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

01 Feb 2021

Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together Arts Fund announces £270,000 funding for projects across Ireland

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.


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