Visual Artists Ireland shows confidence in Northern Ireland with the opening of new Belfast office and launch of new services for the arts

VAI NI longVisual Artists Ireland, the All-Ireland representative body for professional visual artists, shows confidence in the future of Northern Ireland with the opening of their Northern Ireland office and the launch of Visual Artists Ireland [NI] with a range of new services and opportunities for visual artists in Northern Ireland.

Visual Artists Ireland [NI] will open a new dedicated Northern Ireland office on Friday, July 3rd in 109 – 113 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1FF. The office will be a focal point for the advocacy and support of Northern Ireland’s visual artists and will be managed by Rob Hilken, Northern Ireland Manager reporting directly to Noel Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, Visual Artists Ireland who will also have a base there.

The opening of the office is accompanied by the launch three exciting new initiatives:

  1. Suki Tea Art Award – sponsored by Suki Tea and facilitated by Arts & Business NI. The Suki Tea Art Award will be open to all visual artists in Northern Ireland, and Visual Artists Ireland members in the South. The award sees a main prize of £2000 and will include a smaller prize of £250 for each of the short listed artists. The award will culminate in the announcement of the first recipient in an exhibition of the short listed works in Stormont later this year.
  2. Free Visual Artists Combined Liability Insurance – sponsored by Standard Utilities. This insurance will provide Visual Artists Ireland members with Combined Liability insurance to facilitate them in their professional lives.
  3. New Northern Ireland Visual Arts News Service – based on the highly successful Visual Artists Ireland eBulletin service. The new Northern Ireland Visual Arts Service will provide sectoral news, exhibition and events announcement, as well as jobs and opportunities that available to Northern Irish artists both at home and in other parts of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The service will be provided weekly and is an addition to the other ranges of news services that Visual Artists Ireland offers to artists, the arts community, as well as to journalists/media and the general public.

Visual Artists Ireland [NI] will provide the broad range of services that support visual artists and continue the activities that VAI have undertaken across Ireland. These include acting as an advocate for the visual arts; advisory and help desk products; discounts schemes, membership of international representative bodies; professional development, and the ever popular Visual Artists Cafés that take place across Northern Ireland and the South on a monthly basis.

Deirdre Robb, Visual Arts Development Officer – Arts Council Northern Ireland, commented; “The Arts Council is proud to support Visual Artists Ireland with their new dedicated Northern Ireland office and package of innovative initiatives designed to support the professional development of our artists. It is imperative that we support our artists in order to be able to develop, grow and sustain a strong, vibrant arts sector in the region and this new focal point of services and information for use by our talented artists is most welcome indeed. Congratulations to all involved.”

Speaking about the new office and the launch of new services, Noel Kelly – Chief Executive Officer of Visual Artists Ireland said “This day is the culmination of many years work supporting the visual artists of Ireland both North and South. It is a proud day for Visual Artists Ireland as we open the doors of our new office. We see this as a clear expression of our confidence in the visual artists of Northern Ireland.”

He went on to say “Visual artists in Northern Ireland may not have the same face recognition of other cultural workers, but behind the scenes in studios, homes, and workshops, Northern Ireland’s visual artists work away to provide us with our visual identity. Without our visual artists, Northern Ireland would be without colour and would not have the vibrancy that we see evidence of on a daily basis as we walk through the streets. We are grateful to our supporters who are enabling us to launch these new services as well as the support that they, our funders, and our members provide us with.”

We are grateful to Suki Tea and to Arts & Business NI Investment Programme for their sponsorship of the Suki Tea Art Prize

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