Hundreds of children in family hubs, Direct Provision centers and Deis schools across Ireland will receive a gift package of new books by leading Irish authors as part of an Arts Council initiative to ensure that as many people as possible can experience Culture Night on Friday 18 September.
Encouraging all parents to participate with their children, the government agency for funding and developing the arts has partnered with Children’s Books Ireland to publish a special guide to 100 of the best Irish books for children. The Books Make Things Better reading guide, with a specially commissioned illustrated cover by Oliver Jeffers, will be distributed free of charge through bookshops and libraries, or can be downloaded on the Internet.
“This is the first year that the Arts Council has taken on the stewardship of Culture Night, and it’s a year of extraordinary challenges, not least for artists and the entire arts sector,” said Arts Council Director Maureen Kennelly. “We believe passionately that the arts are for every single person in Ireland, and that is at the heart of the Equality, Human Rights and Diversity policy we launched last year. That’s why we have invested in broadening and diversifying audiences and participation in Culture Night.”
She said that because of the ongoing Covid-19 public health restrictions much of Culture Night would be virtual this year, but more than 1,000 real books would nonetheless be delivered to hundreds of families around the country to promote the joy of opening and reading a book.
Separately, the Arts Council will continue its tradition as part of Culture night of showcasing a selection of the exciting artworks added to the Arts Council Collection in the past year.
While sadly this year it will not be possible to share these works in person on the night, instead audiences online will be able to learn about some of the Collection’s newest works and its history of sharing excellent works of art showcasing the diversity of practices in visual artists in Ireland today.
For Culture night 2020 works by artists Benjamin de Burca & Barbara Wagner*, Salvatore of Lucan, Áine Phillips and Doireann O’Malley will celebrate the Arts Council Collection proud tradition of purchasing and supporting ambitious work that both engages with and reflects contemporary Irish society.
The Arts Council is also highlighting a number of projects around the country for their commitment to equality, human rights and diversity, which includes:
• The Welcoming Project by dance artist Catherine Young who has been collaborating with residents in direct provision centres since 2015 in Kerry.
• Writer Oein DeBhairduin, from Tuam will develop and online and broadcast project on the Traveller Cant language with Creative Places Tuam, which is run by Create.
• Songs of protest will be sung at Pearse Museum by artists with disabilities, a project by Tallaght Community Arts and Alternative Entertainments.
• Film portraits of five women (WoW Awardees 2020) who are fighters for gender equality and social justice in Ireland by Outlandish Theatre Company, which will be projected in Dublin.
• Pal, a specially commissioned short film by Shane O’Reilly about a Deaf woman, who feels even more isolated living alone during lockdown.
The Culture Night ‘trailblazers’ this year, represent the diversity of contemporary Irish artists, Fehdah, Mark Smith, Michael Gallen, Matthew Gardiner, Úna-Minh Kavanagh and international trailblazer Maeve Higgins now based in New York will highlight the international interest in Culture Night this year through the online aspects of the programme. Details all aspects of the programme can be seen on www.culturenight.ie
“Ireland boasts a wealth of artistic talent that, this year more than ever, we must promote and support,” Maureen Kennelly added. “Our goals for Culture Night in 2020 are that it represents the vitality of art across diverse communities, that it acknowledges the value that art brings to all our lives, and its essential role in promoting wellbeing within society.”
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