The Acorn Fund Grantees Announced

Community and arts projects throughout Derry~Londonderry receive financial backing post-City of Culture

The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland’s Acorn Fund has announced the list of grantees set to benefit from its three funding programmes.

This first round of funding will support several innovative community arts and culture projects across County Derry~Londonderry and will also enable six individual awards to young people.

13 projects will be supported through the Legacy Grants and the Acorn Giving Circle, while Inspire Bursaries of up to £3,000 have been awarded to six young people with disabilities, allowing them to pursue training in the arts.

Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, the 2013 City of Culture Legacy Grants were awarded to eight wide-ranging arts and culture initiatives across the county.

The Nerve Centre, for example, will work with Artichoke, the creative minds behind last year’s light spectacular Lumiere festival of light, and local communities, to deliver a public light performance by internationally renowned artist David Best, entitled ‘Temple’. The installation will include a repository for visitor messages and testimonies of personal and collective stories.

Guildhall Press, meanwhile, will re-establish one of the City of Culture’s 2013 key community projects, Portrait of a City. The publishing company will continue to engage the public and build on the digital photographic and film archive by hosting several collection days across the summer.

Other recipients of the Legacy Grant include the Foyle Down Syndrome Trust, Glasgowbury Rural Key Programme, Learmount Community Development Group Ltd (Park Village), Liberty Consortium and the North West Play Resource Centre. These projects will aim to promote health and well-being within their communities, help young people to break marginalisation patterns and address rural isolation.

Frank Hewitt, the Big Lottery Fund’s NI chair said: ‘The Big Lottery Fund is delighted to be associated with the first announcement under the Acorn Fund’s Legacy Grants programme. The wide range of great projects being supported will build on the successes of the first UK City of Culture and the investment we made through our Culture for All programme.’

A further five county-wide community groups will benefit from the Acorn Giving Circle (AGC), entirely funded by a group of local philanthropists dedicated to helping improve the lives of children and young people in the Derry City Council area.

A grant of £500 was awarded to the pupils of Holy Family Primary and Nursery School, which allowed them to travel to the world famous Royal Albert Hall for an once-in-a-lifetime performance, after winning the Barnardo's National Choir of the Year competition earlier this year. Another £500 will help towards the cost of Extern’s horticulture project for young people aged 10 – 17 living in residential care or in custody.

Speaking about the allocation of funding, Shauna Kelpie, Acorn Fund development officer said: ‘It is such an exciting time for the Acorn Fund to be at the point where we can announce the first round of recipients for all three funding programmes.

'Although the grants may be relatively small in monetary terms, we recognise the impact that they will have and the far-reaching cultural contribution to local communities. The projects will provide real and long term benefits to the groups, allowing them to use arts and culture as a way of bringing people together, address the challenges facing their local community and inspiring the talent we have across the County of Derry~Londonderry.'

The Acorn Fund also announced the recipients of its Inspire Bursaries Programme. Funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation UK, grants of up to £3,000 have been awarded to six young people with disabilities allowing them to pursue training in their chosen arts.

Donna-Marie Duddy will use her bursary to produce her debut EP on a limited edition 12” vinyl for release in the autumn, while Emma O’Kane will use the bursary to pursue further her training in dance and performance. All of the successful applicants will receive mentored support during and following their award period from the Acorn Fund, and will in turn act as mentors for future bursary recipients.

Explaining what the bursary means to her, Donna-Marie said: ‘The Acorn Fund Inspire Bursary has given me the opportunity to work in a professional studio beforehand, this was not possible. My professional EP could not happen without the support of the Acorn Fund.'

The Acorn Fund programme is designed as a contribution to the legacy of 2013 UK City of Culture and is funded with the support of the Big Lottery, Inner City Trust and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland. The second round of Acorn Fund funding will open in the autumn.