Just published: Vol. 3 of Irish Journal of Arts Management & Cultural Policy

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I’m delighted to announce we’ve just published the latest volume of the Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy. It’s a special issue featuring the edited proceedings of the 2014 summer conference on ‘Mapping an Altered Landscape: Cultural Policy and Management in Ireland‘. Guest edited by Dr Niamh NicGhabhann from University of Limerick, it features contributions from a range of speakers on the day, who offer candid and contemporary views of the cultural sector and public finance, the role of local authorities, policy, the working lives of artists, and a range of other topics. The journal also features introductory essays by Niamh and conference organisers Pat Cooke and Kerry McCall, as well as a postscript by former Minister for Education Ruari Quinn.

You can download the entire issue here, or visit the www.culturalpolicy.ie to download individual contributions by:

  • Gerry Godley (Principal & Managing Director, Leeds College of Music)
  • Clare Duignan (Independent Director & Business Advisor)
  • Peter Hynes (Chief Executive, Mayo County Council)
  • Alan Counihan (Artist)
  • Mary Carty (Entrepreneur, Arts Consultant, Author)
  • Conor Newman (Chair, Heritage Council)
  • Ruari Quinn (Minister for Education and Skills, 2011-14)

 

Happy new year! Weathering the storms…

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Well, the recycling bins are overflowing, the tree disposal centres are looking a bit sad, but at least the storm clouds finally seem to be breaking… although perhaps not over Limerick, quite yet (oh dear…)

After a very quiet semester on the blogging front, I’ll be back with regular updates in the coming weeks, and of course, regular job postings and event announcements.

2013 was quite the rollercoaster for the arts & cultural community — we’ve had a nasty budget with bodies like Culture Ireland and National Cultural Institutions especially hard-hit; the spectacular collapse of Temple Bar Cultural Trust and the closure of the Belltable Arts Centre in Limerick (and worrying times for the Irish Architectural Archives too); campaigns highlighting the precarious position of visual artists and compensation and the need for cultural research and better policy-making processes; controversies over corporate arts sponsorships and the Arts Council Music Recording Scheme bursaries.

Amidst the gossip and gloom there have been many bright spots as well — a very successful run by Derry as City of Culture; Rough Magic and Opera Theatre Company’s fab win in the Sky Arts Ignition competition; booming times for Culture Night nationwide;The Gathering (despite its rocky start) now being hailed as a great success. In our own neck of the woods here at UCD, we launched the new Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy and are looking ahead to issue 2 very soon.

What’s in store for 2014? The fallout from the Limerick City of Culture debacle is set to continue (though a new CEO has just been announced) — and in many ways it serves as an apt distillation of the challenges ahead. The bungled initiative has thrown into painful (and public) relief what we already know: the dominant rhetoric of corporate ‘rebranding’ and clashing conceptions of what a ‘city of culture’ is actually meant to deliver; public ‘cultural management’ practices which betray no deep understanding of either term; the small, imbalanced budgets now assigned to major arts events with the expectation of high (usually non-arts) returns; and the shockingly poor control of taxpayer-funded initiatives by the government department meant to oversee them.

There’s still time for Limerick to get its act together — and the mass turnout at public meetings and high level of publicity generated over the past few days bodes well for Limerick CoC. This matters deeply to many people, in Limerick and nationwide. However the issues underlying CoC that have fuelled this crisis have been with us for some time – and they aren’t going away. I’m looking forward to lots of discussions and debates over the coming months over how we can improve relationships between cultural policy, art practice and public funding, across all of the artform sectors. One of the benefits of working in a university is the boundless energy and enthusiasm for change and opportunity in the arts which floods through our doors every year. And as we enter into a new year, I’m taking a page from their book: perhaps we all need to adopt Woody Guthrie’s final New Year’s resolution (from his list that’s been making the rounds): Wake Up and Fight.

Artsmanagement.ie round-up: 22 July 2013

Clearly there’s nothing else clogging up your news feed this morning, so how about some arts & cultural goodness?

Check out Patrick Lonergan’s new blog ‘Scenes from a Bigger Picture’ (Dept of English, NUI Galway): very thoughtful, extended pieces on issues connected to contemporary Irish theatre, well worth a read.

Eleonora Belfiore – a prolific academic from University of Warwick who researches cultural value and social impact – is looking for new contributors to her #Cultural Value online initiative: proposals for short essays, blog posts, etc are welcome.

The Upstart campaign’s looking to transform a derelict space in North Dublin city into a pop-up cultural space for the summer — full deets on plans & how you can pitch in are here.

Keen on finding a vacant space yourself for an arts/cultural project? Dublin CC is taking applications for use of two empty buildings on Cork St. in Dublin for a nominal fee – suitable for use as studios, by organisations, etc. Applications are due 31 July.

The Galway Arts Festival’s apparently a stunner this year – Aidan Dunne’s review of the visual arts programme certainly whets the appetite.

Dublin Fringe Festival has issued its annual call for Willing Workers – a list of volunteers willing to pitch in & assist with Fringe productions coming to the Festival, in all areas of production, advertising, design, tech, admin etc.

The inaugural Festival of Curiosity is kicking off in a few days, with lots of events spanning culture & science planned around the city from 25-28 July. An outgrowth of Dublin City of Science 2012, hot tickets will no doubt include Dara Ó Briain’s BBC Science Club on 26 July at the Mansion House and the free, family-oriented Curiosity Carnival at Smock Alley Theatre from 26-28 July.

Michael Dervan, I feel ya: on why the rebranding of classical music as easy listening (I’m looking at you, Lyric FM) is problematic.

The RAISE project (run by the Arts Council and managed by consultancy 2into3) is looking to fill five major fundraising posts in Ireland — for the Irish Film Institute, National Chamber Choir, Royal Hibernian Academy and Wexford Festival Opera. Salary of €70k is disproportionate by Irish standards, though not unusual by international ones; expectations will be high.

Half of this year’s Stirling Prize architectural shortlist are Irish! My money’s on Heneghan Peng Architects’ Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre.

The LAB on Foley St has an upcoming group exhibition entitled NINE – a family-focused exhibition on what it’s like to be nine years old, and a child in Ireland. Puts me in mind of Sandra Cisnero’s much-celebrated short essay Eleven from her collection Woman Hollering Creek – beautifully capturing the voice and feeling of that age.

The Arthur Guinness Projects is a new vehicle for supporting initiatives in Irish arts, music, sports and food. Project submissions are being taken until the 9th of August, with public voting taking place until the 23rd, and final selection by an expert panel will offer bursaries up to €50,000! A fantastic opportunity, and the projects submitted so far are impressive & inspiring in their range.

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.