Northern Ireland: Connections

Based in Northern Ireland, the Connections programme aimed to inspire high quality work which united the arts and sport. The programme developed a series of community projects and events which have prioritised increasing engagement and forming new partnerships. Participants have been supported and encouraged to achieve their full potential.

The programme was made up of six projects
•    ImagineAction, a project merging musical theatre and sport
•    Into Contact, a dance and movement project
•    Now and Then – Our Journey, a film project
•    Luminous Soul, a dance project involving disabled artists
•    Lift Off, a carnival project
•    Comment-8, a sports commentating and performance project

Echo Echo

Devised by Beam Creative Network, ImagineAction delivered workshops for young people aged 13 – 16 from sports clubs in County Tyrone who were new to the arts. Since 2009, ImagineAction have produced four large scale productions in the Bardic Theatre in Donaghmore. For their final production, Punch!  the young people were also involved in the development of the script and the musical compositions.  Due to the success of ImagineAction Beam Creative Network expanded their original concept in 2012 by delivering a programme which involved 15 primary schools throughout Northern Ireland, many of whom had little or no experience of Olympic activities.

As a result of the ImagineAction project many of the young performers have been approached by the Bardic Theatre to take part in mainstream productions. Feedback provides evidence of how the children have grown in confidence, ability and discipline.
Due to the success of the collaboration with Open Arts and the Creative Souls project, Beam have now been awarded funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to develop and deliver a similar styled project for 2012/13.
There are plans to work in partnership with fellow Connections’ companies Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company and the Nerve Centre for the UK City of Culture programme in 2013. The strong links established with Open Arts have also provided future opportunities for collaborative work.

For more information visit the Beam Creative Network website or contact Kathryn.

Watch Joseph's ImagineAction Story:

Into Contact
Based in Derry/Londonderry, Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company is a leading dance company known for its innovative projects and unique performance style.  Into Contact included the production of original performances, an inclusive and diverse educational programme and an audience development programme. In 2010 the company launched their Legacy Trust UK project with the spectacular Chess Piece where 32 chess pieces danced on a giant chess board. Their latest production, the Cove, was inspired by a hidden cove on the Donegal coast.

The LTUK funding has provided provided ongoing employment opportunities for the Echo Echo ensemble and the profile of the company has been notably enhanced. The diversity of their three year programme has clearly demonstrated the company’s ability to manage major programmes and has contributed significantly to the company securing capital resources to open new dance studio spaces in Derry in 2013. This will be the first independent dedicated facility for dance and movement arts in Northern Ireland.

As a result of partnerships formed with other Connections organisations participants from the Open Arts project Patterns of Play have now become regular attendees at Echo Echo workshops. The partnership with Steelstown Primary school was a notable highlight where the company worked in-depth with over 400 pupils and 25 teachers . This has opened up many curriculum development opportunities and, depending on funding; there is a clear wish to develop the ‘Moving School’ model.

For more information contact Echo Echo Dance or visit their website.


Now and Then - Our Journey
Northern Ireland Screen was the lead partner in the Now and Then- Our Journey programme, working alongside delivery partners Belfast film Festival, Queen’s Film Theatre, Northern Visions, Cinemagic and the Nerve Centre. Throughout the three year period activities ranged from delivering large scale public film screenings and events, to producing video blogs, movie master classes and expert led workshops. In 2009 the project was launched with the production of Game on! – a weekend long celebration of events culminating in the performance Sync or Swim where synchronised swimmers demonstrated their expertise  to a backdrop of memorable movie moments. Film camps and documentary weeks encouraged young people to become involved during the summer of 2011, and ten young people produced an animated film.

Legacy Trust UK funding has contributed towards the legacy of organisations and individuals. One example is Jamie who took part in the Animate project, mentored by industry professionals BAFTA nominated animator John McCloskey.  Jamie showed exceptional natural talent and an intuitive sense for animation. She is now considering studying animation at university.

For more information visit the Northern Ireland Screen website.

Luminous Soul
Luminous Soul was a development programme created by Open Arts to provide training for disabled dancers to move towards a professional standard. From 2009 Luminous Soul has held numerous dance development days throughout Northern Ireland facilitated by professional disabled dancers from across the UK and Ireland.  Selected participants then took part in classes and residential workshops.

Open Arts have formed strong partnerships with other Connections organisations and in 2011 they collaborated with Beam Creative Network to produce the Creative Souls project involving dance, live music and theatre where young disabled people worked together with the ImagineAction  youth theatre in an extremely successful theatre production. The company has also worked closely with Echo Echo in performances and continuation classes.

Luminous Souls has been an extremely successful project and all original expectations and targets have been surpassed with many of the dancers now well on their way to professional careers. Their biggest achievements were largely unanticipated. Two of the productions, Patterns of Play and Split, have been performed by invitation at numerous venues from Stormont Castle to Deloitte House in London.  Luminous Souls have contributed greatly towards creating a new model of integrated dance in Northern Ireland.
Open Arts is committed to continuing the development of Luminous Souls and continues to seek further funding from various sources.

For more information contact Open Arts or visit their website.

Watch Katy's Luminous Soul Story:

Lift Off
The Beat Initiative launched Lift Off in 2009.  Combining carnival arts and circus skills with gymnastics, Lift Off worked with community groups and artists to develop a series of large scale community events in the lead up to the 2012 Games. LTUK funding enabled the Beat to expand their carnival arts into aerial dance and gymnastics and in September 2009 they presented Fly Butterfly to mark the official re-opening of Belfast City Hall. In 2011 Botanic Gardens in Belfast was the backdrop to Life is a Carnival where outdoor workshops in puppet making, circus skills, drumming and giant puppet parades entertained the crowds. A highlight of this final performance was the aerial dance performance on the walls of the Ulster Museum.
The Beat Initiative was also a prime delivery partner in LTUK’s Community Celebrations project, Land of Giants where many of the techniques used originated from their Connections project.

The introduction of aerial dance and gymnastics has benefitted not only the Beat Initiative but also other organisations where partnerships have been formed with Circus Bone Idle and Rathgael Gymnastics.  This partnership with Rathgael Gymnastics has been particularly strong and the gymnasts have since performed at several carnival events. They are now working with Circus Bone Idle, taking their talents to the next level with aerial dance.

For more information visit the Beat Carnvial website or contact Eileen.

Luminous SoulDonal McCann

Organised by the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, Comment-8 was a collaborative, commissioning project of music and literature inspired by the theme of sports commentating. Over the two year period established and emerging writers and musicians collaborated with sports groups and performed in venues including a boxing club, a swimming pool, an archery club and a sports hall. Workshops were held at riding stables, an athletics’ club and the pitch of a local football club. The resulting musical compositions ranged from opera to modern music styles with performers including school children, university students and professional musicians.

Number Seven was a short operatic piece and one of Comment-8’s commissions. A collaboration between the young composer, Seán Doherty, the established author, Carlo Gébler and Derry based athletics’ club AC Spartans, the piece was performed in both Derry and Belfast. Number Seven was Seán’s first commissioned work . Subsequently Seán has won first prize in the St. Giles’ Cathedral composition competition and has been awarded funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to produce a choral piece for the UK City of Culture 2013. Seán is indebted to LTUK for allowing him the opportunity to begin in earnest his compositional career.

For more information visit the Comment-8 website.