Working in partnership with Autism Initiatives Newcastle Area we will provide creative sessions with children and young people with autism. We have worked with Autism Initiatives since 2015, most recently completing a 3-year project, ‘In Tune’ which was funded by Children in Need. Our work together was initially based in Belfast, but in more recent years has concentrated on Newcastle and surrounding rural areas as there has been more need and demand.

We will continue to work with a core group of children from our previous In Tune project who have really bonded and made great progress in their artistic skills. These children will meet monthly for music and dance sessions in Newcastle. The progress that has been made with the group is explained by an Autism Initiatives support worker below:

"Over the course of the programme I have seen participants develop in terms of individual confidence and levels of interaction with each other and the tutors. Some individuals who would have been initially reluctant to try an activity or who would have required 1:1 adult support, have grown in confidence and are now more willing to try new activities and perform in front of others."
Autism Initiatives support worker

This group will receive monthly 2-hour workshops that will explore multiple art forms: music, dance, drama. They will also have and an ‘intensive day’ during the school breaks in February and summer 2024. With the support of Autism Initiatives, we will identify other groups of children with autism and/or learning disabilities in the more rural areas of Newry, Mourne and Down. Each of these groups will receive 6 creative sessions with the aim that children from these groups will join the established group on a regular basis. 

We will deliver Take Away Theatre performances for up to six rural families with a disabled child or young person.

Takeaway Theatre is an interactive experience that happens at home for disabled people and their families. The experience is about engagement, empowerment, and fun for the individual but it also, importantly, enables siblings, parents, family members and friends to enjoy a shared experience. Initially funded by Bank of Ireland Begin Together throughout 2022 and into 2023, every visit has been a great success and an important experience as expressed by one parent:

“I meant to email you sooner to say that we had a brilliant afternoon with Barry and for Finn’s birthday. They had a lovely way with the children and they allowed Finn to create the drama production and we all had a great laugh. I would definitely recommend your service to others. Many thanks for making Finn’s day so special and memorable.”

This project is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland through their Rural Engagement Arts Programme.

Arts Council of NI Logo
Autism Initiatives is a project partner for our In Tune programme.