In 2021, Create reaffirmed our commitment to connecting artists, communities, arts and civil society organisations in our belief that by working together, artists and communities can purposefully explore how collaborative arts engage in distinct, relevant and powerful ways with the urgent social, cultural and political issues of our times.
In January, we published a new Artist in the Community Scheme case study on our website. These case studies reflect the real, on the ground work of collaborative artists and the communities of place and/or interest that they work with. Otolith is the second in a series of works instigated by artist Ruairí Ó’Donnabháin under the title Archipelagic Thinking. The project was a collaboration between artists Ruairí Ó’Donnabháin, composer Seán Ó’Dálaigh, goldsmith Helle Helsner, Comharchumann Chléire and the community of Cape Clear Island. Read the full case study here.
Also in January, we began a year-long commitment to organisational training; supported by the Arts Council Capacity Building Fund Create led this consortium training with Arts & Disability Ireland, Waterford Healing Arts Trust, and Age & Opportunity. We undertook training in Digital Capacity with Studio We & Us and Dirk Slater from Fabriders and Equality Human Rights and Diversity through an intersectional lens with Maureen Gilbert, and Hassan Mahamdallie and Francesca La Morgia. We look forward to implementing our learning in 2022.
We also began our NCAD Studio+ D8 Neighbourhood Residency talk series, January – March and Sept – Dec 2021 .The D8 Residency facilitates third-year Fine Art Students to explore place-based collaborative practice. It connects with the Rialto Youth Project, the Bridge Project and the Robert Emmett community development organisations in the area. Guest artist speakers included William Bock, Fiona Woods, Ruairí Ó Donnabháin, Isabel Lima (UK); Kate O’Shea, Oein DeBhardúin, Maud Hendricks, Tobi Balogun and Dr. Eve Olney.
Our website is packed with resources for collaborative and socially engaged artists and the communities they engage with. In February we launched the first recording from our 2020 Networking Day, entitled “Care as a Radical Act”. Moderated by UK-based writer and educator Chrissie Tiller with artists Fiona Whelan, Jijo Sebastian, Alexis Maxwell and Gemma Nash, this panel drew on the recent paper of the same name by Chrissie and discusses what forms of cultural solidarity, practices of (self)care and creative interdependence are needed to see us through and beyond the current crisis. All videos shared on our website from 2020 onwards are subtitled, as part of our commitment to creating greater accessibility for all users.
In March we were delighted to share the news that we were chosen to be part of the RAISE Programme for 2021 – 22. An Arts Council initiative delivered by O’Kennedy Consulting since 2018, RAISE focuses on building capacity to generate significant private and philanthropic investment for the arts and cultural sectors. We have learned a great deal over the past year through working with O’Kennedy Consulting and our fellow RAISE Academy organisations. Since beginning this work, we have developed a Case for Support document for prospective donors, activated a donate function on our website, and secured funding for Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policy development with Native Events. We look forward to continuing this work in 2022.
Also in March, we hosted a conversation between renowned US-based art historian and educator Grant Kester, and Gráinne Coughlan, Independent Researcher and PhD candidate TU Dublin, chaired by Professor Kerstin Mey, President, University of Limerick, in partnership with Fire Station Artists’ Studios, Age & Opportunity, University of Limerick, Fingal Arts Office, and the Engagement and Learning Dept of IMMA. You can listen to this compelling conversation here.
April saw the publishing of the second in our series of Ory’Sta Talking on Tuam conversations, featuring David Burke, editor of the Tuam Herald, and Tom Flanagan, artist, filmmaker and educator based in Galway. Both David and Tom have vast experience in telling stories, reporting, and giving voice to the community. We invited them to have a conversation with Keelin Murray, Create’s Communications and Publishing Manager, who herself has a keen interest in these questions.
Also in April, we published Issue #30 of Create News. Francesca La Morgia, originally from Italy, has been involved in a range of community projects primarily with migrant families in Ireland and in the UK for a number of years. In 2017, she created Mother Tongues, a non-profit organisation that aims to support migrant families in raising children with two or more languages. Francesca is the curator of the Mother Tongues Festival, the only festival in Ireland that focuses on multilingualism. This conversation, with Create’s Cultural Diversity Researcher Evgeny Shtorn, encompasses Francesca’s experience as a migrant, an academic, an artist, and her motivation for establishing the Mother Tongues Festival. Read the issue here.
In May, with partner Common Ground, we launched Networks of Solidarity, a series of four monthly online talks co-organised by artist/organiser Kate O’Shea and writer/researcher Enya Moore from the Just City Collective. The Networks of Solidarity series aimed to strengthen transnational networks of solidarity and deepen awareness of place-based struggles that reverberate from Dublin 8 to Gadigal Country (Sydney, Australia). Four interconnected and overlapping sessions entitled Between our Minds; In the Roots; Through our Stories and On the Airwaves featured presentations and performances from invited artists, activists, community workers, designers, academics, researchers, writers, and filmmakers based largely in Ireland and Australia. This event series was supported in part by a Dublin City Council Revenue award granted to Create.
In May Creative Places Tuam Coordinator Carolann Courtney was joined in the third of the Ory’Sta series by artist Oein De Bhardúin, curator Megs Morley and Traveller activist Owenie Ward, to explore the thematic of Nomadic Archives and in particular how Traveller Culture can be centred in Creative Places Tuam.
In June, we were delighted to announce the recipients of Artist in the Community Scheme awards, from a range of art forms and contexts. Read more about the recipients and their planned work here.
Also in June, we partnered with Sligo County Council Arts office, Cairde Sligo Arts Festival, The Model Sligo and the Hawk’s Well Theatre for the second in the Exchanges talks series. The Exchanges programme focuses on developing supports for artists from culturally diverse backgrounds and is aimed at providing funding for artists at all stages of their career, who are interested in working in culturally diverse and socially-engaged contexts. For the second talk, Exploring Socially Engaged Arts Practice, we welcomed Jijo Sebastian, Tobi Balogun, Emily Waszak and William Bock in conversation with Zoë O’Reilly.
Supported with funding by the Community Integration Fund 2020 and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, June also saw the completion of the short film The Colour of My Breath – a filmic exploration of the particular challenges of integration from the perspective of five leading collaborative/ community artists from minority ethnic/ migrant backgrounds; Alessandra Azevedo, Hina Khan, Amir Abu Alrob, Mark Sebata and Thomasz Madajczak, with lead artist Jijo Sebastian. Acknowledging the positive outcomes that integration into Ireland and the Irish artistic scene has brought them, this film offers an in-depth and creative reflection on the complexity of integration.
We also launched a new campaign of Perspectives from Tuam locals, to mark the mid-way point of Creative Places Tuam. We have shared perspectives from local artists Joanna McGlynn and Padraig Stevens, as well as community organiser, writer and local resident Patricia King-Callaghan. Old Tuam Society also provided us an audio piece on the history of Tuam.
In July we offered the first of two Artist in the Community Scheme bursaries. The AIC Bursary Award 2021: Collaborative Arts and Cultural Diversity specifically aims to support an individual professional artist working in collaborative socially engaged arts practice who is from a minority ethnic background, has first-hand experience of displacement and/or is shaped by histories of intergenerational migration. We were delighted to partner with the Immigrant Council of Ireland to award this bursary to Gea Gojak. Gea is a Croatian theatremaker who has produced socially engaged projects that raise questions, communicate with the audience, reveal the world and society as it is, refresh and encourage critical thinking.
We were also delighted to host Common Coherence, working with conflict for sustainable futures: a workshop delivered by ethnographer Eve Olney (IRL) and artist / activist Spyros Tsiknas (GR) in July. This half-day workshop for artists and community activists dealt with conflictual situations that arise within collective work and collaborative practice. It offered a significant critical and explorative space for deep thinking/practice around issues of conflict such as either sudden or gradual power shifts between themselves and their contributors or the communities they are working with.
In August Create was awarded the tender to be the Creative Places National Programme Network Services provider (2021 – 2024) for the Arts Council. Creative Places is a programme for places around Ireland that have not had opportunities to benefit from sustained investment in the arts and creativity. Create has led the Creative Places Tuam pilot since 2020, and newly awarded Creative Places include Athy (Kildare), Bagenalstown (Carlow), Darndale, (North Dublin), Edenderry (Offaly) and the West Cork Islands for three year programmes. Shannon (Clare), Iveragh Peninsula (Kerry) and Mac Uilliam (Tallaght) receive research awards to develop their Creative Places. Create’s role will be as a strategic guide, to support the artistic initiatives and practices in each of the locations chosen – as well as to facilitate diverse community experience and levels of interest – and to advise the Arts Council on programme and communications. Over the coming months we look forward to supporting and connecting the Creative Places programmes across Ireland.
We were pleased to partner with The Model in Sligo on a 2021 Artist Residency Award to take place at The Model and provide opportunities for research, exchange, networking, and learning. In August we were pleased to announce the recipient, Nadia Tamerji, a recent graduate of the Institute of technology, Sligo who grew up in County Meath in an Irish and Lebanese household. Her ambition is to gain varied experience to create an artist-run organisation that supports national and international arts. Her current practice is concerned with skin and how it is conditioned in historical and contemporary contexts. The residency will help her to solidify and experiment with her research methodology.This residency was funded through the Arts Council of Ireland’s Artist in the Community Scheme, which is managed by Create. It was supported by Sligo Arts Office and was offered through a partnership between Create and The Model.
In September we partnered again with Sligo County Council Arts Service for the last talk in the Exchanges series, Culture & Community: Sligo Global Kitchen & The People’s Kitchen. Members of two innovative groups, Senelani Matashu and Sidonie Siwe Leunde from Sligo Global Kitchen, and Kate O’Shea from The People’s Kitchen, spoke with JoAnne Neary about their own unique perspectives on community connections, food justice and sharing cultural heritage.
In October we were pleased to once more partner with UK-based Counterpoints Arts, to offer the 2021 School on Cultural Diversity and Collaborative Practice. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the School moved online for a second time in 2021, over five days in October. This five-day virtual residency enables a ‘think and do’ collaborative approach, utilizing creative workshops, critical and comparative case studies, a creative group challenge, one-to-one mentoring, international guest artists including curators, policymakers and activists.
November saw the announcement of the recipients of Artist in the Community Scheme awards (Round two), from a range of art forms and contexts. Read more about the recipients and their planned work here.
We were delighted that Beyond the Now, the syndicated blog we are a partner in with Plymouth School of Art, Open University, Counterpoints Arts London, and Mozilla Foundation (NY/ Amsterdam), Ettijihat (Beirut) and Coculture (Berlin) was invited by the European Cultural Foundation to join ZEMOS98 (Seville), City Rights United (Amsterdam) and Eticas Foundation (Barcelona) in a project that combines socially engaged arts practice and investigative journalism to explore the representation of migrants in Europe, funded through the EU CNECT Programme. Beyond the Now is also supported by Flanders Arts Institute research project A Fair New Idea? and has connected with Tasawar Collective members, in Europe and around the MENA region. We are currently working together on a joint event which explores the nature of collectives and to develop our collaboration around ‘Working Sustainably Internationally’.
We also published a new case study in November; ‘Yes, But Do You Care?’ is a cross-disciplinary collaborative art project by visual artist Marie Brett, working with dance artist and choreographer Philip Connaughton, with contributions from members of the Dementia Carers Campaign Network. This work explores the experiences of family carers, the human right to make a bad decision, and Ireland’s new capacity legislation.
Read the full case study here.
We were also delighted to be a supporting partner along with UCC School of Social Studies in the Boys in the Making: Participatory Workshop, held at the F2 Centre, in Rialto Dublin 8. Hosted by the What Does He Need? Team at Rialto Youth Project, the workshop was held to extend the central strand of the Boys in the Making project to community organisations and schools in greater Dublin. Attending were artists Fedilim Cannon, Fiona Whelan, David McGovern, Liz Smith and Dara Clear and representatives from youth and community organisations including BRYR, Aosóg, Step by Step, Scoil Chiarain, Donneycarney and St Michael’s School, Ballsbridge.
In December we announced a new initiative; The Artist Mentor Panel, which sits within a suite of offerings under the Artist in the Community (AIC) Scheme. It aims to offer capacity building and arts practice development for collaborative socially engaged artists. Artist mentors will be available to emerging practitioners, ethnic minority artists, artists with first-hand experience of displacement and/or who are shaped by histories of intergenerational migration, as well as to other artists, including those seeking to engage with the AIC scheme. In this pilot, there will be five artist mentors (Aisling Byrne, Feidlim Cannon, Ruairí Ó Donnabháin, Deirdre O’Mahony, Jijo Sebastian) and five artist mentees. Create invites expressions of interest from collaborative socially engaged artists, or artists interested in/transitioning into collaborative socially engaged arts, who wish to avail of a focused period of mentorship to develop and consolidate their practice.
Expressions of Interest for the Mentoring Award are due by the 17th January 2022.
Also in December, Create and the Irish Local Development Network announced Kate O’Shea as the recipient of the Artist in the Community Scheme Bursary Award: Collaborative Arts and Community Development, the second bursary offered in 2021. Kate is a multi-disciplinary social practice artist working across printmaking, large-scale installation, performance and publishing. Her collaborative practice builds spaces of solidarity to explore alternative modes of community and dialogue. Kate intends to use the time afforded by the bursary award for self-reflection and evaluation focusing on her 12 years’ experience of socially engaged practice.
In December, we were delighted to welcome the newly-appointed Tuam-based Creative Team. Joining us on our Creative Places journey are;
Rachel Varden, an artist living and working in Tuam, who will be leading out on social media for the programme.
Jennifer Cunningham is a visual artist now living in Tuam who will capture the moments of connection between the programme and the community.
David McDonagh and James Ryan are locals who will join us to document our work and through video and photo. Both have strong creative practices and are deeply rooted in making work that reflects modern Tuam.
We look forward to working with, supporting and learning from the Creative Team. We are excited to see how both their arts practice and experiences of the town help us tell the story of Creative Places Tuam in the year to come.
December was a busy month for Creative Places! We curated a breakout session at the Creative People and Places UK-based conference People Place Power; an Ory’Sta conversation convened by Oein DeBhairduin, Thinking on Tuam resident artist, with Programme Coordinator Carolann Courtney, film-maker David McDonagh, Community Development worker Maggs McDonagh, and visual artist Joanna McGlynn. This gathering of artists from both Tuam and beyond discussed art making, processes, community, Traveller representation and more. Keep an eye on the Creativeplacestuam.ie website early next year for a recording of this conversation.
We’ve also benefitted hugely in 2021 from our work with curator Megs Morley (Jan – Sept) and Heart of Glass in the development of A New Imaginary, Socially Engaged Alliances for a Post Pandemic World. And we’re excited to be working with Fiona Whelan and Feidlim Cannon on the Multi Story, Creative Engagement for Housing Change Commission with Housing Action Now and looking forward to its public presentation in Spring 2022. Our partnership with A4 Sounds on We Only Want the Earth continues to be a rich experience as does our partnership with Fire Station Artists’ Studios and TU’s Centre for Socially Engaged Practice-based Research on the Contested Narratives, Places and Futures: Socially Engaged Art Practice in Ireland publication.
Leading on from our extensive work in the context area of Cultural Diversity, Create is pleased to be working with independent Equality experts, Hassan Mahamdallie (UK) and Francesca La Morgia (Irl) on the development of an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy for the organisation. Create is developing this policy within a broader policy framework which includes the Arts Council’s Equality, Human Rights and Diversity policy (2019), and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030. Create’s EDI policy will be published in Spring 2022. Hassan and Francesca will be consulting with a number of key stakeholders. If you are interested to engage in this process, we extend an open invitation to any artists, community members and or stakeholders to contribute. Please email info[at]create-ireland.ie to express your interest.
Our work would not be possible without the support of our funders, the Arts Council, Dublin City Council, and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. We also wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to all partners who have worked with us during the year and our dedicated board members, as well, of course, as the committed, enthusiastic socially engaged and collaborative artists and community members, who we are proud to support and work with on a daily basis.