/ Funding

Bank of Ireland to provide €1m for arts projects over next two years

Bank of Ireland has committed to provide €1 million over the next two years to support artists and arts projects across the island.

The money will be provided by the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund, in partnership with the Business to Arts organisation. It brings the bank’s community investment through its “Begin Together” programme to €3 million.

The bank will support or commission artists and organisations to develop projects. All art forms are eligible and the fund will also support projects that have been adapted due to Covid-19, or are inspired by or respond to the pandemic.

Commenting on the funding, Francesca McDonagh, group chief executive of Bank of Ireland, said: “Our wellbeing as a country depends on our rich culture and heritage continuing to thrive. Through this fund we are building on Bank of Ireland’s long history of supporting the arts. There is no better time than when artists, like communities across the island, are struggling in the face of the pandemic. This programme is part of our wider contribution to helping the recovery of communities and businesses across Ireland.”

Andrew Hetherington, chief executive of Business to Arts said: “We are acutely aware of the impact that Covid-19 is having on the revenue sources for the arts sector. The establishment of this fund with Bank of Ireland sets a new way for businesses to support arts projects in their local communities. We look forward to… seeing the arts projects that have been supported by the fund realised throughout 2021.”

The fund will provide fees to artists or groups of artists to create new work and help maximise the budgets of arts organisations, and community/voluntary bodies for their programme of activity.

Artists applying must work with a partner organisation, and can request funds of €3,000-€10,000 or the sterling equivalent.

How does the fund work in Northern Ireland? 

It is an all-island fund and is over two years but what is really excellent about this Fund is that it places artists at the heart – it will support artists and groups of artists to work with a partner organisation in the development of new or existing arts projects; this will include all art forms and projects which benefit a range of audiences. With each grant round, the Fund aims to provide funding to an arts project in each county on the island of Ireland.

Artists or groups of artists applying must work with a partner organisation (e.g. a venue or event, arts organisation, community/voluntary organisation or another funding agency/organisation). The Fund will provide fees to artists or groups of artists to create new work and help maximise the budgets of partner organisations for their programme of activity. Applicants can request funds between  c. £2,500 – £8,400, and average grants will be £4,200, with maximum grants of £8,400. Arts projects with larger budgets that have secured funds elsewhere are encouraged to apply. The Fund will also support arts projects that have been adapted due to COVID-19, or are inspired by / respond to COVID-19.

The Fund management is being led by Business to Arts in Dublin and applications will be made via their online application portal (details below). We are really delighted to work in partnership with Business to Arts to promote and advise on the Fund in Northern Ireland. Arts & Business NI and two representatives from the NI cultural sector (to be appointed) will sit on the assessment panel for all Northern Ireland applications. The A&B NI team are also happy to answer any queries any NI arts applicants may have. 

Bank of Ireland have been excellent supporters of the Arts across the island, North and South over many years. Their most recent creative partners in NI were Cinemagic, who helped them create a financial wellbeing programme to build capability and confidence amongst primary school, post primary and 3rd level students – they have also previously been a sponsor of Culture Night Belfast.

It is hugely heartening to see a business like Bank of Ireland announce this Arts Fund at this critical time – it is a fantastic reflection of the value that businesses place on a vibrant arts and cultural sector.

As you know over the past two weeks, Arts & Business NI have showcased many other business leaders across Northern Ireland, who also place enormous importance on supporting the arts,  including Citi, KPMG, Nuprint and Ulster University, to name a few. You can read the full blog, Why Northern Ireland’s Art Sector Must Be Supported Now: Businesses Speak Out here.

As we are all still working together to secure the full £33m UK treasury fund for the Arts in Northern Ireland, we will continue to use our voice and network to strongly advocate for the urgent delivery of this fund, to our arts sector to help our sector survive and thrive.

For more details on the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund please see Arts&BusinessNI website here

How to Apply

  • The Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund officially opens for applications today (21st September), with the closing deadline for this first round of applications on 4th November 2020 at 5pm.
  • To apply, visit the dedicated web page, which also acts as the application portal: www.businesstoarts.ie/artsfund/bank-of-ireland
  • The second round will open in April 2021