Trustees’ roles in the cultural sector and includes legal and financial responsibilities, the role of advocates, and gives a view of the current marketplace.

Advocacy & Ambassador Training delivered by A&BNI's Marketing Manager. This session will equip you with a practical understanding of best practice when acting as an advocate for your organisation and the arts sector. 

Financials Training delivered by A&BNI's Head of Arts, framing financial management within the cultural sector; the session provides a detailed understanding of forecasting, planning, cash flow and more. 

Facilitated opportunities to join the board of an arts or cultural organisation.A&BNI will arrange an introduction with the board of a carefully selected arts organisation, until a match is agreed. You will attend up to three board meetings as an observer, before officially joining the board.

Access to a full year's calendar of A&BNI’s cultural and networking events, designed to allow you to form connections and build your art sector knowledge and contacts. This includes our flagship annual Governance and Thought Leadership Event.

Ongoing support, advice and guidance on governance, board development and changes in charity law for the duration of your board term from the team at Arts & Business NI.


£200 + VAT per participant (Arts & Business NI Member rate)                              


£300+ VAT per participant (non - A&BNI Member rate) 

Costs are payable only upon acceptance into the programme.

What our Board Bank participants say...

Jim McKeever, QSS Artist Studios Board Member

"My (adult) children constantly remind me, I am retired and therefore have lots of free time. Truth be told, I have no idea how I ever had time to run a company.
As a teenager I had aspirations of going into graphic design, but  thanks to my father, my background is engineering, which in turn lead me to business development. I retired at 55 to do a BA Honours, followed by a MFA, both in photography.
Having (as an artist) become involved with emerging arts festivals, and artist groups, I soon became reminded of the need for additional skill sets and structure, when planning for success. It was a fellow artist who sat on the board of Belfast Exposed, who suggested that I use my former business/management skills, by offering them through the A&BNI Board Bank programme. 
My introduction to the board of Queen Street Studios, was something of 'a baptism of fire', being in the week that the ACNI decided to  to cut all funding to QSS. The criticality of that situation help forge strong bonds between myself and the more established board members as there was a large act of faith on their part, by assigning myself, and another board member a set of objectives that were critical to QSS's survival. The faith shown by the board, supported by the structure and focus of the A&BNI training , allowed me repurpose the skills that I had acquired over 35 years in business, using them now to hopefully ease the path of our emerging artists into the market place.
There is something invigorating in being involved with likeminded people that seeks nothing for them selves, other than enhancing the opportunity of others. I am sure there are many currently in business that would be only too willing to contribute to others success.

Irene Fitzgerald, QSS Artist Studios

“QSS has provided affordable studios for professional artists in Belfast since 1984. During the early years, the organisation was managed by artists alone. But as our capacity grew, members of the business community were invited onto the Board of Directors to help develop a longer-term strategy. One such appointment was Jim McKeever who was ‘matched’ with QSS by A&BNI’s Board Bank programme. Jim arrived with vast experience in management and engineering but had also completed an MFA in Fine Art Photography at the Belfast School of Art. This combination of skills benefitted QSS greatly at a difficult time, which saw the organisation grapple with a loss of funding and the need to find new premises. I can honestly say that these obstacles could not have been overcome without the guidance we received from Jim, and the insightful support from A&BNI”.

Rory Cowan

Net Revenue Manager, Diageo Ireland

"I joined the board of Cahoots NI almost 4 years ago through the Board Bank programme after being alerted to the opportunity by my employer (Diageo). I was looking for opportunities at the time to use my skills and knowledge in different ways while also broadening my experience. As a big fan of music and theatre I was delighted to be able to do this with an arts organisation. 

In Diageo, I am currently the Commercial Manager for the On Trade business in Ireland. I am an accountant by trade and, as Cahoots NI had a gap on the board in that area at the time, I was successfully matched with the organisation. This allowed me to have a positive impact quite quickly and helped me understand how the board worked and contributed to Cahoots.

As I built relationships with the other members of the board, the Creative Director (Paul) and the team I identified other areas I could assist with on business strategy and processes. I was pleased to able to repurpose my skills and experience to provide guidance on general commercial and business issues and help wherever I could. After 2 years on the board I was delighted to accept the position of co-chair when the opportunity arose.  I have supported Paul on many issues and have gained valuable experience of challenges that arts organisations can face. My time with Cahoots has been extremely positive and has contributed greatly to my personal development.  I am very proud to support a brilliant organisation which provides such high quality work and theatrical magic for children.

I would highly recommend the programme to others working in business  - it will provide a great sense of purpose, provide experiences and opportunities for growth that you may not normally get while contributing to others success."

Am I eligible?

Applicants should have experience working at a senior level within their industry. We welcome applications from those who have retired from their full time role. 
Applicants must be located in Northern Ireland.

How do I apply?

Please complete the application form which can be found here, or alternatively download, complete and return the document to
We are now accepting applications for this programme. 

Let's talk

For further details and any questions, please contact Maeve McKervey 

In the earlier stages of your career?

Ask us about Young Professionals on Arts Boards programme, or click here to find out more.

Funders & Supporters

This programme is subsidised by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland


Download the Board Bank 2020 flyer

More on us elsewhere...

Our Funders & Partners

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