Bumper crop of arts jobs & other news

Some of our MA in Arts Management & Cultural Policy students from UCD attending the Irish Museums Association event in Belfast

Some of our MA in Arts Management & Cultural Policy students from UCD, attending the Irish Museums Association event in Belfast

Just finished another update to the jobs page – whoa mama, there’s a lot on offer at the moment! Happy hunting…

A few other bits and pieces from this week:

Thanks to everyone who came along to the Irish Museums Association event in Belfast at the weekend, and especially to our wonderful speakers sharing their experience of creative collaborations with museums (slides will be posted soon!) Our next big event is the annual lecture on 11 November at the NGI, where we will welcome Sir Christopher Frayling, former Chair of the Arts Council England and the Design Council (UK), former trustee of the V&A, governor of the British Film Institute — you won’t want to miss it! Tickets are free but *must* be booked in advance (and our lectures usually book out!)

The Arts Council of Ireland recently announced its 10-year strategy Making Great Art Work – Leading the development of the arts in Ireland — and are inviting responses to the strategy, as well as hosting a series of fora nationwide from late October – November (registration required).

Arts Audiences’ Focus on Audiences – Digital Day 2015 event will take place on 17 December at Dublin Castle — an essential event if you’ve an interest in development, marketing, etc!

I’m intrigued by the Light Moves festival in Limerick (18-22nd November) that explores screendance and dance on film… such an unusual and engaging programme.

Limerick seems to be quite the busy place next month: on 19 November the Hunt Museum will host a symposium on Digital History, focusing on interactivity in heritage sites and museums.

The Abbey Theatre launched details of its 2016 programme yesterday, Waking the Nation – it looks to be a strong programme, although protests on twitter about about the lack of female playwrights seem justified… something to discuss perhaps in the new Peacock cafe just opened there too…

On 5 November we’re very pleased here at UCD to host a performance by Artist-in-Residence Dominic Thorpe, entitled Disjunction, based on work he’s been doing over the past year as part of UCD’s highly successful artist-in-res programme.

I’m delighted to be involved in the lecture series accompanying the National Gallery of Ireland’s upcoming exhibition The Pathos of Distance, a collaboration with the artist Sarah Pierce, exploring images of Irish immigration and diaspora. Lots of great info and images are now appearing on the NGI’s blog to accompany the exhibition which opens in December…

Finally — if you’re interested in arts fundraising and development — hope you’re following Jeremy Hatch (The Artful Fundraiser) — I just love his candid, funny (and highly knowledgeable!) blog posts on the ins and outs of arts development…

The Creative Museum: Extending Participation through Collaboration (23/24 October, Belfast)

Greetings! I’m back from my annual leave and will be updating the jobs page shortly have just refreshed job/internship listings.

The Spy at the Gate by Pauline Cummins, 2014 - part of These Immovable Walls: Performing Power at Dublin Castle, curated by Michelle Browne. Photo by Joseph Carr.

The Spy at the Gate by Pauline Cummins, 2014 – part of These Immovable Walls: Performing Power at Dublin Castle, curated by Michelle Browne. Photo by Joseph Carr.

I wanted to share details of a special Irish Museums Association event I’m co-organising with Dr Victoria Durrer of Queen’s University Belfast. It’s absolutely FREE for students and members of the IMA, and very low cost for other attendees:

23 -24 October – The Creative Museum: Extending Participation through Collaboration: Queen’s University Belfast

This two-day event will bring together artists and museum professionals to explore the opportunities, complexities and negotiations that take place when museums and artists in dance, visual arts, sound, and theatre collaborate to create unique visitor experiences. This event will present and examine – through a series of talks, practical examples and site visits – some of the approaches taken by museums in the Republic of Ireland (ROI), Northern Ireland (NI), and further afield, in creative collaborations with the broader arts sector. It will aim to discuss how organisations can enhance their relationship with the public and demonstrate their value and relevance in contemporary culture.

Speakers include:

Lar Joye, Assistant Keeper, National Museum of Ireland – Art and Industrial Division
Louise Lowe, Artistic Director, ANU Productions
Professor Pedro Rebelo, Director of Research, School of Creative Arts (incl. SARC), Queen’s University Belfast
Katie Green, Founder and Director, Made by Katie Green
Margaret Henry, Chief Executive, Audiences NI
Michelle Browne, Visual Artist and Curator
Hugh Maguire, Director, The Hunt Museum
Nigel Monaghan, Keeper, National Museum of Ireland – Natural History Division
Emily Mark-FitzGerald, Lecturer, School of Art History & Cultural Policy, University College Dublin

The second day of the event is dedicated to site visits and tours that will introduce participants to the cultural venues and offerings of Belfast — it will be open to explore! A full list of options will soon be available on the event website. The event coincides with the Belfast Festival, and we’ll have ticket options available.

Thanks to sponsorship from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, we’re able to offer this event for FREE for students & IMA members, including registration, and free transport from Dublin – Belfast (return). Attendees will be responsible for accommodation (1 night – many inexpensive hostel options available) and the networking dinner (optional).

Registration is open here: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/the-creative-museum-extending-participation-through-collaboration-tickets-17807925986

Our previous north-south event reached capacity, do register asap. Attendees are also encouraged to book accommodation soon, as it’s festival season in Belfast and can get very busy. Hope you can join us!

Beit campaign update

Benfactors: Sir Alfred and Lady Beit at Russborough House in 1978 with Adoration of the Shepherds, by Adriaen van Ostade, one of paintings destined for Christie’s. Photograph: Dermot O’Shea (from the Irish Times, 13 June 2015)

Benfactors: Sir Alfred and Lady Beit at Russborough House in 1978 with Adoration of the Shepherds, by Adriaen van Ostade, one of paintings destined for Christie’s. Photograph: Dermot O’Shea (photo & link from the Irish Times, 13 June 2015)

Thanks to everyone who has circulated notice of the Beit paintings campaign, signed the Irish Arts Review petition, or otherwise made their voices heard on this issue! It was heartening over the weekend to see such great coverage in the Irish Times, and also on RTE Drivetime which featured our Professor Kathleen James-Chakraborty summarising the controversy, and explaining why it matters (listen back here)!

One of the extras accompanying Rosita Boland’s excellent piece in the Irish Times (‘Flight of the Beits’ – read it here) was a sound clip provided by my colleague Dr Philip Cottrell, working along with School alum Ciaran Woods, which was extracted from a 1985 BBC documentary where the Beits explain their intentions leaving the house and collections jointly in trust — and their clear wish that the collection remain intact. That recording (and its transcript) are linked to / provided below.

Please join us on Wednesday for a public event in Tailors’ Hall where members of our School, the Irish Georgian Society and An Taisce will be discussing the significance of these paintings and the campaign to save them.


An extract of an interview (2:36) conducted with Sir Alfred Beit and Lady Beit in 1985 for a BBC documentary in which they discuss the importance of keeping Russborough and its collections intact (transcript follows below)

It was broadcast on 7 July 1985 – almost 30 years to the day before the bulk of this priceless group of old masters are due to be sold off at Christie’s London (some of which, including the Rubens, Study of a Bearded Man, are discussed at length in the documentary). The documentary was part of a series, The Great Collectors, presented by Harriet Crawley.

Presenter: From April to October, Russborough is open to the public. Clementine and Alfred Beit have no children, and they were faced with the problem: how to keep the house and the collection together?

Lady Beit: Although there are some wonderful institutions and societies in this country to do with the arts, there is nobody – no ‘body’ – which functions in the same way as the National Trust. And therefore we began to worry about the future and we felt that whatever we did about this, to whomever we left it, or what have you, that the day would come when they couldn’t possibly afford to live in it, and what happens? In this country everybody is very keen to buy land but virtually nobody wants to live, love and care for a very, very large house. And we became worried about this.

It’s not only a question of the house it was the fact that we had spent, on the whole I suppose you could say, about the last 30 years putting the collection into the house – the two made a very happy marriage and we didn’t want to disturb it, and we were nervous that something in the future might happen whereby the house would be sold, people would lap up the land, the house would go to rack and ruin, and the collection would be dispersed.

Presenter: For this reason, in 1978 a trust was set up, the Alfred Beit Foundation which today administers Russborough…

Lady Beit: …quite frankly, to buy anything up to the standard of the rest of this very, very great collection, we would need to sell a picture, and I don’t honestly think that there is a picture that we particularly want to sell.

Sir Alfred Beit: No, that’s true, we’ve done all that you see.

Lady Beit: We’ve done all that.

Sir Alfred Beit: It’s very nice when you’ve got something you want to sell which is going to fetch a decent amount of money, you can buy something of the equivalent with the proceeds, but …we’ve done the weeding out, and frankly there’s little or nothing that I would like to get rid of now however much I might like to buy something else.

Lady Beit: I think that’s a very important point: we really don’t want to sell anything. After all, the whole object of what we’ve done here at Russborough, opening to the public and that kind of thing and why we’ve done it is to try and keep the collection as it is in the house.

Sir Alfred Beit: Intact!

Lady Beit: Intact.

(end of extract)

Betrayal of Trust: the Sale of the Beit Paintings

Portrait of a bearded man, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

Portrait of a bearded man, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

There’s no question that the proposed sale of paintings from the Beit Collection at Russborough House next month at Christie’s may constitute the greatest loss of art to Ireland in this lifetime. Many in Ireland’s art history and museum community have decried the sale, the manner in which the paintings have already been exported out of the country, and the lack of proper public debate on the issue. My department (the School of Art History & Cultural Policy) last week published a letter to the Irish Times calling for the sale to be halted — and we are joined in our protest by the Irish Arts Review, Irish Museums Association, Irish Georgian Society, and An Taisce (links are all to separate appeals by each of these organisations).

Today we share details of a public press event addressing the forthcoming sale and urging immediate action:


As part of ongoing efforts to stop the sale of paintings from the historic Beit collection, and to discuss alternative plans for funding Russborough, a press conference has been organised by the School of Art History & Cultural Policy (UCD), the Irish Georgian Society, and An Taisce.

It will take place in Tailors’ Hall, Back Lane, Dublin 8, on Wednesday, 17 June, at 3 pm. Among the speakers will be Ian Lumley (An Taisce), Dr John Loughman (UCD), Dr Michael Ryan (former Director, Chester Beatty Library), and a representative of the Irish Georgian Society.

As a result of a remarkable act of generosity, one of the greatest of all private collections of Old Master paintings, formed in England by a German entrepreneur whose fortune was made in South Africa, has come to rest in Ireland. In 1976 Sir Alfred Beit, Bart., set up the Foundation which bears his name to ensure that his collection remains in perpetuity in the magnificent setting of Russborough at the foot of the Wicklow Hills.

These are the words of Professor Christopher Brown (former Director of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford), writing in 1984. Three years later Sir Alfred and Lady Clementine Beit decided to bequeath seventeen of the most important paintings from their collection to the National Gallery of Ireland (NGI), while the kernel of their collection (30-40 pictures) remained at Russborough. It was hoped that the NGI paintings could occasionally be exhibited, with the rest of the historic Beit collection, at Russborough.

Sadly, recent actions by the Alfred Beit Foundation (ABF) have betrayed both the legacy of the Beits’ extraordinary benevolence to their adopted country and the trust invested in the Foundation by the Irish people to care for this collection. On 9 July six magnificent paintings, including two works by Peter Paul Rubens, will be sold by the ABF at Christie’s, London. Two 19th-century British landscapes and a drawing by Francois Boucher have been consigned to other sales to be held in June and July by the same auction house. In addition, an architectural painting by Jacques de Lajoüe (1687-1761), which had hung together with its pair in the Saloon at Russborough until last year, was apparently sold to a private individual by the ABF for a reported sum of €500,000. These recent sales, or proposed sales, are the latest in the liquidation of what the ABF has called “non-core assets”. In 2006 and 2013 the ABF disposed of collections of Italian Renaissance sculpture and Chinese porcelain.

The sale of these paintings will be an immeasurable loss to the national cultural patrimony. While some of these artists are represented in the National Gallery of Ireland, most of the paintings going under the hammer are either better in quality or are of a different type to those in our national collections. The ABF’s decision will also take us further away from Sir Alfred Beit’s aim in establishing his foundation in 1976, and opening the doors of Russborough to the public two years later – to make the house and its contents a centre for the study and appreciation of the fine arts in Ireland.

It is not too late to halt the sale and to consider other models of funding for Russborough House.

For further details, please email arthistory.culturalpolicy@ucd.ie


Warwick Commisssion visiting Queen’s University Belfast, 19 May 2015

Folks in the North (and others!) may be interested to attend a special presentation next week in Belfast, featuring members of the Warwick Commission who will discuss findings from their recent, extensive report on the subject of cultural value in the UK:

Visit of the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value
Tuesday 19 May at 3pm
0G/074 Lanyon Building, Queen’s University Belfast

  • How is culture valued and undervalued?
  • How important is creative education to the development of talent and participation in culture?

The Cultural and Creative Industries are the fastest growing industry in the UK. The Gross Value Added of the sector was estimated as £76.9 billion in 2013, representing 5% of the UK economy. Yet the articulation of the value of our culture and creativity is in danger of being reduced to a very restrictive definition of “cultural value”.

Taking this challenge as a point of inspiration, in November 2013 the University of Warwick launched a one-year Commission to undertake a comprehensive and holistic investigation into the future of cultural value. A diverse group of cultural leaders were invited to gather together the evidence and arguments to create a blueprint for the future of investment and engagement in our cultural lives. The Commission’s report Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth brings together the findings of a series of public and private meetings with artists, creative and cultural professionals, economists, business leaders and other stakeholders, backed up by targeted research.

The Commission makes a range of recommendations as to how we can ensure everyone has access to a rich cultural education and the opportunity to live a creative life. Warwick’s ambition is that the Commission will offer an authoritative and constructive contribution to public debates and government policy in relation to arts and culture in the UK.

Two of the researchers supporting the Commission, Dr. Eleonora Belfiore and Dr. Catriona Firth join us to present their findings and to discuss the implications for policy makers, arts managers and artists in the cultural sector.

Places at this event are strictly limited. Please RSVP by 5pm Friday 15 May to joy.eakin@qub.ac.uk

Further information:
The Warwick Commission: www.warwick.ac.uk/culturalvalue
Link to download the full report: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/research/warwickcommission/futureculture/finalreport/warwick_commission_final_report.pdf