The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced funding to support arts organisations in Northern Ireland in delivering a series of community-based arts projects benefitting older people.  The funding is part of the Arts and Older People’s Programme, a pioneering initiative supported by The National Lottery, Public Health Agency and Baring Foundation, which aims to tackle loneliness as-well as promote positive mental health and well-being among older people through engagement with the arts.  Applications are now open and will close at 12noon, Wednesday 21st July 2021.

The Arts and Older People’s Programme was  established by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2010 and is now a cross-governmental partnership with funding from the Public Health Agency and The Baring Foundation. The programme has been designed to challenge perceptions of what it means to be an older person. To date the programme has provided just under £2m funding to community organisations and voluntary groups across Northern Ireland in the delivery of 196 arts projects to older people.  

Lorraine Calderwood, Community Development Officer at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, explained how the Arts and Older People’s Programme is making a difference to the lives of older people across the region:

“Research has proven that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, confidence and motivation, as well as aid in relieving stress, worries and also pain. The Arts and Older People’s Programme is committed to providing meaningful opportunities for our older people to take part in arts activities, enriching their lives for the better.  The arts have a vital role to play in helping older people find their voice and express the issues which can often affect them on a day-to-day basis, thus promoting positive physical and mental health.  Thanks to The National Lottery players, the Arts Council has supported 196 projects since the programme began.”

A recent recipient of Arts and Older People’s Programme funding is, Open Arts, who developed a project called, Reminiscence and Song.  The project benefitted over 50 older people living in care homes in Belfast who worked with professional artists to take part in a series of music, creative writing and reminiscence workshops.  This writing material and their personal stories were then developed into two new songs by Fionnuala Fagan-Thiébot and a piece of creative writing by Natasha Cuddington.  Watch the video below to learn more about the project.

To read the guidance notes and apply to the Arts and Older People’s Programme visit