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.

Weekly round-up: 30 March 2012

I’m headed off to Australia on Sunday for three weeks’ research, so round-ups will resume in late April/early May (I’ll try to keep the jobs board updated as much as possible.)

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The legend that is Tania Banotti has bid farewell to Theatre Forum, after eight years at its helm (while also leading the National Campaign for the Arts) — a lovely farewell video (see above) was put together for her leaving do yesterday evening. She’s transformed that organisation and will be very much missed!

Applications are open again for various postgraduate programmes in arts management, both here and in the UK. Here at UCD we’re accepting applicants for the 2012-13 MA in Arts Management degree— and further to this, a new scholarship scheme supporting MA/MLitt degrees in the College of Arts & Celtic studies is available– deadline for our programme is 16 April; deadline for UCD scholarships is 24 August. The University of Warwick’s highly regarded MA in Intl Cultural Policy & Arts Management is also offering bursaries; and there’s a PhD fellowship on offer in the Museum Studies dept of the University of Leicester, on the subject of ‘Understanding Everyday Participation – Articulating Cultural Values’.

Following on from the very popular visit to the Little Museum of Dublin and the Freemasons’ Lodge, the Irish Museums Association is hosting another museum visit to Rathfarnham Castle and the Berkeley Toy & Costume Collection — they’re meeting tomorrow (Saturday) morning, so email the administrator ASAP if you’re interested in attending.

If that’s not your bag, there’s a public seminar at NCAD tomorrow (Saturday 31 March) entitled ‘What Do You Stand For: Who’s Afraid of Solidarity?‘ looking at alternative/subversive approaches to artistic practices, curation and exhibition in Ireland over the past few decades; Vaari Claffey & Francis Halsall are convening.

The Heritage Council has invited applications to be part of a new Irish National Consultation Panel on Cultural Heritage  — the deadline is today!

The Goethe Institute’s been hosting a series of events on the subject of migration — next up is a panel discussion on culture and migration, on the 26th of April.

Applications are being accepted for the Kennedy Center/DeVos Institute of Arts Management international fellowship programme (deadline 15 April); a number of Irish folks have been selected to be on this programme in the past, and apparently it’s a fantastic opportunity.

In a similar vein — keep your eyes peeled for Business to Arts’ announcement on 9 April for applications to its partnership programme with the DeVos institute, which will be offered to 15-20 organisations here in Ireland — more on this in the last round-up.

Lots of interesting tips on the live chat record at the Guardian Careers Blog, on the subject of finding a job in theatre.

Details of IMMA’s upcoming programme (which will be installed in Earlsfort Terrace while the Royal Hospital undergoes building work) have been announced — work by Alice Maher, Garrett Phelan and a film installation by Neil Jordan all feature.

Last week a fascinating article in the New York Times reviewed cuts to arts funding across Europe, and the impact this has made in touring etc. within the U.S.

Michael Dervan in the Irish Times has offered an overview of new Irish opera productions in the pipeline.

Lismore Castle Arts reopens for the season tomorrow — the first major show opens on 12 May (solo show by Hans Josephsohn) — this space has gone from strength to strength over the past few years, and I’m looking forward to heading down myself in May.

The Crash Ensemble has a groovy concert (‘Free State 7‘) coming up in the National Concert Hall on Thursday 5 April, featuring the work of 11 young Irish composers, and a special appearance by the Dublin Laptop Orchestra!

Finally… thanks to everyone who applied for the Assistant Editor post for the new arts management journal (applications are closed now) — I was really overwhelmed with the response, and the high calibre of the folks who contacted me. More anon…

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 artbeat@dublincityfm.ie 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 Opendemocracy.net – well worth a read if economic valuation studies are your thing!

Weekly round-up: 20 January 2012

Congratulations to Raymond Keaveney on his retirement: 23 years' service to the National Gallery of Ireland!

A busy week on the arts scene with lots of news & goings-on:

My colleague Dr Maeve Houlihan (UCD School of Business & a long term lecturer in our MA Arts Management) is co-convening a session at the upcoming World Congress of the International Federation of Scholarly Associations of Management — being held this June at University of Limerick! Her session is entitled ‘Services, Events and Arts Management‘ and paper abstracts will be accepted until 31 January.

Lots of news on the Director front… long-serving Director of the National Gallery Raymond Keaveney retired on 11 January, and Sarah Glennie was announced as the new Director of IMMA.

NUIG has announced its new 4-year BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, in collaboration with Druid, Galway Arts Festival and Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe.

Ni hao, Dublin Chinese New Year Festival! This is a month traditionally light on festival-type activities, so the New Year Festival’s launch today will provide some cheer in January’s gloom. May be time to break out my rusty Mandarin…

Three new positions coordinating Music Generation projects in Laois, Cork and Wicklow have been announced (the first two have been posted in the Jobs section of this site; the third has yet to be advertised).

The ever-interesting THEATREclub at Project Arts Centre is hosting a new series of discussions and workshops to accompany its latest production ‘The Family’, reflecting on contemporary Irish family life & related social issues.

The Limerick City Gallery of Art launched its snazzy newly refurbished building this week — by all accounts it’s a fabulous space.

DCAL has announced details of a £5,000 Culture Tech grant open to organisations and individuals based in Derry, aimed at projects combining cultural endeavours and digital technology — deadline is 17 February.

The Lighthouse Cinema reopened to the public today under the new management of Element Pictures (yay!) and I’ve just been alerted to VOLTA, a new on-demand Irish indie film & video service… very tempting (and great name, by the way)!

According to a recent RTE press release, its spring schedule includes “‘Masterpiece: Ireland’s Most-Loved Painting’, a major new programme that will kick off a five-week RTÉ-wide campaign to find Ireland’s favourite painting.” Hmm….

The Irish Museums Association’s latest members’ field trip is on the 28th of January to the Little Museum of Dublin and the Freemasons’ Hall… bound to be a popular one! Book in by emailing Gina at office@irishmuseums.org.

The Irish Times Theatre Awards nominee list was announced on Saturday; here’s the full list and some reflections of the jury.

Unfortunately news came this week of the untimely death of the wonderful artist Paddy Jolley, who died unexpectedly in India. A fund has been set up to assist his family in the immediate aftermath; please contribute if you can.