Written by Lucy Gollogly
Young people from both sides of the community in north Belfast came together to put on a spectacular dance show in front of thousands of people in the Waterworks Park on Wednesday night, all thanks to a lottery windfall from Culture for All.
The New Lodge Arts project saw youngsters from New Lodge, Cliftonville, Mount Vernon, New Hill and Whitewell perform ‘Merge’, an exciting multi-component dance performance fusing contemporary dance with urban street forms in partnership with dance development company DU Dance (NI).
The magical evening also included a spooky lantern parade from Crumlin Road Jail.
New Lodge Arts received £10,000 towards the dance project, which brought together young people from both sides of the religious divide.
It is among 21 groups across Northern Ireland awarded grants totalling almost £156,460 from the Big Lottery Fund and Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Culture for All programme.
Culture for All is a small grants programme which offered grants of up to £10,000 to communities across Northern Ireland wanting to play a part in the UK City of Culture celebrations in 2013.
Project co-ordinator Anne Delaney from New Lodge Arts said: “This has been a great project to be involved with as we’re seeing a great response from the young people who are building relationships with others from different parts of north Belfast – people they may not otherwise have a chance to get to know.”
Chloe McLaughlin, 14, from Ardoyne, who took part in the latest dance project, said: “Never in my life did I ever see myself doing something like this – but I’m glad I did it. I’ve made lots of new friends, the supervisors there are amazing. You learn something new every day which in my mind is just incredible. These past few days have been awesome. I hope I can do it next year.”
Another of the projects to benefit from Culture for All funding was First Housing Aid and Support Services. The Derry organisation received £5,005 towards creative workshops for its service-users at the Shepherd’s View Young Parents’ Project in the Waterside. As a result they have designed a new logo for the organisation’s Shepherd’s View supported housing unit where they live.
Shannon Hetherington, 20, is one of the residents. She and six-month-old daughter Skye have been living at Shepherd’s View for a year. She said: “I used to enjoy art but hadn’t had a chance to do much in recent years, but designing the logo has really got my creative juices flowing again. I’ve started drawing again and find it a great way to express how I’m feeling, a great stress reliever.
“I became homeless at 16 because of family circumstances and was just staying between friends’ houses when I discovered I was pregnant. I moved to a homeless shelter but couldn’t stay there because of the baby and that’s when I got a place at Shepherd’s View.”
Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director, said: “The Big Lottery Fund and Arts Council of Northern Ireland are delighted to announce grants from this programme which is giving communities across Northern Ireland the chance to be a part of one of the world’s most significant cultural events in 2013.”
For a full list of grants awarded, go to http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/-/media/Files/News%20Documents/Culture%20for%20All%20Grants%20table%20-%20November%202013.pdf