The Arts Council and Local Government jointly hosted its second biennial conference, Places Matter, today in the Bailey Allen Hall, NUI Galway. Addressing inclusion and Ireland’s rapidly changing demographic, speakers included Director of Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Nina Simon, Director of Diversity, Arts Council England, Abid Hussain and Dr William Schabas. The conference was chaired by Dr Ronit Lentin, associate professor of sociology, Trinity College.
Dr Ronit Lentin said;
“I applaud the Arts Council and local government for its wish to become more inclusive, more attentive to difference and otherness. I expect us [at this conference] to acknowledge the huge contribution to Ireland’s cultural life by racialised and migrant people; and my main hope is to interrogate ourselves as to what extent white, settled, Christian Irish people are enabling artists and audiences from racialised backgrounds or serving as their gate keepers. I would like us to think together, through conversation, who funds, curates, organises, and facilitates or blocks the access of artists from racialised backgrounds and to what extent we allow difference to speak to us in different, often not comfortable, forms.”
Nina Simon told the story of a struggling cultural facility and its transformation into a dynamic community institution, deepening and diversifying its offering and its audiences and how the OF/BY/FOR ALL global movement aims to increase relevance and sustainability.
Abid Hussain spoke about making the creative case for diversity and policies and programmes that have made impact in diversifying the arts and cultural landscape in England while Professor William Schabas brought human rights to the agenda, which follows the Arts Council’s launch of their Equality, Human Rights and Diversity policy.
Orlaith McBride, Director, Arts Council said
“We designed the day to inspire the audience to commit to change and leave as ambassadors, equipped with the enthusiasm, tools and signposts to build inclusion in the arts and embrace the diversity of contemporary Ireland”.
Author Melatu Uche Okorie said;
“Ireland is taking steps to open the door to those that the door has been shut to for many years, I hope that we can all see the importance of building an inclusive arts platform where all can feel welcome irrespective of origin, place of birth, language, religious or cultural beliefs. What a legacy that would be for everyone.”
The policy can read and downloaded here.
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