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Platform 31 artist support scheme to run again in 2022 after successful pilot

March 8, 2022
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Following on from its successful pilot in 2020-21, the Association of Local Authority Arts Officers (ALAAO) is once more collaborating with the Arts Council to present PLATFORM 31 – a national opportunity for artists to be supported to investigate how they might develop their practice or make work in a different way.

Designed to support and enable career development for 31 mid-career artists – one artist will be selected from each of the 31 local authorities around Ireland – there are two elements of support for participating artists in this pilot scheme: financial and developmental.

Participating artists will receive an €8,000 bursary to invest in themselves and their practice, combined with participation in a developmental programme.

Informed by last year’s pilot, the PLATFORM 31 developmental programme will provide coaching, advisory support and networking opportunities for participating artists, introducing them to a pool of critical thinkers to share their work and encouraging a national conversation about creating work in local contexts.

Designed to support mid-career artists, PLATFORM 31 is open to artists of any artform, medium and practice – as well as multi-disciplinary artists, living in any of the 31 Local Authority regions in Ireland.

Applications open from March 3rd to 30th 2022.

For more information see or email 

PLATFORM 31 is managed by Wicklow County Council on behalf of The Association of Local Authority Arts Officers, in collaboration with the Arts Council.

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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 or see

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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.

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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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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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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