Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together Arts Fund announces €300,000 in funding for music, theatre, dance, traditional and visual arts projects


29 January 2021 – Bank of Ireland, in partnership with Business to Arts, today announced that 36 projects spanning music, theatre, dance, traditional arts, and the visual arts will receive support from the first phase of the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund.

Funding of €300,000 will be provided to artworks or arts projects which have been inspired by the experience of living through COVID-19 or have been adapted in response to the pandemic. The all-island Begin Together Arts Fund will make a total of €1 million in arts funding available over three years and will open for a second round of applications in April.

Oliver Wall, Chief of Staff and Head of Group Corporate Affairs, Bank of Ireland said, “Art has such an important role to play in helping us to understand, express and reflect on the world, especially at challenging times like these. I am delighted that through the Begin Together Arts Fund Bank of Ireland can help sustain the development of new work and artistic practice during the pandemic. There’s a wonderful spread of projects across all art forms in this first phase and I look forward to seeing them come to fruition over the rest of the year.”  

Catherine Martin, TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media said,

“The arts sector continues to be severely impacted by COVID-19 and the Government has been working to support artists in a variety of ways. Creating an arts fund like the Begin Together Arts Fund in partnership with Business to Arts, is one of the ways the private sector can also be involved in supporting the arts during this challenging time. I’d like to congratulate the 36 projects across the island that have been successful with the first phase of grants from the Fund.”

Andrew Hetherington, CEO, Business to Arts said, “Bank of Ireland’s leadership with the Begin Together Arts Fund is a clear statement of the Bank’s support of Ireland’s arts community during these very challenging times. The projects funded in this first grant round represent the many creative and resilient ways that artists are responding to the crisis with new work and are enriching our lives. We are proud to partner with Bank of Ireland on the Begin Together Arts Fund and fulfil mutual objectives to create an impact across the island of Ireland and on a diverse mix of arts projects.”

Among the 36 artists and projects funded through this first phase, the Begin Together Arts Fund grants will support:

  • The Space Between, conceptualized by musician Susan O’Neill, is a series of short films in which musicians are paired with artists they haven’t played with before to create new work in the setting of Bunratty Castle.
  • Drawing from the Well will see artists including Radie Peat and Caitlín Nic Gabhann produce new work inspired by material from the Irish Traditional Music Archives (ITMA).

Liam O’Connor, Director of the ITMA said, “Together with Bank of Ireland, we can grow our ambitions, better empower Irish artists and grow our impact on people who have an interest in Irish music throughout the world. ITMA offers free universal access to all its online material and does not charge any subscription charges which brings financial challenges. To have Bank of Ireland financially supporting artists in the creation of new interpretations of Irish traditional music, song and dance is very important for ITMA and very much welcomed.”

  • Branar’s How to Catch a Star, a non-verbal children’s show with puppetry and an original score by composer Colm Mac Con Iomair.   
  • Locked Up in Lockdown, a piece of theatre with a number of current and former students from a young offenders’ centre in Belfast based on their letters, poems and prose about the pandemic. The theatre piece will be presented in partnership with the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

    Philip Crawford, Head of Creative Learning, Lyric Theatre said,
    “This is a really exciting chance for two recently graduated actors, David Evans and Finnian Garbutt – attempting to begin their careers at an impossibly challenging time – to develop their artistic and project management skills. While training at the Lyric Theatre, both David and Finnian developed an interest in working creatively with young men in custody at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre and Prison. To continue this vital work, thanks to support from Bank of Ireland, Business to Arts, and Arts & Business NI, is a hugely appreciated learning opportunity for all involved.”
  • Travelling Cycle Circus, a 45-minute show inspired by Flan O’Brien’s satire that will traverse the Sligo and Donegal coast by bicycle.
  • Village People. Kilkenny-based artist Blaise Smith will paint portraits in four-hour sittings in gardens (for social distancing) and webcast them online.

The assessment panel for the first round of the Fund featured three independent representatives from the Arts and Culture sector, three representatives from Bank of Ireland, and was facilitated by Business to Arts and Arts & Business Northern Ireland:

  • Lorraine Maye, Director, Cork Midsummer Festival
  • Colette Norwood, Arts Manager, Northern Ireland, British Council  
  • Alex Petcu, Musician
  • John Greer, Head of Governance NI, Bank of Ireland  
  • Anne Mulcahy, Group Brand Director, Bank of Ireland   
  • Oliver Wall, Chief of Staff and Head of Group Corporate Affairs, Bank of Ireland

For the full list of supported projects please see:


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