And so it begins: autumn 2017

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Greetings readers! Hope your summer was full of wonderful things, even if the sunshine somewhat eluded us here in Ireland… After a break from the blog, I’m getting back into the swing of things — not least since today is the first day of UCD’s new term! Today we’re welcoming 100+ new first year students in art history, and 23 members of our new class of MAs in Cultural Policy also. Lots of folks have been enquiring about our new part-time MA option at UCD, so do feel free to get in contact with me or our course director Pat Cooke if you’d like more details.

Jobs have just been updated — several senior roles are currently advertised, including Directors of the Hunt Museum, Crawford Gallery, Queen’s Film Theatre, Dublin Fringe Festival, etc. As always, feel free to send on any listings and I will post them as soon as possible.

I’ll be posting more event updates etc. in my next dispatch — but if you’re grousing for cultural policy news, two items for your perusal:

Happy 2017! 50+ new Irish arts jobs/internships listed

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Here’s to a brighter 2017…

Happy new year to all of my readers! In what must be a record, I’ve just added more than fifty new posts to the jobs page — looks like recruitment in 2017 is on the rise again, which is good news for organisations and jobseekers. Tons of plum roles across artforms, including senior posts at the National Gallery, NCAD, Royal Irish Academy, Galway 2020, EVA International — and plenty of mid- and entry-level posts across the country too. More than 4,000 subscribers get notifications from this blog, so do keep sending in any openings you’d like listed (it’s always free, and I update bi-weekly in general).

Other arts and cultural news that may be of interest:

The Arts Council’s conference on local government & the arts – Places Matter – is taking place tomorrow (12 January) at Dublin Castle (I’ll be there, come say hello!). Unfortunately it’s booked out, but it’s been announced the conference will be live streamed.

Gotta dance?? Dublin Dance Festival is looking for all and any to help perform one of the most famous dance sequences ever produced – Pina Bausch’s ‘Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter’ from her 1982 piece NELKEN. Instructions for filming & uploading your version are on its website: DDF played a blinder last year (for my money, it had the highest hit rate of any arts festival) and this looks to be a great opener.

Business to Arts has just announced the first round of recruitment for its Fundraising Fellowships, with Helium Arts and Fishamble. These posts (the first 2 of 4) will offer training and mentorship in addition to salaried posts — great opportunities all!

Maria Balshaw has been appointed as new Director of the Tate, replacing Nick Serota. Maria has directed the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery for the last decade, and spearheaded Manchester’s cultural revival to great acclaim; she also recently delivered the Irish Museums Association’s James White annual lecture.

The Irish Museums Association’s annual conference is 3 and 4 March, on the subject of cultural tourism – time to get booking! In positive funding news, the annual grant to the IMA from the Department was recently raised to its former level – cause for celebration for this vital support organisation that delivers a huge programme on a tiny budget.

In case you missed it before Christmas, the government launched Creative Ireland 2017-22, the follow-up legacy programme of the 2016 Centenary. It’s a very sophisticated mix of declaration and aspiration, fuelling hopes that its various initiatives will be matched with adequate resourcing. If it’s realised, it’ll be brilliant and the most expansive acknowledgment of the diversity (and importance) of arts and culture we’ve ever had as a nation. However, as with most cultural plans, we will have to wait and see whether actual investment follows the splashy launch.

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)

Museum of August Destiny comes to Pearse Museum

Launch of The Museum of August Destiny
Thursday 3 November, 5 pm
Pearse Museum, St Enda’s, Rathfarnham

I’m delighted to share news that the contemporary art exhibition I curated this summer at Lismore Castle Arts – The Museum of August Destiny – will have a second showing at the Pearse Museum, St. Enda’s, Rathfarnham, from 4 November 2016 – 8 January 2017.

Featuring artists Aideen Barry, Mark Clare, Amanda Coogan, Anthony Haughey, Dragana Jurisic, and Sarah Pierce, the six new commissioned works offer reflections on the Irish state and the ‘august destiny’ envisioned by the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

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The exhibition will be launched on 3 November (5 pm) by Professor Sarah Prescott, Principal, UCD College of Arts and Humanities, and on view from 4 November 2016 – 8 January 2017. Admission is free.

Supported by the UCD Decade of Centenaries programme
Initiated & first displayed by Lismore Castle Arts, Co. Waterford
With thanks to the Pearse Museum, Office of Public Works

Upcoming events in Irish arts management and cultural policy

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Titanic Quarter – image c/o visitbelfast.com

Lots of exciting updates in today’s post!

Jobs have recently been refreshed: closing soon are posts at the Tain Arts Centre, Droichead Arts Centre, Screen Producers Ireland, etc.

Next week (13-15 October) is a major conference on Making Memory: Visual and Material Cultures of Commemoration in Ireland, at the National Gallery of Ireland and NCAD. A very diverse lineup of artists, historians, archaeologists, geographers, and heritage professionals will be speaking about memory-work in a variety of commemorative contexts. Don’t miss Guy Beiner’s keynote on vernacular memory in the Royal Irish Academy on Day 2 – he’s really an outstanding speaker, and his visits to Ireland are always a treat.

Enfranchising Ireland? Identity, Citizenship and the State is a public seminar on offer at the Royal Irish Academy on 20 October. Expect political big-hitters including Francis FitzGerald (Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality), and expert presentations on contemporary and historical perspectives on Irish citizenship and the public sphere.

The Irish Museums Association event City Life: Museums and Community Regeneration on 21 October is now taking reservations. This is a FREE event at Ulster University (with free transport from Dublin – Belfast provided for students and IMA members) sponsored by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional, and Gaeltacht Affairs,. A great lineup of speakers will be addressing case studies of community-building and museums, followed by a guided site visit.

Mise Eire? Shaping Ireland through Design is taking place from 4-5 November at the National Museum of Ireland (Collins Barracks). Apart from having a stunning website (!) this 2-day seminar is part of the 2016 centenary programme, and a partnership project between the National Museum of Ireland and the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. Highlights include a keynote by Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with the Amber Eyes, and a fabulous range of speakers encompassing all aspects of design and national identity.

The Cultural Policy Observatory Ireland has announced details of its 2-part winter seminar at University of Limerick on 16 November. Part 1 is a Methods Seminar for CPOI Affiliate Researchers and doctoral candidates; Part 2 is a public lecture by renowned cultural policy scholar Eleonora Belfiore. Reservations for both segments are now being accepted!