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The Arts Council has awarded funding to the Accolade Choir in Newry.

Eileen McCourt, Patience Nwefo, Veselka Ivanova and Pat Hughes celebrate in song as Accolade Choir in Newry receives funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Intercultural Arts Programme
Eileen McCourt, Patience Nwefo, Veselka Ivanova and Pat Hughes celebrate in song as Accolade Choir in Newry receives funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Intercultural Arts Programme. Photograph: Tranquil Space Design

The Choir is just one of 14 groups from across Northern Ireland to have recently received funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Intercultural Arts Programme which supports minority ethnic communities in accessing and participating in arts activities. 

The choir, which boasts 30 members from 7 different nations and cultures, is using the grant to deliver ‘Let’s Sing Together’, a project to increase awareness of diversity and community cohesion through the cross-cultural sharing of music and songs.

All those involved in the project currently live in the Newry area but hail from as far afield as Poland, Portugal and Zimbabwee.  Bulgarian classically trained musicians and husband and wife duo Nikolay Ivanov and Veselka Ivanova are leading the choir project as Musical Directors while the overall project is being managed by Argentinian professional dance artist Paula Guzanti.

As well as meeting weekly for singing practice, the choir has plans to perform at a number of key events and festivals throughout 2014, including Culture Night, Tanglewood, Blues on the Bay and Fiddlers Green. Their hard work will culminate in a final performance in November in Newry Town Hall when a number of guest musicians will be invited to perform alongside the choir.

Paula Guzanti, Project Manager and dance artist, said “We’re delighted to have received a grant from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Intercultural Arts Programme.  The funding is helping to fulfil our ambition to have people from different nationalities and cultures throughout the Newry area come together and enjoy singing.  We practise for 2 hours each and every week with a focus on vocal training and learning new songs and harmonies.  The group is finding out more about music from different countries and cultures, great friendships are being formed and, most importantly, we’re having fun. I’m sure this will translate to our audiences when we perform in public throughout the year”.

Fionnuala Walsh, Head of Participatory Arts at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added “Accolade Choir exemplifies the ambitions of the Arts Council’s Intercultural Arts Programme and our genuine desire to use the arts to engage with others who live around us. It is clear that Paula, Veselka and Nikolay – all of whom have previously received individual funding from the Arts Council – share a genuine commitment in harnessing the power of music to embrace cultural diversity and promote community cohesion.  

The next round of funding for the Intercultural Arts Programme has opened in late February.  We’re keen for minority ethnic communities and artists to apply for this funding and to use the arts to help foster cultural diversity, develop good relations and ultimately deliver a better future for everyone across and within communities here.”

See www.artscouncil-ni.org for more information.

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