Communities to benefit from £700K to improve access and inclusion to the Arts

Date published: 09 May 2019

The Department for Communities has provided almost £700k to 38 Arts groups to help improve access to, and participation in, arts and cultural activities by people with disabilities.

Tracy Meharg and Mimi Turtle outside the Strand Arts Centre, Belfast

In partnership with local councils and the Public Health Agency (PHA), the scheme, which was launched last December, encouraged all 11 councils to bring forward eligible projects with supporting business cases following the successful roll out of a pilot programme which were then examined and assessed with input from the PHA and Disability Action.

The pilot scheme which was undertaken by Derry City and Strabane District Council, identified evidence of the benefits of culture and arts to health and wellbeing with clear linkages identified between the Arts and Public Health policy.  As a result, the Department secured further funding and developed a new programme that could be rolled out across all council areas in the 2018/19 financial year.

Visiting the Strand Cinema in East Belfast today to hear how funding of £37k has improved it’s hearing and visual accessibility facilities Tracy Meharg, Department for Communities Permanent Secretary said; “The Access and Inclusion Programme will have a significant impact on improving accessibility to arts and culture venues for people with a wide range of disabilities.

“It is a prime example of community planning in action with the Department working in partnership and collaboration with local government to deliver positive outcomes for citizens and communities.”

Mimi Turtle, Chief Executive at Strand Arts Centre said “We run a number of projects for seniors and people in care and serve a community with comparatively high levels of disability.  It is important that we are an inclusive venue and everyone can benefit from our services.  We were delighted to be able to purchase the necessary equipment to enable people with hearing or visual impairments to enjoy our film screenings. 

“The Strand was also able to purchase the equipment necessary to create a ‘pop-up’ cinema in care homes where residents are too poorly or immobile to leave the home – this is a service which was requested by some of our established partners so we are really excited about being able to meet their needs.”   The funding provided by the Department together with contributions of almost £100k from local Councils and arts venues, enabled  letters of offer to issue to 38 projects across 8 participating Council areas.

Notes to editors: 

  1. A full list of the successful applicants can be found online
  2. Media enquiries to DfC Press Office on 028 9082 3505 or email .  Out of hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110
  3. Follow the Department on Twitter @CommunitiesNI


Share this page

Back to top