Projects and Programmes
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.
‘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.
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.
Other Projects or Programmes
Open Arts loves to bring our groups together and work on one large collaborative piece. Here are some of the projects we’ve worked on over the years.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
This was an ambitious performance with multiple art forms and involving a cast of 40 people, mostly disabled people. There has never been such a production of Shakespeare in Northern Ireland with such varied art forms (drama, dance, choral and gamelan) with the range of disabilities among the performers: physical, sensory, learning disabilities and mental health illness. It was first performed in April 2019, for two successive nights in the MAC Theatre, Belfast.
You can watch hightlights of the show in the YouTube video below.
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 Spellbound Boy
In 2016 we produced an adaptation of Ravel’s Opera L’enfant et les sortilege. With a cast of over 50 of our weekly participants it brought together our Monday Players drama group, Luminous Soul dance, Open Arts Community Choir, gamelan performance group and participants from our creative writing class who recited their own poetry. Our visual art classes also worked on props and costumes for the show.
It was first performed in Belvoir Players Theatre, Belfast in November 2016 and again at The Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast in March 2017.
You can watch the show highlights in the YouTube video below