Arts and cultural diversity


The Arts Council believes that cultural interaction enriches the arts in Ireland by offering opportunities for mutual sharing, questioning, learning, understanding and change.  It recognises that Irish society is made up of different strands and identities, which are constantly shifting, and that the process of interaction involves change for all involved, not just for those from new or minority communities. The Arts Council understands the term ‘Cultural Diversity’, as it applies to the arts, to encompass inclusive arts programming and, most particularly, intercultural arts practice that involves artists and/or communities from a range of national, ethnic or cultural groups. 

While cultural diversity sits in the area of arts participation, it is recognised as a value and an opportunity across all artforms and arts practices. 

The Arts Council has developed Cultural diversity and the arts -policy and strategy (0.08 MB, Adobe PDF) in order to inform its work over the coming years and to support the wider arts sector in developing its thinking and practice.  In addition, a pamphlet Cultural diversity and the arts - language and meanings (PDF, 2.77 MB) has been published and can be downloaded.  This is intended as a resource for the arts sector and other relevant parties, and as a means of informing and enriching public discourse about culturally diverse interaction, collaboration and experimentation in the arts, based on shared understandings of relevant terms.

These publications were preceded by a significant research project, Cultural diversity and the arts - research report (PDF, 0.52 MB), which was commissioned in partnership with the Office of the Minister for Integration under the Government’s National Action Plan against Racism (NPAR).  It was managed by Create, the national development agency for collaborative arts.

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Financial support

The majority of organisations funded through arts participation actively promote cultural interaction to some degree as part of their programmes.  In addition, other funded organisations such as venues, local authority arts officers, festivals, and production companies have an important role in engaging individuals and communities from diverse cultures as artists, participants and audiences. 

The Arts Council offers a wide range of financial supports across artforms and arts practices, including those that actively promote cultural diversity and the arts. Those supports, direct and indirect, that are available are described in detail in financial support.  They include bursaries, projects, and travel and training awards as well as a specific strand in the Local Partnership Scheme, which aims to foster intercultural capacity at local and national level through strategic collaboration among local authorities and with arts and non-arts organisations.  In addition, the Artist in the Community Scheme, which is externally managed by Create, provides funding to enable artists and diverse groups to work alongside each other in the making of collaborative art.  The Connect Mentoring Programme, an Arts Council-funded initiative developed by Create and Common Ground, includes a specific arts and cultural diversity mentoring award.

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Cultural diversity case study - Hungry Tea

Hungry Tea was a two-year participatory arts project initiated by Cork Midsummer Festival. It was devised and developed by Mark Storor in association with Cork women’s intercultural group Creative Connections. For further details, click here.

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Cultural diversity and the arts - information and networking event
Cultural diversity and the arts - information and networking event

Participants at the information and networking event on cultural diversity and the arts. (Photo: Marie McCallan)

A lively and informative networking event recently took place in Limerick in May 2011. The event was attended by 66 people from a diverse range of arts and community interests, and was organised by the Limerick City and County Integration Working Group in partnership with the Arts Council and Create.  It was chaired by Karen McHugh of Doras Luimni, an NGO that works towards promoting and protecting the rights of all migrants.

The event aimed to provide information and encourage ambition in the area of cultural diversity and the arts, and to facilitate networking between individual artists, arts organisations and diverse communities living in Limerick.  Attendees were addressed by Catherine Joyce, who spoke about the history of Traveller engagement in the arts and more specifically, her own involvement in a recent theatre project, The Trailer of Bridgie Dinnegan.  The Arts Council highlighted five particular schemes in terms of their potential to support high quality work in this area, and an information booklet was disseminated.  The schemes included: Artist in the Community; Deis; Local Partnership; Small Arts Festivals; and the Young Ensembles Scheme.

Feedback from attendees suggests that the event was successful in enabling diverse individuals and groups to forge useful contacts with Arts Council staff, and establish or strengthen connections at local level. The Arts Officers in Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council are currently in dialogue with Doras Luimni to explore possibilities for a follow up, which would further opportunities for networking and progress ideas for artistically ambitious collaborations at local level.

As a result of the positive feedback to the information booklet, we have made it available for downloading here Cultural diversity and the arts (0.73 MB, Adobe PDF). While it contains basic information about the five schemes, it is important to get the most up-to-date information available before you make an application.  Please use the links to the schemes above for this purpose.

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Cultural diversity and the arts - Information and Networking Event
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Participants at the information and networking event on cultural diversity and the arts. (Photo: Marie McCallan)
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