The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is the funding and development agency for the arts. It champions the contribution that the arts bring to a healthy and health-creating society. In addition to supporting work that connects directly with people with physical and mental ill health, Arts Council funds are applied on a preventative health basis, by enhancing the physical and emotional wellbeing of audience members and project participants.

The Arts Council supports a network of organisations which contribute across the range of health and care services and assist the Northern Ireland Government in delivering its strategic priorities on the health and wellbeing of citizens.

Arts Care is Northern Ireland’s leading regional arts, health and wellbeing organisation. The Department of Health and Northern Ireland’s five Health and Social Care Trusts, each of which has an Arts in Health Lead, commission Arts Care to deliver a wide range of innovative and impactful participatory arts projects, events, performances, and exhibitions across Northern Ireland. This enables opportunities for service users, healthcare staff and visitors to participate in a variety of high-quality arts workshops, performances and events within health and community care settings.

Open Arts improves the artistic and creative life of disabled people through a wide range of creative participatory activities which engage people with physical and neurodiverse disabilities, sensory impairments and mental health illness.

University of Atypical specialises in developing and promoting the work of disabled, D/deaf and neurodivergent artists and in reaching disabled, D/deaf and neurodivergent audiences.

A range of arts organisations also focus on health and wellbeing, including Replay Theatre Company, Cahoots NI, Sole Purpose Productions and the annual Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts Festival.

Key Developments

The Arts and Older People Programme supports organisations in the delivery of high-quality participatory arts activities for older people. The main focus is on carers, care homes and people living with dementia. The programme is funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council, in partnership with the Public Health Agency and The Baring Foundation.

ARTiculate is a participatory arts programme for vulnerable young people aged 12-18years. The main focus is on improving mental health and wellbeing, encouraging young people to explore the issues affecting them, and awareness raising. The programme is funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council.

The Creative Schools Partnership connects schools from areas of high need with professional artists to introduce more creativity into the classroom and improve all round learning. The programme is a collaboration between the Arts Council, Urban Villages Initiative and the Education Authority.

Northern Ireland partners

Further details on

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