The Department for Communities has provided almost £700,000 to 38 Arts groups to help improve access to, and participation in, arts and cultural activities by people with disabilities.
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 £37,000 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 £100,000 from local Councils and arts venues, enabled letters of offer to issue to 38 projects across eight participating Council areas.
Flowerfield Arts Centre Awarded – £1750
Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre Awarded – £1750