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.

“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.”
Zoom Fest logo

From 22nd March until 1st April 2021 we hosted a series of workshops on Zoom! The workshops were for anyone over 18, who has a disability and does not currently attend any of Open Arts activities. 

All the workshops were free but  some of the workshops happened over two sessions.

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."

Song and Dance for Dementia

Working with three care homes Rose Court, Ballymena; Carrickfergus Manor and The Brook, Coleraine, Song and Dance for Dementia engages older people in care homes within the Northern Trust in singing and dance, promoting positive mental and physical health and emotional wellbeing through social interactions and creative activity The project also engages staff within the care homes as well as carers and family members who come to visit their loved ones.
"It was lovely to see residents enjoying and participating who don’t normally join in,"
Link, Arts Council of Northern Ireland website
Link, HSC Public Health Agency website
Link, The Baring Foundation website

Peer Arts

In 2019 we completed a project with Mae Murray Foundation as part of the ACNI Articulate funding programme and piloted Arts Awards with the young people, an accredited qualification from Trinity College, London. Young people worked across three art forms (music, dance and drama) and developed skills as peer educators for non-disabled young people. 

“The facilitators were so professional and had a brilliant approach with our members and siblings, hence great interaction. Everyone really enjoyed it and there was so much positive feedback from parents. As for myself and my colleague, we were overwhelmed!!”