The finale of a fantastic year for Culture for All

Written by Lucy Gollogly

Poet Seamus Heaney, artist Willie Doherty and singer Nadine Coyle are among the iconic figures from Co Derry/Londonderry who are being celebrated in a spectacular artwork in a local housing estate, thanks to a Lottery windfall from Culture for All.

The project, led by Off the Street Community Youth Initiative, is one of 33 groups across Northern Ireland that have been awarded grants totalling £256,567 from the Big Lottery Fund and Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Culture for All programme.

Ryan Barr working with artist  Sean O’Donnell
Ryan Barr working with artist Sean O’Donnell

Today’s announcement marks the finale of a fantastic year for the 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. Projects across Northern Ireland have benefitted from money worth a total of £1.6 million since the first awards were made in November 2012.

Off the Street Community Youth Initiative, in partnership with Cornshell Community Network, received an £8,235 grant to run the Cornshells Historical Culture Wall project.

Artist Sean O’Donnell is working with 30 young people and a number of adult volunteers to create 28 storyboards of iconic figures who were born in Derry or have strong links to the county. One board will represent the UK City of Culture, with the final board featuring the names of those taking part in the project. The boards will then be mounted on a wall in the estate using a steel frame.

Once the artwork is unveiled at a special event in March, it’s hoped that it will put Cornshell Fields on the tourist map.

Project manager Catherine O’Donnell from Off the Street Community Youth Initiative said: “This is a reimaging and promotion of Cornshells. We want to make it a tourist attraction. These are iconic figures from the county.”

Cornshell artist impression CFA feb 14

She said she hopes the figures that are represented in the artwork, which will include a backdrop representing the first UK City of Culture, will serve as an example to young people in the area.

“We chose the figures deliberately to inspire them in different fields of work. So not only could you be a footballer, you could be a scientist, you could be a writer – look at what these people who have come from this area have done.”

Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director, said: “The Big Lottery Fund and Arts Council of Northern Ireland are delighted to announce these grants. Culture for All was a great success and gave communities across Northern Ireland the chance to be a part of one of the world’s most significant cultural events in 2013.

“We are delighted with the range of arts and culture projects from across Northern Ireland that we have been able to support which link to the City of Culture celebrations and benefit their local community.”

To watch the Culture for All film, which showcases some of the many brilliant projects funded under the programme, visit this YouTube link: or search for ‘Big Lottery Fund Culture for All’ on YouTube.

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