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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Platform 31

July 20, 2015
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A nationwide artist development scheme by the 31 Local Authority Arts Offices, in collaboration with the Arts Council. Applications open November 9th 2020. More information at

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