Weekly round-up: 25 May 2012

Hans Josephsohn exhibition at Lismore Castle Arts

It’s been extraordinarily busy policy-wise in the arts the last few weeks — this update will be a long one —  I’ll do my best to provide a summary! (p.s. if I’ve gotten anything wrong here, please do write in & correct me! Or feel free to add your impressions/responses in the comments…)

The second meeting of the Visual Arts Workers’ Fourm (kindly hosted by the Glucksman Gallery, UCC) last Thursday 17 May proved a lively & interesting day. So much ground was covered, it’s impossible to do justice to it all — however I found most useful the presentations by Mary McCarthy (from the National Sculpture Factory) and Sarah Glennie (new director of IMMA) providing updates on the status of the Culture Ireland, National Campaign for the Arts and the amalgamations planned for the national cultural institutions. Here’s a breakdown of some of what was discussed (supplemented by a few recent developments):

  • Culture Ireland: The expiration of Eugene Downes’ contract as Director is coinciding with a planned review of Culture Ireland; many in the audience voiced their support for the impact of CI’s contribution to the promotion of Irish culture, and praised Eugene’s contributions in particular. As yet there seems to be little public information on what exactly this review process will entail and when it will take place, with Mary reiterating the importance of remaining vigilant as to developments.
  • National Campaign for the Arts: conversations around advocacy, developing stronger links with policymakers and politicians, and better articulating a collective vision for the purpose and importance of the arts were strong themes recurring throughout the day. Differences between VAI and VAWF were clarified (the former primarily devoted to the support of individual artists, the latter an as-yet loose grouping of the many organisations and individuals broadly included under the ‘visual arts’ banner, to include arts orgs, artists, curators, educators, etc.). Mary provided details of the NCFA’s working process and current status, urging folks to become involved (a very small number of people are making a large difference here), and reiterating the very significant impact its campaigns and outreach efforts have had to date. No consensus emerged out of the day as to how collectively the visual arts community might better organise — in more casual conversations with attendees I found views varied widely as to whether more formal organisation was needed, or whether a more organic approach was appropriate. I think most were in agreement, however, that meetings such as VAWF provided a valuable opportunity for information sharing, networking and getting a sense of the many diverse views and positions active in the visual arts community.
  • National Cultural Institution amalgamation plans: Sarah spent a good deal of time discussing this, stressing that the proposals now on the table differ substantially in nature from those mooted in 2008, which garnered very strong opposition in the sector (voiced during a consultation held in IMMA)– plans that were later shelved. Very little has been made public about this process, so many in the audience were surprised to hear of the speed with which the re-vamped amalgamation plans are progressing — according to Glennie the decision to amalgamate in some form has been made by the Dept. of Public Expenditure and Reform, and is irreversible, with the window for working out the finer details (before a final decision by Cabinet) only about 6 weeks. The word since then is that the directors are collectively engaged in protecting the autonomy of each institution (especially in terms of curatorship and direction) to the greatest extent possible.There were very strong feelings in the audience about the importance of protecting the cultural institutions in a time of slash-and-burn approaches by civil servants with little knowledge of how these organisations actually function, and their already skeletal infrastructure. All of this has been given added momentum in the past few days with Diarmuid Ferriter’s announcement (more here too) he would be resigning from the board of the National Library in protest over the government’s ‘offensive and disingenuous double-speak’ around the cultural institutions (including but not limited to the amalgamation plans — which also have proposed merging the NLI, National Archives and the Manuscripts Commission). The amalgamation plans were further criticised yesterday by Senator Fiach Mac Conghail in the Senate session (here’s the full text of what was said). I believe all of this is extremely useful in highlighting how crucial these decisions are, and what their long-ranging impact will be on cultural institutions many of us take for granted. A lack of transparency over the terms of the proposals is worrying, and with such a short amount of time remaining to voice views on the subject, I hope developments will continue to be publicized widely (and I’ll try my best to do the same!)

Quite a number of folks approached me at VAWF to speak with me after I raised the issue of employment patterns (and specifically unpaid internships) in the arts… of further interest may be a recent report just published in the UK – Intern Culture – that has brought together a whole host of research and information on the current state of UK internships in the visual arts. It’s extremely useful and insightful, and well worth a read — I suspect we will soon reach a stage where more formalised inquiries and guidelines will have to be addressed here in Ireland as well.

Slightly buried in the story on the HEA funding crisis (which made the rounds in print and radio yesterday) was mention of ‘a review of third level creative arts and media courses in Dublin, including those at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin Institute of Technology and Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.’ I’ve heard some talk of this, with suggestions there may be plans afoot to rationalize/reduce programmes offered owing to ‘duplication’, but as of yet have heard nothing more concrete. One to keep an eye on…

Did you catch the conclusion of RTE’s ‘Masterpiece: Ireland’s Favourite Painting‘ last night? Not surprisingly, dorm room favourite ‘The Meeting on the Turret Stairs’ by Frederic William Burton at the NGI edged out the competition (with 22% of the vote, followed by the Caravaggio, Leech and Harry Clarke). No small irony that the winner is actually one of Ireland’s least seen paintings (as it’s a watercolour and only on very limited public display). Lots of grumbling amidst art historians about criteria of selection, omission of manuscript painting (and anything non-western), but it’s all been in good fun I think — as host Mike Murphy has pointed out the late night scheduling of the programme by RTE was shameful, but it was great to hear folks debating the merits of the nominated works, and the galleries have reported a noticeable increase in visitor numbers on the back of the programme.

Some very nice coverage (by Aidan Dunne in the IT, and another illustrated review on the Royal Academy site) of the Hans Josephsohn exhibition at Lismore Castle Arts, the opening of which I also attended — it’s a wonderful and eye opening show of an extremely accomplished (if little known) 92 year old Swiss sculptor, and shows off the tremendous development and ambition of this small gallery in the years since its opening.

Music Network has launched details of its nationwide love:live music programme coming up on 21 June — there will be a huge range of live (free) music events of all genres happening across the country, and they are still taking listings for groups wishing to participate in this fab day & looking to link in with their network. They also recently announced the appointment of their new director, Sharon Rollston, so it’s all go in the Carriage House these days!

The RHA’s annual exhibition and sale opens in a few short days — red sticker dots at the ready!

All this sunshine is going to our heads… but a groovy event happening in Dublin this weekend is Block T’s ‘Link Culturefest’ in Smithfield and the surrounding areas: a whole host of exhibitions, screenings, performances, and open houses of cultural organisations — a great way to herald the start of our ‘proper’ summer!

EVA International Biennial of Art also opened in Limerick last week, curated by Annie Fletcher.

The Bealtaine Festival (‘Celebrating Creativity as we Age’) is drawing to a close over the next few days, but there’s still time to catch a few remaining events, or have a look at the presentations made at their conference ‘Creating a New Old’ that were filmed & are available on their website.

Museum peeps: tomorrow (26 May) is the Irish Museum Association’s annual field trip, this year visiting Waterford… a call for submissions is also open for the annual ‘Blow Your Own Trumpet‘ day on 13 July, where museum education programmes and initiatives from across the country are highlighted — deadline is today!

IMMA’s new exhibitions open at Earslfort Terrace/NCH is next Weds (May 30th) — more details on the launch here.

A CFP has been issued for a local symposium entitled ‘Art Without Borders: Cultural Influence and and Exchange in Irish Art History‘, coordinated by a number of postgraduate students from TCD.

Applications for organisations to be involved in this year’s Culture Night are closing on May 31st! Time to get your skates on.

Galway Arts Festival (16-29 July) has launched its programme — impending birth will prevent me from attending this year, but if I were going, I’d be all over the Marina Abramovic exhibition, Druid Murphy cycle, and the West Cork Ukelele Orchestra.

UCC is offering 4-year funded doctoral studentships in digital arts & humanities — tasty — closing deadline is 31 May.

Hotel deals will soon end for Theatre Forum’s all-Ireland annual conference in Belfast on 14-15 June — this is going to be a big one, so get thee to the registrations page.

I was delighted to hear one of our programme alums Monika Sapielak (director of the Centre for Creative Practices) won an Arthur Guinness Fund award for Social Entrepreneurs! Huge congrats!!

Finally… one of the (recurring) cultural events of our time airs tomorrow — I am, of course, talking about the Eurovision Song Contest Final in Azerbaijan. Who will prevail? The Russian grannies? The Jed and their unexpectedly horizontal hair? Don’t pretend you won’t be watching.

Weekly round-up: 8 May 2012

It’s been a while! Things are getting hairy in these parts with lots of travel and impending deliveries (book and baby!) but I’ll try to keep to schedule as much as possible. Jobs, as usual, are updated weekly.

The big news of the past few days is the departure of Eugene Downes as head of Culture Ireland at the end of the month, when his current contract expires. Eugene has been central to the formation and success of Culture Ireland, both during his 5 years of leadership, and several more in CI’s planning and development stages. His presence will be much missed, and I know many folks join me in wishing him well… The impending leadership gap at CI is no small matter of concern: the National Campaign for the Arts has posted a statement in response to the announcement, expressing its concern on the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform’s plans for CI, and the potential impact on the national institution amalgamation proposals.

Theatre Forum has announced its new director — and it’s Anna Walsh, one of our recent MA programme graduates! Warm congrats to Anna in her new role! Looking forward as well to the annual conference in Belfast next month (the first all-Ireland TF conference, 14-15 June) — bookings have just opened.

Cork Midsummer Festival (under the steady hand of director Tom Creed) launched its super-strong programme last week (the festival runs from 21 June – 1 July) — a great chance to catch Rian (if you missed it in the Theatre Festival), or check out the special Argentinian collaboration strand Ciudades Paraleles, which looks fascinating.

In other festival news… Kilkenny Arts Festival will be featuring a special staging of ‘As You Like It’ by the Shakespeare Globe Theatre — it’s not all about London in 2012! Sure to be a very popular ticket.

Don’t forget too that the Dublin Dance Festival begins in 4 days! With all the recent launches and press coverage it feels like the festival season is properly underway (even if the weather isn’t cooperating).

For a historian of Famine/migration memory & culture, news of a Tom Murphy revival is exciting stuff! Looking forward to the multiple plays hitting the Druid and Abbey stages over the coming months (p.s. – it’s just been announced the DruidMurphy cycle will be staged as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival – huzzah!)

The Irish Architecture Foundation has issued an ‘Open Call’ for proposals from past & current architecture students to contribute to the exhibition ‘We Had a Dream about the Future‘, to be staged in the environs of Earlsfort Terrace. Deadline is today (8 March!)

Arts Audiences (in conjunction with Theatre Forum and Failte Ireland) is coordinating a unique Audience Development Programme aimed at art directors and senior managers at arts organisations — the six month part-time programme is being delivered in conjunction with University of Ulster and will lead to a Certificate in Management Practice. The deadline for applications is 10 May — more details are available here as well.

Researchers rejoyce! The National Library of Ireland announced today they’ve placed all of their Joyce manuscripts online — many are at a rudimentary stage at the minute, but access, imaging and indexing is all set to improve over the coming months.

Irish Film & Television Network have posted an interesting interview with film historian Dr Kevin Rockett, giving insight into his research practice and scholarship.

RTÉ, BBC Northern Ireland and BBC Scotland have announced a joint broadcast commissioning scheme — the first of its kind — which will target independent production companies: ‘Production companies will be asked to submit proposals which reflect the cultural, geographical and historical connections between the three regions. The aim is to encourage creative ideas around story-telling, which will cater for audiences across the three areas.’

The Atlantic Philanthropies is offering an intriguing series of paid summer internships in philanthropy and grantmaking at their various international offices, including Bermuda, Hanoi, New York City, Johannesburg, and (wait for it) Belfast and Dublin. Closing date isn’t listed, but get CVs in quickly – this sounds like a great opportunity.

Finally I’m looking forward this weekend to the launch of Lismore Castle Arts’ new exhibition by Hans Josephsohn — the shows to date in that lovely space have been top-notch — and a discussion with Thomas Houseago, Matthew Day Jackson, Rashid Johnson, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Iwan Wirth, chaired by Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith this Saturday should be a real highlight.

Weekly round-up: 9 February 2012

Mad about 'The Artist'? Check out a new site dedicated to Irish silent film legend Rex Ingram!

This will be the last post for a few weeks while I’m away in California (hooray for the homeland, family & Mexican food!)

News that Dublin County Council is creating a registry of vacant properties for creative use met with many a hurrah today! Owners are urged to get in touch with the Council to be added to the registry and be put in touch with folks looking for short term leases for cultural & creative purposes.

I love finding new academic online resources, and Ruth Barton (TCD lecturer) has set up a fascinating site devoted to Irish silent film pioneer Rex Ingram.

I am indeed sad not to be making the launch of the Science Gallery’s ‘Edible’ show tonight (although the pics are slightly grossing this preggo lady out!), and I know I mentioned it already last week, but SERIOUSLY: the SG has outdone itself. Go see (and eat) it.

The annual Irish Museums Association conference is fast approaching! This is always one of the highlights of my year — have a look at the programme and consider joining us in Limerick from 24-26 Feburary for great speakers, networking & museum visits (this year includes the Hunt Museum and Glenstal Abbey).

If you’re a dancer about to graduate in 2012, the Step Up Dance training programme sponsored by Dance Ireland, the Arts Council and University of Limerick sounds like a great opportunity. Deadline is 5 April…

In the meeja this week the disposal of Anglo Irish Bank’s art collection met with a resounding ‘meh’; of greater interest perhaps was IMMA’s acquisition of its headquarter’s signage (although surely the National Museum might have been a more appropriate destination?)

Breathing some new life into Belfast’s cultural scene, the newly unveiled MAC arts centre has announced its first programme of events in theatre and the visual arts.

Just this week Ireland’s creative crowdsourcing site Fundit.ie passed €500k in pledges from nearly 9,ooo peeps! Seriously, you guys (all the punters pledging & the crew from B2A running the joint) are awesome. I just funded their first craft project to celebrate — go on, have a look at all the fab projects currently listed 🙂

Dublin Youth Theatre is staging a groovy-sounding fundraiser in Project Arts Centre on 19 February — the 24 Hour Play Project challenges six directors, six writers and a whole heap o’well known thesps to write, direct and stage a play in a 24 hour period! No doubt this will be a sell-out..

The Thomas Damman Award from the Royal Hibernian Academy offers funding to folks working on academic and creative projects in the visual arts… it’s a great source of support that many colleagues & friends have accessed in the past; application deadline is 2 March.

Notre Dame University has announced the theme and content of its annual Irish Seminar (run in Dublin during June and July): it’s on contemporary Irish theatre! The programme looks great, and bursaries are available to help fund attendance.

One of our MA alumnae has contacted me from her new home in Perth where she’s working with the non-profit FORM — they’re launching an ambitious campaign to secure a $12 million grant that will fund a new digital media hub (‘The Foundry’) in Western Australia, and are seeking any and all expressions of support. With many graduates emigrating to sunnier climes it’s great to stay connected to the wider diaspora of arts management folks — so if you’re interested do sign their online petition!

Weekly update – 19 September 2011

Back on the grid… and a heck of a week ahead:

The Absolut Dublin Fringe Festival charges into its second (and final) week… I’m looking forward to smooshing in as much as I can over the next few days (and maybe even darning a few socks)!

Culture Night is the other massive event this week – Friday 23 September. The scale of the ever-expanding arts & culture bonanza is truly mind-boggling, and it’s not just Dublin — 30 other regions across Ireland are participating this year. Put on some good walking shoes, plan ahead, and plan for alternatives (since many events get packed out early)!

Nosey nellies will have their prayers answered with the Irish Museum Association’s upcoming members’ trip to the new storehouses of the National Museum in Swords on 24 September. These are new state-of-the-art collections management facilities totaling more than 200,00 sq. feet. Book soon, this is bound to be a popular visit!

The National Campaign for the Arts has a series of key events happening this week: on Wednesday the Minister will be addressing a session of the Seanad (members of the public may attend but must request admission); on Thursday constituency coordinators are meeting in the National Concert Hall to discuss next steps, and on Friday the NCFA is hosting a presidential hustings in the IFI (attendance is free, but arrive early!) Details of all these events (and contact information) is located on the NCFA’s website.

The Contemporary Music Centre’s new music series New Sound Worlds begins Weds. 21 September in the National Concert Hall, the first of eight concerts curated by Siobhan Cleary.

Anyone watching Craft Master on RTE? I’m not usually one for reality shows, but this is a canny way of getting exposure for new craft practitioners (beyond the cheesy Nationwide profile). It started on 6 September but runs until 11 October on Tuesdays at 7 pm.

Taking a page from the UpStart‘s creative General Election poster campaign, Fire Station Artists’ Studio (in collaboration with the Danish collective Kuratorisk Aktion) has commissioned a project and poster campaign entitled ‘Troubling Ireland‘, ongoing in Dublin City Centre until the 23rd of September.

Keep your eyes peeled… Open House Dublin 2011 (themed ‘The Architecture of Change’) runs from 7-9 October; this season’s brochures are scattered round the city & are beautifully designed.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth saying twice… The Irish Writers’ Centre is launching its Novel Fair Competition on Wednesday 21 September, which will give unknown novelists a chance to compete for big-time exposure and possible contracts.

Lots of interesting board positions have opened up in the North — Northern Ireland Screen (23 Sept deadline), the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (30 September deadline), and the Northern Irish Museums Council (7 October deadline, seeking a Director) are seeking expressions of interest/applications from potential candidates.

The Friends of the National Collections of Ireland have a new website! Founded by Sarah Purser in 1924, the Society still works to donate works of special importance to public collections in Ireland.

MOMA’s increasing its admission price from $20 to $25 — yeowch! Good debate follows in the comments on the NY Times’ opinion piece.

Per Cent for Public Art‘ is the title of an upcoming forum on public art in Ireland on 14 October in Wexford, presented by Articulate (a very motivated & accomplished group of former UCD MA students), and sponsored by the Arts Council, OPW, Wexford local authorities, UCD & others. The keynote speaker is Sara Reisman, director of NYC’s Percent for Art scheme, and the programme of participants looks fantastic for anyone interested in Irish public art.

CREATE (the national development agency for the collaborative arts) is looking for a new director, but they’re also running an upcoming symposium on the Arts and Civil Society at the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork on 20-21 October. Again lots of great speakers, although it’s lamentable a more affordable concession offer is not available, especially given the subject of the event.

Weekly round-up: 16 May 2011

I’m late this week (or early, depending on your perspective), but exam marking is finished for the year – woo hoo! Lots on the wire over the past few days (and not all Eurovision or Queen-related):

Most intriguing was the news at the weekend that the state is keen to take back Bank of Ireland’s College Green buildings ‘for cultural uses’ on foot of its bailout arrangements with the bank. Apparently the Minister wishes to turn the historic building into a ‘tourist attraction’ of some kind: ‘His plans, which are at a preliminary stage, envisage the conversion of the building into a centre celebrating Dublin’s literary heritage, incorporating an exhibition space and reading rooms as well as a cafe and meeting rooms. Mr Deenihan’s spokeswoman said he was examining a number of venues for a “world literature centre”, but that no decision had been taken yet on a location.’ An interesting proposal — but can or will the government actually stump up for such a large potential development? Such ‘grand gestures’ of the capital kind have been a feature of every government, but it’s the ongoing investment in the arts (and provision of programming, administrative overhead, etc) that’s proven more difficult to source over the years. It will take some delicate negotiation to ensure such a project doesn’t wind up another white elephant, another unsustainable or irrelevant ‘arts centre’, or a further drain on already meagre resources. And frankly, publishing a range of fairly daft public suggestions  in the Irish Times (eh, they’re not knocking it down, folks) — and the short-term memories which appear to have forgotten there WAS an arts centre there until recently! — isn’t quite the discussion this project needs. The prospect exercises me greatly because in my view, this is the most magnificent civic complex in Dublin city centre, and we haven’t a great history of being sympathetic to our architectural heritage.

In further NAMA-related developments, the National Gallery is receiving the gift of a Lavery painting ‘Return from Market’ (cheeky choice!) as a thank-you from the agency for storing works to be resold from Derek Quinlan’s collection. The rest of the collection is supposedly being offered first to the NGI/IMMA/OPW (although their acquisition budgets are tiny, so I’m not sure how this will pan out!) before going to public auction. Note to NAMA: I have a very secure, dry attic, and a Roderic O’Conor would do nicely for our living room wall.

Dublin Dance Festival began on Friday, and continues until May 28th. I’m quite taken with the description of Hiroaki Umeda’s Haptic & Adapting for Distortion (and the graphics remind me of a Peter Kogler exhibition I saw at MUMOK some years ago – most groovous).

Today the National Campaign for the Arts coordinated a series of 40+ ‘meet & greets’ between arts folks and local TDs — Tania Banotti (head of Theatre Forum) was likewise recently profiled in the Irish Times on her involvement with the campaign. It’s great to see ongoing enthusiasm for the campaign — and significant fundraising achieved for their efforts.

Temple Bar Gallery & Studios recently launched its new website — very snazzy — and I’m looking forward to attending their symposium on Visual Arts Audiences on Wednesday.

The Irish Architecture Foundation has launched Architecture Tours Ireland, offering five new ongoing public tours: ‘Dublin Docklands’,’Georgian Dublin’, ‘Temple Bar’, ‘The Living City’, ‘Children’s Activity Tour’. Hopefully they’ll find great success with this initiative; with so much fascinating architectural history condensed in the city centre, it seems a natural fit!

Good news that imprisoned Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei was finally allowed a family visit, although his situation still looks far from encouraging — the amount of public pressure and denouncement of his detention has been quite astonishing, and the Chinese government’s lack of response even more so.

The Contemporary Music Centre will be staging its last new music salon until the fall — the final performance on 25 May sounds intriguing:  ‘a music theatre piece based on the diaries and poetry of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Bill Manhire’.

I received a link today to a new blog focused on studio visits throughout Ireland — From the studio of… — sounds like a great idea, and a promising theme — I’ve got ya bookmarked!

Loughlin Deegan will be leaving the helm of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival to take up the juicy post of Director of the Lir, the new national academy for the performing arts envisaged as the RADA of Ireland.

Gemma Tipton in today’s Irish Times wrote on grassroots/artist-led initiatives in a time of recession (a subject of one of last year’s MA theses, and another this year as well) — in related news the collectively-run space The Complex avoided eviction in the ill-starred Smithfield development this week thanks to the intervention of Minister Deenihan, as reported in Le Cool.

And finally… big congrats to Jessica Fuller, who’s currently upgrading her MA with us — she was the driving force behind the first project to be awarded funding under the National Music Education Programme — known as ‘Music Generation‘ (sponsored by U2 and the Ireland Funds and managed by Music Network), the most important scheme funding music education in the country. Three years of development are now ahead for the Sligo Music Education Programme (SMEP) in partnership with Music Generation — looking forward to great things ahead!

I’m off this weekend to visit Cork, avoid the Queen and check out new stuff at the Glucksman, Triskel and Lismore Castle Arts — may not be back with another update until next week, so behave yourselves in the meantime.