Blueprint Begins! 30 Participants and New Programme Project Manager Announced

21 Jan 2022

Blueprint Begins! 30 Participants and New Programme Project Manager Announced

It’s almost 5 years in the making, but we’re finally here: Thursday 20th January 2022 marked Day 1 of delivering our Blueprint programme, and we are absolutely thrilled to kick things off with our diverse mix of participants and newly appointed Programme Manager…

How did we get here?

It’s been a real journey to get to Day 1.

The seed for the Blueprint concept came from our research Socially Investing in the Arts, undertaken in conjunction with Building Change Trust in 2016. The research highlighted the financial fragility of the NI arts sector and spurred us into action to create a programme which would boost the financial resilience of the sector, to give them greater creative freedom and a more secure future.

We then made it our mission to secure support to deliver the programme: we were delighted to secure this support from both public and private funders including two UK foundations: Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, alongside Dormant Accounts Fund NI through the National Lottery Community Fund,  Arts Council Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and Department for Communities NI.

Recent History

Needless to say, the negative impacts of COVID-19 have only exacerbated the issues in the arts sector identified by our 2016 research. 4 years on from its initial development, the Blueprint programme remained more relevant than ever.

As we moved out of the pandemic lockdowns and entered 2021, we saw a number of significant positive advancements for the programme.

In September 2021, we were awarded £500,000 by the Dormant Accounts Fund NI, specifically to facilitate the Blueprint programme. This grant was the first larger endowment made by Dormant Accounts NI, and paved the way to allow us to launch recruitment for programme participants in November 2021.

We were humbled and delighted by the interest shown in the programme, and appreciate the time and energy invested by all applicants. The standard was very high, and we are thrilled to have a really impressive and diverse roster of organisations joining us in this ground-breaking journey.

Meet Our Participants

We have enlisted 30 organisations, spanning music, theatre, circus, visual arts and more, all with the mission to find new ways of working to become more sustainable. They are:

Meet our Programme Manager

We needed a fantastic group of participants to make the Blueprint programme happen.

But we also needed an incredible Programme Manager to help them navigate their way through the process and create an environment that allowed the lightbulb moments to happen.

We were delighted to appoint Sarah Jones in this role. Sarah joins us from Creative & Cultural Skills where she was Head of Partnerships NI. Over the last number of years she has been responsible for the development and delivery of skills and employment programmes within the creative industries. Working on programmes in both NI and across the UK she has experience of working with a diverse range of funders and partners with an interest in the sustainability of the sector.

Speaking about the programme, Sarah commented, ‘I am delighted to be involved in such a unique programme which aims to improve the resilience and security of the arts sector. It is a privilege to be involved in a programme which will tackle with practical measures, the issues so many of us are aware of. We have a fantastic group of participants and I look forward to working with them over the course of the Blueprint’.

What’s Next?

The first phase of the programme begins today, with 6 discovery and training sessions taking place over the coming months, ending in June.

We are energised at the prospect of working with our organisations to unpick their business models and offerings and will be sharing impacts and learnings made in the programme this summer.

Read more about Blueprint here.

Watch the Blueprint Launch Film here.


Our Funders & Partners

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