Begin Together Arts Fund Grantees 2020

We partnered with Business to Arts in 2020 to support 36 music, theatre, dance, traditional arts, and visual arts projects through the first phase of the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund. Find out more about each project below:


Connacht/part Ulster

  • Kate Ellis: WE USED TO PLAY HERE, Galway

    WE USED TO PLAY HERE’ is a series of intimate musical performances from Caimin Gilmore (Double Bass) and Kate Ellis (Cello). The project will travel to rural audiences in each province, performing 24 concerts of 30 minutes each, from March – April 2021, inside a specially commissioned ‘pod’. The pod, or ‘Concertina Venue’, is an easily transportable exhibition and performance space, adapted to cater for two performers and groups of four, and specifically designed to perform socially-distanced concerts, in a variety of outdoor terrains.

  • Branar's How to Catch a Star, Galway

    ‘How to Catch a Star’ is a non-verbal show for audiences aged four years and upwards, with puppetry and an original score by Colm Mac Con Iomair. This award will assist in the creation and digital dissemination of this unique show for children across the country. Along with the high-quality adaption of the show, a dedicated resource pack will be created for educators and children providing a blended arts experience in the absence of live performance and opportunities for children to develop and enhance their own creativity.

  • The Red Book of Ossory, Leitrim

    This is an adaptation of ‘The Red Book of Ossory’ by the musical ensemble Anakronos; transforming it from a live concert to an imaginative and professional film directed and produced by Eric Fraad. The Dock will serve as the venue for a revelatory, cinematic reimagining of the concert, providing bespoke and valuable online programming to Irish arts centres both for their audiences and a wider international public.

  • Circus250 Breathe - Circus to Make You Gasp, Mayo

    Breathe’ is a 30-minute, outdoor circus show that looks at breath, from exhaustion to recovery. The arc of the performance will be from exhaustion/losing breath, through recovery/breathing again to breathing together again/trusting each other again. The show will tour rural areas which have been isolated during the pandemic with few facilities nearby and an older population. The performance will be filmed in Achill and made available, online, to festivals and venues.

  • Art In The Open - Crossings & Transitions, Roscommon

    A series of large-scale, 2 metre by 1 metre, enamelled panels which will be placed in open spaces, in the town of Boyle, during the Boyle Arts Festival 2021. The award supports the research, refining and creation of the new work, in partnership with Boyle Arts Festival.

  • Tumble Circus - Travelling Cycle Circus, Sligo

    Travelling Cycle Circus will be a 45-minute experience performed up to four times a day in different locations, all reached by bike. Inspired by Flann O’Brien’s satirical and absurd writing and biking adventures, this builds on the experience by delivering high-skill, comedy and contemporary circus with a socio-political edge.

  • Fanzini Productions: Ballet Poulet, Cavan

    A physical theatre duo performance, written and performed by Kim Mc Cafferty & Con Horgan, ‘Ballet Poulet’ incorporates dance, contemporary circus, absurdist comedy and classical arts. The funding will enable Fanzini to re-write the script of ‘Ballet Poulet’ for film, rehearse ‘Ballet Poulet’ for film and professionally film ‘Ballet Poulet’ for a digital tour with trusted arts venues and festival partners, throughout 2021.

  • Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company, Donegal

    The funding will support the creation and production of a dance theatre performance that can be enjoyed by all ages. A partnership with LUXe will help research and development of an outdoor family theatre event that can still have an intimate and personal feel to it. It will feature themes of nature, mythology, and connection to the natural world.


  • King Lear (in a Van), Dublin

    Presented as Forum Theatre, the production takes key scenes from Shakespeare’s King Lear and presents them to schools in a mobile venue. The Covid-compliant performance will be in modern dress with actors taking multiple roles, and will last approximately forty minutes including time for interaction. Classroom follow-up materials will be available for post event development of the themes and issues raised.

  • The unit for radical belonging, Dublin

    Narratively influenced by Odysseus’ homecoming in Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ and fused with the stories, cultures, and experiences of the community; this ambitious, urgent, new work looks to celebrate the potential of the developing suburb of Tyrrelstown, Dublin 15. It aims to capture the aspirations to belong in the community from all cultures and represent them in a spectacular and public way.

  • Drawing from the Well, Dublin

    Leading artists have been commissioned to spend time engaging with archival collections of their choice in the ITMA and to then produce something new that can be shared with the public. It is ITMA’s ambition to feature a leading artist per month throughout 2021. ‘Drawing from the Well’ responds to the impact of COVID-19 by connecting artists with archive material to inspire new art.

  • Shackleton, Kildare

    ‘Shackleton’ aims to create an awareness of art in challenging situations by researching the creative interests and family history of Ernest Shackleton – in particular the printmaking and bookmaking practices of his Antarctic expeditions. The content will form part of the programme for Shackleton Autumn School 2021, held virtually, and/or in Shackleton Museum.

  • Village People, Kilkenny

    Blaise Smith will paint portraits, in four-hour sittings, in gardens (for social distancing) and plans to do six further portraits, as part of the Kilkenny Arts festival 2021, and webcast them online. For the Kilkenny Arts Festival, he hopes to add some personal and technical expertise enabling him to focus more on the actual paintings.

  • Collective Thoughts, Laois

    ‘Collective Thoughts’ is a group exhibition of artwork by members of Laois Arthouse Collective, reflecting on our individual perspectives that have been forged from living through a global pandemic. This exhibition will be a hybrid event, including an online launch with an in-depth virtual tour of the gallery space, which will then be streamed on social media to allow viewers and artists to interact in real-time. The exhibition will be on display in Dunamaise Arts Centre for one month, and a quality art book will be produced.

  • Roisin Whelan & Shawbrook Dance, Longford

    A dance piece that opens up a dialogue about mental health in young people. The project will include the work of four dancers and a composer, aged 19-30, who have been affected mentally by Covid and who have a story they would like to share. The aim of this project is to provide the artist with a two-week residency at Shawbrook ending in a public performance of the work on 24 April 2021.


    SUDDEN CHANGES aims to explore life’s new hurdles. Five composers will be commissioned to compose three-minute works for solo piano that respond to the pandemic. Pianist Máire Carroll will record the newly commissioned works in St. Peter’s Church, Drogheda, for an album to be released digitally and as a CD. A live performance of the works will be held in October or November 2021.

  • Another Love Story & Sudden Wells, Meath

    ‘Another Love Story’ is a multi-platform musical event on the grounds of Killyon Manor. Collaborating with a group of Ireland’s finest musicians and filmmakers, Michael Gallen will create a cinematic album experience for an online audience, weaving a narrative of loss, grief and rebirth through the various spaces of a historic Irish house. Through a mix of immersive cinematography, binaural sound recording and site-responsive design, this album will be brought to life through digital means.

  • Anam Beo, Offaly

    Anam Beo will design, research and consult on a new digital-based, creative learning programme, enabling the organisation to develop a digital model of delivery while upskilling contracted artists, health care support workers and nursing staff. By developing a digital platform and using technology with participants in a new creative way, digital literacy will be developed in a less-threatening way, building confidence, understanding and skills.

  • Totem Yokes, Wexford

    Maria McKinney’s project ‘Totem Yokes’ is part of the Wexford County Council and Wexford Arts Office M11 Per Cent for Art Scheme. With this fund, McKinney will adapt the sculptural works so they can be exhibited in The Streets Gallery, with video work created to document the sculptural works.

  • Plug in Panorama, Wicklow

    As a response to the impact Covid-19 has had on experiencing art, Ellie Niblock will develop a digital space that activates the senses. It will be created specifically for a digital audience, in collaboration with Kaleidoscope Festival Ireland’s first, fully-inclusive, family, camping festival. It will be deployed on their website and available to view in virtual reality.


  • The Space Between, Clare

    A series of short films inspired by a new way of working during COVID-19, four musicians will be paired with four unique artists from different genres to create new work within the beautiful and historic location of Bunratty Castle. These artists will not have played together before, and some will never have met.

  • ‘Yes, But Do You Care?’, Cork

    This is an adaptation of the ‘Yes, But Do You Care?’ arts project, for public distribution online. The work explores conceptual ideas of personal autonomy and dependency through the lens of dementia care. The art piece combines dance/movement, spoken word, sound, music, projected photography and text. Funding will enable a live performance to be staged in a much larger space, and to professionally film the performative elements from multiple angles, for online streaming.

  • A Midsummer Lullaby - Cork Midsummer Festival, Cork

    Over three days, in locations across the city, a chamber orchestra of approximately 20 musicians will deliver a 30-minute performance. The performances will take place between 7pm and 8.30pm each night, to ensure that small children can engage with the event. In addition to the live performances, the plan is to broadcast one of the performances and host it on the website.

  • Cormac Begley, Kerry

    A selection of traditional music compositions that resonate emotionally and thematically with the stories heard during the artist’s PhD research and with his own personal experiences of growing up male in Ireland. The music will be presented in outdoor, site-specific settings such as school car parks, nursing homes, universities and outdoor festivals. It will be premiered at Feile na Bealtaine in May 2021 and recorded by the festival to share widely.

  • A Dream of Peace, Limerick

    The project will be a part of a continuing, spoken word, video series by Limerick-based rapper Willzee starting at the beginning of 2020. ‘A Dream of Peace’ is a response to COVID-19. The piece will be shared online.

  • Lockdown 20, Tipperary

    Lockdown 20 takes inspiration from the 1985 Spike Island riots when inmates rose up against their enforcers and took control of the island. The production will take place in former officers’ mess of The Kickham Barracks in Clonmel. Now empty and under the control of local council, the barracks provides the perfect location for this story.

  • OUTLASTING, Waterford

    A collection of new stories which draws on Waterford’s past, in order to illuminate its present. The writer will research, write and record four short stories and present them as a podcast series for local, national and international audiences.

Northern Ireland

  • Over The Hill Music Collective - The Room Songs Project, Antrim

    The project will focus on four older musicians in the rooms where they live alone. Songs will be produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Oh Yeah Music Centre. The recorded work will be available by August 2021 and performed live when possible.

  • The Night of the Big Wind, Antrim

    An operatic musical reimagining of the infamous 1839 storm, this piece will trace the stories and encounters of six fictional characters in an all-Ireland tour that will visit six venues. NI Opera’s main objective is to give as many children as possible the opportunity to see the opera. This goal will be supported by professionally filming the piece and sending it to schools and community groups, as well as broadcasting it on the company’s YouTube channel.

  • BENCH MARKS, Antrim

    Two bench seats with low backs formed from flotsam tree trunks, washed and bleached by the elements on Runkerry Strand, close to the Giant’s Causeway. Glass, ceramics and copper will be used to transform the rugged timber into a narrative of their response to COVID-19. The two seats will be placed opposite each other and significantly, they will be more than two metres apart. Their location will be on the freely-accessible, public footpath and cliff path that joins the National Trust Visitors Centre at the Giant’s Causeway to Innisfree Farm, which houses the administrative HQ of the Trust, and the Boat House Gallery.

  • At The Margins, Armagh

    ‘At The Margins’ will be based on the poet Maria McManus’s large-scale, public engagement, letter-writing project “Filling The Void” (2018/19). A site-specific literary event, it will animate the library for the public, responding to the letters through dance and an original score. The project will be adapted with film, for online distribution, outside performance or projection onto the building.

  • Caffrey/Seamus Heaney HomePlace, Derry/Londonderry

    Based on several poems from ‘Death of a Naturalist’, this work will be filmed and a video created to exhibit, disseminate and draw upon for years into the future. There is great potential in terms of broadening an audience for Heaney’s poetry beyond solely literary enthusiasts.

  • Covid Care Concerts, Derry/Londonderry

    This is a new project devised by Mobile Music Machine (MMM) in collaboration with local partners in Ireland. Covid Care Concerts will visit ten residential care homes across the county or city, with each performance lasting one hour and taking place in the grounds of the nursing home.

  • Locked Up in Lockdown, Down

    The aim is to develop a piece of theatre with a number of current or former students from Hydebank Wood College, a Young Offenders’ Centre in Belfast. Lyric Theatre staff worked with staff in the college, encouraging students to write about their perception of the pandemic. The result was a 36-page booklet of letters, poems and prose summed up by the title, ‘Locked Up in Lockdown’, describing so many interesting and unexpected responses to the situation – both positive and negative.

  • I am here: short film series, Fermanagh
    ‘I am here’ is a series of new media/social media-friendly short films further exploring the relationship between two people separated by the current pandemic and in need of connection.

  • Music To Your Ears, Tyrone

    A two-hour musical concert featuring members of ‘Music To Your Ears’ Group, Strabane, will be broadcast through Derry and Strabane District Council’s Alley Theatre portal. ‘The Music To Your Ears’ Group is comprised of over 30 men all over 55 years of age and some as old as 84. Members include widowers, retired men in all types of health and social situations, mostly from Strabane Town.

Carousel image credits:

Caption: My parents, Oil on canvas
Credit: Blaise Smith

Caption: Dream, Dream Sensory Machine, London 2019
Credit: Ellie Niblock

Caption: Con Horgan and Kim McCafferty, Ballet Poulet by Fanzini Productions
Credit: Ben Kavanagh

Caption: Cathal Ó Curráin and Edwina Guckian, Drawing from the Well 2020
Credit: Irish Traditional Music Archive

Caption: Boy making a new friend, Branar’s How to Catch a Star, Galway International Arts Festival, 2017
Credit: Anita Murphy