Weekly round-up: 14 April 2011

The good folks at Arts Audiences were kind enough to give me a preview of their new online training programme (fully launched on Tuesday!) on digital arts marketing — the skinny is that this is a cost-effective (€20 for each module or €95 for all seven) and focused way for folks to up-skill in the following areas:

Search Engine Optimisation ~ Beginners
Search Engine Optimisation ~ Advanced
Best Practice Web Design
Web Analytics
Social Media Marketing
Online Advertising
Email Marketing
Universal Access

Funded by the Arts Council, Temple Bar Cultural Trust and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, it’s delivered by Susan Hallam and includes case studies of the ABSOLUT Fringe Festival, the Abbey, Balor Arts Centre in Donegal, Éigse Carlow Arts Festival, and the National Concert Hall. This looks to be a great resource for enhancing your online chops; other offerings from Arts Audiences have been jumped on like office candy, so let me know if you’re liking the look of these too…

Business to Arts also held a reception Tuesday night to mark the many new initiatives they’ve recently launched — Fundit (which just had its first project reach 100% funding), New Stream Project, Arts Fund for Ireland, etc. Culture Minister Deenihan was also on hand to say a few words — my notes from his short speech read ‘cultural broker’ ‘private philanthropy’ and ‘Kerry’ (the first two refer to the aspects of his pre-election Arts Plan that have been identified as objectives for the new department; the third was the term of highest spoken frequency). The BtoA core team of Stuart, Rowena and Andrew have done amazing work over the past few years and deserve all the kudos coming their way! I was delighted as well to see Mason Hayes & Curran’s lovely collection of artworks in their offices — particularly the Corban Walker piece in the atrium (he’s the next featured artist for the Irish Pavilion at Venice) and the Rowena Dring textile work I spotted on the first floor (she had a fab exhibition at the Rubicon a few years ago I wrote about).

The third big honking thing to launch on Tuesday was Dublin City Council’s Public Art Programme, detailing plans and themes for the upcoming round of public art projects. The four strands of the programme are (1) Dublin, (2) Interaction with the City, (3) Connecting with the Public, and (4) City Contexts; a call for proposals for Strand 2 is open until 27 June. The launch document also includes a striking series of pinhole photographs taken by young Dubliners, the result of a commission from the Gallery of Photography.

The Art Fund in the UK (the largest public endowment for the arts in the UK, established in 1903) has announced it’s increasing its funding available to museums to purchase new works of art by 50% — that’s in addition to its launch of the ‘National Art Pass‘, which for an annual subscription of £35 (and less for students etc) will offer free admission and discounts to exhibitions in museums across the UK (*wipes drool from keyboard*).

Dublin Contemporary is hiring for five temporary positions — deadline is 22 April (has also been added to the jobs page).

Don’t forget about the Visual Arts Workers’ Forum (‘Work It’) at Project next Weds (20 April) — the schedule & session descriptions have now been posted.

There’s a conference on contemporary cultural policy (with a specific German focus) coming up on 6-7 May: ‘Contemporary German-Irish cultural relations in a European Perspective: Exploring issues in cultural policy and practice‘. The conference is co-organized by the Goethe Institute Dublin and The Centre for Irish-German Studies at the University of Limerick; attendance is free!

NCAD and UCD have entered into an ‘academic alliance‘ (yeah, I wasn’t sure at first what that meant either)– we’ve been having a series of discussions with folks from both institutions about new research strands, collaborative projects, new cross-listed modules, and the possibility of joint MA programmes — the six themes are (1) the studio: from process to product; (2) the expanded academy – college and communities; (3) text and image; (4) the city: urban cultures; (5) culture and institutions; (6) arts and healthcare. I’m particularly keen on numero (5) — lots of enthusiasm and great ideas at our last meeting — on to the achievable objectives, what ho!

I’m currently working on the idea of developing a new upper-BA course on photography (history, development & theory) for UCD in 2012-3; I’ve been in lots of interesting conversations in the past week over directions it could take & possible collaborators/opportunities for cross-listing. Hugh Campbell (prof of architecture over here at the Big B) has been running an MA level module in architecture, space and photography — I’ve been inspired by their class blog ‘Space Framed’ and would be interested to see any other examples of Irish 3rd level class blogs that make good use of the online medium (Blackboard, I’m looking at you.)

I was be/amused yesterday to be contacted by a journo from the Irish Independent researching an article on ‘erotic Irish art’ (!) After ascertaining this was in fact a serious request, I was surprised by how many examples my colleagues and I were able to rustle up (ah, St George Hare of Limerick, we didn’t forget you!) Now I’ve *another* module to start developing… :p

As a coda… thanks also to everyone over the past few weeks I’ve run into who have had nice things to say about the blog! It’s nice (and a little creepy) to think how many of y’all read this every week… hope you find it useful, and I always welcome notices, job announcements, press releases, constructive critique, and chocolate.

Weekly round-up: 6 April 2011

Photo from the Irish Times, 5 April 2011: Rob Dunne and Antoinette Emoe prepare Diego Rivera's Landscape with Cacti for hanging at Imma. Photograph: Alan Betson

A sooper-dooper bumper round-up for today, to make up for my absence over the past 2 weeks (travelling for conferences & wrapping up MA course for 2010-11!) I’ve made a few sub-headings to make navigating this update easier; I promise not to stay away so long next time!

Jobs / internships

Want to work for the Arts Council? Now’s your chance… currently hiring a new Director and 15 (!) new arts advisors across all disciplines, so dust off the CV….

I’ve been following news on changing practices around internships/work placements in the UK (see previous post): just yesterday the Guardian reported on Nick Clegg’s admission of the advantage conferred to him via a placement in his youth arranged by his father.  There’s been a recent push in government (as part of a ‘social mobility’ campaign) to increase application transparency, fair remuneration, and access to internships in desirable professions — an issue of importance here in Ireland as well, though this has yet to be addressed in any substantial way. Groups/blogs like Intern Aware and Interns Anonymous have formed in the UK to push for reform and improve access (although I would disagree with their distinctions drawn between ‘interning’ for a company and ‘volunteering’ with a charity as neglecting/mis-characterising the non-profit sector); is it time for similar action here in Ireland?

Awards Season

Congratulations to the Science Gallery for its recent Shorty Award (for the best Cultural Organisation) at the ‘Oscars of Twitter’, and to Vulgo.ie for its triumph as best Arts & Culture blog at the Irish Blog Awards in late March!

Budget woes & money matters

The Lighthouse Cinema is embroiled in a rent dispute with its landlord, who recently doubled the rent from 100k to 200k. The future of the cinema is of great concern to its patrons, local residents in Smithfield and taxpayers (especially since the government invested €1.75 million in its development). The petition by the landlord to wind up the lease has been adjourned to allow for board discussions; it’s also been suggested that the Cultural Cinema Consortium (formed by the Arts Council and the Irish Film Board) who initially invested in the project might take it over as a going concern… Certainly I’d be of the view it’s the best arthouse cinema in Dublin (sorry IFI!), although the decline of the Smithfield development and its failure to secure lasting tenants is obvious to anyone visiting, and a clear obstacle the cinema’s struggled to deal with. Will keep you posted…

As the Arts Council England finally sent out funding notifications to organisations,  the scale of cuts was wide enough to warrant massive coverage in all the UK dailies (I follow the Guardian mainly) and even feature on a Newsnight segment. 206 organisations had their funding cut completely, and supporters of various organisations and artforms fumed. The Arts Council itself recently came in for strongly worded criticism and an order to sell off big chunks of its collection, whilst the CEO of ACE answered tough online questions about funding decisions. It’s almost too much to digest, especially at a distance, but my impression is that ACE was in an impossible situation, with nearly every commentator convinced of his/her view that decision X or decision Y was a travesty of judgment — I would have more sympathy with Charlotte Higgins’ view that

… ACE’s behaviour is only a sideshow. The real story here is the gradually corrosive effect of a government that, while paying lip-service to the importance of the arts, seems intent on sleepwalking the nation towards cultural impoverishment. The cuts to ACE cannot be seen in isolation from the removal of public funding for humanities tuition in higher education; the absence of arts subjects from the English baccalaureate; the unstable situation among local authorities, some of which are bravely protecting cultural provision while all too many are cutting it off; the starvation of libraries.

Northern Ireland news

An Arts Hustings for Northern Ireland will be hosted by Arts Audiences NI, Arts & Business, and Voluntary Arts on 19 April at the Grand Opera House in Belfast; representatives from the various political parties will be in attendance, and Declan McGonagle will also be speaking.

Have to give a shout-out to all the fab folks who hosted our MA class recently during our visit to Belfast… thanks to Stephen Douds from BBC NI / Lyric Theatre, Ciara Hickey at the Ormeau Baths Gallery, Kabosh Theatre Company & Paula McKetridge, and Trevor Parkhill at the Ulster Museum for their fabulous hospitality — we had a marvellous time!

New research resources

I was recently alerted to the DHO:Discovery portal, one of the outcomes of the Digital Humanities Observatory project. It provides online access to digitised images, text, and sound recordings from a range of Irish cultural institutions, including the Chester Beatty Library, Irish Traditional Music Archive, and lots of material from TCD’s archives. The interface is clunky, but it’s wonderful to be able to access all of this material so easily, and will prove very useful for researchers.

I heart Ciaran Benson and his lovely writing, and I don’t care who knows it. The Irish Review of Books recently published his review of recent texts on Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland — would that more Irish art criticism (including my own) flowed so beautifully!

The much-anticipated book Ireland, Design and Visual Culture : Negotiating Modernity 1922-1992, edited by Linda King and Elaine Sisson, has just been published. With The Moderns catalogue from IMMA also finally available, I’m looking forward to an imminent immersion in new Irish visual culture research  🙂

If new Irish art historical research is your bag (as it’s certainly mine), check out the annual Irish Association of Art Historians’ Study Day, taking place this Saturday (9 April) at IMMA from 10-5. It will be showcasing new research (spanning all periods/geographies of art history) by folks working on this island, and we’re delighted to have three PhD students from our own School presenting as well: Louis Funder, Jessica Fahy and Silvia Guglielmini (download the full programme).

Launches / event announcements / calls for participation

After lots of hard work and enthusiasm Business to Arts formally launched Fundit.ie, a new crowdsourcing platform for funding Irish arts and cultural initiatives. Crowdfunding as a phemomenon recently received a nice write-up in the Irish Times, and already there’s a great clutch of projects seeking funding on Fundit.ie: so far I’ve helped fund Monster Truck’s new digital screen in Temple Bar, IMMA’s efforts to purchase new Bea McMahon drawings, the publication by Conor & David for Open House Dublin, and an Irish/Polish Film Project. One of the caveats of crowdfunding is that organisations don’t receive funds unless their target is reached — so get over there, register, and contribute what you can to what catches your fancy!!

I am gutted I missed last night’s opening at IMMA for the Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera exhibition (complete with tequila and mariachis! In Dublin!! More exclamation marks necessary!!!!) Looking forward to seeing the show in any case (although as an Angelena I’ve seen my fair share of Kahlo & Rivera — and Siquieros and Orozco, who make up the holy trinity of Mexican muralistas). Sure to be a massive crowd-pleaser… (p.s. Aidan Dunne’s reflections on 20 years of IMMA’s history last week made for a nice recap!)

The second meeting of the Visual Arts Workers Forum (WORK IT) is taking place in Project on April 20th — the discussions and planned presentations look great, and are aimed at folks across Ireland working in the visual arts.

Friday is Love : Live Music / National Music Day, coordinated by Music Network — get thee down to one of the many events happening nationwide (the hubs will be hitting the town with junior in tow, seeing how much music he can take til he pops!)

Cinemagic Dublin is currently seeking kids and teenagers 10-18 years in age to sit on its film review jury — if you have any budding film critics knocking about the house, here’s your chance!

The Heritage Council is hosting an  EU Funding Information Event for Heritage Organisations on 13 April at its offices in Kilkenny, which will provide information for individuals and organisations on how to access EU pots o’cash — an underutilised source of funding in Ireland!


Aosdána recently added John Arden, Joseph O’Connor, John Tuomey, Corban Walker and Daphne Wright to their midst… @RositaBoland ‘s twitter reporting of their annual general meeting on April 4th was particularly entertaining (gardening wha?)

The Irish Times debuted its first Culture Podcast yesterday, featuring Fintan O’Toole, Jim Carroll, Rosita Boland and Shane Hegarty.

Puh-lease: 6 hours a week? Explaining what Irish academics do (and justifying the weirdness of our working patterns / heaviness of workload) continues to be the bane of my existence, especially as we’re now meant to conform to the Crazy Croke Park Agreement that’s arbitrarily imposed a demand of an extra hour spent teaching every week, across all levels of education (although I pause in my rant to spare a thought for Queen’s University in Belfast, where colleagues are facing drastic budget measures that will have a terrible impact on working conditions and consequently student experience). Much of the interesting debate on this subject has taken place over on ex-DCU president Ferdinand von Prondzynski’s University Blog (who’s since moved over to Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen). The folks over at DublinIntellectual (particularly Dr Marisa Ronan) are taking matters into their own hands, making efforts to broaden awareness of research conducted by third level academics, by hosting a series of accessible ‘salons’ — the first takes place tonight at 8.30 at the Shebeen on South Great Georges Street.


I’m sure I’ve forgotten something… but gotta get back to the day job! 🙂




Weekly round-up: 11 March 2011

There was an election, don’t ya know:

  • Fine Gael swept the boards in a resounding victory (although the NY Times couldn’t quite figure out the gender of poor new Taoiseach Enda Kenny) — but pertinent to we arts folks was the announcement of the new Cabinet: Jimmy Deenihan (author of Fine Gael’s pre-election arts policy) was duly named Minister of the re-formatted Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs. This announcement confirmed election promises to keep the arts at the Cabinet table, but the reconfiguration of the various portfolios was more than a little perplexing (Leo Varadkar was named Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport). Is this new nomenclature a signal that ‘culture’ will be reinterpreted more narrowly as ‘arts’? What are the consequences of losing the economic clout of tourism (and to a lesser degree sport) and becoming a warmer, fuzzier, and possibly easily sidelined department? Given that the budget of the Heritage Council was recently slashed 47% (following a reduction of 30% last year), this new configuration is worryingly low on punching power.
  • The National Campaign for the Arts provided a handy link to the two arts/culture-related pages of the new Fine Gael/Labour programme for government (click here for pdf): main points are the expansion of Culture Night to 2 nights/year [ok, achievable enough], developing 1916 centenary plan for 2016 [historians here at UCD are already rubbing their hands with glee], promoting geneaological tourism & stimulating diaspora tourism [hmm, is this really a growth area? The digitisation of census records has already had a negative impact on geneaological tourism; this aim feels very 1997], getting Local Authorities to combine arts officers’ roles [rather than providing funding for new/vacated positions], and using empty NAMA buildings for ‘local facilities for arts and culture’ [one thing we’re certainly NOT short of in this country is arts facilities, Mr Minister!]. Perhaps most significant was the statement that ‘Responsibility for policy-making will revert to the Department, while agencies will be accountable for implementing policy, assessing outcomes and value for money’ — surely the Department has had little to do with actual direct cultural policy-making in recent years, asserting its interests instead through funding streams and the occasional direct cultural initiative. I’m most interested to see how this might play out in practice.
  • Music Network launched its plans for Love:Live Music National Music Day on April 8th. They’re soliciting new events to be added to the event listings on the site, and promoting a great range of offerings — more will definitely follow on this come April!
  • Most recent Dublin Contemporary news– Art in America featured a small piece on the troubled DC, claiming dismissed curator Thompson’s departure was due to a failure ‘to submit satisfactory plans’. An odd quote from the new curator Christian Viveros-Fauné: ‘”Now is not a good time for art that rubs people the wrong way,” the curator says, but he and Castro, who have collaborated previously, want to be thoughtfully provocative, or, thoughtfully provocative without being aggressive or offensive.’ Hm, this hardly sounds like a recipe for a truly ‘provocative’ programme? Still, there is much goodwill behind the initiative — even if an article in last week’s Sunday Times (no online free version, alas!) pointed out that the very established Lyon Biennale (curated this year by Victoria Noorthorn) begins about a week after the DC and has the exact same title. D’oh!
  • A piece in the Irish Times on Wednesday reported from the EU Culture in Motion conference in Brussels, noting the low uptake of EU Culture funding by Irish organisations (a subject that’s forming the thesis of one of our current MA students). Difficulties forming the partnerships required by EU funding schemes were highlighted, but the picture is definitely more complex than that (on a side note of weirdness, the article’s author seemed not to know who Jordi Savall is! )
  • There was a great article on Saturday in the IT profiling the lovely Catherine Morris, newly appointed ‘cultural coordinator’ at Trinity. Her exhibition at the National Library on Alice Milligan is fab, and demonstrates the wonderful investments made by the NLI in technology & access.
  • One of the most interesting presentations from last week’s Irish Museums Association conference was a virtual walk-through of the new museum in Glasnevin cemetery, which has recently won a major international design award for its stunning building and exhibition. The IMA is leading a tour of the museum tomorrow for its members, but in any case this new museum looks well worth a visit.
  • An event on March 14th co-sponsored by UCD and Gradcam (and featuring both Pat Cooke and Hugh Campbell from UCD as speakers) is entitled ‘Redrawing Dublin‘: ‘a special public seminar in response to the issues, ideas and challenges raised by Paul Kearns and Motti Ruimy’s recent interdisciplinary cultural project, REDRAWING DUBLIN (Gandon Editions, 2010). (…) This seminar offers an interactive opportunity to consider Kearns and Ruimy’s book project within the broader context of debates about urbanism, city cultures and Dublin’s future potential as a vibrant and dynamic metropolitan space.’

Weekly round-up: 16 February 2011

  • The Dublin Culture Trail was formally launched today by Temple Bar Cultural Trust — check out the press release and download the iPhone app too! This is a new online ‘virtual tour’ of major cultural sites in the city — looking forward to exploring this…
  • The NCFA Hustings grabbed much media attention this week (Irish Times, Irish Independent, and a playback of RTE’s coverage) — in Dublin a huge crowd turned out to Project Arts Centre on 14 Feb, receiving a rather uneven set of policy statements/responses to audience Q&A, and with Mannix Flynn making a noisy exit. A full podcast of the event is available for a listen.
  • Gerry Smyth published a useful overview of the various parties’ arts policies and platforms in the Irish Times on Monday, detailing the highs and lows (Sinn Fein, seriously?!?) of party positions. On the evidence of the hustings and the policy statements, some parties have a ways to go in terms of offering adequate levels of consultation, and demonstrating they’re aware of key priorities within the sector (not to mention reconsidering some of the dafter ideas, like Labour’s misguided suggestion to merge Culture Ireland and the Arts Council). Visual Artists Ireland has also posted responses to their questioning of party positions on the visual arts, and the NCFA has posted links to all of the parties’ full statements of policy.
  • Still on the election… if you’ve been wondering what’s behind all the funky posters jostling for space with candidates’ grinning jowls, check out www.upstart.ie.
  • Are you a 15-19 year old culture vulture? Sign up to be part of SCENEnotHERD, Temple Bar Cultural Trust’s new arts collective that is going to offer you lucky ducks tickets to screenings, exhibitions, events etc.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education (US) published an article discussing the rise of business & management training within art colleges, citing target student audiences of designers and other arts professionals who have “hit a ceiling. They want to get hired in upper-level positions or be more successful in their current roles, but they need to be able to articulate the value of their skills in a way that management can understand”. The extension of such programmes into the BA curriculum is particularly interesting.
  • The Science Gallery boasts a stellar line-up of talks this week on art, science and design — tonight (Wednesday) is academic superstar Martin Kemp, discussing “Structures and Intuitions in Art and Science from Leonardo to Now“, and tomorrow features home team superstar Hugh Campbell (UCD Professor of Architecture), screening Charles & Ray Eames’ A Communications Primer (1953) followed by a lecture.
  • The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival kicks off tomorrow (17 Feb), with an intriguing screening next week (Feb 25th at the IFI) of ‘Build Something Modern‘, a documentary exploring the unusual story of Irish architects who brought modernist architecture to Africa from the 1950s-70s.
  • Want to impress your friends with your in-depth knowledge of Hollywood’s lack of historical accuracy (or otherwise)? The Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Trinity is hosting a groovy film & discussion series ‘Filming the Middle Ages and the Renaissance‘ which will include screenings of The Lion in Winter, Kingdom of Heaven, Black Death, The Name of the Rose, Lost in La Mancha,  Elizabeth, and Alatriste. Screenings are free, take place at 7 pm on Thursday and begin on March 24th.
  • The Clore Leadership Programme has opened for applications to be a 2011-12 fellow; the scheme is open to individuals working in the cultural sector (practitioners, managers, etc) — folks in Ireland who’ve participated as Jerome Hynes Clore Fellows give the experience high marks; applications close 11 March.
  • Next week a ‘Fundraising Tweetup‘ is being staged at the Clarence Hotel to explore ideas around social media and fundraising.
  • A new group has formed to stage a Culture Hack Ireland day — in January a Culture Hack was held in the UK ‘bringing cultural organisations together with software developers and creative technologists to make interesting new things.’ (see the video) Sign up to the group & join in the discussion on how to make this happen in Ireland…

Weekly round-up: 4 February 2011

Blowin’ in the wind this week:

  • As seen in the last post, the Dublin Contemporary‘s appointed 2 new curators; its site has just come back online again as of today, with further details of its theme and what the heck they mean by ‘The Office of Non-Compliance’, whose explanation still sounds a bit Cheneyesque to me.
  • The director job for the National Concert Hall was featured in The Irish Times today.
  • Many were dismayed this week (not least the staff) to hear of the closure of Waterstone’s Dublin branches. I can only hope great indies like the Gutter Bookshop, Winding Stair and The Company of Books continue to thrive.
  • The new Google Art Project has been wowing everyone in these parts– more fun than ArtStor, but can the Irish museums play too? Pretty please??
  • The Model: Sligo has a great new Jack Yeats exhibition ‘The Outsider’ on show, and a talk tomorrow (5 Feb) with Brian O’Doherty and Hilary Pyle that I wish I could attend!
  • Business to Arts has published a useful evaluation of its own ‘New Stream’ project, aimed at improving development skills in the arts sector through a series of workshops and professional development activities. Our own Pat Cooke provides some of the feedback on the programme.
  • Arts Audiences has launched details of two audience development schemes: Building Your Audience focuses on cultural tourism and assisting arts organisations with attracting domestic and international visitors (in partnership with Failte Ireland), while Media Mentoring offers the opportunity to match orgs with a mentor from Google who will provide advice and guidance on using new media to best advantage. Both schemes are currently open for application by organisations large & small!
  • The Moderns has continued to attract high visitor numbers (though some mixed reviews) but an announcement that the catalogue will be AGAIN delayed until March (when a significant part of the exhibition will be closed) was deeply disappointing (and frustrating for those of us hoping to use the exhibition for teaching purposes!)
  • Alain de Botton’s provocatively titled missive ‘Why are museums so uninspiring?’ set off lots of debate & discussion in the blogosphere; personally I think Charlotte Higgins from the Guardian had the most spot-on response (and interesting comments, too).
  • In the US, NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman sparked more debate over his comments that suggest American theatre was in a state of oversupply and under-demand, and should be adjusted accordingly.
  • The Observer on Sunday had an interesting piece on the death of the critic in the face of social media, but it still sounds like the funeral may be premature.