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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Arts Council announces £500,000 funding to support 73 rurally-based arts projects

Local group Glenlough Community Choir received £9,999. (Image: Conor McKeegan)

Seventy-three community groups, arts organisations and local authorities in rurally-based communities across Northern Ireland are set to benefit from the Arts Council’s new Rural Engagement Arts Programme (REAP), including local group, Glenlough Community Choir.

The Rural Engagement Arts Programme, worth £500,000, aims to provide an integrated, cohesive approach to the needs of rural communities as they emerge from the global Covid-19 pandemic. 

The overarching theme of the programme is to tackle isolation and loneliness, and promote social inclusion and wellbeing through participation in the arts.

The Rural Engagement Arts Programme is one of the Arts Council’s core National Lottery programme areas and to help develop and design the programme the Arts Council consulted with the Rural Deliberative Forum and the 10 Local Authorities outside of Belfast.

Liam Hannaway, Chair, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to make this funding available to rural communities and we are grateful to the Rural Deliberative Forum for their input and advice when designing the programme. 

"We know that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, boost confidence and motivation, as well as alleviate isolation and loneliness. 

"The pandemic and the resulting lockdowns across the UK have taken a toll on individual lives, with mental health and well-being adversely effected as families and friends were separated for sustained periods of time, especially intergenerational. This has been particularly compounded in rural communities which are characterised by smaller and more dispersed populations.”

The Chair continued:

“Thanks to The National Lottery players, the Rural Engagement Arts Programme will increase opportunities for people living in rural communities to engage and participate in meaningful arts activities, enriching their lives for the better. 

The Arts Council believes that arts, and coming together as communities, can all make a vital contribution to building wellbeing, confidence and healthy, integrated communities.”

Local group Glenlough Community Choir received £9,999. (Image: Conor McKeegan)

County Antrim based Glenlough Community Choir was awarded £9,999 REAP funding and will use the welcome-boost toward their project entitled, Pick-Me-Up Community Chorus.

The project aims to build confidence and encourage isolated older members of their group to return to singing rehearsals following their departure during the pandemic.  

With support from REAP, Glenlough Community Choir will pilot four weekly, day-time 'Pick-Me-Up' regional choirs in Ballygalley, Broughshane and Carnlough, that are small in size and welcoming, to gently reintroduce participants back to society. They hope to work with 40 older people from a wide, rural geographical area.

For more information on Glenlough Community Choir, please visit their Facebook HERE, or email:

REAP funding has been offered to organisations located in Local Authority Areas across Northern Ireland, with particular focus in some of Northern Ireland’s most rural areas, for example Fermanagh and Omagh, Mid Ulster and Newry, Mourne and Down. 

Some other rurally-based communities that have been offered REAP funding in County Antrim includes:


Glenlough Community Centre Management Committee £6,502

Glenlough Community Choir £9,999


BEAMA Education CIC £9,999

Impact Network NI £7,031


Armstrong Storytelling Trust £2,941

Ballymoney u3a £5,880

Big Telly Theatre Company £9,908

Bushmills District & Community Association £2,831

Cloughmills Community Action Team £920

Cushendall Men's Shed £1,414

Cushendun Building Preservation Trust (CBPT) £5,149

Friends of Glenariffe £4,984

Live Music Now (LMN) £9,540


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