- RTE Radio 1 is featuring an interesting series of radio programmes discussing the relationship between Irish theatre and social events from the early 20th century to the 1960s. The first few episodes can be played back via RTE’s Radio player, and there’s also a Facebook page and Twitter feed for the series.
- Don’t let the tourists be the only ones there! Temple Bar’s Tradfest kicks off today, with a great series of gigs, street performances and other events– the Singers’ Club sounds particularly groovy!
- Designer David Smith (Atelier) has just become the first Irish person elected to the prestigious design body Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI); his studio’s work would be well known throughout this country and internationally — congratulations!!
- Here’s another one for the creative industries crowd, and the people who love them: ‘Moot VII’ at the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny on 4 February will feature a roster of speakers discussing intersections between creativity, innovation and business.
- The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has launched an effort similar to the Republic’s National Campaign for the Arts to address their own looming budget crisis: ‘Fair Deal for the Arts NI‘ is asking citizens to write their representatives and sign an online petition against the proposed 23% cut in the arts budget. As the NCFA has demonstrated, effective campaigning can go a long way towards protecting support for the arts & culture; only 20 days are left in the public consultation period, so if you live in the North please take action!
- Colm Tóibín’s stepping into Martin Amis’ shoes as Professor of Creative Writing at University of Manchester — sounds like a great gig if you can get it!!
- There’s a whole slew of upcoming conferences in Ireland and the UK on the subject of new media technologies and the cultural sector– first up is ‘Mobile for the Cultural Sector‘ in London, focusing on the application of mobile technologies in the arts, from 8-9 March.
- Take a moment and let this news sink in– next week more than 600 arts organisations are likely to receive funding rejection letters from the Arts Council England. Sounds like many are bracing themselves for a worrying period of programme (and organisational) reassessment…
This year’s Irish Museums Association annual conference (25-27th February 2011) is now accepting registrations (full disclosure: I’m on the organising committee)! Our theme this year is ‘The Way Forward: Sustainability and the Museum‘, and we’re delighted to be headed to Drogheda, where we’ll be hosted by the Droichead Arts Centre.
We’ve a great series of events lined up– as always, Fridays will feature a selection of members’ papers (see the call for papers here) and an interactive workshop (Annette Nugent leading the group for a session entitled ‘What can the museum sector offer the visitor, and how can museums grow their visitor base?’).
Saturday will see a full roster of speakers take the podium, including:
- RACHEL MADAN (Greener Museums and author of Sustainable Museums: Strategies for the 21st Century)
- EAMONN McENEANEY (Director, Waterford Museum of Treasures)
- OLE WINTHER (Head of Museums Office, National Heritage Agency, Denmark)
- SAMUEL JONES (Policy Fellow at the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Head of Culture at DEMOS)
- STUART McLAUGHLIN (Chief Executive, Business2Arts, Dublin)
- IZABELLA CSORDÁS (Head of Visitor Services Department, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary)
- GRAINNE MILLAR (Head of Cultural Development, Temple Bar Cultural Trust, Dublin)
- DR HUGH MAGUIRE (Director, Hunt Museum, Limerick)
The Millmount Museum, Highlanes Gallery, Beaulieu House and Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre will all be welcoming conference delegates for special receptions and visits. We are offering a special 40% off concession rate this year as well.
Full details of the conference programme can be found on the IMA website. Hope to see you there!
I need a lie down– far too much happening over the last week! Here’s the skinny:
- In a (relatively) surprising announcement, Fionnuala Croke (head curator at the National Gallery) was named new director of the Chester Beatty Library, replacing the outgoing legend Michael Ryan. Croke had been tipped as a potential replacement for Raymond Keaveney as Director of the NGI following his retirement this year, so her appointment to the CBL has led to much speculation about future leadership at the Gallery.
- The word on Fundit.ie, Business to Arts’ new crowdsourcing site (check out the video above!), was leaked to a wider audience this week, with a formal launch coming in February. If you aren’t familiar with crowdsourcing, have a look-see at established sites like www.kickstarter.com– this project has major potential for Ireland’s creatives.
- Music Generation, the new music education programme managed by Music Network and set to be rolled out nationwide, has received major sponsorship from U2 and the Ireland Fund which will allow it to be realised over the next three years (speaking of Music Network, they’re looking for an intern– deadline is Friday!)
- Yesterday’s Irish Times ran an article by Gemma Tipton detailing pressure artists face to make ends meet: sobering first hand accounts strike a sharp contrast with critiques of the income tax exemption in recent months.
- The Jameson International Film Festival has announced a screenwriting competition and issued a call for volunteers.
- Why have I not seen this blog before? Diane Ragsdale (pursuing a PhD in cultural economics in Amsterdam), has written a great series of pieces on cultural management & policy (attracting many excellent & insightful comments).
- The shortlist for the Irish Times Theatre Awards has been announced– according to the article, the Gate has refused its productions to be allowed for consideration (apparently last year was the same). I’ve yet to discern the logic behind this? In other theatre news, The Company is looking for a last-minute, eager assistant for its production ‘As You Now Are So Once We Were at The Abbey.
- ACE cuts are to be announced in 2 weeks’ time… meanwhile the Guardian has made the excellent move of centralising information about UK arts funding on its Culture Cuts blog.
- The VIP Art Fair is set to go live in 2 days — a groovy new model of an online-only art fair that’s attracted the participation of major international galleries, features high-tech means of viewing the work available and offers the ability to chat live with dealers in a suite of innovative features. Will have to check out and ogle the functionality, ummmm.
- I’ve shied away recently from posting event announcement (as I receive so many!), but I always have a soft spot for projects run by programme alumni: tomorrow is the launch of ‘Haiti Lives – One Year On‘, a photography exhibition run by TCD’s International Development Initiative, on view at Trinity until Wednesday Februrary 9th.
This morning’s article by Aidan Dunne in the Irish Times confirmed what many had heard as rumour/speculation: Rachael Thomas is no longer one of the artistic directors of the high profile Dublin Contemporary project, despite her central role as one of its founders:
WITHIN THE past few days, all references to Dublin Contemporary’s artistic director Rachael Thomas have disappeared from the event’s website. This follows on from intense speculation about her position over the past month. Given that late last week Thomas was still very active as artistic director and said she had no intention of stepping aside, this suggests she had an abrupt change of heart. A founder of Dublin Contemporary, Thomas has been its driving force for several years.
A spokesperson for Dublin Contemporary says that Thomas, who was on secondment from her position as Head of Exhibitions at Imma, is returning to the museum. There is no artistic director of Dublin Contemporary at present, though developments will be announced early next month.
Thomas’s departure throws into sharp relief questions that have hung over the international festival of contemporary art, scheduled to take place in Dublin later this year, since it was launched with some fanfare last July.
Dunne suggests it was Thomas with an ‘abrupt change of heart’, but it seems hardly likely such a move was cordially agreed, and it has the appearance of a forced exit. Dunne goes on to criticise the DC for its lack of transparency, failure to communicate programme information, and confused sense of mission or purpose:
Communications have not been handled well. Bland, jargonistic generalities have too often taken the place of hard information. Those not directly involved might eventually feel they are being taken for granted. And the art world has been abuzz with rumours that Dublin Contemporary HQ is not a happy camp.
Can Dublin Contemporary go ahead without the input of the person who shaped its as yet uncertain identity, the person who is certainly responsible more than anyone else for its existence? Presumably it could go ahead in some form or another. The unpalatable truth may be, though, that Dublin Contemporary shouldn’t just be postponed, it should be cancelled and rethought from the ground up. The evidence so far suggests that it needs a more inclusive, strategic approach than has been evident, with closer involvement from all interested parties – including the main galleries in Dublin and other cultural bodies.
The criticisms Dunne references are hardly new, and have plagued the project since the beginning. Unfortunately the ultimate timing of the project couldn’t have been worse, though this was no fault of its founders — in a flush Celtic Tiger Ireland, what could have seemed more apt than an art event of this scale, finally placing Dublin on the international art tourism map? As the date has drawn nearer, the lack of programme information, involvement of the St Patrick’s Festival team (signalling a philosophical orientation very different from that of a typical biennale style event), and the proposed scale of the project versus capability to deliver have occasioned anxiety in many quarters. Nevertheless Thomas & Dowling managed to garner a significant amount of goodwill (and of course funding) towards the project, and this recent news has occasioned much dismay amongst those involved with or anticipating the DC. From a personal standpoint, many past and current students have been tremendously excited by the concept, eager to participate and lend assistance, and take part in such an ambitious project. I am saddened and worried about this turn of events.
Even more perplexing is the failure of the DC to issue an official statement on the situation– there are too many rumours circulating at the minute, too many clashing cooks in the kitchen and too much at stake for the visual arts in Ireland. Dunne has, quite rightly, issued a strong challenge to the DC executive team to reconsider the wisdom of plowing ahead. If it is the case that the DC is sufficiently developed and prepared to continue, it is not in their best interest to wait until March for a detailed announcement. Given the number of people who have committed professionally and personally to this endeavour, I hope this mess can be sorted soon, and a workable and realistic strategy be communicated.
note: CIRCA has an online post on the news item here (though no comments yet), but I’d welcome any comments/reactions below as well.
Just updated: lots of new jobs listed! Plum gigs at the Lir Academy, National Trust Northern Ireland, and more… it’s a hectic time at the moment preparing for the new term & coping with exam marking, but I hope to be back with the weekly update as soon as possible. Apologies if any of the FAS work placement links are broken– I check them regularly, but their website is impossibly designed and links are frequently changed/deleted. Thanks!