Weekly update: 10 October 2011

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

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 (on a side note, it’s a pity that the live feed of the event hasn’t been archived!!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: 24 February 2011

  • The Dublin Book Festival begins next Wednesday — a great line-up of events and talks! In my own small corner of the universe, I’m going to be giving away 50 copies of Toni Morrison’s Beloved as part of World Book Night: swing by Starbucks in Blackrock Village from 11 am on Saturday 5th March to snag a free copy, first come first served (just mention the blog!).
  • The Irish Museums Association’s annual conference begins tomorrow in Drogheda; do join us for 2 full days of presentations, visits and discussion amongst the Irish museum community.
  • Project Arts Centre is looking for a few good bloggers — dangled carrots include free tickets, opportunities to interview artists and performers, use of a spiffy blogger-phone (sounds positively Batman-esque), etc… apply for the My_Project scheme by 7 March!
  • The First Thursdays initiative by TBCT carries forward the enthusiasm of Culture Night into a regular late-night opening of galleries and arts spaces in Temple Bar. The Clyne Gallery, Exchange Dublin, Gallery of Photography, Graphic Studio Gallery, Monster Truck Gallery & Studios, NGG / No Grants Gallery, Project Arts Centre, Temple Bar Gallery and Studios will all extend opening hours until 8 pm during the first Thursday of every month.
  • Shona McCarthy has been appointed Chief Executive of the company managing (London)Derry’s City of Culture programme for 2013. First task: nomenclature decision??
  • Whilst on the subject of Northern Ireland — our annual MA trip this year is to Belfast, where we’ll be visiting a number of cultural institutions & meeting with managers and policy-makers. If you have any suggestions of groovy places/people to add to our itinerary, please email me!
  • The OPW has begun recruitment for its seasonal heritage guides at sites around the country; this is a popular summer job for many of our current and past students, and online applications will only be accepted from 24 February – 3 March, so get cracking!
  • They speak! Newly appointed Dublin Contemporary curators Jota Castro and Christian Viveros-Fauné have recorded an interview available on CIRCA’s website. A recent press release from the DC also notes they will be giving a talk at the Armory Show in NYC next week on the subject of ‘Biennials As Barometers of Social Transformation? Dublin Contemporary 2011: Art, Crisis, Change & The Office of Non-Compliance‘. One would hope a podcast will be made available??
  • Eamonn O’Doherty will be one happy camper: the Anna Livia fountain (the ‘Floozie in the Jacuzzi’) is finally being re-installed in Dublin city centre after more than a decade in storage; eyewitnesses from the National Museum noted it being lowered into position today in Croppie’s Acre. Hopefully she will receive better treatment than her last respite on O’Connell St, although over on the online Vulgo zine Ciarán Mac Gonigal gives a fairly pessimistic view of the state of Irish public sculpture.
  • Some really thought-provoking debate is over on Diane Ragsdale’s blog on the subject of ‘failing’ arts organisations and the theatre ‘oversupply’ issue raised previously by NEA chariman Rooco Landesman. I agree that it’s very easy to pontificate on the (somewhat specious) claim of oversupply, far harder to suggest ways this would actually be dealt with (if even proven!). On her blog, Shoshanna Fanizza examines the claim of oversupply against her own community in Boulder, Colorado. I can only imagine the wars that would be started should someone claim that Irish theatre is oversupplied (although recent funding decisions by the Arts Council certainly have had the whiff of rationalization, and one of the keynote address at last year’s Theatre Forum conference addressed this very issue of a sustainable theatre economy).

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.