This week I am really looking forward to the launch of the Arts Council’s Invitation to Collaboration Scheme. It’s the third time we have offered the scheme, it will take place in the unique Irish Aerial Creation Centre in Limerick, and we will celebrate five new, ambitious and ground-breaking local authority-led projects right across the country.
I am confident when I say ground breaking - in Ireland we have never had older people in Donegal, Kerry and Limerick working on an aerial performance about bingo (with Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre), nor have we had a symphony composed for an orchestra of visually-impaired musicians (with the Irish Memory Orchestra)
Fidget Feet. 2016. Photo: Jym Daly
I believe the Arts Council’s partnership with local authorities over the past 33 years has been one of the most ground-breaking projects of all, creating the fertile ground for artists, festivals, arts organisations and venues to grow and thrive.
Having spent many happy and busy years as a local authority arts officer, I know how important it is that emerging artists are supported locally, and I have seen the personal impact on those who are marginalised in our society when they participate in the arts. I think this is cultural democracy at its best.
I also feel this is not a time to rest on our laurels and say ‘job done’. It has taken decades to get this far and now, our demographics are changing rapidly, and the creative space can feel a little crowded, competitive, and fast-paced. Left unchecked, these factors could help create a breeding ground for marginalisation to deepen. There is so much more we can all do to ensure that more people can enjoy the arts right across Ireland, not least for the pure fun and social enjoyment that can be had with families and within communities, in new and exciting ways.
I am looking forward to continuing and deepening this conversation with local authorities and together moving towards telling the story of the long term impact of 40 years of partnership – roll on 2025!
Further information on projects around Ireland supported by the Invitation to Collaboration Scheme can be seen here
Watch the Vision Symphony project led by Clare County Council in development.