Milestone for Irish museums: Irish Museums Survey 2016 launched

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Launch of the Irish Museums Survey 2016 / LAMN 1916 Exhibition. From left: Liam Bradley (Curator, Monaghan County Museum); John Rattigan (Chair, Local Authority Museum Network); Minister Heather Humphreys; Brian Crowley (Chair, Irish Museums Association); Dr Sandra Collins (Director, National Library of Ireland); Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald (UCD School of Art History & Cultural Policy). Photo by Gary O’Neill.

It’s out! Yesterday more than 100 museum professionals gathered at an event in the National Library of Ireland for the launch of the Irish Museums Survey 2016 by Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

This survey is indeed a milestone: it’s the first comprehensive study of the Irish museum sector in a decade. Funded by the Irish Research Council’s ‘Engaging Civic Society’ scheme, it’s the product of a collaboration between the Irish Museums Association and UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy.

I was the Principal Investigator and author of the report (along with the research team Gina O’Kelly, Dr Colleen Thomas, and Fernando Sanchez), and I’m delighted it’s now available as an online publication.

The results are alternately fascinating, encouraging, and worrying. Here are a few highlights:

  • There are approximately 230 museums in Ireland (north and south); 118 participated in the survey (ranging from independent/community museums to national cultural institutions)
  • 6.1 million visitors were welcomed by Irish museums in 2014: on average museums reported 35% international and 61% domestic visitors.
  • The positive effects of the Museum Standards Programme of Ireland (run by the Heritage Council) over the past decade in enhancing museum practice nationwide were widely observed
  • Provision of educational services has increased from 31% in 2005 to 60% of museums in 2016
  • Digital engagement has risen sharply: museums reported growing levels of collection digitisation, and high levels of engagement on the web and on social media: 98% of museums have a website; 78% are on Facebook; and 40% are on Twitter

… however …

  • 46% of museums have experienced budget decline from 2005-15; this contrasts sharply with 2005 data (when only 7.4% reported a decrease).
  • Museums have experienced drastic reductions to the labour force and increasing reliance on volunteers, interns and community employment schemes: 41% indicated they are ‘very dependent’ on voluntary/unpaid labour, and 17% of museums have no paid employees at all. The majority of museums (77%) are staffed by fewer than 10 paid employees.
  • Comments from participants extensively detailed problems with infrastructure and basic facilities, affecting museums across the country. Cutbacks on every aspect of museum provision (education, programming, conservation, security, etc.) indicate the broad and deep impact of budget reductions and hiring freezes.

The report is chock-full of information and analysis, covering all aspects of museum activity. We hope this report will help inform future programming and planning for museums at national and regional levels. This is especially critical for institutions (large and small) which reported serious problems with infrastructure and facilities in a severe state of disrepair.

Our primary recommendations? In a nutshell:

  1. Establish a research unit to enhance quality and regularity of data collection, based at the Irish Museums Association, the Heritage Council, or the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
  2. Improve museums’ data collection practices by developing training opportunities for Irish museums, to better support advocacy efforts.
  3. Prioritise, in future policies and programmes, the primary resource needs as identified by museums: (1) capacity (staff, volunteers, time); (2) funding and fundraising support; (3) buildings and storage.
  4. Enhance support of community and independent museums, including a review of supports and the development of a national strategy concerning the needs of small museums.
  5. Offer additional training and resourcing in the areas of digitisation and the development of digital and online strategies.
  6. More detailed research is needed on museum outreach and education, to be further correlated with policy developments such as the Arts in Education Charter.
  7. Low rates of improvement in disabled access since 2005 should be addressed by museums as a priority.

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(version for web viewing)

(version for printing)

Arts Management & Marketing (Free) Online Course – Goethe Institut

Thought this might be of interest to some of my readers… the Goethe Institut is launching a new (free) online course in arts marketing (a MOOC, as they’re otherwise known). The course offers a very interesting range of taught sessions on a variety of marketing-focused topics, including:

  • The cultural economy: Markets and marketing for cultural organizations
  • Reaching across the fourth wall: Building audience relationships
  • Emerging Identities: Co-creating and shaping digital brands

The speakers are well qualified academics and arts professionals, primarily from the UK, Netherlands and Germany. Definitely worth checking out if you’re looking to upskill in arts marketing! The deadline for enrollment is 18 February.

Artsmanagement.ie round-up: 20 August 2013

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Counting down two weeks until the new UCD term begins: autumn is upon us! Which also means the arts scene is warming up again…

The programme for Culture Night is launching today; the growth of this event is nothing short of astonishing; it’s the biggest night of the year for Dublin and many other towns who’ve adopted it. Unmissable.

The Dublin Fringe Festival also recently announced its line-up. As director Roise Goan’s swan song, it’s packed full of treats. So difficult to choose highlights, but I’ll be booking/attending Anu Productions’ Thirteen cycle (13 performances/events reflecting on the Dublin Lockout); Fit/Misfit (collaboration between Mexican and Irish dancers); Lippy by Dead Centre; for a bit of light relief, David O’Doherty and Maeve Higgins both have shows; and Brat Kids Carnival for my kiddies. For starters.

The centenary of the Dublin Lockout is receiving lots of attention at the moment – especially from Anu Productions (both at the Fringe and part of the brilliant, almost sold-out Tenement Experience) – but many other related events are listed at http://1913committee.ie. Some of the most interesting include Pallas Project’s A Letter to Lucy, a response to 1913 by a group of contemporary artists (Anthony Haughey, Deirdre O Mahony, Mark Curran, Deirdre Power, Jennie Guy, Brian Duggan) in a number of locations around Dublin (until 21 September). The Labour and Lockout exhibition at the Limerick City Gallery also looks fascinating (on until 1 October). Finally Temple Bar Gallery & Studios has issued an open call for workshop proposals for its Workers’ Cafe: from 10 October – 2 November, their exhibition space will transform into a participatory venue and cafe, hosting events and workshops connected to the subject of labour, economy and exchange.

We’re smack dab in the middle of Heritage Week – their listing of events is like a phone book! There’s something going on in every corner of the country — check in to your local museum or heritage centre to see what special programmes are on offer this week.

The most recent NCFA research colloquy in Kilkenny last week featured Dave O’Brien from City University London speaking on the evolution of evidence-based policy making in the UK, with a response by John O’Hagan (TCD, Economics). The session made for a lively debate on the pros/cons of evidence gathering methods and their use by decision-makers (some of the debate was captured via twitter – #ncfacolloquy). The next colloquy will take place in October: these are well worth attending if you’ve an interest in the arts sector, policy-making and the role of research.

Who else is worn out from all of the appeals to vote for projects that are part of the Arthur Guinness Project scheme? Their dire daily voting mechanism has been clogging up inboxes and feeds over the past few weeks, but Jim Carroll has a bigger bone to pick in his Irish Times blog. His critique of the scheme has attracted a huge number of comments: well worth a read for the range of arguments coming from all perspectives.

Temple Bar Gallery and Studios is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with a forthcoming book Generation – 30 years of creativity at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, which recognizes the important contribution it has made to Ireland’s visual arts community. Its upcoming exhibition False Memory Syndrome proposes a series of alternative histories for TBG&S, touching on institutional memory, archives and materiality.

Heads up: the Arts Council is looking for new Arts Advisers in Architecture; Circus, Street Arts & Spectacle; Film; Opera; Theatre; and Traditional Arts. Applications close on 26 September.

Lots of new listings on the jobs page, but of particular interest may be the facilitator roles for the Turner Prize 2013 in Derry/Londonderry as part of City of Culture. Derry’s been playing a blinder of late, with an estimated 430,000 turning out for the Fleadh last week. Following a tumultuous summer in Northern Ireland, an interesting article on The Detail blog explores why Derry and the CoC events may hold out hope for the continuation of the peace process.

In the category of you-couldn’t-make-it-up, last week the DUP’s Peter Robinson published a rambling open letter on the subject of the controversial re-development of the Maze prison and its proposed ‘Peace Centre’. The satirical website Loyalists Against Democracy were on fine form with a swift response.

Once again, Dublin City Council has announced plans to redevelop Dublin’s Victorian fruit market (located between Capel St and the Four Courts). We’ve heard this plan before over the years — there’s widespread agreement this is a fantastic idea, but with a proposed opening date of 2015, the proof will be in the pudding.

It’s been a bumper summer for Irish Architecture, and both the Irish Architecture Foundation and the Irish Georgian Society have moved into new digs: the former to Hatch Street near the NCH, the latter in the old Civic Museum on South William Street. In related news, Dublin Civic Trust is sponsoring a conference on the future of Dublin’s Georgian Squares (13 September), to be held appropriately in the ballroom of the former Assembly Rooms of the Rotunda Hospital on Parnell Square.

Finally, some great news in the world of open access: the Getty Museum in LA has joined the Rijksmuseum in The Netherlands as one of the world’s major museums now offering open access to a massive number of images of its collection, free of restriction. As the Rijksmuseum’s head of digital collections has remarked, “If they want to have a Vermeer on their toilet paper, I’d rather have a very high-quality image of Vermeer on toilet paper than a very bad reproduction.” Words to warm any art historian’s heart!

New youth arts website – Your Arts Map (YAM.ie)

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I’m resurfacing briefly to highlight a groovy new online initiative aimed at 13-25 year olds that warrants a definite look-see… YAM.ie (Your Arts Map) is a listings service that plots youth arts events in Dublin using Google Maps, including event details and interactive public transportation information. It also allows folks to spread the word about events via social media. A quick browse pulled up tons of great listings… how fab it would be for this to spread country-wide!

It looks like a great way for young people to find something fun and interesting to do, and for arts organisations to better advertise events and programmes of special appeal. The website is open to free postings from both organisations and individuals.

Kudos to South Dublin County Council, Dublin City Council, Temple Bar Cultural Trust and the National Youth Council (with support from the Arts Council) for seeing this through… I hope it sees lots of activity over the coming months!

Weekly update: 10 October 2011

The new WorldIrish.com site, one of the diaspora initiatives launched last week

Feedback on the arts/culture dimension of the recent Global Irish Economic Forum at Dublin Castle has been buzzing since  Saturday, with a subsequent article in the IT on corporate sponsorship & the arts (also predated last week by an article on foreign bank subsidizing of recent arts activity). I admit to some scepticism regarding the notion of a mass ‘homecoming’ event (will there be cheerleaders & tailgates?), but it was heartening to see the cultural agenda as a central part of the discussions. (on a side note, it’s a pity that the live feed of the event hasn’t been archived!!)

More than 350 people have signed the petition launched by IVARO to urge full implementation of the Artists’ Resale Right (as it currently can be availed of by living artists, the petition seeks for the resale rights to extend to deceased artists whose work is still in copyright, thus bringing Ireland in line with EU conventions). Consider clicking through the link & adding your name in support??

To coincide with Dublin Contemporary, Noone Casey are offering a mentorship award worth €10k of sponsorship, financial & strategic planning advice to an emerging arts collective, organisation, etc. (the brief is pretty open!) Deadline is 12th of October.

The Arts Council has recently announced its list of new artform advisers — the folks tasked with viewing & visiting shows/exhibitions/etc. across the country, and assisting with funding applications and grantmaking decisions.

Calling all arts marketers: Una Carmody, director of the Arts Audiences project, is seeking feedback from marketers with respect to the Target Group Index Report (to be released this month)… quite a lot of relevant information and data about arts participation is contained in this report, and Una & co are taking requests for report analysis.

We’ve entered the final week of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival… My own viewings have been mixed, from the great (Rian) to the meh (Peer Gynt), but bookings have been very solid and it’s been difficult to source tickets for many shows. The box office has been releasing 10 euro rush tickets the same day as some performances, so it’s worth keeping an eye on their twitter feed or facebook page to snag a deal! (a few interesting and provocative write-ups in the Guardian and Saturday Irish Times, as well)

The annual architectural bonanza known as Open House Dublin began last weekend; if the queues at sites in our neighborhood were representative at all, it’s been a busy launch! So many great programmes and events along with the architectural tours, it’s a must-see.

One helluva white elephant: following accusations of mismanagement the €44 million Niemeyer arts centre in Spain is set to close after opening only 6 months ago. One of our current PhD students in the department is likewise investigating the effects of ‘starchitecture’ in the Rioja region; it would seem the ‘Bilbao effect’ is not all it’s been cracked up to be…

The UK think-tank Demos have recently released a report into the creative industries sector entitled ‘Risky Business‘, suggesting that creative business have proven to be lower-risk than non-creative/cultural ventures, and calling for greater levels of government attention to fostering their growth.

Following its enormously successful application call for its BA in Acting in 2011, the new Lir (Nat Academy for the Performing Arts) has announced it’s accepting applications for its BA In Acting 2012 / Diploma in Stage Management and Technical Theatre 2012.

We knew it was coming, but, alas, IMMA will be closing its main building for refurbishment on 1 November until December 2012. What a buzzkill for all the enthusiasm generated by Dub Contemp 😦 😦

Booking has opened for the International Puppet Festival in the south county Dublin & Wicklow area… a series of free street events will also be taking place in Temple Bar, Bray and Dun Laoghaire on the 23rd of October– it looks like a great programme!

…and if you live in South Dublin, take a moment to complete a public survey on usage of its library systems.

It’s still a few weeks away (9 November), but consider booking in for the Irish Museum Association’s annual lecture — this year featuring Dr Penelope Curtis, Director of the Tate Britain — the tickets generally get snapped up!