Business Events

Business Member Events

  • Director Connector 04.10.18

    Fancy a new challenge?                                                 
    Thursday 4 October 2018 at 5.15pm
    at Belfast Exposed, 23 Donegall Street, Belfast BT1 2FF

    Join us at a networking event where our Board Bank and Young Professionals programme alumni will share their experiences of volunteering on the board of an Arts organisation. Speakers and a guided panel discussion will compare and contrast the different challenges and triumphs our alumni have faced in their roles, as well as how they have benefitted personally and professionally from their experiences. 

    Give back, learn, network, develop your CV, meet new people, have fun

    We will be having nibbles and drinks and then, to finish off our evening, we will hear about the Late Night Art scheme and will go for a wander together to see what is on offer in our city centre galleries.

    If you have been through our programmes already or if you would be interested in hearing more about them, for yourself or for your staff, just register attendance by email to Sarah at:

  • Cinemagic Festival Oct 2018

    Cinemagic Festival
    Arts Uncovered
    Date TBC

    Our wonderful friends at Cinemagic are running their children’s film festival again in October and we will join them to celebrate another exciting programme of family-friendly films.

    RSVP to Sarah 

  • Choose Wisely and Spend Well 28.11.18

    How to choose and manage an Arts partner – An A&B NI business member event

    28 November 2018 8.30am-10am

    The Moreland Room, Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Harbour Office

    Corporation Square, Belfast BT1 3AL

    When you want to take a more creative approach to your business strategy and have allocated a budget, how should you go about selecting an arts organisation and crafting your next steps together?

    Join us to hear from experienced business members who have already been there, done that and done it well. Learn how to choose a partner, make a plan, get started and keep your project on track.

    The purpose of this event is to provide practical guidance for our business guests as to how best to choose and work with an arts partner to ensure outcomes correlate with business objectives, delivering maximum and measurable impact.

    It is anticipated that this will be a very practical session with speakers sharing their experiences of pitfalls to avoid, questions which they wished they had asked at the outset and learnings/recommendations.

    Breakfast provided. 

    RSVP by email to Sarah at

  • Arts Uncovered (Golden Thread Gallery) 06.12.18

    Arts Uncovered - Christmas
    Date 6 December 2018
    Venue Golden Thread Gallery

    A relaxed get-together for our business members to get in the mood for Christmas. Join us for a mince pie and a glass of something warming as we enjoy the seasonal arts and crafts market and a tour of the gallery.

    RSVP to Sarah 

  • Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards 2019 24.01.19

    Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards 2019
    Thursday 24th January 2019
    Venue to be revealed

    This is the big one, the highlight of the year, so polish your sequins and practice your surprised face in case your business is one of our winners. At Arts & Business NI we know how to throw a party and with over 100 arts organisations in our membership we are spoiled for choice when it comes to top quality entertainment. We like to celebrate our business and arts partnerships in style so let us put some sparkle into your January.

    RSVP to Sarah 

  • Arts Uncovered (Void, Derry) 29.03.19


    Arts Uncovered
    Date 29 March 2019
    Void, Patrick Street, Derry

    Join us for the next in our Arts Uncovered series: informal, behind the scenes style events which give you the opportunity to find out more about arts organisations and activities you might not have experienced before.

    The curatorial staff of Void will give our guests an introduction to the gallery while we enjoy a light lunch before guiding us through the current exhibition Opened Ground, which topically explores the experience of borders.

    Reserve your place by email to Sarah at 

  • Trusts & Foundations Symposium 2019 06.02.19


    Riddel Hall Belfast

    Our seventh annual Arts & Business Northern Ireland Trusts & Foundations Symposium took place on Wednesday 6th February 2019 in Riddel Hall, Belfast.  Eight Trusts & Foundations attended including representatives from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, BBC Children in Need, Halifax Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation, Ulster Garden Villages, Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and joining us for the first year, DWF Foundation.

    Follow Up Follow Through

    At the morning plenary we heard from James Magowan, Northern Ireland Development Officer at Association of Charitable Foundations who offered key advice 'Follow up. Follow through.'  Lou Errington from The Paul Hamlyn foundation urged Arts organisations in Northern Ireland to ensure to submit their funding applications Clare Beavan introduced the DWF Foundation, founded from DWF LLP a multinational law firm headquartered in Manchester with 27 offices across the world. 

    Time to recalibrate

    Damian Smyth represented the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and pointed out that the spending on Arts per head per capita in Northern Ireland is £5.37 whereas in other parts of the U. K. this figure rises to £10.58 per person, he highlighted the need to recalibrate to increase this figure for Arts in Northern Ireland moving forward. The morning plenary concluded with a question and answer session addressing NI arts organisation’s main concerns, including the ability to apply to Trusts & Foundations to cover core costs. Trusts & Foundations highlighted that applicants must bear in mind that they are also charitable organisations, therefore they share in some of the issues that small Arts organisations face such as dealing with a limited amount of staff. 

    Reach Out

    There was also a strong emphasis placed on the importance of forging a strong funder-applicant relationship and the necessity to communicate, update and clarify before applying.  Brona Whittaker, Arts Manager at Arts & Business NI reiterated that Arts & Business supports members in their applications to Trusts & Foundations with the understanding that time constraints play a huge role in application rates, therefore she encouraged Arts members to avail of the resources provided in the member only section of the Arts & Business NI website and reach out for support while crafting and refining applications.  

    Access and communicate

    In the afternoon ninety-six knee-to-knee funding surgeries took place with our Arts Members personally meeting the Trusts & Foundations.  Our inaugural Trusts & Foundations Symposium Business Exhibitors were in attendance, including Edwards & Co, Forde Campbell Law, Millar McCall Wylie and Whitenoise who provided helpful advice and services to Arts members throughout the day.

    Photo left to right: Mary Nagele, CEO – Arts & Business NI, Jessica Warner, Programme Manager - The Wolfson Foundation,  Lou Errington, Grants Manager - Paul Hamlyn Foundation, James Magowan, Northern Ireland Development Officer - Association of Charitable Foundations,  Clare Beavan, Foundation Manager – DWF Foundation, Valerie Ingram, Executive Director - Ulster Garden Villages,   Sinéad Tierney, Freelance Assessor - BBC Children in Need, Damian Smyth, Head of Drama and Literature – Arts Council of Northern Ireland.  Photo Credit – Aaron McCracken Photography.


  • Shining the Spotlight on Creative Staff Engagement 22.03.19


    Belfast Exposed Photography

    Creative Staff Engagement Business Breakfast

    At our recent Creative Staff Engagement business breakfast in Belfast Exposed Gallery, 50 guests heard from business leaders who have seen the advantages of taking a broader view in relation to engaging and developing their staff through creative partnerships.

    Collaborations which have enabled the businesses to

    • develop, educate and engage their staff in unique memorable ways
    • attract and retain staff within a competitive marketplace
    • go beyond simply offering a salary and instead offer a package of experiences that really satisfies their employees’ ambitions as members of a wider society- especially important for millennials
    • engage local communities and stakeholders alongside staff
    • embed staff mental health and wellbeing initiatives


    Local singer songwriter Aidan Logan played original music whilst our guests enjoyed breakfast, before we heard from our inspirational speakers.

    Sean McCready MD at Doyle Shipping Group shared some of his exciting collaborations with c21 Theatre Company. Knowing that his staff interact on a daily basis with customers who have disabilities – and that two staff members have children with disabilities themselves – Sean made a strategic decision to address the area and the issues around it. He had noticed some concerns among staff about the use of particular language and terminology around disability and arranged for them to take part in disability equality training.

    Enlisting the help of his trusted long-term arts partner, c21 Theatre Company, allowed Sean to transform his vision into something exceptional. Together, they set about coming up with a way to use the medium of drama to educate and raise awareness about disability. With c21’s expertise, the partners produced a bespoke drama ‘It Only Takes a Minute’ about attitudes towards people with disabilities – performed predominantly by people with disabilities. c21 consulted with DSG staff on their experiences and incorporated them into the script. Initially performed at DSG’s offices, the show then toured to youth groups and schools across Northern Ireland as well as to one-off events hosted by Cedar Foundation and Disability Action NI.

    According to Sean: ‘"It's not about putting thousands of £s into advertising, it's putting TIME into the community; supporting your staff to get properly & deeply involved".

    This amazing project won the Allianz Arts & Business NI Staff Engagement Award 2019 at our ceremony in January.


    Gerarda Morton, Legal Manager (Disputes) at Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) shared details of their new partnership with Belfast Ensemble, a truly innovative staff engagement project entitled ‘Intermezzo’. 20 members of staff will be taught an orchestral instrument for one year, working towards Grade One, offering HSF people the chance not just to develop skills in the musical arena, but also to develop soft skills that are equally complimentary to their legal career such as collaboration, commitment and creativity. In addition, the project will reinforce HSF’s focus on mental health and wellbeing amongst their staff.

    Running alongside this, the HSF senior leadership team will receive conducting classes, where they will learn what it means to ‘lead without words’, focusing on non-verbal communication and connection skills, broadening and challenging their perspectives of leadership. The project will culminate in a public performance, where the Belfast Ensemble will be conducted by HSF senior leadership team, and will be joined by the 20 trainee instrumentalists.

    Gerarda commented: ‘Like most businesses, we want to minimise turnover of our people. As business leaders, we have to face the fact that young people in today's market want more than just the 9-5pm office experience. As competition for good people strengthens, we firmly believe that our Arts and Business partnerships enhance the HSF working experience, and secure and enrich our future as a business.

    Nicola Laight, Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator at Farrans Construction told us about their exciting ‘InsideOutside’ project delivered with partner Arts Care, as part of Farrans’ corporate social responsibility under the Considerate Constructors Scheme.  One of its key objectives was to address mental health and wellbeing on construction sites and in the wider community. The Arts Care artist-in-residence conducted workshops with 10 different groups which resulted in the creation of 50 large scale artworks which were displayed on the hoardings around the construction site. To engage with Farrans construction staff, Arts Care set up a table in the middle of the site where they could come during their tea break, explore how to make artworks and express how they felt about working there. “It was an environment where they were able to forget about everything and open up about mental health and stress,” says Nicola. “At first, they were apprehensive, but Bronagh (artist) facilitated things by making the process relevant to them and helping them to produce blueprints that related back to the construction site.”

    It gave the staff involved a huge sense of achievement and pride to see their names up on the hoardings next to their artworks. One participant said that being given the opportunity to create a piece of artwork to display was like putting their own stamp on the building.

    This project allowed Farrans to memorably engage their staff, stakeholder groups and the local community and won the Allianz Arts & Business NI Cultural Social Responsibility Award 2019.

    Deirdre Robb, Chief Executive at Belfast Exposed, gave a brief introduction to Northern Ireland’s premier contemporary photography organisation and to the Arts Council of NI Photography Collection, on display within the gallery. We are very grateful to Belfast Exposed for extending this exhibition especially for our Creative Staff Engagement breakfast event.

    If you would like to explore how you could introduce creative staff engagement into your organisation please speak to the Arts & Business NI team on 028 90735150 or email We will be happy to meet with you to understand your priorities and to recommend artistic partners and creative projects which will enable you to deliver your objectives in a unique, effective, unexpected way.

  • Young Professionals on Arts Boards 2019 programme launch event 09.05.19


    The Black Box

    30 guests recently gathered in The Green Room in The Black Box for a relaxed post-work event to launch the popular Arts & Business NI Young Professionals on Arts Boards programme, which places the best up-and-coming NI business talent on to the boards of leading local arts charities.


    Now in its 12th year the Young Professionals on Arts Boards programme is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and provides training and support to ensure young professionals in the early stages of their careers (aged 21-35 years) truly benefit from this practical, hands-on strategic leadership experience.


    First up Jess Pearson, Investment Manager with Cunningham Coates Stockbrokers who was placed on to the Board of Queen Street Studios (QSS) outlined her challenging experience of discovering the morning after her first board meeting that core funding had been 100% cut. Jessica opted to remain on the Board in the knowledge that she had full support from the team at A&B NI.


    QSS successfully appealed the funding decision and 100% of core funding was reinstated. Since then Jess has been involved in redrafting the organisation’s business plan and has advised on new social media initiatives. Jess commented: “I really cannot emphasise enough how much I have gotten out of this process - my confidence in my own capabilities has increased tenfold, and this is something that I find has helped my own professional performance considerably, too. Along with the personal and professional development benefits, it’s a great way of bringing together people from all industries to give back to the community.”


    Wayne Nickels, partner at Cunningham Coates then detailed the benefits of the Young Professionals programme from a business perspective. Wayne outlined that Cunningham Coates has a strong people focus, wanting to recruit - and more importantly retain - the best talent for the future “Arts & Business NI Board Matching programmes benefit the future of the Firm as well as empowering our employees with additional skills and knowledge. It also allows the business to give back to the Arts community.” To date Cunningham Coates have put 4 employees though the Young Professionals programme.

    Margaret Henry, Chief Executive, thrive and Aaron Roddy, Assistant Solicitor at Carson McDowell who was placed on to the Board of thrive, spoke about the Young Professionals programme from an Arts perspective. According to Margaret, “thrive has been involved for 10 years in A&B NI’s Young Professionals as it’s a great source of new and fresh voices to add to the balance across the board. We know we will always get a high calibre of board members who are well trained, so they are clear about their role and responsibilities when joining the board. It also helps that the A&BNI team know thrive and our ethos as an organisation so they can match up with young professionals that fit, which is great.”


    Margaret continues “It is a privilege to be involved in someone starting their Board journey and we take that seriously in thrive with a full induction process. We encourage all and especially new board members to come and see us delivering events and get a feel for what we do. We provide information about the wider sector context we work in and we look to organisations such as A&BNI for ongoing board training.”


    It was positive word of mouth from the many Carson McDowell past participants that made Aaron Roddy decide to take part in the Young Professionals programme. He wanted to further his own professional development by utilising his legal skills in a different context, commenting “The key to finding my voice on the board of thrive was to not rush the process but let it grow organically alongside my confidence in my position and role on the board, and I feel like this has been of benefit in the long run. I’ve also realised that my voice needn’t be constrained to my particular professional skill set.


    “From a professional perspective” Aaron continued, “I have further developed many skills which are complimentary to a career in legal practice. For example, the strategic and critical thinking which is required on a board carries over to the advice which I provide to my clients in private practice. I have also grown in confidence from stepping out of my comfort zone and continuing my own professional development. Finally, from a personal perspective, I enjoyed the training and the friendships I formed with my fellow Young Professionals, and hope that those relationships will continue throughout my career. “


    The final speaker, Noyona Chundur Head of Campaigns & Digital Solutions at Invest Northern Ireland was placed on to the Board of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in 2013 via the A&B NI Board Bank programme for middle to senior managers. Noyona loved her job, and didn’t want to leave it; however she wanted to find a fresh challenge. She wanted to be seen as a leader, both inside and outside the organisation, so decided to combine formal learning on the Institute of Directors Company Direction Programme, with practical experience via the Arts & Business NI Board Bank. As a passionate lover of the arts Noyona felt that experience on an arts Board would not only build her leadership skills but would help her make a positive contribution to the sector.


    Now Chair of CQAF, Noyona observed “Being on the CQAF Board hasn’t been without challenge. Arts organisations have big ambitions but typically are small operations that run a tight ship, with income and funding secured annually leaving little room for strategic planning. You get to meet incredibly talented, passionate and creative people, who know their craft inside out, but who have also had to deal with some hard knocks along the way given the backdrop of diminishing funding for the arts. CQAF was no exception, so early on I decided my focus would be to help build long-term sustainability by improving strategic direction, governance, resilience and succession planning.”


    Noyona continued “There is no doubt that the Arts & Business NI Board Bank helped to hone my leadership skills and augment my track record. But I was also able to use my experiences at CQAF to get appointed to the Board of the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland, where I am now Chair of its Audit and Risk Assurance Committee. Invest NI has also seen benefits; as a member of their Senior Leadership Team, I lead cross-cutting strategies for the Northern Ireland economy, deliver against both Programme for Government and corporate scorecard targets, and develop resources and capability to drive business transformation.”


    Tania Carlisle, Development Manager at Arts & Business NI brought the inspirational event to an end:  “At A&B NI everything we do aims towards getting the arts and business sectors to work together. Our Board matching programmes, Board Bank and Young Professionals on Arts Boards, help business individuals develop personally and professionally by using their skills on the voluntary Board of an arts charity.


    At the same time, their skilled input helps strengthen our arts sector to deliver quality artistic, cultural, social and economic impacts. These partnerships are a classic case of win-win, and a perfect example of pragmatic idealism in practice”.


    Arts & Business NI ‘s Young Professionals on Arts Boards programme 2019-20 still has a limited number of spaces available; applications close on Friday 28 June 2019.

    If you would like to find more about their Board Matching programmes please speak to Tania Carlisle on 028 90735150 or email

  • Celebrating Creative Partnerships 26.06.19


    U105, City Quays 2, Clarendon Dock, Belfast BT1 3FD

    75 guests recently gathered in U105 to recognise and celebrate the arts organisations and their business partners who received funding in 2018-2019 from the Arts & Business NI (A&BNI) Investment Programme (funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland), which stimulates and strengthens partnerships between business and the arts.

    The event, kindly sponsored by A&BNI business member Citi, provided inspiration to businesses in the audience by giving examples of how other businesses are partnering with arts organsiations to deliver strategic commercial objectives via creative collaborations.

    Mary Nagele, CEO at Arts & Business NI thanked the business and arts partners for the creativity, energy and vision that they bring to utilising the important fund.

    Each year Arts & Business NI makes the case and applies for the Investment Programme fund within our Arts Council of NI application. In times of limited resources, innovation can be inhibited. The Arts are about pushing barriers and challenges norms - hence arts organisations are perfect partners for fresh thinking and new approaches. This fund offers both the arts and business partners a safe space, an R&D fund, to test opportunities that use creativity through the arts to support private sector companies in addressing key business issues such as retaining and attracting talent, creatively developing staff or to address important societal or wellbeing issues in communities and the workplace.”

    Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education at Arts Council of Northern Ireland, welcomed the variety and depth of the partnerships celebrated at the event, highlighting how much the two sectors can achieve when they combine their distinctive strengths.

    These partnerships are bringing a wide range of significant opportunities and benefits to both parties. We are nourishing a healthy interdependency, whereby our communities are strengthened by the presence of a rich creative culture and an enterprising business sector, just as these same communities provide a source of inspiration for our artists and a source of revenue for our businesses. Everyone benefits.

    One of the partnerships supported through the Investment Programme fund was Citi and Tinderbox. Arts & Business NI works closely with all Citi Networks to introduce creativity in to their programmes of activity, and connected Citi disAbility Network with Tinderbox to develop an innovative staff engagement project around mental health, to mark World Mental Health Day 2018. The partners scheduled a dedicated on-site performance of ‘The Man who Fell to Pieces’, a ground breaking comedy that deals with the profound themes of Mental Health, followed by a Q&A around issues raised. 80 Citi staff attended the on-site performance, and participated in the Q&A session.

    Post-performance, Citi followed up with 9 Tinderbox staff workshops over the ensuing months, enabling Citi staff to explore Perception, Inclusion and Diversity.

    Leigh Meyer, Managing Director, Citi Belfast Site Head and key sponsor of the event commented:

    “Thanks to the introduction from A&B NI to Tinderbox, we now have a thriving relationship and have rolled out a series of theatre based Mental Health Awareness workshops, open to all staff, throughout 2019.  We have five diversity networks in Citi Belfast, and utilising the Arts & Business Investment Programme support, in partnership with Tinderbox we have developed a series of fantastic events with each network this year."

    Patrick O’Reilly, Artistic Director at Tinderbox, led guests in an interactive, fun sampler of the Perception Programme workshop currently being delivered in Citi. Additional performances on the day included Katie Richardson and the Glider Band, whilst Beat Carnival performed a rousing drumming finale to the event.

    Another partnership supported by the Investment Programme was ISL Waste Management (ISL),The Grand Opera House and Beat Carnival’s exciting ‘Electro Funk Junk’ project. As a commercial waste management company, ISL Waste Management prioritises supporting education to change perceptions surrounding waste. Aimed at Primary 7 pupils, the school engagement initiative encouraged the school children to think more about recycling, while engaging them in music workshops and technology. Barry Donaghy, MD at ISL commented:

    “Creating music from junk was a fascinating idea and the creativity of all the young people involved was a joy to support. Opening their minds to the fact that we cannot live in a world of single use products is vital and at ISL we are dedicated to helping our children lead the way.”

    Business member U105 kindly provided the fabulous event space - Peter McVerry Executive Director at U105 commented:

    As a keen advocate of the Arts, U105 was delighted to welcome fellow Arts & Business NI members to our state-of the-art waterfront broadcast studios and showcase our hireable event space with stunning views over the ever-changing Belfast skyline”. Please contact Peter if you are interested in the U105 event space.

    An inspirational full colour booklet, kindly designed and printed pro bono by Whitenoise Design Ltd and Nicholson & Bass, was launched at the event, giving summaries and photographs from the 32 amazing partnerships which received funding through the Investment Programme in the last financial year. See the booklet here 

    If you would like to find out more about adopting a creative approach to your business challenges, please speak to Maeve McKervey about A&BNI business membership on 028 90735150 or email

  • The Fundamentals of Arts Board Membership 03.09.19


    The Fundamentals of Arts Board Membership

    Join us for an event on Tuesday 3rd September 2019 at the Arts & Business NI offices, 2 Paulett Avenue at 12.30 - 4.30pm.

    This half-day workshop looks at best practice and at the realities of arts charity governance.
    We’ll take a thorough look at the compliance requirements of being on a Board, covering roles and responsibilities plus managerial, legal and financial duties. But that’s only half of the picture!  

    We’ll also discuss organisational performance, business models, income streams and what makes a Board/Board Member effective.
    For: Trustees/Board Members or anyone who is considering joining a Board or would like refresher on the changing requirements.

    Cost: £25+VAT (Sandwich lunch included) Tickets available directly on Eventbrite via this link.

  • Risk Taking for Transformation & Reward 24.09.19


    Crescent Arts Centre, University Road, Belfast

    You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take.' - Wayne Gretzky

    For this session we are delighted to welcome Anne Orr. With over 15 years of experience, Anne builds quality management systems and delivers change management through established tools and techniques developed from ISO, Six Sigma and Design Thinking methodologies.

    Crescent Arts Centre on Tuesday 24th September from 9.30-11.30am

    Anne is passionate about supporting the arts, creative industries, voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors by applying business skills and knowledge to improve their sustainability, innovative culture and commercialization. Since 2013 Anne has volunteered on arts boards, mentored arts and culture groups and facilitated strategic workshops with Boards of Directors and membership groups. Anne has also delivered training and talks on organisational efficiency in the arts sector, managing risks on boards and the challenges and rewards of being a Non-Executive Director.

    Anne has recently launched a tech product called ALUNA, which is an app that helps boards manage their governance and compliance requirements.

    This will be a highly practical session looking at why 'risk taking' needs to be a part of the conversations you have with your team, the board, stakeholder and funders.

    • What type of risks are facing your organisation?
    • How do you track and manage your risks?
    • How does your organisation decide to take a risk?
    • How do you communicate risks to your board and funders?
    • How do you measure risk versus reward?

    To book at space at this session please contact Brona Whittaker

  • Arts Uncovered with Cinemagic 21.09.19



    Our arts members Cinemagic have very kindly offered A&BNI business members a number of free tickets to their screening of Vincent and Me and a Q&A with Tchéky Karyo who you will immediately recognise as the star of Baptiste and The Missing.

    Vincent & Me was the first film shown at the first Cinemagic Festival and was on the same screen at the same time on the same date 30 years ago so this is a very special birthday occasion for the Cinemagic family.

    To register for your tickets (max 2 per person please) just email me at with your names and I will have you added to the guest list at QFT on Saturday 21 September. This event is sure to be a sell-out so don’t delay!

    Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival for Young People is an award-winning charity that has been educating, inspiring and motivating young people across the world for the last three decades. Cinemagic is an organisation with international networks and a worldwide reputation for excellence in children’s programming. As the largest film and television festival designed for and by young people in the UK and Ireland around 40,000 young people (aged 4-25) participate in Cinemagic events in Belfast, Dublin, London, France (Castres), New York and Los Angeles each year.

    Since it was established Cinemagic has engaged with almost 1 million young  people, screened over 3,000 films, and hosted over 500 masterclasses, industry workshops, Q&As and special events. Our film production projects have received international acclaim for their ambition, quality and reach.

    Cinemagic embraces the magic of film, television and digital technologies and offers young people the chance to develop real skills, explore opportunities, and reaffirm their belief in what they want to do and their own ability to achieve it.

    To find out more about Cinemagic and their work, follow the link

  • Jude Kelly In Conversation with Arts & Business NI 04.10.19


    Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

    Jude Kelly In Conversation with Arts & Business NI

    Leadership is not a job. It is taking your values and leading forward, bringing people with you, stepping out in front, to make change happen. You can call this activism. You can call this leadership.

    We are delighted to welcome Jude Kelly CBE who will share experiences from her incredible career. Jude is a successful theatre director and founded the acclaimed West Yorkshire Playhouse. She was Artistic Director of Southbank Centre from 2005 to 2018, and founded the WOW Festival in 2010. Now a significant global brand, WOW Festival celebrates the lives and achievements of women and girls all over the world, bringing together artists, performers and speakers from a huge range of disciplines and backgrounds to spotlight womens lives, their successes, and the obstacles against which they continue to struggle.

    For more Information on the event & to book limited tickets - follow the link here.

  • Creative Collisions: Beer, pizza and art night 07.11.19


    Belfast Exposed Gallery

    Calling all techies: NI arts organisations need your expertise to help them navigate the weird and wonderful world of all things digital. Our friends at Farset Labs are helping us spread the word and bring together a group of experts and enthusiasts, to explore how connecting technologists with creatives can help cultural organisations respond to and utilise advances in technology in our changing world. No major time commitment required, just a willingness to share your knowledge with other creative people. We have two events planned for November and hope you can come along.

    The first of the two events:

    Creative Collisions: Beer, pizza and art night

    at Belfast Exposed Gallery, Belfast

    Thursday 7 November 2019 5.30pm -7pm with optional Late Night Art tour afterwards

    We are starting the ball rolling with a get together to get to know each other, let you know what we are hoping to achieve, have some beer and pizza and then head out to a couple of local galleries to enjoy Late Night Art. Register through meetup here

  • Creativity and the Future of Work 14.11.19


    Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

    Thursday 14th November 2019 8am-9.45am (breakfast provided)

    Golden Thread Gallery 84-94 Great Patrick Street, Belfast BT1 2LU

    Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. It enables business challenges to be perceived in new ways. It disrupts. It generates solutions.

    Aimed at both business and arts audiences, this event will showcase the importance of creativity in relation to the future world of work. With the rapid development of new technologies and the need for innovation across all businesses, creative thinking is becoming increasingly important.

    We will hear from Eoin McFadden of the Department for the Economy on the importance of softer skills that foster creative thinking and problem solving, in addition to professional and technical skills, in the context of the need for innovation as cited across the Industrial Strategy and Economy 2030.

    Professor Gillian Armstrong, Director of Business Engagement at Ulster University will explain how, as a leading provider of entrepreneurial education, research and impact, the Ulster University Business School is shaping future growth and learning through creative, new educational models. Through a culture of collaboration with business, professional bodies and international University Institutions, the requirements for an increased focus on future skills, personalised curriculum and offerings for lifelong learning services are developing quickly. The cultural change so often called for in higher education to help address future of work challenges is well underway within the Business School and Gillian will provide an insight into the many innovative solutions that are developing with and for business at the current time.

    Finally, our business members Morrow Communications and Baker Tilly Mooney Moore will share why they value creativity as a core part of their strategy in regard to attracting and retaining talent and creating a culture of innovation and creative thinking in the workplace.

    Event kindly sponsored by Ulster University Business School

    Reserve your place by email to Sarah at

  • Arts Uncovered with Charles Wood Corporate Choir launch 12.12.19


    First Church Belfast, Rosemary Street

    First Church Belfast, Rosemary Street

    Thursday 12 December 2019 at 1pm-2pm

    Our Arts Uncovered series continues with another informal event to show you something a little bit different and introduce you to an arts organisation and a venue you may not already know. Join us at First Church Belfast, Rosemary Street to hear from Charles Wood Festival, a renowned choral and organ festival held in Armagh each August to celebrate the work of the city's famous composer.

    In December 2019 Charles Wood Festival will be launching a very exciting Corporate Choirs Competition. This will offer Northern Irish companies a unique approach to wellbeing and teambuilding by bringing together employees at all levels through an activity that builds trust, improves communication skills, and boosts staff morale. The Festival is delighted to be working with Arts and Business NI on the Corporate Choir project. The Festival will offer each choir entrant a professional Choral Conductor, who will rehearse two songs with them over the course of five sessions leading up to a competition during the prestigious Charles Wood Festival 2020.

    Come along to find out more, join in some festive singing and have a bite of lunch with us. Reserve your place by email to Sarah at

    For more information please contact 

  • Creative Collisions: Digital Trustees – Ideation Workshop (date tbc)


    Farset Labs, Belfast

    Calling all techies: NI arts organisations need your expertise to help them navigate the weird and wonderful world of all things digital. Our friends at Farset Labs are helping us spread the word and bring together a group of experts and enthusiasts, to explore how connecting technologists with creatives can help cultural organisations respond to and utilise advances in technology in our changing world. No major time commitment required, just a willingness to share your knowledge with other creative people. We have two events planned for November and hope you can come along.

    Our second event in this series will be:

    Creative Collisions: Digital Trustees – Ideation Workshop

    Farset Labs, Belfast

    Date to be confirmed - early 2020

    Following on from our beer and pizza night there will be a three-phase ideation event based in the newly renovated Farset Labs event space, bringing arts practitioners and arts managers/trustees together with a mix of technologists, designers, and product-folks, around the challenges of "Metrics, Impacts, and Fundraising". Facilitated by Farset Labs, these three phases closely follow existing Farset Labs ideation processes; Problem Generalisation, Opportunity Viability, and Solution Mapping and will involve splitting into discussion groups to look at common problems. We will round off the session with a bit of a social mixer. Register through meetup here

  • Arts Uncovered at Walled City Music Festival


    NOW AT The Glassworks, Culturlann Ui Chanain

    Arts & Business NI invite you to Arts Uncovered
    Thursday 5th March 2020 1pm-2pm (light lunch provided)

    As part of the Walled City Music Festival which runs 5 – 8 March 2020, we will be attending a special behind the scenes event.

    The ASU Rising Star Piano Extravaganza will feature four outstanding young pianists from China and the USA, including the 2019 Walled City Music International Piano Competition winner Selene Wu, as they present an entertaining programme of piano favourites from 2 to 8 hands. An ideal curtain raiser for the 2020 Walled City Music Festival!

    Join us on Thursday 5th March in the GLASSWORKS, CULTURLANN Ui CHANAIN, 37 Great James Street, Derry BT48 7DF from 1pm-2pm to hear about this fabulous festival, meet the Artistic Directors and watch Neilson Chen, John Solari, Selene Wu and Lirui Xiong in rehearsal for the evening show.

    Their stunning evening programme will include -
    Rossini: Barber of Seville
    Grieg: Peer Gynt No.1
    Carl Vine: 3 Anne Landa Preludes
    Barber: Souvenirs
    Corigliano: Etude-Fantasy
    Rachmaninov: Valse and Romance
    Kapustin: 2 Etudes
    Saints-Saens: Danse Macabre
    Lavignac: Galop-Marche

    To reserve your place for this unique experience email to me at Free to A&BNI business members.

  • Business as Usual


    Following advice from the Government to help combat the spread of CV19, and in the best interests of the safety of our staff and members, we have taken the decision to postpone all Arts & Business NI face-to-face events until further notice. The Arts & Business NI team will also be moving to remote working so our offices at Bridge House Paulett Avenue will be closed until further notice.

    Whilst members of the team will be working from home, all our team have full remote access and are still available to support our cultural and private sector members in these challenging times. Please continue to contact us on the usual email and direct dial contact numbers.

    Although we will not be hosting face-to-face meetings or events, we will still be continuing to offer member support sessions via phone, email and digital platforms. We will also be offering our members access to a range of webinars and on-line support tools.

    We know that the current situation is hitting both the cultural sector and private sector businesses hard and there are uncertain times ahead as organisations make difficult decisions in order to protect the health and wellbeing of their staff, audiences and stakeholders.

    We will be in touch with our arts and business members in the coming days in regard to a number of specific initiatives that we are developing to offer additional support in these tough times.

    In the meantime please be assured that we are still very much open for business and are here to provide whatever support we can. Please get in touch with any member of the team and please stay safe.

    You can contact us at:
    Mary (CEO) on 028 9073 5158 or
    Maeve (Head of Business) on 9073 5151 or
    Brona (Head of Arts) on 9073 5155 or
    Sarah (Business & Executive Support) on 9073 5159 or

  • Statement from the Arts Collaboration Network: 12 May 2020


    Updated: 25th June 2020

    Further to the letter detailed below, the Arts Collaboration Network has crafted the Arts Recovery Paper, which can be read in full here
    This paper has 5 key requests: 

    Sustain the workforce through:

    1) Immediate Hardship Fund for individuals within the workforce to support and sustain the freelancers and self-employed artists who create so much of our work and who have fallen through the gaps in government support; 2) Support for the self-employed and employees through the continuation and extension of the Job Retention Scheme & SEISS Scheme.

    Support sector recovery through:
    3) Stabilisation Fund for arts organisations;
    4) Rescue Fund for venues.

    Invest in the recovery of NI through: 5) Cultural Sector Recovery Plan which is co-ordinated across the sector including the creation of a NI Cultural Taskforce.


    12th May 2020

    The Arts Collaboration Network is a group of cultural sector support organisations that have been meeting for over 3 three years and includes representatives from music, theatre and dance, visual arts, voluntary arts, disability artists, business support organisations and the broader creative sector.  Each of these organisations have been supporting and communicating the needs and challenges faced by their members and consistencies during the Covid-19 crisis.

    Since the current situation began the group has expanded to include additional voices and been meeting weekly to:

    ·         Discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the NI arts and cultural sector in the immediate, medium and longer terms

    ·         Ensure a collaborative response to raising urgent issues and identifying possible solutions with the wider sector, stakeholders and funders

    As a result of meeting we have written to Arts Council NI and Department for Communities raising a number of sector-wide issues.  In our most recent letter we requested the following:

    1.      The creation of a hardship fund for freelance artists, creatives, technicians, costume-makers, creative facilitators offering a living wage.  Those people who are the foundations of the sector but are least likely to benefit from the Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Support Scheme.


    2.      The creation of a stabilisation fund for arts organisations to ensure that they can continue to look after the welfare of their staff and work to offer opportunities to access the arts both in lockdown and in recovery.


    3.      That the Dormant Accounts currently overseen by the National Lottery Community Fund, be considered as a way to fund this support. 


    4.      Discussion on how arts organisations can be supported to implement social distancing measures to fulfil requirements laid out in the expected Government plan to ease lockdown restrictions. 

    We asked for an urgent meeting with Department for Communities and Arts Council NI to discuss the above.

    We will continue to meet to use our collective voices to amplify the issues we are all facing and that are being raised across the sector via networks, unions, umbrella bodies, organisations and individuals. We will reflect the mental health and well-being issues, as well as the economic ones that our sector, its artists, creative individuals and its audiences are experiencing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Current Arts Collaboration Network members:Margaret Henry, thrive, Niamh Flanagan, Theatre and Dance NI, Kevin Murphy, Voluntary Arts Ireland, Peter Richards, Golden Thread Gallery, Mary Nagele, Arts & Business NI, Jenna Hall, Belfast Community Circus School, Charlotte Dryden, OhYeah, Rob Hilken & Noel Kelly, Visual Artists Ireland, Jane Morrow, University of Atypical, Sara Jones, Creative and Cultural Skills, Sophie Hayles, Crescent Arts Centre, Katherine McDonald, Craft NI


  • Remote Family Engagement Products Launched


    Arts & Business NI are proud to present this range of creative products, developed as part of our Investment Programme by local arts organisations and practitioners; these products seek to assist businesses in supporting and entertaining their staff and their families during the lockdown period, as a result of COVID 19. 

    Please click the link at the bottom of this page to browse the PDF brochure, which boasts a diverse range of products- from a Comedy Academy to Lockdown Essay competition, and lots in between!

    If you would prefer to browse the products within your browser, please click here

  • A&BNI Launches Young Professionals on Arts Boards Programme 2020


    Arts & Business NI has launched its Young Professionals on Arts Boards programme today, with a timely call-out for local professionals, aged 21-35, to consider joining the governing boards of NI arts organisations; this announcement comes as part of the Volunteer Week 2020 celebrations, running from 1-7 June across the UK.  

    The effects of COVID-19 have impacted all industries, and Northern Ireland’s arts and culture sector has been no exception. As recovery plans are implemented across the province, there has never been a more meaningful time to consider joining the board of one of our local arts organisations, to helpnavigate the new normal we are all entering into 

    The Young Professionals programme from Arts & Business NI has run successfully for a number of years, placing professionals in the early stages of their careeron the boards of organisations which match their personal creative passions:these have included theatre, music and performance to name just a few 

    Maeve McKervey, Head of Business at A&BNI, commented: 

    “The success of our Young Professionals programme hinges on A&BNIdiscoveringthe business proficiencies these professionals have to offerand facilitating opportunities to put these skills to work in a governance position, within a sector that they love. Our professional candidates come from a wide range of backgrounds - from engineering to accountancy, marketing to law. This programme offers them the chance to put their transferable skills to work in another sector;they have the chance to do something outside their day to day and make a significant contribution on the boards of organisations who need the precise commercial skills that they offer”. 

    The programme offers significant personal development opportunities for individuals, as well as having positivebusiness impact for those who enrol their staff to take part in the process.  

    Neasa Quigley, Senior Partner at Carson McDowell commented:

    “Carson McDowell have seen first-hand the benefit of placing their young professionals on this programme. The programme offers a practical way for young professionals to develop their skills, build up their network and support the arts sector in Northern Ireland. We commend this year’s participants for getting involved and supporting the arts, a community and sector that Carson McDowell believes enriches our society as a whole.”

    The programme is accepting applications now, from professionals across all industriesand at various skill levels, whether they be in full time employment, furloughed, or in the process of seeking new opportunities.The process includes training (kindly provided pro bono by Carson McDowell), to equip participants to meaningfully contribute to the boards they join and ongoing supportwill be available at all times from Arts & Business NI.

    Further details on the Young Professionals on Arts Boards programme, including how to apply can be found here. Applications will close on 31st August.

    Those at a more advanced stage in their careers, with a passion for the arts and a desire to sit on an arts board, should consider the Board Bank programme from Arts & Business NI. Details on that programme can be found here 

  • Celebrating Creative Partnerships 2019-2020



    It is with enormous pride that Arts & Business unveil our NEW microsite, Celebrating Creative Partnerships.

    Helping creative projects happen is a huge part of the work we do. Our Investment Programme allows businesses and arts organisations to apply for funding to get their concepts off the ground, and into the world.

    These projects can help businesses reposition their brand with audiences, help them motivate their staff, and broker relationships with their communities from CSR.

    We celebrate these amazing pieces of work this month, and hope you will enjoy browsing the work, get inspired, and get in touch with us to discuss how we can help with your next project. More details on the Investment Programme can be found here. 

  • Statement from the Arts Collaboration Network - 23 July 2020


    The Arts Collaboration Network welcomes the announcement from Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, on the opening of a £4 million funding package designed to help bolster freelancers, artists and performers and prevent the loss of arts organisations.


    Covid-19 continues to impact the lives of those who work in the arts and cultural sector and the lives of those who benefit from attending and participating in arts and culture activity across NI.


    We also welcome the Minister’s commitment to work collaboratively, through her department with ACNI and the sector, to discuss and agree the priorities for the £33m funding package announced for arts, culture and heritage. There is much to be done in a short period of time but ongoing joint working is the way to navigate the hard road ahead and ensure all those who live and work in NI - as well as those, in time, who will come to visit - can have the economic and social benefits of a recovered and renewed cultural sector.

  • A&BNI CEO Joins Panel for Slugger O'Toole's 'After Lockdown'


    Normally recorded in front of a live audience at the John Hewitt International Summer School in Armagh, this year Slugger O'Toole couldn't take the show on the road, but still assembled a formidable panel to look at the arts sector and it's future wellbeing in their summer edition of Slugger TV.

    Alan Meban chaired the discussion with Roisín McDonough (Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland), Maureen Kenelly (Director, An Chomhairle Ealaíon / The Arts Council of Ireland), John Campbell (Economics and Business Editor, BBC Northern Ireland) and our own CEO Mary Nagele. 

    Enjoy the full discussion below:



  • MLA Letter Template - Campaigning for the £33 million


    The NI Executive will decide in the next week (W/C 14th September) on how to spend the £33m that came to NI as a Barnett Consequential from the £1.57bn announced by the UK Chancellor for arts and culture in July. 

    It is now urgent that those who care about the survival of the cultural sector campaign for this £33m, as we are in danger of this money being repurposed to another sector.

    Please find a downloadable letter template below, produced by the Arts Collaboration Network, to send to your MLA to urge them to allocate the full amount to arts and culture. This template includes a link to MLA contact details.

    If you feel strongly about this cause, please also consider helping us make even more noise, by speaking out on social media platforms, tagging DfC and our MLAs with the hashtag #SaveTheArts.

    No amount of noise is too much at this point. 

  • The Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund in partnership with Business to Arts and Arts & Business NI


    The Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund (The Fund) in partnership with Business to Arts and Arts & Business NI will distribute a total of €1million (£840,000)  between 2020 and 2022 to support artists and arts projects across the island of Ireland (Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), including all art forms whose projects benefit a range of audiences.

    The Fund will support or commission artists or groups of artists to work with a partner organisation (e.g. a venue or event, arts organisation, community/voluntary organisation or another funding agency/organisation) in the development of new or existing artwork(s) / arts project(s). In 2020, The Fund aims to support artwork(s) / arts project(s) that:

    1. have been adapted due to COVID-19 

    With this criteria, we are seeking to support artwork(s) / arts project(s) that have been adapted due to COVID-19. For example, this may include projects that require funding to help with the costs, equipment or expertise related to:

    i) technology and distribution of artwork(s) / arts project(s) online (e.g. professional filming, equipment, and skills required)

    ii) adapting venues, exhibition spaces or spaces for performances for socially-distant audiences etc.

    iii) adapting models for the delivery of learning and public engagement programmes to reach their audience

    iv) adapting artwork(s) / arts project(s) so they can be realised in the public realm or outdoors

     2. are inspired by/respond to COVID-19 

    With this criteria, we are seeking to support the creation of new artwork(s) / arts project(s) based on themes, narratives, or ideas which have been prompted due to living through the pandemic and our current environment. For example, this may include helping to realise new artwork(s) / arts project(s) created specifically:

    i) for digital and online audiences

    ii) for the public realm or outdoors

    iii) hybrid models of delivery (e.g. online and in-venue)

    iv) to respond to themes of people impacted by COVID-19, lockdown, opening society, etc

     We realise that we are unable to support all areas of need being experienced by the arts sector with this fund, and as a result we have focused on the above two criteria

    For this first round, only projects that plan to take place between February 2021 and December 2021 are eligible. We plan to open a second and third round for applications in April/May 2021 and in April/May 2022. The above criteria are applicable for this round and may change in rounds two and three.

    Size of Grants

    Applicants can request funds between €3,000 – €10,000 / c. GBP£2,500 – £8,400. Average grants will be €5,000 / GBP£4,200, with maximum grants of €10,000 / GBP£8,400. Artwork(s) / arts project(s) with larger budgets that have secured funds elsewhere are encouraged to apply. With each grant round the Fund aims to provide funding to an artwork / art project in each county on the island of Ireland

    Key dates

    Mon, 21 Sep, 2020: Open for applications

    Wed, 30 Sep, 2020: Information webinar #1  at 12pm

    Wed, 7 Oct, 2020: Information webinar #2 at 2pm

    Wed, 4 Nov, 2020: Deadline for applications

    Thurs, 31 Dec, 2020: Applicants informed by email

    February — December 2021: Projects to take place

    Key Documents

    Eligibility Requirements and Criteria

    Application Questions (for reference only)

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How to apply

    1. Applications will be made via a Business to Arts online portal. Visit
    2. Review the eligibility requirements to ensure the suitability of your application
    3. Click apply
    4. Register your details with our application system (please ensure you click the link in your verification email. You will not be able to start your entry until you do this.)
    5. Complete your application
    6. Ensure you submit your application before 5:00pm on Wednesday November 4, 2020


    Should you require assistance, please consult the FAQs available here. There will be two information webinars for applicants to The Fund on:

    Wed, 30 Sep, 2020 at 12pm (register here)

    Wed, 7 Oct, 2020 at 2pm (register here)

    If you have any questions on The Fund in regard to applications Adam Bradley, in the Arts & Business team would be happy to advise – please email Adam on

    For technical difficulties with your application, please contact the Business to Arts Fund team by email on or call +353 1 662 9238 and they will be able to assist you.

  • Apply to our Board Bank Programme


    Senior business professional with a passion for the arts?

    Our Board Bank programme needs you.

    We are delighted to announce the launch of Board Bank 2020,  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.

    Whatever your professional skillset, from HR to finance, marketing to management, your time and insight and have never been more timely, as arts organisations continue to strategically adapt in the wake of COVID-19. 

    Find full details on the programme and apply here

  • Introducing the Young Professionals Class of 2020!


    In a year that has been unprecedented in every way, we were blown away by the high calibre of applicants who applied to be part of our Young Professionals Class of 2020.

    Young Professionals on Arts Boards is one of Arts & Business NI's longest running and most successful programmes; the scheme unearths the best up-and-coming professional talent in Northern Ireland, spanning a range of disciplines including finance, HR, marketing and more.

    Following a rigorous application and interview process, reinforced by comprehensive governance training, the A&BNI team is delighted to present our 16 professional candidates, who we will be selectively matching with the boards of leading local arts charities.

    Click here to find out more about the Class of 2020. 

  • Arts Collaboration Network Statement: Updated January 2021


    “We understand that culture is everything.”

    Since March 2020, Northern Ireland has been battling the Covid-19 pandemic. Lives have been altered in many ways - losing loved ones, enduring illness, losing livelihoods and a fundamental loss of social connection and cohesion due to the necessary restrictions on our daily lives. Culture is essential to help NI heal from those losses - but we cannot play our part in that healing if we are not here to do so.

    Culture is essential for the positive recovery of NI which is why we must act together now to protect the cultural economy. Through culture we can make the most of the opportunity to learn from our experiences during2020 and truly build back better, towards a society that is fairer, more inclusive and places its citizens’ health and wellbeing at the top of the agenda.

    The critically important role that the ecology of artists and freelance creatives, organisations and venues can play in delivering the social and economic recovery of NI has been acknowledged by Ministers, MLAs and NIMPs.

    To support the realisation of social and economic renewal and recovery, the Arts Collaboration Network has 5 key requests for the First and Deputy First Ministers, the NI Executive and Department for Communities to ensure the sector can make its contribution in 2021 and beyond:

    1.Building the sector’s infrastructure, capacity and skills to meet society’s emerging needs.

    People’s lives have changed and are continuing to change due to Covid-19. The full impact of those changes and the role of arts and culture in people’s lives is emerging. Realising the undoubted opportunities these changes bring to our citizens and international visitors requires sector investment in capital infrastructure, the development of future-focused skills, technologies and organisational change.

    2. Invest to sustain and develop the workforce of artists, creatives and other highly skilled roles that form the foundation of NI’s creative ecology.

    NI’s creative workforce is essential to Northern Ireland’s recovery and future. Currently the make-up of that workforce is predominantly freelance, meaning the lack of income and the inability to create work, due to Covid restrictions, has been felt even more acutely by the people in these roles. Further investment and access to appropriate support are needed now to ensure thousands of highly skilled individuals aren’t forced to leave the sector due to Covid-induced financial hardship, poor mental health andreduced well-being.

    Despite emergency funding for individuals, many are still falling through the cracks. In the short term we need to see an extension of CJRIS and SEISS. In the medium term we need an innovative solution that resolves the precarious pre-Covid position of creative freelancers and leads to a more robust development and employment framework. Without these interventions we risk not only a much-reduced workforce as a direct result of Covid, but also preventing a generation of young people from being able to gain secure employment in NI’s cultural sector.

    3. The NI Executive and the Public Health Agency to engage with the arts and culture sector regarding reopeningvenues, cultural spaces, and cultural activity.

    Detailed plans and risk assessments are already in place. In order to plan for a safer reopening the sector needs guidance, a partnership approach and to agree a clear communications plan that seeks to build public confidence in the sector’s ability to deliver all activities in a Covid-secure way.

    4. A commitment to increasing the Arts Council of NI’s annual budget year on year, beginning in 2021-22, to support the ongoing stabilisation and renewal of the sector. 

    Our ability to deliver the social change that is possible through arts participation is dependent on a significantly increased baseline for arts funding in NI. The sector stands ready to help individuals and communities heal and grow, to meet the challenges of social isolation, poverty and mental health whilst also restoring our economy. We share the NI Executive’s vision to create a future-focused and vibrant NI – a place where people want to live, work and visit.
    Realising that vision requires a properly publicly funded and sustainable sector as the essential bedrock of our creative ecology. A standstill budget for 2021-22, after years of funding cuts, will deepen the crisis within the subsidised sector even further. It will add to our already fragile position and reduce the real benefits that the arts has on people across NI irrespective of their capacity to pay.

    5. An Integrated Arts and Culture Strategy co-created with an NI Cultural Taskforce.

    To fully maximise the positive differences arts and culture can make to people’s lives across NI, a coherent and consistent integrated strategy across all NI Government Departments needs to be delivered aligned to pan-Executive outcomes.
    This strategy must be co-created by the public, the cultural sector, private sector, local government and the NI Executive, and engage other key stakeholder groups. The process should be led by the Department for Communities and engage other Departments.
    A NI Cultural Taskforce, comprising of representatives from these key stakeholders groups, would ensure an equitable strategy that places the health and wellbeing of the NI population and a healthy economy at its core.
    The principle of co-design has been endorsed by Minister Ní Chuilín. We are ready to work alongside Minister Hargey, ACNI and others to take this forward and agree a timetable and Terms of Reference early in 2021.

    What will be different as a result?

    Culture-led recovery and regeneration has been shown to deliver a broad range of social and economic impacts, including:

    • Developing the skills, knowledge and confidence of citizens: Participation in arts and culture can produce engaged citizens, and helps minority groups to find a voice and express their identity.
    • Enhancing community cohesion and pride: Culture creates a positive social environment resulting in greater civic participation, lower truancy rates and lower delinquency rates.
    • Attracting more visitors, boosting the tourism sector: 4m tourists visiting NI per year engage with the arts and culture here.
      In 2013, more than 1 million people visited Derry-Londonderry as UK Capital of Culture. £400m of all spending by NI visitors in 2018 involved engagement with arts and culture;
    • Supporting enhanced resident health: Participating in or attending cultural places or events has a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing - those who had attended a cultural event or place in the preceding 12 months were 60% more likely to report good health.
    • Stimulating town centre footfall, boosting local business: There are examples from across the UK successfully transforming high streets through the growth of high-quality visitor experiences. A strong arts and cultural offer can support efforts to maintain or enhance the attractiveness of retail centres as places to live, work and visit by offering unique experiences for visitors and/or shoppers through the animation of public spaces including art works, live performances and opportunities for local cultural identity to be explored and celebrated.
    • Bringing enjoyment for residents: 85% of people surveyed across NI said they attended or participated in cultural experiences to enjoy themselves.
    • Stimulating and supporting creative sector growth and jobs: Creativity is an essential skill for the future within and beyond the culture sector. The World Economic Forum’s
      ‘Future of Jobs Report', cites ‘Creativity’ as one of the ‘Top 10 Skills of 2025’. The British Council found that jobs asking for creativity are more likely to grow as a percentage of the labour market by the year 2030. In particular, many types of engineers and people in manufacturing and business development roles have much in common with ‘creative jobs’. Ensuring that we invest in and nurture creativity as an essential skill will be a critical factor to consider within the new Skills Strategy for NI.
    • Attracting inward investment and enhancing the area’s image, helping to attract skilled people and business investment: Business leaders including Invest NI agree that the arts and culture sector is vital as it underlines the strength of the economy as a whole. A strong arts sector is a litmus test of how the economy is actually performing. An improvement in the arts sector gives us more confidence that the economy is recovering.

    These civic and economic outcomes reflect those in the NI Executive outcomes for Northern Ireland and the 11 local Council Community plans. Covid-19 has created a momentum for change across all areas of our lives and Brexit also brings challenges that will need to be met. The arts and cultural sector will also need to change and that change must happen in co-production with the NI Executive and key stakeholders including the public to fully realise a stronger, healthier, and safer NI where all people can enjoy more opportunities to live, work and visit.

    Covid Context

    The Covid-19 pandemic has shut down theatres, venues and community arts spaces across the country with no plan for reopening. The economic recession brought about by Covid threaten sanother wave of long-term underfunding that many cannot survive.

    As the physical sector across NI was closing down, artists, musicians and creatives started sharing their work online to offer some hope and respite to people in difficult times. The public, separated from their networks of friends and family during the initial lockdown, responded by engaging with arts and culture in an unprecedented way. This was in fact a global movement and we led the local response. People reported not feeling so alone anymore. A sense of community was created in the midst of a crisis, and musicians, artists and cultural organisations who had lost so much, were at the heart of it.

    Covid-19 has been devastating but also created opportunities for the arts and culture sector –and for the public who value the many individual and collective benefits the sector and its workers bring to life in NI.

    This document produced by the Arts Collaboration Network is designed to show how culture will contribute to healing and recovery and what the sector needs to make a vital contribution to life  in NI as it has done over many difficult times across our history.

    The Arts Collaboration Network acknowledges the significant work undertaken by the NI Executive, the Minister for Communities and Department officials and the Departments’ arms-length bodies in responding to the initial needs of the sector informed by our documents of July and August 2020. These included reallocation of existing DfC funds and £29m of the £33m allocated to NI from the UK’s Chancellor Cultural Fund announced in July 2020 and provided support for some individuals and organisations.

    We understand that there is still some emergency Covid funding to be allocated by the Department for Communities.
    The ACN also recognises that consultation has taken place between the Department for Communities and the sector in developing these schemes to allow those not usually needing to rely on public funding to be able to access this emergency support.

    The sector has where possible adapted to the challenging conditions since March, with online and outdoor work being delivered to communities across NI, and some cultural spaces reopening in a safe way (galleries and museums) as government restrictions permitted. This adaptation continues as we cope with the second wave of Covid and its many impacts and deal with another necessary lockdown at the start of 2021.

    Other nations of the UK and the Republic of Ireland have invested in arts and culture to help support recovery, in a number of ways including:

    • Republic of Ireland Government has allocated €130 million in funding for the Arts Council in2021. This is the highest budget ever allocated to the Arts Council and an increase of over €50 million on the 2020 budget of €75 million.
    • Arts Council England has increased their available funding by £34.4m to help support communities, individuals and artists through the ongoing impacts of the Covid crisis in addition to distributing £257m from the UK Chancellor’s Cultural Recovery Fund.
    • In Scotland the future of arts and culture has become an issue in the 2021 Election


    About the Arts Collaboration Network

    The Arts Collaboration Network is an informal network of the main sector support organisations and a number of creative hubs across Northern Ireland. The people involved are Margaret Henry, Thrive Audience Development, Niamh Flanagan, Theatre and Dance NI, Mary Nagele, Arts & Business NI, Rob Hilken & Noel Kelly, Visual Artists Ireland, Kevin Murphy, Voluntary Arts Ireland, Katherine McDonald, Craft NI, Charlotte Dryden, Oh Yeah, Sarah Jones, Creative & Cultural Skills, Peter Richards, Golden Thread Gallery/Chair Belfast Visual Arts Forum, Sophie Hayles, Crescent Arts Centre, Cath McBride In Your Space Circus / Chair: DCSDC Arts & Cultural Strategy, Co-Delivery Group, Anne McReynolds and Maeve Hawkins, The MAC, Damien Coyle, University of Atypical and Jenna Hall, Belfast Community Circus School/Co-Chair Belfast Festivals Forum.

    You can read the full, original statement including footnotes here

  • Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together Arts Fund announces £270,000 in funding for music, theatre, dance, traditional and visual arts projects


    Bank of Ireland, in partnership with Business to Arts and Arts & Business NI, today announced that 36 projects spanning music, theatre, dance, opera, and the visual arts will receive support from the first phase of the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund. Nine of the projects are NI based, with projects in every county across the province.

    Funding of £270,000 will be provided to artworks or arts projects which have been inspired by the experience of living through COVID-19 or have been adapted in response to the pandemic. The all-island Begin Together Arts Fund will make a total of €1 million/£910,000 in arts funding available over three years and will open for a second round of applications in April.

    Francesca McDonagh, Group Chief Executive, Bank of Ireland said, “Art has such an important role to play in helping us to understand, express and reflect on the world, especially at challenging times like these. Bank of Ireland has a long history of supporting the arts and I am delighted that through the Begin Together Arts Fund we can help sustain the development of new work and artistic practice during the pandemic. There’s a wonderful spread of projects across all art forms in this first phase and I look forward to seeing them come to fruition over the rest of the year.”  

    Deirdre Hargey, Communities Minister for Northern Ireland, said: “This Fund, which I understand has received a high standard of applications, will have a tremendous impact on the livelihood of artists and groups from all art forms across the island of Ireland.  This has undoubtedly been a difficult time for the arts sector, but their creativity as well as diversity have certainly come to the fore.  This fund supports those arts projects that have responded to or have been adapted due to Covid-19. It is important that people from all of our communities continue to have access to the creative, heritage and arts sectors.”

    Mary Nagele, Chief Executive, Arts & Business Northern Ireland, said: “We were delighted to work with Bank of Ireland and Business to Arts to maximise the impact of the Begin Together Arts Fund across Northern Ireland. We thank the Bank of Ireland for its long term support for the Arts and their investment in this Fund. It is wonderful that it puts artists and artistic practice at the heart and is enabling so many incredible arts initiatives that will positively impact on people and communities in these difficult times for all”.

    The nine artists and projects in Northern Ireland funded through this first phase of the Begin Together Arts Fund grants are:

    • Over the Hill Music Collective, a project that will focus on four older musicians in the rooms where they are living alone. Songs will be produced recorded, mixed and mastered via Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast with the recorded work available by August of 2021.
    • Locked Up in Lockdown, a piece of theatre with a number of current and former students from a young offenders’ centre in Belfast based on their letters, poems and prose about the pandemic. The theatre piece will be presented in partnership with the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

      Philip Crawford, Head of Creative Learning, Lyric Theatre said,
      "This is a really exciting chance for two recently graduated actors, David Evans and Finnian Garbutt - attempting to begin their careers at an impossibly challenging time - to develop their artistic and project management skills. While training at the Lyric Theatre, both David and Finnian developed an interest in working creatively with young men in custody at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre and Prison. To continue this vital work, thanks to support from Bank of Ireland, Business to Arts, and Arts & Business NI, is a hugely appreciated learning opportunity for all involved."
    • The Night of the Big Wind, is an operatic musical reimagining of the infamous 1839 storm. The piece will trace the stories and encounters of six fictional characters in an all-Ireland tour that will visit six venues.  NI Opera’s main objective is to provide as many children as possible with the opportunity to see the opera, so the project will be enhanced by professionally filming the piece and sending it to schools and community groups as well as broadcasting it on the company’s YouTube channel.
    • BENCH MARKS (More than 2 metres apart) will see two bench seats with low backs formed from flotsam tree trunks washed and bleached by the elements on Runkerry Strand, close to the Giant’s Causeway. The two seats will be placed opposite each other and significantly they will be more than two metres apart on the freely accessible public footpath that joins the National Trust Visitors Centre at the Giant’s Causeway to Innisfree Farm, which houses the Administrative HQ of the Trust, and the Boat House Gallery.
    • At the Margins, is based on Maria McManus's (poet) large-scale public engagement letter-writing project "Filling the Void" (2018/19). It will be a site-specific literary event, animating the Library for the public, responding to the letters through dance and an original score.
    • Caffrey/Seamus Heaney HomePlace, is a new musical work based on several poems from Death of a Naturalist, performed at Homeplace in the 190-seat auditorium, The Helicon. The work will be filmed and a video created which can be exhibited, disseminated and drawn upon as need be for years into the future and to broaden the audience for Heaney's poetry beyond literary enthusiasts.
    • Covid Care Concerts, a new project that has been devised by Mobile Music Machine (MMM) in collaboration with local partners in Ireland, will visit ten residential care homes across the county or city. Each performance will last 1 hour and involves a performance taking place in the grounds of the nursing home. A specially adapted Covid Care Concert tent allows the organisors to mitigate the effects of inclement weather on outdoor performance.
    • I am here: short film series will explore the relationship between two people separated by the current pandemic and in need of connection.
    • Music To Your Ears (Strabane) is a 2 hour musical concert featuring members of 'Music To Your Ears’ Group, Strabane, made up of over 30 men in the over-55 age group who include widowers, retired men in all types of health and social situations mostly from Strabane Town.


    Please click here for the full list of supported projects.


  • A&BNI Remote Staff Engagement Products


    Arts & Business NI are proud to present this range of creative products, developed as part of our Investment Programme by local arts organisations and practitioners; these products seek to assist businesses in connecting and supporting their staff during the remote working period, as a result of COVID 19. 

    We invite businesses of all sizes to browse the diverse range of products on offer, from dance to choirs, photography to podcasts; suffice to say, the spirit of creativity and partnership between arts and business organisations is still present and more relevant than ever!

    Please click the link at the bottom of this page to browse the PDF brochure.

    If you would prefer to browse the products within your browser, please click here



  • The Second Big Gathering: The Findings


    The summary of discussions from the second Big Gathering which took place on January 21st, 2021 have been published by the Arts Collaboration Network*.

    The purpose of the second Big Gathering is to bring people from across the arts and creative sector together to reconnect as a sector on shared challenges and needs to inform conversations and advocacy key sector asks. To seek feedback on Arts Collaboration Network’s 5 asks. To strengthen our sector’s voice in the recovery and its influence of what’s possible and to demonstrate the importance of collaboration and that it is a vital ingredient in helping us all to get through this.

    *The Arts Collaboration Network is an informal network of the main sector support organisations and a number of creative hubs across Northern Ireland. The people involved are Margaret Henry, Thrive Audience Development, Niamh Flanagan, Theatre and Dance NI, Mary Nagele, Arts & Business NI, Rob Hilken & Noel Kelly, Visual Artists Ireland, Kevin Murphy, Voluntary Arts Ireland, Katherine McDonald, Craft NI, Charlotte Dryden, Oh Yeah, Sarah Jones, Creative & Cultural Skills, Peter Richards, Golden Thread Gallery/Chair Belfast Visual Arts Forum, Sophie Hayles, Crescent Arts Centre, Cath McBride In Your Space Circus / Chair: DCSDC Arts & Cultural Strategy, Co-Delivery Group, Anne McReynolds and Maeve Hawkins, The MAC, Damien Coyle, University of Atypical and Jenna Hall, Belfast Community Circus School/Co-Chair Belfast Festivals Forum.

    Hosted via Zoom on Thursday 21 January 2021, 2pm-3.30pm, the second Big Gathering had 137 attendees from across the sector representing artists, venues, freelance practitioners, arts organisations, festivals, academic and resource organisations.

    To read the full summary of discussions please click here.

  • Arts & Business NI Announces Forestside as New Awards Sponsor


    Arts & Business NI have announced Forestside Shopping Centre as the new headline sponsor for the annual Arts & Business Annual Awards, as part of a 3-year sponsorship agreement.

    Arts & Business NI works to forge dynamic partnerships between the business and arts sectors in Northern Ireland; the Arts & Business NI Awards is a flagship event in the cultural calendar and acts as an important platform to celebrate stand-out partnerships and projects between the cultural and private sector in Northern Ireland from the preceding year.

    Forestside has demonstrated itself as a true patron of the arts, through its partnerships with several professional music festivals across Northern Ireland and its ongoing commitment to supporting emerging young musicians and songwriters. Most notably, this was recognised with Forestside being awarded the coveted title of Allianz Arts & Business NI Business of the Year Awards in 2019.

    Forestside will replace Allianz as headline sponsor, who generously sponsored the awards for 14 years.

    Mary Nagele, CEO of Arts & Business NI commented:

    “As a previous winner of our Business of the Year title, Forestside are a true champion of the Arts and a fitting new headline sponsor for these important Awards. There are so many vital partnerships between the private sector and the arts across NI that are helping businesses and communities thrive. It is crucial, especially in these times, that we take time to celebrate and acknowledge all that these creative collaborations have achieved.”

    Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland commented:

    “The strong support of major business enterprises such as Forestside for the Arts & Business NI Awards and for the arts in general, sends out a very positive message about the value of arts and culture to local business. As we move towards the reopening of our services and the recovery of our social, economic and creative lives, our two important sectors will be working closely together, supporting each other through the challenging months ahead and creating some truly exciting partnerships along the way.”

    Forestside has been an active and engaged business member of Arts & Business NI since 2017, having demonstrated its commitment to supporting the arts through its Future Festivals project with Sunflowerfest and Young Guitarist Competition with Belfast Guitar Festival. The centre also offers affordable unit spaces on the underground level to small local businesses and creators, including fine artist Francis McCrory, to facilitate opportunities for centre shoppers to discover their work. Their dedicated recording studio is also located on this level, and is available for bookings from any local recording artists.

    Lee Cutler, Centre Manager of Forestside Shopping Centre commented:

    "Forestside are very proud to step forward as sponsors of the Arts & Business NI Awards, following in the footsteps of Allianz who have made an incredible contribution to Arts in Northern Ireland. We take on this role at a time when creativity has never been more critical and celebrating the amazing partnerships between Arts and Business organisations has never been more important." 

    In light of COVID-19 restrictions, the Arts & Business Awards 2021 will take place as a virtual ceremony in June 2021. Nominations for entries will open in early March 2021, when applicants will find full details regarding submissions on the Arts & Business NI website and social media channels.

    Arts & Business NI and Forestside look forward to delivering a ceremony which celebrates artistic excellence and showcases the amazing and innovative projects that the arts and business sectors have forged over the last 18 months.

  • APPLY NOW! Applications for Arts & Business NI 2021 Awards, in partnership with Forestside, are open!


    We are delighted to announce that submissions for the 2021 Arts & Business NI Awards, in partnership with Forestside, are officially open!

    Our Awards celebrate the best examples of arts and business creative partnerships and the outstanding achievements of these collaborations throughout Northern Ireland.

    We are encouraging entries for business and arts partnerships which took place between 1st September 2019 – 31st March 2021.

    Click here to visit the Awards Hub, and access our online application forms.

    Deadline for form completion is 12 noon, Friday 16th April 2021.


  • New Member Spotlight...The Junction Retail & Leisure Park


     Supporting local organisations to  thrive is one of Arts & Business NI’s core objectives, so it’s always a cause for celebration when a new member joins our fold!


    We’re delighted to announce the recent addition The Junction Retail & Leisure Park to our Business member list. Located in Antrim, The Junction is the go-to retail and leisure destination in Northern Ireland; a playground for visitors of all ages! Shopping is only one part of The Junction experience. As well as housing over 30 retailers, they offer a wide range of places to eat and drink, activities for the kids and a 10-screen Omniplex cinema.  

    We first teamed up with The Junction’s team in December 2020; working closely with Centre Manager Chris Flynn and local theatre-makers Cahoots NI, we helped to facilitate the production of Elves Got Talent, a COVID-safe drive-in performance which took place over Christmas in The Junction’s carpark.

    Regular shoppers thoroughly enjoyed the production (check out their feedback below!), and the centre saw a noticeable boost in their sales, as a result of the buzz created by the show.


    Following this successful performance, The Junction came onboard as a full Business Member of Arts & Business NI.

    Chris Flynn, Centre Manager, The Junction commented:

    “My team at The Junction were incredibly proud of the ‘Elves got Talent’ drive-in pantomime delivered by the extremely talented team at Cahoots NI. It was something different, and it definitely brought some much needed festive cheer to the audience and our staff! We believe there are lots of opportunities for us to partner with arts organisations. Our membership of Arts & Business NI is a great way of networking with the many talented performers working in the creative industries. Covid-19 has forced everyone to think differently. The Junction passionately believes that it is mutually beneficial for the arts sector and retail in Northern Ireland to work together, particularly as we continue to adapt to the new normal”  

    Maeve McKervey, Head of Business, Arts & Business NI commented:

    “We are delighted to welcome The Junction Retail and Leisure Park as a business member of  Arts & Business NI. From our very first discussions with Chris, we realised that he is a great advocate for the Arts in Northern Ireland, and sees the real business benefit that creative partnerships can bring.

    His novel drive in panto ‘Elves got Talent’, delivered during a pandemic, in partnership with Cahoots NI, is an indication of just how forward thinking Chris and his team are. The creative project enabled Chris to keep the magic of Christmas alive for his shoppers and the local community, during an exceptionally difficult year for many.

    We are really excited to work with Chris on future creative projects at The Junction Retail and Leisure Park.”

    Interested in discovering how Membership could benefit your organisation? Our support package includes creative training opportunities, access to our robust annual events programme, match funding for creative projects and more.

    Read more about membership here, or get in touch to discuss the possibilities for your business with Maeve McKervey, Head of Business at A&BNI (


  • A&BNI launched third series of Creative Disruption events launched!


    We've launched a third series of Creative Disruptions events!

    These 30 minute bite-sized, lunch time Zoom sessions are targeted at business professionals, and give creative inspiration on how to address common business objectives. If you want to find more interesting ways to motivate your staff, communicate your brand, or connect with your local communities, these are the events for you! Sign up below. 

    Register here for Brand Storytelling: Bank of Ireland and Cinemagic Thursday 13th May 1-1.30pm

    Register here for Staff Engagement: Fusion Antibodies and R-Space Gallery Thursday 27th May 1-1.30pm

    Register here for Community Engagement: Doyle Shipping Group and c21 Theatre Company Thursday 24th June 1-1.30pm


  • Bank of Ireland launches second round of the Begin Together Arts Fund, in partnership with Arts & Business NI


    The second round of the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund, in partnership with Arts & Business NI and Business to Arts in Ireland was launched today. The all-island Begin Together Arts Fund will make a total of £865,000 in arts funding available over three years, awarded to projects that are adapting due to the pandemic, or are inspired by and responding to our recovery. 

    The Arts Fund supports or commissions artists and arts organisations to develop arts projects that engage the individuals, audiences and communities involved. All art forms are eligible to apply to the fund. With this second round, Bank of Ireland and Arts & Business NI and Business to Arts are encouraging more applications from artists who specialise in fine-art film and craft-related disciplines and from community arts organisations, who were under-represented in round one.  

    During the first round of the Arts Fund over £260,000 was distributed to 36 projects across the island of Ireland. Projects such poet Maria McManus’ site specific literary and dance event ‘At the Margins’ that draws on her large-scale public engagement letter-writing project ‘Filling the Void’; Mobile Music Ensemble’s ‘Covid Care Concerts’ which will tour residential care homes across Derry/Londonderry this summer to provide uplifting music to residents; and ‘The Room Songs Project’, by Over The Hill Music Collective in partnership with Oh Yeah Music Centre, Belfast, in which older musicians address themes of loneliness and isolation through song writing.

    Ian McLaughlin, Chief Executive, Bank of Ireland UK said, “In a year where the arts sector continues to face extraordinary challenges, I am delighted that that the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund, which is a core part of our wider support for communities across the island of Ireland, is helping to ensure original art continues to be commissioned and created. We’re looking forward to seeing a range of projects brought to life with the help of the Fund and to celebrating both the art and artists for the essential contribution they make to the fabric of our communities.”

    Deirdre Hargey, Minister for Communities said, “The Arts play a fundamental role in all of our lives, now perhaps more than ever. I am acutely aware of the substantial contribution that they make to our local economy, quality of life, health and wellbeing, in the shaping of our standing as a place to live, work and visit, and how they have a vital role to play in delivering social renewal for communities and people impacted by COVID-19. That is why I have been so determined to support the arts sector and those who work in it at a time when they most need it and so I welcome and commend this initiative from Bank of Ireland, Arts & Business NI and Business to Arts. And I sincerely hope others in business are encouraged to follow their lead in supporting the arts across the island during what has undoubtedly been an unprecedented and difficult time for the sector.”

    Mary Nagele, Chief Executive, Arts & Business Northern Ireland added, “As we look to the future, the arts will have a pivotal role to play in ensuring the recovery and renewal of our society. The Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund has already supported the local cultural sector in developing impactful community-driven artistic work, and we are delighted to partner with Bank of Ireland and Business to Arts to continue to maximise the positive results the Fund has started to deliver.”

    About the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund:

    This Fund provides fees to artists or groups of artists to create new work and help maximise the budgets of partner organisations (e.g. arts organisations, community/voluntary organisations, etc.) for their programme of activity.

    Artists or groups of artists applying must work with a partner organisation (e.g. a venue or event, arts organisation, community/voluntary organisation or another funding agency/organisation). Applicants can request funds between c. £2,500 – £8,400, and average grants will be £4,200, with maximum grants of £8,400. Arts projects with larger budgets that have secured funds elsewhere are encouraged to apply. With each grant round, the Fund aims to provide funding to an arts project in each county on the island of Ireland.

    Closing date for the second round of applications is Wednesday, 23 June 2021 at 5pm. The third round will open in Spring 2022. Go to for information on the application process and to complete the online application form.

  • Applications open for our Board Matching Programmes 2021!


    We are delighted to open applications for our 2021 Board Matching Programmes.

    We have two board matching programmes, tailored to suit professionals at all stages of their career journey.

    The Young Professionals programme places the best up-and-coming talent that the Northern Ireland business sector has to offer on the boards of leading local arts charities.

    Board Bank is a long standing and successful programme, founded by Arts & Business NI, which strategically places experienced/executive business professionals onto the boards of leading local arts organisations.

    Why should I consider signing up for a Board Matching Programme?

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

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

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

    Hear what other professionals have to say about our programme...

    How do I apply?

    If you're in the earlier stages of your career...

    Take a look at the full details of the Young Professionals on Arts Boards, and fill out the application form here.

    If you're more experienced in your career...

    Take a look at the full details of Board Bank, and fill out the application form here.

    Application deadline for submissions is 12pm on Wednesday 30th June 2021.

  • Arts & Business Awards 2021, in partnership with Forestside, Shortlist Announced!


    Our judges have deliberated, and the results are in!

    We'd like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who applied for the Arts & Business NI Awards 2021, in partnership with Forestside. We received a record number of high quality applications, each of them a great credit to the organisations and their work of the past 18 months.

    The shortlisted partnerships for our open categories can be found below.


    Inspirational Trustee

    •         Neil McClure, The Portico of Ards
    •         Louise Rossington and Adam Knight (Co-Chairs), Theatre and Dance NI
    •         Julie Mc Gowan, University of Atypical
    •         Rosie Timoney, Bruiser Theatre Company
    •         Betty Brown (CEO), Royal Ulster Academy
    •         Shona McCarthy, Oh Yeah Music Centre
    •         Stephen Beggs, Tinderbox Theatre Company

    Brand Storytelling

    •         Bounce Culture & Baker Tilly Mooney Moore
    •         Big Telly Theatre Company & Cathedral Quarter BID
    •         Cahoots Theatre Company & The Junction
    •         Cinemagic & Bank of Ireland
    •         Docs Ireland & TG4
    •         Royal Ulster Academy & KPMG
    •         Young at Art & U105
    •         Seedhead Arts & Community Arts Partnership & Dillon Bass

    Creative Community Engagement

    •         Cinemagic & George Best Belfast City Airport
    •         Belfast International Arts Festival & Belfast Harbour
    •         Booktrust NI & SONI
    •         Prime Cut Productions & Clanmil Housing Association
    •         Cahoots Theatre Company & The Junction
    •         Eastside Arts & Connswater Shopping Centre
    •         Young at Art & CQ BID

    Mental Health & Wellbeing

    •         Belfast Exposed & Northern Health and Social Care Trust
    •         Place to Wonder & Heron Bros
    •         c21 Theatre Company & Doyle Shipping Group
    •         Cinemagic & George Best Belfast City Airport
    •         Millennium Forum & Diamond Corrugated
    •         Commedia of Errors & Radius Housing
    •         Strand Arts Centre & Specsavers Connswater

    New Sponsor

    •         R-Space Gallery & Fusion Antibodies
    •         Belfast International Arts Festival & Belfast Harbour
    •         Oh Yeah Music Centre & Translink
    •         Cahoots NI & The Junction
    •         Cinemagic & Bank of Ireland
    •         Rainbow Factory & Phoenix Natural Gas
    •         Royal Ulster Academy & Hambly and Hambly Gallery

    Staff Engagement Award

    •         Belfast Exposed & Northern Health and Social Care Trust
    •         Keith Acheson & Citi
    •         Lyric Theatre & FinTrU
    •         Belfast Ensemble & Herbert Smith Freehills
    •         Young at Art & Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
    •         Emer Maguire & Citi

    CLOSED CATEGORIES (shortlist nominated by A&BNI and Forestside as principal sponsor)

    Business of Year Award

    Awarded to a business that has excelled through integrating Arts & Culture through different facets of its business strategy.

    •         Citi
    •         Connswater Shopping Centre
    •         George Best Belfast City Airport  
    •         Translink

    Arts Organisation of the Year

    Presented to a local arts organisation which has consistently sought to develop and pioneer new ideas, whilst demonstrating a progressive and creative approach to business partnership. The winner of this category also receives £3,000.

    •         Royal Ulster Academy
    •         Cahoots NI
    •         Belfast Exposed

    Forestside Choice

    This award recognises the work of a stand-out arts organisation and includes a financial investment of £1,000 for the category winner.

    •         Cinemagic
    •         Cahoots NI
    •         Portico of Ards

    A&BNI Choice: Most Creative Response/Adaptation to Pandemic

    Awarded to an agile arts organisation who took the challenges of COVID-19 and used then to strategically adapt or inform their work, ultimately continuing to stay true to their purpose/mission.

    •         Arts Care
    •         Belfast Exposed
    •         University of Atypical
    •         Tinderbox
    •         Commedia of Errors

    Arts Innovator

    This award showcases a pioneering arts practitioner, who brought a particularly unique and inventive approach to their work during 2020

    •         Stephen Kelly, C21 Theatre Company
    •         Paul McEneaney, Cahoots NI
    •         Ray Giffen, The Duncairn

    Above & Beyond Award

    Awarded to an individual in the business sector who has not only actively engaged with the arts sector, but gone above the call of duty to assist arts organisations/practitioners in 2020.

    •         Brendan Mulgrew, MW Advocate
    •         Mark Case, Whitenoise
    •         Peter McVerry, U105

    Join us on Awards night!

    Register here for the free ceremony, taking place on 17th June at 6pm.

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Our Funders & Partners

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