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First NI Writers Day will Celebrate Home-grown Talent
The Royal Society of Literature has joined with the Arts Council to celebrate Northern Irish writers and writing as part of the first NI Writers Day in March (Tuesday 23rd March). This free online day of events, hosted in partnership with the Arts Council, will shine a spotlight on our acclaimed poets, playwrights and authors.

NI Writers Day is part of a UK-wide drive by the Royal Society of Literature to broaden its reach and celebrate diversity in literature.  Through its RSL Open Fellowship Programme, 60 new fellows will be elected this year, from communities under-represented in UK literature - particularly working class writers, writers outside of London, writers of colour, and LGBTQ+ writers.

Tickets for NI Writers Day are free and can be booked via the RSL website.
Funding News
Collection Acquisitions Open Submission Scheme
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland  invites applications to its Collections Open Submission Programme. This scheme invites artists to put forward a piece of their art work which the Arts Council will consider buying for its Collection.
Deadline for Application: Friday 26th February 2021 at 4pm

The Arts Council is currently dealing with an unprecedented volume of email correspondence. It may take  longer than usual for staff to respond to enquiries. We thank you for your patience. 

Our staff list is here.

Artists from NI showcased at the Jaipur Literature Festival, the greatest literary show on Earth!
Described as the 'greatest literary show on Earth', the Jaipur Literature Festival (19th-28th February) is a global literary phenomenon, having over the last decade hosted 2000 speakers and a million book lovers from across India and the globe. This year the Jaipur Literature Festival will be presented entirely online due to the pandemic and will feature a number of artists from Northern Ireland, including poet Stephen Sexton, writer Paul McVeigh, musician Jason O'Rourke and BBC NI & Arts Council of Northern Ireland Young Musicians' Platform Awardee, Jack Warnock.

Programme of events
Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics Returns with Virtual Programme
One of Belfast's most innovative and engaging festivals, Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics (22nd – 28th March) has launched its virtual programme for 2021. The week-long festival will host 115 webcasts (the great majority of which are free) and will explore the theme, 'The State of Us' and pertinent topics, including the centenary of the formation of NI, Brexit, climate change, Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter. This year's online festival has attracted leading global figures and experts from around the world, including Noam Chomsky, Bonnie Greer and a host of local talent.  

Programme of events
£94,000 awarded to d/Deaf and Disabled Artists
Forty-four d/Deaf and disabled artists have been awarded £94,000 in funding to create new work and support them through the Covid-19 crisis.

The University of Atypical, on behalf of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities, has awarded the grants at a time when artists' potential to generate income has been seriously impacted by the closure of art galleries, theatres, music venues and other creative outlets.

Damien Coyle, CEO of the University of Atypical, said: "The awards recognise the important contribution d/Deaf and disabled artists make to our society and they will create a legacy beyond the current pandemic as the visual arts and crafts works produced through the commissions go on display at public venues across Northern Ireland."

Watch the short video
Arts activities to enjoy online
The Arts Council has rounded up just some of the fantastic creative activities and performances you can enjoy online, most of which are funded by the Arts Council, the Dept for Communities and the National Lottery.

New highlights include: 

The Irish Traditional Music Archive has made four previously unheard acetate recordings of legendary Sligo fiddle player Michael Coleman (1895-1945) publically available. The recordings, made in New York in 1942, are available to listen to on the ITMA website.
Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich presents an online art exhibition, Aesthetic Distance by Vera Ryklova, a Dublin-based visual artist, working in lens-based media. Performing to the camera, she produces a series of photographic and video (self-) portraits.

You can watch the Arts Council's Head of Community Arts & Education, Gilly Campbell, with her weekly roundup on NVTV here.
Open House Presents The Court House Sessions
For the first time in a year, Open House Festival Bangor is opening its doors for a series of performances – albeit not live ones just yet. The doors in question are of the old Court House on Bangor's seafront, which the charity took possession of last December in the first ever community asset transfer, following a five-year development and fundraising campaign.

The performances, which will be filmed in various rooms inside the building following strict Covid guidelines, are all by artists who are based in the Bangor area. Funded by the Arts Council, the 'Court House Sessions' will feature eleven recorded performances lasting from ten to twenty minutes. The sessions will be released in a staggered schedule from Friday 26th February through to mid-March on the Open House YouTube channel, and available to view through the organisation's website and social media platforms.
Kabosh explores the fragility of love in 'Before You Go'
Love, loss and living are just some of the powerful themes explored in 'Before You Go', a new play from Kabosh which will be filmed and streamed online from 2 - 4 March. Written by Laurence McKeown and directed by Paula McFetridge, 'Before You Go' looks at the difficulties of communicating with those who are closest to us and the consequences of not saying what we should while there is still time. 

Set in Carlingford in the present day, 'Before You Go' tells the story of 22 year-old Sorcha, whose mother, Mary, died when she was just 18 months old. Sorcha was raised largely by Mary's parents and whilst father and daughter now have a strong relationship, his regular absenteeism throughout her life was never discussed. As the sun rises on the border, the clock is ticking and the past needs to be addressed... Cast features James Doran, Lisa Duffy and Eimear Fearon.
Masked dancers take 'Turnabout' in new Maiden Voyage Dance production
Maiden Voyage Dance, Northern Ireland's commissioning company for contemporary dance, will present 'Turnabout', a new online family-friendly show exploring children's thoughts on hope, as part of this year's Belfast Children's Festival from 6 - 14 March. 

Choreographed by Jennifer Rooney with new music from internationally-acclaimed composer Elaine Agnew, the text for Turnabout was inspired by stories of hope created by Belfast primary school pupils at workshops by poet Olive Broderick. In a first for Maiden Voyage, the company has collaborated with Belfast Philharmonic Society to work with 80+ young voices from Belfast Philharmonic Youth and Chamber Choirs to bring this text to life in Elaine Agnew's musical score.

Watch the short video.
HM Government Public Appointments - BBC Member for Northern Ireland
The BBC's mission is defined by Royal Charter: to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain.

The Charter requires the BBC to ensure that it provides output and services that reflect, represent and serve the diverse communities of all of the United Kingdom's nations and regions.  To help the BBC deliver this duty the Board includes non-executive Board members representing Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.  Nations members of the BBC Board are appointed by the UK Government with the agreement of the respective devolved Parliament or Assembly.

Deadline for applications: 12 March 2021 at 11pm.
Neither here, nor there, New Voices of Ireland Series 8
Artists from Italy and Hungary who have made their homes in Northern Ireland will come together for 'Neither here, nor there, New Voices of Ireland Series 8', a special showcase event for presenting migrant artists to the wider online community, on Thursday 25 February at 7pm.

Organised by the Centre for Creative Practices, 'Neither here, nor there', or the poetry of migration, is a dialogue between two poets, Viviana Fiorentino and Csilla Toldy, interspersed with poetry reading in Italian, Hungarian and English on the themes of belonging, borders and how home can take different forms when viewed from a distance.
Belfast Exposed Survey
Over the past 20 years, Belfast Exposed has been using photography as therapeutic engagement for groups and individuals needing support with their mental health and well-being. Belfast Exposed is creating a strategy to develop co-designed programmes to improve mental health and well-being and is keen to work with individuals and communities to co-design mental health and well-being photography programmes. It wants to ascertain what your community and individual needs are and seeks your thoughts and views in shaping its future delivery. 

For taking part in the survey, you or your group will be entered into a draw for a free mental health & well-being photography session.
Freelancers in the Dark survey
The Freelancers in the Dark research project investigates the social, cultural, and economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on independent arts workers in the theatre sector across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The purpose of this project is to investigate the experiences of freelance theatre workers, and to report back and evaluate the data collected from throughout the UK. The  aim is to not only document the collective strategies of freelancers during and in the immediate aftermath of Covid-19, but also help the sector develop a plan to address the challenges facing freelancers in 2021 and beyond, facilitate communication with support networks across the UK, and increase resilience in the sector.

Organisations & Venues survey
Freelancers survey
Arts Council COVID-19 advice
Keep up to date with the latest Coronavirus updates from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, including a list of potential funding sources which might be helpful to artists and arts organisations at this time. We will update this list as we go along. 

If you know of any other sources, please contact us at and we will share with the sector.
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