Percy French in the Frame in Newcastle

Songwriter to be immortalised on film as part of the City of Culture celebrations

Newcastle Regeneration Association has recently received a grant of £8,725 from the Culture for All funding programme, delivered and funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Big Lottery Fund in partnership with Culture Company 2013.

The group will use the grant to work with young people in creating an animated film about Percy French, the famous Irish artist, songwriter, poet and banjo player, and Newcastle. Local artist Colin McGookin has already begun working with local groups to create characters and props from plasticine to be used in the film. There will also be opportunities to learn film making techniques including the preparation of the soundtrack and titles, production of the DVD and the chance to learn how to make and play a variety of drums for use on the sound track.

Carmel O’Boyle from Newcastle Regeneration Association said, ‘We started thinking about how we could mark the City of Culture year in a way that was relevant to our local young people so it seemed fitting to immortalise Percy French and capture the history of Newcastle through their eyes by making an animated film. We ultimately hope to share our story with others by showcasing the DVD at the Foyle Film Festival in November as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations.’

Lorraine McDowell, Director of Operations at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said, ‘It’s rewarding to see the local community working together to develop a film that portrays their shared history and, in doing so, leaving a legacy for future generations to enjoy. As well as benefiting those living in the Newcastle area, the project will have a much wider reach and resonance given its public debut at the Foyle Film Festival later this year.’

Artist Colin McGookin added, ‘It’s great to be working with these talented young people. We are having fun making Flanagan’s Flying Machine and the various sets and characters we are going to animate – all our skills are going to be stretched with this project!’

Culture for All is a small grants programme offering grants of up to £10,000 to communities across Northern Ireland that want to play a part in the UK City of Culture celebrations in 2013. Community organisations can apply for funding up until the end of August to run arts and culture projects and activities that link in with the historic event, encourage talent and improve the lives of people in communities.

Application forms and guidance notes are available to download at Big Lottery Fund.

For more details contact Big Lottery Fund on 028 9055 1455, or e-mail