Vol. 4 of Irish Journal of Arts Management & Cultural Policy published

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I’m delighted to announce that our latest issue of the Irish Journal of Arts Management & Cultural Policy has been published! It’s a bumper issue, with four excellent research articles — covering placemaking, precarity in theatre work, cultural property legislation in Ireland, and a review of JobBridge and the cultural sector — as well as four book reviews.

We’ll be sharing news soon of the new CFP for the next journal issue, as well as some changes to the format which will be announced shortly! Here are some shortcuts to the various articles, or you can find the entire journal here.

Art practice, process, and new urbanism in Dublin: Art Tunnel Smithfield and social
practice placemaking in the Irish capital

‘Just about coping’: precarity and resilience among applied theatre and community
arts workers in Northern Ireland

Exporting Art from Ireland: The Alfred Beit Foundation and the Protection of
Cultural Property

A view from the bridge: institutional perspectives on the use of a national internship
scheme (JobBridge) in Ireland’s National Cultural Institutions

REVIEW: Communities of Musical Practice (Ailbhe Kenny: Routledge, 2016)

REVIEW: The Cultural Intermediaries Reader (Jennifer Smith Maguire and Julian
Matthews, eds.: Sage, 2014)

REVIEW: The Great Reimagining: Public Art, Urban Space and the Symbolic
Landscapes of a ‘New’ Northern Ireland (Bree T. Hocking: Berghahn, 2015)

REVIEW: Cultural Capital: The Rise and Fall of Creative Britain (Robert Hewison:
Verso Books, 2014)

Weekly round-up: 6 April 2011

Photo from the Irish Times, 5 April 2011: Rob Dunne and Antoinette Emoe prepare Diego Rivera's Landscape with Cacti for hanging at Imma. Photograph: Alan Betson

A sooper-dooper bumper round-up for today, to make up for my absence over the past 2 weeks (travelling for conferences & wrapping up MA course for 2010-11!) I’ve made a few sub-headings to make navigating this update easier; I promise not to stay away so long next time!

Jobs / internships

Want to work for the Arts Council? Now’s your chance… currently hiring a new Director and 15 (!) new arts advisors across all disciplines, so dust off the CV….

I’ve been following news on changing practices around internships/work placements in the UK (see previous post): just yesterday the Guardian reported on Nick Clegg’s admission of the advantage conferred to him via a placement in his youth arranged by his father.  There’s been a recent push in government (as part of a ‘social mobility’ campaign) to increase application transparency, fair remuneration, and access to internships in desirable professions — an issue of importance here in Ireland as well, though this has yet to be addressed in any substantial way. Groups/blogs like Intern Aware and Interns Anonymous have formed in the UK to push for reform and improve access (although I would disagree with their distinctions drawn between ‘interning’ for a company and ‘volunteering’ with a charity as neglecting/mis-characterising the non-profit sector); is it time for similar action here in Ireland?

Awards Season

Congratulations to the Science Gallery for its recent Shorty Award (for the best Cultural Organisation) at the ‘Oscars of Twitter’, and to Vulgo.ie for its triumph as best Arts & Culture blog at the Irish Blog Awards in late March!

Budget woes & money matters

The Lighthouse Cinema is embroiled in a rent dispute with its landlord, who recently doubled the rent from 100k to 200k. The future of the cinema is of great concern to its patrons, local residents in Smithfield and taxpayers (especially since the government invested €1.75 million in its development). The petition by the landlord to wind up the lease has been adjourned to allow for board discussions; it’s also been suggested that the Cultural Cinema Consortium (formed by the Arts Council and the Irish Film Board) who initially invested in the project might take it over as a going concern… Certainly I’d be of the view it’s the best arthouse cinema in Dublin (sorry IFI!), although the decline of the Smithfield development and its failure to secure lasting tenants is obvious to anyone visiting, and a clear obstacle the cinema’s struggled to deal with. Will keep you posted…

As the Arts Council England finally sent out funding notifications to organisations,  the scale of cuts was wide enough to warrant massive coverage in all the UK dailies (I follow the Guardian mainly) and even feature on a Newsnight segment. 206 organisations had their funding cut completely, and supporters of various organisations and artforms fumed. The Arts Council itself recently came in for strongly worded criticism and an order to sell off big chunks of its collection, whilst the CEO of ACE answered tough online questions about funding decisions. It’s almost too much to digest, especially at a distance, but my impression is that ACE was in an impossible situation, with nearly every commentator convinced of his/her view that decision X or decision Y was a travesty of judgment — I would have more sympathy with Charlotte Higgins’ view that

… ACE’s behaviour is only a sideshow. The real story here is the gradually corrosive effect of a government that, while paying lip-service to the importance of the arts, seems intent on sleepwalking the nation towards cultural impoverishment. The cuts to ACE cannot be seen in isolation from the removal of public funding for humanities tuition in higher education; the absence of arts subjects from the English baccalaureate; the unstable situation among local authorities, some of which are bravely protecting cultural provision while all too many are cutting it off; the starvation of libraries.

Northern Ireland news

An Arts Hustings for Northern Ireland will be hosted by Arts Audiences NI, Arts & Business, and Voluntary Arts on 19 April at the Grand Opera House in Belfast; representatives from the various political parties will be in attendance, and Declan McGonagle will also be speaking.

Have to give a shout-out to all the fab folks who hosted our MA class recently during our visit to Belfast… thanks to Stephen Douds from BBC NI / Lyric Theatre, Ciara Hickey at the Ormeau Baths Gallery, Kabosh Theatre Company & Paula McKetridge, and Trevor Parkhill at the Ulster Museum for their fabulous hospitality — we had a marvellous time!

New research resources

I was recently alerted to the DHO:Discovery portal, one of the outcomes of the Digital Humanities Observatory project. It provides online access to digitised images, text, and sound recordings from a range of Irish cultural institutions, including the Chester Beatty Library, Irish Traditional Music Archive, and lots of material from TCD’s archives. The interface is clunky, but it’s wonderful to be able to access all of this material so easily, and will prove very useful for researchers.

I heart Ciaran Benson and his lovely writing, and I don’t care who knows it. The Irish Review of Books recently published his review of recent texts on Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland — would that more Irish art criticism (including my own) flowed so beautifully!

The much-anticipated book Ireland, Design and Visual Culture : Negotiating Modernity 1922-1992, edited by Linda King and Elaine Sisson, has just been published. With The Moderns catalogue from IMMA also finally available, I’m looking forward to an imminent immersion in new Irish visual culture research  🙂

If new Irish art historical research is your bag (as it’s certainly mine), check out the annual Irish Association of Art Historians’ Study Day, taking place this Saturday (9 April) at IMMA from 10-5. It will be showcasing new research (spanning all periods/geographies of art history) by folks working on this island, and we’re delighted to have three PhD students from our own School presenting as well: Louis Funder, Jessica Fahy and Silvia Guglielmini (download the full programme).

Launches / event announcements / calls for participation

After lots of hard work and enthusiasm Business to Arts formally launched Fundit.ie, a new crowdsourcing platform for funding Irish arts and cultural initiatives. Crowdfunding as a phemomenon recently received a nice write-up in the Irish Times, and already there’s a great clutch of projects seeking funding on Fundit.ie: so far I’ve helped fund Monster Truck’s new digital screen in Temple Bar, IMMA’s efforts to purchase new Bea McMahon drawings, the publication by Conor & David for Open House Dublin, and an Irish/Polish Film Project. One of the caveats of crowdfunding is that organisations don’t receive funds unless their target is reached — so get over there, register, and contribute what you can to what catches your fancy!!

I am gutted I missed last night’s opening at IMMA for the Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera exhibition (complete with tequila and mariachis! In Dublin!! More exclamation marks necessary!!!!) Looking forward to seeing the show in any case (although as an Angelena I’ve seen my fair share of Kahlo & Rivera — and Siquieros and Orozco, who make up the holy trinity of Mexican muralistas). Sure to be a massive crowd-pleaser… (p.s. Aidan Dunne’s reflections on 20 years of IMMA’s history last week made for a nice recap!)

The second meeting of the Visual Arts Workers Forum (WORK IT) is taking place in Project on April 20th — the discussions and planned presentations look great, and are aimed at folks across Ireland working in the visual arts.

Friday is Love : Live Music / National Music Day, coordinated by Music Network — get thee down to one of the many events happening nationwide (the hubs will be hitting the town with junior in tow, seeing how much music he can take til he pops!)

Cinemagic Dublin is currently seeking kids and teenagers 10-18 years in age to sit on its film review jury — if you have any budding film critics knocking about the house, here’s your chance!

The Heritage Council is hosting an  EU Funding Information Event for Heritage Organisations on 13 April at its offices in Kilkenny, which will provide information for individuals and organisations on how to access EU pots o’cash — an underutilised source of funding in Ireland!


Aosdána recently added John Arden, Joseph O’Connor, John Tuomey, Corban Walker and Daphne Wright to their midst… @RositaBoland ‘s twitter reporting of their annual general meeting on April 4th was particularly entertaining (gardening wha?)

The Irish Times debuted its first Culture Podcast yesterday, featuring Fintan O’Toole, Jim Carroll, Rosita Boland and Shane Hegarty.

Puh-lease: 6 hours a week? Explaining what Irish academics do (and justifying the weirdness of our working patterns / heaviness of workload) continues to be the bane of my existence, especially as we’re now meant to conform to the Crazy Croke Park Agreement that’s arbitrarily imposed a demand of an extra hour spent teaching every week, across all levels of education (although I pause in my rant to spare a thought for Queen’s University in Belfast, where colleagues are facing drastic budget measures that will have a terrible impact on working conditions and consequently student experience). Much of the interesting debate on this subject has taken place over on ex-DCU president Ferdinand von Prondzynski’s University Blog (who’s since moved over to Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen). The folks over at DublinIntellectual (particularly Dr Marisa Ronan) are taking matters into their own hands, making efforts to broaden awareness of research conducted by third level academics, by hosting a series of accessible ‘salons’ — the first takes place tonight at 8.30 at the Shebeen on South Great Georges Street.


I’m sure I’ve forgotten something… but gotta get back to the day job! 🙂




Weekly round-up: 11 March 2011

There was an election, don’t ya know:

  • Fine Gael swept the boards in a resounding victory (although the NY Times couldn’t quite figure out the gender of poor new Taoiseach Enda Kenny) — but pertinent to we arts folks was the announcement of the new Cabinet: Jimmy Deenihan (author of Fine Gael’s pre-election arts policy) was duly named Minister of the re-formatted Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs. This announcement confirmed election promises to keep the arts at the Cabinet table, but the reconfiguration of the various portfolios was more than a little perplexing (Leo Varadkar was named Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport). Is this new nomenclature a signal that ‘culture’ will be reinterpreted more narrowly as ‘arts’? What are the consequences of losing the economic clout of tourism (and to a lesser degree sport) and becoming a warmer, fuzzier, and possibly easily sidelined department? Given that the budget of the Heritage Council was recently slashed 47% (following a reduction of 30% last year), this new configuration is worryingly low on punching power.
  • The National Campaign for the Arts provided a handy link to the two arts/culture-related pages of the new Fine Gael/Labour programme for government (click here for pdf): main points are the expansion of Culture Night to 2 nights/year [ok, achievable enough], developing 1916 centenary plan for 2016 [historians here at UCD are already rubbing their hands with glee], promoting geneaological tourism & stimulating diaspora tourism [hmm, is this really a growth area? The digitisation of census records has already had a negative impact on geneaological tourism; this aim feels very 1997], getting Local Authorities to combine arts officers’ roles [rather than providing funding for new/vacated positions], and using empty NAMA buildings for ‘local facilities for arts and culture’ [one thing we’re certainly NOT short of in this country is arts facilities, Mr Minister!]. Perhaps most significant was the statement that ‘Responsibility for policy-making will revert to the Department, while agencies will be accountable for implementing policy, assessing outcomes and value for money’ — surely the Department has had little to do with actual direct cultural policy-making in recent years, asserting its interests instead through funding streams and the occasional direct cultural initiative. I’m most interested to see how this might play out in practice.
  • Music Network launched its plans for Love:Live Music National Music Day on April 8th. They’re soliciting new events to be added to the event listings on the site, and promoting a great range of offerings — more will definitely follow on this come April!
  • Most recent Dublin Contemporary news– Art in America featured a small piece on the troubled DC, claiming dismissed curator Thompson’s departure was due to a failure ‘to submit satisfactory plans’. An odd quote from the new curator Christian Viveros-Fauné: ‘”Now is not a good time for art that rubs people the wrong way,” the curator says, but he and Castro, who have collaborated previously, want to be thoughtfully provocative, or, thoughtfully provocative without being aggressive or offensive.’ Hm, this hardly sounds like a recipe for a truly ‘provocative’ programme? Still, there is much goodwill behind the initiative — even if an article in last week’s Sunday Times (no online free version, alas!) pointed out that the very established Lyon Biennale (curated this year by Victoria Noorthorn) begins about a week after the DC and has the exact same title. D’oh!
  • A piece in the Irish Times on Wednesday reported from the EU Culture in Motion conference in Brussels, noting the low uptake of EU Culture funding by Irish organisations (a subject that’s forming the thesis of one of our current MA students). Difficulties forming the partnerships required by EU funding schemes were highlighted, but the picture is definitely more complex than that (on a side note of weirdness, the article’s author seemed not to know who Jordi Savall is! )
  • There was a great article on Saturday in the IT profiling the lovely Catherine Morris, newly appointed ‘cultural coordinator’ at Trinity. Her exhibition at the National Library on Alice Milligan is fab, and demonstrates the wonderful investments made by the NLI in technology & access.
  • One of the most interesting presentations from last week’s Irish Museums Association conference was a virtual walk-through of the new museum in Glasnevin cemetery, which has recently won a major international design award for its stunning building and exhibition. The IMA is leading a tour of the museum tomorrow for its members, but in any case this new museum looks well worth a visit.
  • An event on March 14th co-sponsored by UCD and Gradcam (and featuring both Pat Cooke and Hugh Campbell from UCD as speakers) is entitled ‘Redrawing Dublin‘: ‘a special public seminar in response to the issues, ideas and challenges raised by Paul Kearns and Motti Ruimy’s recent interdisciplinary cultural project, REDRAWING DUBLIN (Gandon Editions, 2010). (…) This seminar offers an interactive opportunity to consider Kearns and Ruimy’s book project within the broader context of debates about urbanism, city cultures and Dublin’s future potential as a vibrant and dynamic metropolitan space.’

25:25 – Conference on Irish Local Arts Development

University of Limerick is playing host to a conference marking the first appointment of a local authority arts officer in Ireland, focused on the subject of local arts provision and development:

To mark this 25 year partnership, and under the auspices of our relationship with the County and City Managers Association, the  Arts Council and the Association of Local Authority Arts Officers are together organising a conference on local arts development. With guest national and international speakers, the conference will explore the role of the arts and culture in achieving local economic and social development objectives, and how we can unlock the potential of future integrated planning in these areas.

The keynote speaker is Jon Hawkes, a well-known figure in the Australian cultural policy scene, along with lots of other interesting speakers, particularly from the policy & planning side of things.

Ireland & its arts centres

Civic Theatre Tallaght

Civic Theatre Tallaght

In today’s Irish Times, a very interesting article on the expansion of arts centres during the last decade, many funded under the Cultural Developments Incentive Scheme:

If the physical landscape of Ireland will never be the same after the building boom of the so-called Celtic Tiger years, with all its modern apartment blocks and endless motorways, then neither will the cultural landscape, which has also been transformed by the country’s now-lamented economic prosperity. Nowhere has this been more evident than in infrastructural developments for the arts; the appearance of theatres, galleries and arts centres in the most surprising sites across the country: in satellite suburbs and small towns, from Coolock to Doolin to Naul.

Written by Sara Keating, the article contains interviews with then-minister Michael D Higgins, and directors of arts centres including Dunamaise Arts Centre (Portlaoise), An Grianán Theatre (Letterkenny), Civic Theatre (Tallaght). According to Higgins, fears that the newly built centres would become white elephants haven’t borne out… however it is also true that it hasn’t been an easy ride for them all: witness the recent woes of the Riverbank Arts Centre. Such places are unbelievably important to their communities as spaces for art and performance, and one can only hope they will continue to flourish with community and government support.

Now, if only something could be done about the disgrace that is the Bank of Ireland Arts Centre in Dublin…!