In Focus

Platform 31

November 5, 2020
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Platform 31: A nationwide artist development scheme by the 31 Local Authority Arts Offices, in collaboration with the Arts Council 

The Association of Local Authority Arts Offices (LAAOs), in collaboration with the Arts Council, present PLATFORM 31 – a national opportunity for artists to develop their practice and test new ideas of collaboration, research, audience development, place-making and sharing their work.

Designed to support and offer career development for 31 mid-career artists (one artist in each of the 31 local authorities around Ireland), there are two elements of support for participating artists in the scheme: financial and developmental. Participating artists will receive an €8,000 bursary to invest in themselves and their practice, combined with participation in an advisory and developmental framework and a peer network. 

For over 35 years Local Authority Arts Offices have worked directly with artists to ensure the arts thrive in all communities.  Working in a grass roots and foundational way has allowed Arts Officers to identify and to respond to the needs of artists, keeping the arts and cultural agenda focussed and relevant in changing environments.

We embrace the opportunity in our communities to inform and lead new ways of working collaboratively towards cultural development”, said Jenny Sherwin, Wicklow County Council Arts Officer. “At the heart of all of this are artists, the real animators of the arts in Ireland –  the writers, musicians, actors, performers, dancers and filmmakers. We envision this pilot scheme as a platform for these creatives to value their time, to showcase their work and their collaborations, sharing their learnings locally and nationally as a legacy of the project.” 

“The bursary seeks to provide artists with the time and resources to think, test new ideas, research new approaches and to reflect and engage with their artistic practice”, said Maureen Kennelly, Arts Council Director. “The Arts Council is delighted to partner with local authorities, who are responding thoughtfully and ambitiously to the challenging environment for artists. The carefully considered support network built into Platform 31 sets this bursary scheme apart.” 

The scheme will establish a peer networking framework for participating artists, introducing them to a pool of critical thinkers to share their work and learnings, and encouraging a national conversation about creating work in local contexts. The exact nature of this artist support framework will be informed by the proposals and interests of the 31 artists selected.

The award is open to artists of any discipline and practice, based in Ireland, as well as multi-disciplinary practice and design of all kinds. 

It is designed to support mid-career artists who must have been in receipt of support/investment from a Local Authority Arts Office or the Arts Council within the last three years.  

Applications open from November 9th – 30th. For more information email localartsireland@gmail.com or see https://platform31.localartsireland.ie/

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An Urgent Enquiry

April 8, 2020
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Artist Mark Clare reflects on a residency in Wexford in 2019 which focused on climate change

L-R The Urgent Enquiry Team Eileen Hutton, Liz Burns, Kelly Hickey, Mark Clare, Joanna Hopkins, Denise Reddy, Megan Moriarty, Caroline Cowley, Ruairí O Cuív, Fiona McDonald. Photo: Brian Cregan

I am interested in the potential of science, philosophy and aesthetics to enrich my thinking on climate change and global policies. I want to make art work that keeps our attention focused on what’s going on in our environment.

In May 2019 I got the opportunity to participate in An Urgent Enquiry, a three-month art and biodiversity residency in Wexford. More background information is available here.

While there I had the opportunity to explore the effects of climate change and habitat loss on local biodiversity through interactions with environmental specialists, scientists and local communities.

I met the Climate Action Regional Office, curators at the Natural History Museum, local Biodiversity Officers and Conservation Rangers and worked closely with Liz Burns, Wexford Arts Officer. The staff in different Wexford County Council departments were essential in making connections and engaging the community.

To get to know the locals and introduce them to the work, I organised a number of free public workshops for adults and children, working with specialists in a variety of fields to deliver them. These included a wild food walk in the grounds of Tintern Abbey, a seaweed forage on Baginbun Beach and The Little Things Matter, a workshop on the important role of Phytoplankton (microscopic sea plants) on our ecosystems.

I am interested in the potential of art to open up dialogue and highlight new possibilities and alternative perspectives; allowing us to ask questions of ourselves, our place within our community and the broader environment.

At the end of the project I collaborated with local ceramic artist Mairead Stafford. We wanted to engage as many local residents as possible in a conversation about Osmia aurulenta, an endangered species of solitary bee found along the East coast that nests in snail shells. Solitary bees pollinate more flowers than any other group.

Participants made their individual ceramic ‘shell’ artworks which were later fired in Mairead’s kiln. Everyone donated one ‘shell’ to our on-going project The Unavoidable Interconnectedness of Everything. Our ambition is to expand the project nationally to make a million shells and produce a large-scale public artwork to represent the threat climate change poses to our local biodiversity. One million species are currently endangered.

The other artist’s participating in An Urgent Enquiry were Fiona McDonald, Dublin and Mary Conroy and Jonna Hopkins in Fingal. We met up on a number of occasions to discuss the development of the project as a whole. I found these meetings invaluable, hearing how they were getting on and in which direction their research was going, bouncing ideas around and getting feedback on my own research.

An Urgent Enquiry offered me an opportunity to embed myself in a community and work alongside other professionals, on a topic of significant personal interest.

Now, more than ever, new visions and narratives are needed in order to harness the power of scientific knowledge to intervene constructively in the course of our collective future.

www.markclare.com

www.anurgentenquiry.ie

An Urgent Enquiry is a partnership project between Wexford, Fingal and Dublin City Councils and funded under the Arts Council’s Invitation to Collaboration Scheme, 2018 and 2019. 

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Invitation to Collaboration Awards 2017

December 1, 2017
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Invitation to Collaboration Awards 2017

A partnership scheme between the Arts Council and Local Authorities

Image: The Hide Sculpture by Garret Phelan, commissioned by Fingal County Council, one of the sites for An Urgent Enquiry

An Invitation to Collaboration Scheme supports initiatives in the field of local-authority-led arts development.  The scheme is rooted in the policies set out in the Arts Council’s ten-year strategy (2016–2025), Making Great Art Work: Leading the Development of the Arts in Ireland and in A Framework for Collaboration: An Agreement Between the Arts Council and the County and City Management Association. The emphasis is placed on supporting partnerships that focus on developing projects, resources or services that are ambitious and are testing new ground.

2017 AWARDS

 EXIT 15

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown with Queens University, Belfast City Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Voluntary Arts Ireland and Create

Exit 15 is an creative place programme responding to the artistic aspirations of local people in the Ballyogan area of DLR. It is coupled with an action research project led by Queens University in tandem with two other local authorities and arts partners.

 AN URGENT ENQUIRY

Wexford County Council with Dublin City and Fingal County Councils

A collaborative and interdepartmental enquiry with biodiversity officers to research new models of future public art commissioning with focusing on the pertinent issue of art and biodiversity, common to their eastern coastlines, which will take the form of a forum in each county coastline with invited local national and international art & biodiversity experts to contribute to the enquiry.

DANCE AND HEALTH

Kildare County Council with Tipperary and Kerry County Councils and Dance Ireland

A Dance and Health action research programme to deepen the place of dance in healthcare in partnership with regionally based local authorities, communities and dance artists with the overall aim of providing a model that can be used nationally.

LOCAL ARTS RESEARCH

Leitrim County Council, with Kildare, Fingal and Limerick together with Prof. John O’Hagan and Indecon

A research project which represents a strategic intention by the local authority partners, who all work in different contexts, to examine Arts Service work practices in a variety of contexts, to better understand their changing roles, inform future policy development and meet the future sector and public needs.

 SYMPHONY FOR THE BLIND

Clare County Council with the Irish Memory Orchestra, Arts and Disability Ireland and National Council for the Blind.

A research and development orchestral project for musicians who are visually impaired, leading to the composition of a new work and creating a learning and supportive environment for musicians, which will be artistically led by the Irish Memory Orchestra and 3L an online teaching resource.

 THE AUTONOMY PROJECT

Limerick City and County Council with UL, Dance Limerick, Music Generation, GOSHH,

The Autonomy Project is a multi-disciplinary youth programme, led by Lisa McLoughlin which focuses on tolerance and action through art culminating with week-long performance / installation and symposium with international contributors on art and autonomy in UL led by Dr Niamh McGabhann. Facilitating artists in the youth projects will be mentored by Amanda Coogan

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Invitation to Collaborate Events 2018

March 10, 2016
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Fidget FeetfporlocalartspageInvitation to Collaborate Awards 2018

Invitation to Collaboration supports regional and national initiatives in the field of local-authority-led arts development. The scheme is rooted in the policies set out in the Arts Council’s ten-year strategy (2016-2025), Making Great Art Work: Leading the Development of the Arts in Ireland (0.22 MB), and in A Framework for Collaboration: An Agreement Between the Arts Council and the County and City Management Association (1.5MB, PDF). The emphasis is placed on supporting partnerships that focus on developing projects, resources or services that are ambitious and are testing new ground. The following projects were funded in 2018.

*Image: Fidget Feet. 2016. Photographer Jym Daly

Cork City and Cork County Council with the HSE, Age and Opportunity, Music Alive, Cork Midsummer Festival and Sirius Arts Centre.

A creative enquiry through a curatorial partnership with Age and Opportunity to explore and develop quality arts opportunities with and for older people. The enquiry will be informed by three artists in residence hosted by the local arts partners.

VISION SYMPHONY

Clare County Council with the Irish Memory Orchestra, 3L Online Music, DCU and National Council for the Blind

The composition and performance of an orchestral symphony that explores perceptions of vision, informed by and performed by musicians who are visually impaired and the publication of a website that offers supports and resources for visually impaired musicians.

AGENTS OF CHANGE

Galway County with Galway City and Roscommon County Council with the Irish Theatre Institute and Drama at NUIG

The award will support the development of regional multi-disciplinary creative producers to enhance cultural provision in urban and rural contexts in the West. There will be a focus on professional capacity building, recruitment, skills/needs analysis, training and creative concepts.

THE BINGO WINGS PROJECT

Limerick City and County Council with Fidget Feet Aerial Dance, Donegal and Kerry County Council

A participatory circus project exploring inter-generational topics with a focus on social inclusion, cultural participation and wellbeing. The themes are explored through artist residencies and multi-disciplinary immersive theatre performances in the three counties. The project evaluation findings will be presented at a symposium at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick.

AN URGENT ENQUIRY

Wexford County Council with Dublin City and Fingal County Council

An Urgent Enquiry builds on previously funded research on a collaborative and interdepartmental enquiry with public art and biodiversity specialists to research new models of commissioning art that focuses on the pertinent issue of art and biodiversity. The research has resulted in a new residency/commissioning model that includes international expertise, curatorial and research support to realize three new colloquial site specific works.

 

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25-25 Arts and Culture in Local Development

July 27, 2015
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25-25 Arts and Culture in Local Development

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 00.28.14

A conference that marked 25 years of Arts Council and Local Authority partnership took place in the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick on 25 and 26 November 2010. Panel discussions on salient themes; such as the Creative Economy, Area Development and Cultural Planning, were chaired by Olivia O’Leary. Contributions included case studies of Irish Chamber Orchestra, Film Offaly, Derry City of Culture 2013 as well as theoretical and academic responses. Sustainability for arts and cultural development over the next 25 years was a recurrent theme throughout the event.

A special recording of RTE’s Sunday Miscellany took place in the The Irish World Academy during the conference. It featured readings by Kay Sheehy, the first arts officer, visual artist Amanda Coogan, Hugh Murray, Chairman of EVA. Music performances included solo performance by Micheal O’Suilleabhain, 12-year-old prodigy, Andreas Varady playing jazz guitar and the Limerick County Youth Choir. This recording was aired on RTE Radio1 on Sunday 12th December at 9.15am. A podcast of the programme is available here: Sunday Miscellany RTE Radio 1

The conference is featured on Platform Ireland website arts channel, Irelands first audio-visual weekly Local Authority arts news service. The feature has interviews with some of the key contributors in the 25:25 Conference, which looked at the role of the arts and culture in achieving local economic and social development objectives.

Opening addresses were provided by Frank Dawson, Chairman of the City and County Managers Association, Community, Social and Economic Development Committee, Mary Cloake, Director of the Arts Council and Lucina Russell, Chairperson of the Association of Local Authority Arts Officers (2010-2011). Each address reinforced the importance of the relationship between the Arts Council and the Local Authority in embedding the Arts Officer and arts service within the local authority.

A keynote address by Australian cultural analyst Jon Hawkes focused on the theme of culture as one of the pillars of sustainability in public planning. He talked about the new paradigms there have been in public planning over the past decade, the shift from the ‘economic’ paradigm to one that is more about sustainability, equity engagement and well- being, referencing the principles of Agenda 21. He differentiated between the arts and the broader church of culture describing them as a ‘culturally intense sector’.

The event was formally opened by Michael D Higgins TD, the first Minister for Arts, Culture, and the Gaeltacht (1993- 1997), who mischievously described the early days when Arts Officers were first appointed to the local authority system, which traditionally had little or no provision for the arts. He acknowledged the role of the arts officer in enabling citizens to engage in quality arts experiences at a local level. He lamented the removal of the ‘Arts’ from the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport portfolio. He spoke with sadness about the failure to move culture in from the periphery of European concerns. He stated ‘we are living through a period where culture is seen as soft, where economics is hard and where it is most macho to be in the new technology end of the economic Europe. There probably never was a time then when we needed more the capacity to be reflective, to consciously articulate philosophical options’.

Chaired by journalist and broadcaster Olivia O’Leary, a series of lively panel discussions took place with senior contributors from Ireland and the UK exploring the role the role of the arts and culture in local development. Three distinctive case studies on Local Arts and Area Development – The Irish Chamber Orchestra Music Director of the Irish Chamber Orchestra, John Kelly who compounded his point about creating opportunities to engage with the arts by playing O’Carolans Concerto on violin, Aideen Mc Ginley mapped out the transformation of the Derry in advance of winning the bid to become inaugural UK City of Culture 2013, while Marcella Corcoran Kennedy set the rationale for establishing Film Offaly.

The potential of integrated Cultural Planning to enhance the city was investigated by Dick Gleeson, Planner in Dublin City Council. Jill Miller, Director of Cultural Services, Glasgow spoke about her challenges in managing 141 cultural venues. She emphasized the importance of setting milestones for organizations and the valuable contribution that arts advocates can make. In responding to this, Marian Fitzgibbon, Head of Humanities in AIT reflected on her role as broker in the mid 80s, encouraging County Managers to recruit an arts officer. In 1985, Clare Co Council took the lead, appointing Kay Sheehy.

Today there are 34 arts officers in City and County Councils countrywide.Looking towards the next 25 years, Emer Coleman, Greater London Authority highlighted the potential of social media for arts development in local authorities. Academic Clive Gray cautioned against aligning the value of arts participation against Cultural Tourism and number of bed nights. Professor Finbarr Bradley presented an Ireland in the Innovation Age. He emphasized the importance of embracing Irelands uniqueness as a sustainable competitive advantage. Bradley describes intangible resources that nurture innovation, motivation, memory and tradition.

The panel discussions were punctuated by artist’s interventions, entitled ’5 x 5’, where 5 artists were commissioned to create short pieces in response to the theme of Local Arts. Participating artists were Rionach Ni Neill; Andrew Duggan; John Byrne and Laura Fitzgerald. The fifth commission was a commemorative DVD, by Samhain Productions, which poignantly captured the extent of local arts development.

Andrew Duggan presented a new screening of 9.8 Metres per Second, a powerful film shot in one of 70 unsold houses on an estate in Co Carlow, featuring dancer Cindy Cummins. The houses lie empty, uninhabited. Yet there is an eerie sense of ghost town abandonment mixed the future possibility of dilapidation. John Byrnes irreverent autobiographical monologue with projected backdrops referenced previous works such as ‘The Border Worrier’. Byrnes recollection of a conversation with a farmer (his cousin) about his performance and installation artist had resonance for the delegates in terms of the lack of understanding about contemporary arts practice.

Dancer Rionach Ni Neill transformed the conference space, with Seandálaíocht; a multi-media solo performance that explored the paradox of a language spoken by only one person. It reminded the delegates of the potential of spaces for making/ presenting art.

Laura Fitzgerald acted as a visual narrator, creating a series of small-scale drawings in response to visual stimulus and performances, ideas and comments raised throughout the conference.

Each of the 5x 5 presentations acted as reflective tools to remind the delegates that nurturing the arts and artists must remain at the heart of what arts officers do

For further information about the conference go to W. Clare Library website

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A Framework for Collaboration

March 17, 2015
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Cover-page-001The Arts Council has announced a new ten year agreement, A Framework for Collaboration, (PDF, 1.5 MB) between the Arts Council and the County and City Management Association to further the development of the arts in every county in Ireland.

This agreement will enable the Arts Council and Local Authorities to develop a more streamlined and consistent approach to funding the arts based on key principles of arts development, public engagement and spatial planning. It will also allow the Arts Council and Local Authorities to set targeted outcomes where it will be able to measure the impact of this relationship and see increased levels of public engagement and participation.

For the first time with this new agreement a formal structure will be put on what over the previous 30 years evolved between the Arts Council and Local Authorities.

The Arts Council/ Local Government partnership over the years has been an excellent model of public service partnership and is set to continue and deepen with the launch of this ten year agreement.  Local government in Ireland has undergone a considerable reform and modernisation process in the past decade and arts and culture have become firmly embedded within that process.

Speaking about A Framework for Collaboration, Orlaith McBride, Director of the Arts Council said: “This new agreement with Local Authorities will help boost cultural democracy by further enlivening local communities with better access to the arts. The Arts Council is deeply committed to this agreement and that is reflected in our new strategy Making Great Art Work where our partnership with local government is embedded throughout.  Over the past few years we have focused on making our partnership with local government much more strategic and mutually beneficial. We view our local government partners as the most significant developer of the arts locally in Ireland. We want to now focus our efforts to ensure the future direction of the arts is shaped by the kinds of thinking, planning and management behaviours which will serve us all best.”

Pat Gallagher, Chairman of the County and City Management Association said, “Today, we warmly welcome the launch of this new agreement, A Framework for Collaboration, which will help us to work together with the arts sector in a more strategic way. Local Government in Ireland places a high value on development in the arts – we see it as a core component of creating vibrant and sustainable communities all over the country. We look forward to this new agreement, under which we will plan, engage and measure our activity in a more structured way together with our partners in the Arts Council.”

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