Young people have vowed to transform derelict and unused buildings into vibrant cultural centres - if Nama and local authorities around the country give them the space and the opportunity.
The idea emerged from the first ever Arts Council youth arts forum, which saw some 60 young people from all over Ireland gather in Dublin. They said that, given the chance, young people could take over buildings now lying empty around the country and turn them into exciting exhibition centres, rehearsal spaces, film sets and artists' studios.
The gathering, made up of young people from all over the country, played an active role throughout the weekend, participating vigorously in the debates and discussions.
The participants, all aged between 15 and 24, said they wanted agencies like the Arts Council to form their own "youth advisory committees" to nurture their creativity. Such initiative within state bodies would mean that young people could represent themselves, putting forward their own ideas and proposals on cultural policy, not merely being represented by older adults.
Delegates from Wicklow, Antrim, Donegal, Monaghan, Sligo, Galway, Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Wexford, Westmeath, Laois, Louth as well as various parts of Dublin said they wanted to form a national union for youth arts to create more opportunities for talent to emerge.
Art-Youth-Culture: FYI, a series of arts-based workshops, discussions and meetings between young people and policy makers, took place in Filmbase, Exchange Dublin and the Civic Office on Dublin's Wood Quay. Organised by the Arts Council with support from the European Commission's Youth in Action programme administered by Leargas, the gathering quickly burst into life. Young visual artists took to the streets, musicians jammed with a mixture of French horn, cello, electric guitar and more, while ideas about the arts and cultural policy were "tweeted" and used to update blogs.
Gaye Tanham , Arts Council’s Head of Young People, Children, and Education said the weekend had been a huge success, giving voice to the 15 percent of the citizenship of Ireland between 15 and 24 years of age in an unprecedented and direct way. 35 percent of the population Ireland is made up of 0-24 year olds (CSO 2006 figures).
"FYI represented a great opportunity to shed light on the important contribution of young people to the arts and cultural life, and to listen to the ideas, views and experiences of the young people from different backgrounds who took part in the event" she said.
"It allowed us to reflect on the art and practice of consulting, listening to and transferring power to young people in policy-making processes that impact on their experience of the arts and cultural life. It has undoubtedly opened a new chapter in young people's participation in Ireland." Gaye Tanham added.
More information available on the conference website: www.futurearts.ie