The Playhouse Artskills project this week received a prestigious award from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL).
The Claire's Award celebrates and recognises achievement in the promotion of learning and tackling disadvantage throughout Northern Ireland.
The Playhouse Artskills project, an innovative approach to literacy training which uses the arts as an alternative medium to develop literacy skills, has come first in the Award's Community Impact Category.
The Artskills team this week attended a ceremony in Belfast to receive the Award from DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín.
The news comes as the Artskills Project has recruited two new staff members, Administrator/Finance Officer Gareth Doherty and Artskills Project Coordinator Liam Campbell.
Artskills - Creative Approaches to Literacy has been delivered by The Playhouse since 2008. The project works in partnership with groups throughout rural and urban Derry~Londonderry to deliver Open College Network qualifications in creative arts subjects and CCEA Literacy.
As well as delivering hundreds of OCN and CCEA courses, helping learners gain thousands of qualifications, Artskills also delivers careers days, creative industries workplace induction days and work placements through School Employer Connections.
The Playhouse currently employs two past participants from Artskills and three past participants have gone on to perform in professional productions in The Playhouse Theatre.
Creative Approaches to Literacy is kindly funded by The Department of Employment and Learning, The European Social Fund, and The Arts Council.
"We're just so honoured to receive this wonderful accolade!" Niall McCaughan, CEO of The Playhouse said.
"This award, which recognises the positive impact our learning programme has had within the wider community, is a great credit to the team we have working on this project, the staff, administrators, facilitators partner organisations and communities and, most importantly, the participants.
"We're also absolutely delighted to announce two new team members, Liam and Gareth, who are a wonderful addition to the team, bringing their unique skills to the creation of an alternative arts-based training that is a proven and effective way of developing essential skills."
Fionnuala Walsh, Head of Community & Participatory Arts at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said; "Congratulations to the Playhouse on this well-deserved award. The team continue to excel at using the arts to engage with young people and, by doing so, provide an innovative means of improving their literacy skills in a safe and social environment. The Arts Council recognises the value and power that the arts and creativity can have on children and young people in all aspects of their lives and the Artskills programme exemplifies the tangible benefits of making the arts as inclusive and accessible as possible."
The now award winning Artskills programme will be running again in the very near future - those interested in attaining worthwhile qualifications through innovative engagement with the arts can contact The Playhouse on (028)71268027 or visit the Artskills website on www.artskills.co.uk.
(L-R) Artskills Administrator/Finance Officer Gareth Doherty, Artskills Project Coordinator Emma Jane Logue, DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, Head of Development at The Playhouse Max Beer, Artskills Project Coordinator Liam Campbell, and Artskills participants Jack Kennedy and Roisin Doherty
Head of Development at The Playhouse Max Beer accepting the award from DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín.