Projects and Events

In addition to our year round programmes Open Arts runs additional stand-alone participatory projects. The purpose of these projects is to engage more disabled people in the arts including children and young people. We continuously grow and develop artistic programmes to respond to changing needs and interests.

You can find more information about our past projects here.

“Open Arts ‘does what it says on the tin.’ Other Arts programmes in which I have been involved do the term ‘arts’ a disservice in terms of people with varying abilities. The Open Arts programme is warm, inclusive and very professionally guided.”

Take Away Theatre

Take Away Theatre is an interactive, fun performance that happens at home for disabled people and their families. It is suitable for anyone 5+ years and all abilities!

The performance engages families to co-create a drama based on our unique Takeaway Theatre menu! Two of our takeaway delivery performers ‘Ron, Stephanie, Lucy or Barry’ will lead on the fun and frolics!

It lasts for a maximum of 75 minutes and can happen indoors or outdoors.

Each family will receive a call from a performer before the visit to make sure that access needs are met, to discuss where they would like it to happen and any covid precautions.

"As a family it was a heart warming and fun experience. I recommend every family should do this. We could never go to a theatre with Oisín but now, why would we want to when we can actually plot and participate in our own play at home with the expertise and guidance of the amazing performers from Take Away Theatre – Open Arts... Just amazing!"
Emily Gallagher

Words Out

‘Words Out’ is an eclectic anthology of creative work by Open Arts participants including our core writing group. The anthology also features a range of visual material from our art groups and gathers together many of the voices that have sounded from within the unique Open Arts programme, in celebration of our 30th year.

You can pick up a free copy from the Crescent Arts Centre on University Road, the University of Atypical on Royal Avenue and the Linen Hall Library across of Belfast City Hall.

To listen to the AUDIO BOOK click HERE

Andrew Ward, a member of the Open Arts Creative Writing group whose work features in the book said:

“Open Arts is my creative and social lifeline and being part of the organisation has helped me enormously over the past couple of years. As well as the great support I receive in the writing class and opportunities to be part of projects like ‘Words Out’, the Open Arts team has also helped me to access my own funding. I now have mentors who are helping me to create my own work that explores my feelings about my diagnosis of autism later in life.”

Picture of seven people.

Living in a Box

Living in a Box is a unique film collage reflecting on creativity and connection during lockdown by Open Arts participants. In their individual boxes on screen but still together: laughing, supporting and encouraging each other. The film showcases the importance of individuals’ artistic expression and shared creative experience through the most difficult of times. 

The film is also available with AUDIO DESCRIPTION. Click HERE

In Tune

‘In Tune’ is our music project for children and young people who have either autism or who are blind or partially sighted. It started as a pilot project with one year funding from BBC Children in Need in 2015. The success of the first year, working with our partners Angel Eyes NI and Autism Initiatives NI led to securing 3-year funding for the project. In 2019 we were successful in securing another three years from BBC Children in Need. 

The project provides an opportunity for participants to gain skills in particular instruments and also experience the joy of playing group music. Participants have the chance to work with a high-quality team of musicians who have numerous specialties including Gamelan, flute, tin whistle, violin, guitar, percussion, keyboards, music technology and singing.

Our partners assist the project by recruiting participants from their client base, delivering specialist training for our musicians and supporting the children and young people during the sessions.

"In Tune is a great place for a child with different needs to mix with peers in a safe, encouraging and fun environment. It fosters the development of social skills and it models inclusion – all through the medium of music, movement and dance."

Reminiscence in Song

In this project, artists engaged groups of older people from Abbeyfield Belfast Society houses in reminiscence and song writing workshops. These led to the creation of a piece of creative writing and two new songs “When I was a child” and “Happy Landings”. You can listen to these two songs in the videos below.

Zoom Fest 21!

From 22nd March until 1st April 2021 we hosted a series of workshops on Zoom. The workshops were for anyone over 18, with a disability and did not currently attend any of Open Arts activities. All the workshops were free, but some of the workshops happened over two sessions.

Zoom Fest logo

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