THE West Belfast Partnership Board are offering at least two Aisling Bursaries for young people to study the arts thanks to a kind sponsorship from Brassneck Theatre Company. 

CURTAIN UP ON FUNDING WINDFALL: Tony Devlin joins his twin girls Éirinn and Róise to celebrate bursary boost with Partnership Board CEO Geraldine McAteer
CURTAIN UP ON FUNDING WINDFALL: Tony Devlin joins his twin girls Éirinn and Róise to celebrate bursary boost with Partnership Board CEO Geraldine McAteer

Now in its 20th year, the Aisling Bursaries are an education bursaries scheme delivered by the West Belfast Partnership Board to enable students to access further and higher education and training.

Tony Devlin, Artistic Director of Brassneck Theatre Company, said it is a “huge honour” to offer bursaries for those going on to study the arts at third level.

“For two decades now, the Bursaries have been a lifeline for young people and, with college fees increasing year on year, any help is welcomed. We are proud that we are able to contribute.

“The Aisling Bursaries are awarded by West Belfast Partnership Board to the young and the not so young to enable them to begin, continue or return to vocational training or academic studies. Sponsors of the Aisling Education Bursaries include businesses, community enterprises, families and individuals.”

Tony explained that this year’s Brassneck Theatre Aisling Bursaries would be in memory of two well-known and very special people.

“The Bursaries that we offer are named after two local people who had very successful careers in the arts, while also making a huge difference to the development of countless young people by creating opportunities.

“Pam Brighton was of course a one-woman dynamo and leading light in theatre in West Belfast. As the Artistic Director of Dubbeljoint Theatre Company, she created countless jobs for local artists and technicians, as well as providing young people with a platform to develop and kick start their careers through the annual People’s Panto.

“Marc O’Shea was another local success story who starred in many theatre, film and television shows. He also worked every summer with children and young people taking arts courses.

“These bursaries are not only a great way to keep both their memories and legacies alive, but also a fantastic way to ease the financial burden on young people wanting to pursue a career in the arts and one that will hopefully inspire them to great things.”

West Belfast Partnership thanked Brassneck and all of their other sponsors who have supported the community of West Belfast over the past 20 years by donating £665,000 to 806 recipients.

Geraldine McAteer, CEO of West Belfast Partnership said: “We are heartened and encouraged that Brassneck Theatre Company have had no hesitation in sponsoring two bursaries this year during the 20th Anniversary of the Aisling Bursaries.

“It is a very brave move to make in memory of two wonderful local leaders in the theatre world – all the more significant since Brassneck have been severely impacted the by Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Their productions in the Lyric and the Christmas 2020 panto have been halted due to the pandemic yet their faith in local actors and artists prevails.

“They are an inspiration to local aspiring actors and artists and we look forward to the applications coming in from young people seeking a career in the arts.”