Belfast Mela Arts Ekta
  • £89,600 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for ‘You, Me and Tea’ project
  • £189,555 from the National Lottery Community Fund for ‘Creative Communities’ project

Northern Ireland’s leading cultural diversity charity, ArtsEkta, is celebrating two major funding awards totalling £280,000 by The National Lottery’s Heritage Fund and Community Fund to support a major programme of creative community engagement across Northern Ireland over the next three years.

The National Lottery Community Fund has provided a £189,555 grant to fund ‘Creative Communities’ creating vital opportunities to empower vulnerable groups within minority ethnic communities including asylum seekers, refugees and older people to take part in civic life. It will also promote intercultural exchange through creative residencies in communities within Belfast and across the region culminating in a major cultural celebration in 2022.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has invested £89,600 to fund ‘You, Me and Tea’, a project which will explore Northern Ireland’s long association with tea and map its connections with India and China, highlighting important cultural and trade links for two of our longest established migrant communities.  The project will include a volunteer training programme, online resource, physical exhibition and interactive public talks as well as celebratory ‘tea emporium’ events across Northern Ireland over the next two years.

Hazel Francey, Chair of ArtsEkta said: “We are extremely grateful to both the National Lottery Community Fund and The National Lottery Heritage Fund for believing in our work and providing us with the opportunity to create significant social impact and legacy over the next three years targeting some of the most vulnerable and hard to reach in our society.”

Nisha Tandon, Founder & Executive Director of ArtsEkta said: “This new funding will enable us to continue our wonderful outreach work by providing crucial funding for participation programmes specifically designed and delivered in target communities throughout Northern Ireland that have experienced changing demographics and inward migration.

 “In addition, ArtsEkta will be launching a wonderful new community heritage initiative ‘You, Me and Tea’ which will involve major research, training, workshops and involvement by a wide range of people across Northern Ireland as well as developing educational resources targeted at school children.”

 Alison Fraser, Head of Funding, The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “I’m delighted to see this grant being awarded to the Creative Communities project. It’s great to see National Lottery money being used by people who are taking the lead in developing great ideas to help their communities thrive. This year we’re celebrating the 25th birthday of the National Lottery, and I want to thank all the National Lottery players who have helped make work like this possible.”

Angelina Fusco, Committee Member, The National Lottery Heritage Fund NI said: “Tea might seem like a light-hearted subject for a heritage project but the rich cultural and social history linked to the tea industry gives a fascinating insight into Northern Ireland’s heritage and it’s connections with the wider world, especially China and India. The project will provide a range of training and volunteer opportunities so we were delighted to support this heritage project. We look forward to seeing what the team uncover.”

ArtsEkta will launch both new programmes in the coming months. More information on how to get involved can be found at www.artsekta.org.uk

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