Next Week: Visual & Material Culture of Famine Conference

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Just a wee note about a conference I’m co-organising next week (14-16 March), hosted by Maynooth University and organised/funded as part of the NWO-funded International Network of Irish Famine Studies (of which I’m a core member).

Registration is free! If you’ve an interest in Famine studies, visual/material culture, or historical memory, please feel free to register and come along.

We’ve a fantastic programme that includes seven panels of top-notch papers, five keynote speakers (including me, speaking on Evidencing Eviction: the Visibility of Irish Poverty, 1870-90 on Weds.), and a range of special events, including:

  • A reading by acclaimed Irish author and Aósdana member Evelyn Conlon, whose most recent novel, Not the Same Sky (2013) draws on the social and material history of the Earl Grey-assisted emigration scheme, reimagining the story of three young women from amongst 4,000 Irish girls sent to Australia between 1848-50.
  • A presentation by Moonfish Theatre Company, whose stage adaptation of Joseph O’Connor’s Famine novel Star of the Sea has been on a sell-out national tour.
  • A talk by screenwriter and playwright Hugh Travers, Maynooth University’s Screenwriter-in-Residence who has been commissioned to write a sitcom on the Famine for Channel 4.
  • A special tour by curator Donal Maguire of the National Gallery of Ireland’s forthcoming exhibition The Pathos of Distance, a collaboration with artist Sarah Pierce exploring the visual history of Irish emigration.

All details (including travel, accommodation, and full schedule) are on the conference website.

Weekly round-up: 16 March 2012

St Patrick's Day by James Mahony, Illustrated London News, 13 March 1847

No better day than St Patrick’s Eve for a weekly round-up!

Yesterday was a busy day for arts folk… Theatre Forum held a large members’ meeting at the National Concert Hall to present its analysis of the recent Arts Council funding decisions to its membership. I’m not sure if/when aspects of their analysis will be made publicly available, but in any case the review’s been sparked by the unexpected extent of the cuts for many organisations, including indications from the Council that the move away from funding companies is being accelerated. The overall picture for music or the visual arts is more unclear, as no information has yet been aggregated to my knowledge. As negotiations and consultations continue, more developments will undoubtedly follow… (** UPDATE: TF has made available notes from the meeting and the presentation made that day; these are freely available, but to download the full report you must be a TF member.)

Same day, same place — Business to Arts held a briefing on their upcoming collaboration with the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., which will roll out a version of its highly successful organisational capacity-building programme here in Ireland. Details are being finalized, but the programme will soon be open to application (with around 20 participants envisaged). Delivered by BtoA and the DeVos Institute of Arts Management (based at the Kennedy Center), the programme will consist of a number of focused training sessions, working groups and one-on-one mentoring (conducted over a two year period) between programme coordinators and senior managers from the selected arts organisations. More details will emerge soon — and will be publicised here and of course on Business to Arts‘ own website. (**UPDATE: A short pdf publication by the DeVos Institute entitled ‘The Cycle: Planning for Success in the Arts‘, summarised during the briefing, provides an overview of their philosophy and approach toward capacity building; download it here.)

The Irish Film Board and FÁS Screen Training Ireland are also sponsoring the participation of two Irish film executives or producers in the Inside Pictures Initiative, which provides professional development and further networking/training in the international film industry. Deadline for applications is today (16 March)!

Gerry Godley’s letter to the Irish Times this week (on behalf of the National Campaign for the Arts) on the proposed ‘rationalising’ of Culture Ireland (stripping it of its independence as an agency) mirrored widely held views in the sector that this is a foolhardy move… no better day than St Patrick’s to reflect on the contribution of the arts to enhancing the Irish reputation abroad, and consider seriously the effect that these ill-considered measures will have on the arts sector’s capacity to deliver high quality artistic experiences.

In related news — tomorrow (17 March) at the RHA, Leviathan Political Cabaret will host a panel discussion on ‘CultureShock: Irish Identity in Crisis?‘ featuring Eugene Downes, Dylan Haskins, Sinead Gleeson, and Rowena Neville as speakers.

Artbeat, Dublin City FM‘s weekly arts magazine programme, is looking for an enthusiastic person to join its team of keen volunteer broadcasters. Artbeat covers all aspects of the arts in Dublin city and county. They’re looking for someone with a finger on the arts pulse, a voice to go with it and a willingness to give an hour on Wednesday evenings over to the live programme. This volunteer role offers great experience with writing, producing, sound mixing and presenting for radio. If interested please email outlining previous arts related experiences and what you would like to do on such a radio show. (*UPDATE*: applications are now closed for this role)

Dublin Dance Festival is also looking for volunteers for its May programme in a number of diverse project areas; applications are being accepted until 11 April.

Irish musical theatre (not the most well-developed of genres here!) is coming into its own this month, with the re-staging of Rough Magic’s wonderful Improbably Frequency at the Gaiety (13-24 March), and THISISPOPBABY’s Alice in Funderland coming to the main stage at the Abbey (30 March – 12 May). A lively Cork vs. Dublin debate will be one of the events accompanying Alice’s production — I’m determined not to miss the show this time around!

On 22 March, Dublintellectual is launching a new 10-part series of events (‘City Intersections’) structured around the question ‘What does it mean to be urban in Dublin?’ The initial event offers an intriguing list of speakers (Maeve Higgins, you’re making the rounds!) and I look forward to hearing more about future plans…

On 4 April the Society for Musicology in Ireland is sponsoring a symposium at UCD on the present state of Irish musicology within (and without) the academy.

Two excellent new books on Irish visual culture have been published — Catherine Morris’ Alice Milligan and the Irish Cultural Revival, and Fintan Cullen’s Ireland on Show: Art, Union and Nationhood. Looking forward to getting stuck into both… and congrats to Catherine and Fintan!!

The National Craft Gallery has unveiled a lovely new website — a great counterpart to the wonderful shows at the Kilkenny-based gallery itself.

The Crawford Art Gallery in Cork recently announced that 39 works from AIB’s art collection (donated to the State) will be joining their permanent collection — press release with full details is here.

CoisCéim Broadreach and Dublin City Council are running a drop-in dance programme for over-50s, featuring lessons delivered by choreographers from CoisCéim Dance Theatre. The programme ‘Wild and Wonderful‘ continues now through April, connected also to the Bealtaine Festival 2012 taking place in May.

The Flaneur arts & culture blog (which bills itself as ‘An Illustrated Blog of Global Culture’) is looking for new contributors – although I don’t think a mustache is required, and absinthe is probably optional!

The Guardian’s Culture Professionals Network featured an encouraging story of a recent arts graduate’s search for employment — well worth reading during these days of otherwise gloomy outlooks!

Arts management & policy research is on the brain this week: the HERAValue project blog (‘Measuring the societal impacts of universities’ research into arts and the humanities’) has a very interesting series of posts on valuation methods applied to the arts and humanities; Dave O’Brien (lecturer at City University, London) also recently posted an excellent essay on ‘Economics and the cultural sector: can they achieve a more diplomatic relationship?’ on – well worth a read if economic valuation studies are your thing!

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: 22 August 2011

Heritage Week 2011

It’s Heritage Week! There are special events happening at museums & cultural sites across the country — you can download a free iPhone app to keep track of them all, and plan outings until the 28th…

Speaking of iPhone apps.. Irish developer Justin McKeown asked me to have a look at his ArtWorker app, designed to help visual artists in valuing their work, time spent delivering workshops and other services, etc. It’s pretty nifty all right, especially the ability to help folks calculate a daily rate/hourly rate. I think the calculation of artwork value is a little fuzzier (as you’re meant to input your ‘level of recognition’, which can be pretty hard to assess, and has an important impact on price), but no doubt further improvements & refinements will be implemented. Worth a look/download if you’re figuring out how to value your work or time! I’m sure Justin would appreciate any feedback from artists on what other features they’d like to see..

Last week the  impressive programme for the upcoming Belfast Festival was also launched… I’d love to see Cuban ballet sensation Carlos Acosta, the Shipwrecked theatre piece (based on the wreck of the Spanish Armada), and the intriguing-sounding Woyzeck on the Highveld (a collaboration between artist William Kentridge and the Handspring Puppet Company, famed for their London-based War Horse production). The hubs will no doubt make a beeline for Jan Garbarek & the Hilliard Ensemble (one of his favourite pairings). The Festival takes place 13-20th October but many of these events will undoubtedly sell out quickly!

The festivals are still coming thick and fast… this upcoming weekend sees the grassroots effort the Kilmainham Arts Festival, with a great range of music, visual arts, and literaryactivities in the Dublin 8 area on Saturday and Sunday. Here’s the full programme! has just relaunched its website… if you’ve an interest in joining the board of a nonprofit arts & cultural organisation, it’s a good place to start…

In news that’s received a mixed response (given the impending rise in energy charges), Bord Gáis has struck a naming/sponsorship deal with the Grand Canal Theatre. At least it will be an easy walk from their new premises on Warrington Place

UCD, TCD and the NLI have announced joint plans to develop new preservation & storage spaces to address their collection challenges, sparked by a $50k grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation. As a frequent user of all these collections I hope the government will see fit to prioritise this initiative, which is absolutely essential for the support of research and public accessibility of these marvellous resources.

Uh oh… the former owners of Bewley’s on Westmoreland Street are in trouble over damage to the historic Joshua Clarke windows (father of Harry) located in the former cafe. It’s terribly sad to see that space still shuttered… I remember many a rainy afternoon ensconced in its gloomy interior when I first moved to Dublin!

Reports of The Gloaming (Irish trad supergroup of Thomas Bartlett, Dennis Cahill, Martin Hayes, Iarla Ó Lionaird & Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh) are, well, glowing… following their concert last Saturday at the National Concert Hall is a range of dates across the country…  you’d be nuts to miss it if they’re coming to your area!

News that BBC4’s schedule and budget will be pared back came as unhappy news to Irish viewers lucky enough to access its fantastic arts programming… there’s nothing on TV like it! Since we don’t pay the license fee it’s difficult to have a direct impact, but you can still sign one of the online petitions to protect its place in the broadcasting schedule.

Missed last night’s live stream of Britten’s opera ‘The Turn of the Screw’ direct from Glyndebourne? By all accounts it was smashing, and still available to view from the Guardian’s website until 12 September.

A lovely article on the United Arts Club on Upper Fitzwilliam Street is in the Irish Times… sounds like a club I’d love to belong to (and membership rates are quite reasonable) — looks like quite a step up from the UCD Faculty Club! 🙂

Finally, CAO offers to first year students have gone out today following release of Leaving Cert results. The annual news rush of stories about subject points gains & declines(arts/business down, science/tech/ag up), the inequities of the Leaving Cert, and what lies ahead for this year’s new student crop has already begun… I’ve already seen a few newbies (and often parents) wandering around the soon-to-be-busy halls of Belfield, and although I won’t be teaching next year, I wish all of them the very best start to their university career!




Weekly round-up: 28 July 2011

Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival 2011

It’s been a while, but I missed ya. Here’s the latest round-up:

First Thursdays in Temple Bar (where cultural organizations stay open extra late) keeps getting bigger and bigger – check it out next week if you haven’t already!

While I was away the Arts Council appointed Orlaith McBride as its new director… still no white smoke on the new director of the National Gallery, however!

I was very sorry to hear of the passing of artist Bill Crozier — a lovely man and a wonderful artist, I interviewed him a few years ago for a book on Stoney Road Press and recently enjoyed seeing his work at the RHA Annual Exhibition. He was extremely warm, funny and generous and we had a wonderful time speaking about our shared love of jazz, among other things! His work will be a wonderful legacy of a great personality and aesthetician.

The Music Generation project is underway (with a coordinating post still open in Co Mayo) and a national seminar to alert folks to further funding opportunities and other aspects of the programme will take place in September and is now accepting registrations.

There’s so many folks looking for work out there at the moment (mucho trafico on the jobs & internships page at the minute) – and if you’ve an interest in upskilling in digital media, and have been unemployed for 6 months or more,  the WebElevate programme (in conjunction with DIT and the Digital Skills Academy) is offering 120 funded places on a series of courses to be run in the Digital Hub.

Lots happening in theatreland… Willie White was appointed as the new Artistic Director of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival to cheers all round! Congrats to Willie – there will be big shoes to fill at the Project!

Meanwhile both the Absolut Fringe Festival and the Theatre Festival have announced their programmes – with Irish Theatre Magazine providing a cheeky breakdown of Theatre Fest stats for your amusement J

The Everyman Theatre in Cork has also made a major appointment in its new Director Michael Barker-Caven, relocating to the People’s Republic from the UK.

I was delighted to see Thisispopbaby’s production Alice in Funderland is part of the Abbey’s schedule for 2012 – I missed its original staging and heard rave reviews, so it’s great to see there’ll be a second chance!

One great session at the recent Theatre Forum conference was led by John Deely on career management in the arts; he recently forwarded a useful e-workbook on to participants that might be of interest to many readers – it can be downloaded here.

The Guardian recently featured a polemic blog post on lack of women working in UK theatre – many of the comments are actually better (and more focused) than the original posting, but it makes for a really interesting read.

Festival season is in full swing and this weekend (and my family!) will see the Spraoi in Waterford, the international Street Fair festival. Lots happening over the bank holiday, but The Reich Effect weekend programme (celebrating the work of composer Steve Reich) at the Cork Opera House looks like another great bet if you’re down south.

Open House Dublin 2011 is looking for volunteers! It takes place from 7-9 October and is a fantastic event – have a look at their flier if you have time & energy to spare!

Over my holidays I read with some bemusement further articles on the ambition to turn Bank of Ireland’s College Green premises into a literary/cultural centre (a move strongly rebuffed by the bank) – an Irish Times editorial from a few weeks back offers the sage advice to consider the failure to establish a national opera company and the stagnation of plans to move/expand the Abbey and the National Concert Hall before plowing ahead with another ill-advised capital project.

However I was extremely pleased to hear the Irish Georgian Society has acquired the former Dublin Civic Museum for its new premises and plans to embark on a restoration of the building; we’ve a close relationship in the School with the GS and wish them the best with their snazzy new digs! It’s wonderful to have new life breathed into such an important city space.

The Irish Writers’ Centre is launching a new initiative in its ‘Novel Fair’ event, which invites first-time authors to submit anonymous work to be considered by a judging panel of folks from the publishing industry, and have the opportunity to meet directly with publishers and agents. It sounds like an unmissable opportunity for new writers; the submission deadline is November 11th.

Audiences Northern Ireland has re-launched its website – fancy!

Putting my board member hat on… the Irish Museums Association is seeking contributions (both articles and exhibition/book reviews) to this year’s journal Museum Ireland, the only publication in the country devoted to articles and discussion of museum-related matters. Send ‘em in!

I’m looking forward to seeing the latest exhibition at IMMA of photographs from the David Kronn collection – he’s promised his collection to IMMA, and it looks like a great chance to get a peek at a marvelous private collection.

Dublin-based Irish visual artist Al Freney has had one of his works selected for the prestigious BP Portrait Awards, hosted annually by the National Portrait Gallery in London – congrats! Here’s a press release if you’re interested to know more…