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2023 in review
Audience at Create National Networking Day, October 2023. Photo: Brian Cregan

2023 in review



2023 was a year filled with professional development opportunities, artist advisory support, awards, bursaries, public events and more. We also welcomed two new staff members, Jennifer Fitzgibbon, Research and Learning Manager, and Jenny Corcoran, Operations Officer, bringing our core team up to ten people.

We are delighted to continue to support the work of collaborative and socially engaged artists and to advocate for the practice. Don’t forget that you can support us with a one-off or recurring donation, here.

Here’s just a selection of our activities in 2023.



We kicked the year off in style with a really interesting case study by Artist in the Community Scheme recipient Brigid Mulligan. The Freebirds M.C.C. project is a year-long project by artist Brigid Mulligan and twelve members of Freebirds Motorcycle club from county Longford. The project crossed various artforms including film, archiving and sculptural installation. The project focused on taking time to look back at the motorcycle club’s shared histories and the significant loss of three of the club members due to road traffic accidents. Read the full case study here.



February saw us announce Karen Aguiar as the recipient of the 2022 AIC Scheme Bursary Award: Collaborative Arts and Dance. Karen Aguiar is a migrant woman, journalist & socially engaged artist believing in the transformative power of dance to unite people and nurture a collective space to build power from and of the people. Karen is the Creative Director of Go Dance For Change and envisions it as a space for meaningful integration and collective action. Karen used the time afforded by the Bursary to nurture a self-reflective practice; to map her durational relationships with communities, safeguarding those networks of support and relationships; and to develop artistic and collaborative skills with the support and mentoring of a number of artists, including Evelyn Broderick, Kevin Murphy and Fringe Arts Project Manager Bee Sparks.

In February, Creative Places Tuam launched The Match Factory, a residency supporting local artists Jojo Hynes and Midie Corcoran to evolve their own socially engaged practice alongside collaborating with young people to empower and celebrate their creative ideas in Tuam.

Also in February, we hosted two days of workshops on funding and application writing support as part of the Creative Places Tuam “Work of Art” series. This series offers free of charge support via information clinics, mentoring sessions, application writing supports and general advice and guidance.


In March we partnered with Dublin Fringe to offer The Ethical Turn in Performance and Collaborative Practice: Mapping Frameworks for Inclusive Collaboration, an in-person workshop for performance artists engaging in or learning about collaborative practice. Led by artists Aisling Byrne and Mark Smith, this day-long workshop explored the ethical dimension of inclusive theatre and performance making where the artistic expressions of artists with intellectual disabilities are facilitated by non-disabled artists.

Also in March, we hosted Evaluate This!, a public discussion in which Gráinne Coughlan unpicked some of the assumptions around evaluation to highlight processed-based evaluation as a helpful tool for learning. In conversation with artist Susanne Bosch, she explored how thinking about evaluation in this way can allow us to better understand processes of solidarity and sustainability that often characterise socially engaged practice. This conversation was very rich and led to issue 34 of Create News, which allowed Gráinne and Susanne to further explore these concepts.

March was a busy month, as we offered a workshop with artist Susanne Bosch exploring notions of care and community in socially engaged art. In this workshop, Susanne Bosch and participants collectively questioned their professional fields and each other about care and self-care tools, methods and abilities. These tools, methods and abilities were explored in practical terms, with reference to artistic approaches.



In April we partnered with Common Ground and the LAB to host a Critical Conversation event and the publication launch of ‘O To Have a Little House’ & ‘How Much is Enough? This Critical Conversation event marked the launch of two publications; artist Michelle Malone’s O To Have a Little House and artist Kate O’Shea’s How Much is Enough? which traces Kate’s Just City residency 2020 -2022.

Kate and Michelle were joined in conversation with community worker and sociologist John Bissett who has recently published, It’s Not Where you Live, It’s How You Live: Class and Gender struggles in a Dublin Estate.   At the heart of this conversation, was the connection between the materiality of their combined writing, their critical reflection, art and activist practices

We also hosted an information session on the AIC Scheme Mentoring award, with mentor Aisling Byrne. We host regular information session on each of our award opportunities throughout the year, and they are about answering any questions you might have about making an application for funding.



In May we were delighted to announce Grace Dyas, an artist and activist with nearly 20 years of experience making socially engaged art, as the recipient of the Create and National Women’s Council Artist Residency Award. 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of NWC, the leading representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland. This anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements for women and women’s rights in Ireland and recognise the important, often invisible, contribution of women’s organisations and activists in bringing about this positive change.  The Artist Residency Award is a key artistic strand of these activities.

We also announced Silvina Sisterna as the recipient of the Create and Fire Station Artists’ Studios Artist Residency Award. Silvina is a visual artist whose work focuses on representation of migrant experiences through photography. Silvina used the time afforded by the residency to develop her socially engaged practice, reflecting on the themes and discussions in her work to date and connecting with other artists working on similar projects.

As part of our commitment to advocating for the field of collaborative and socially engaged arts, our Director Damien McGlynn spoke at the Joint Oireachtas Committee hearing on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media in May. We welcome any opportunity to speak to interested stakeholders, alongside our peers and partners in the field, to advocate for the importance of this practice.



Congratulations to all successful applicants to the AIC Scheme (Round One) in 2023, who we had the pleasure of announcing in June. You can read more about each recipient and their planned course of work, on our website.

We also had the pleasure of welcoming fourteen participants to the Summer School on Collaborative Practice and Social Change, offered in partnership with Counterpoints Arts. In a world increasingly shaped by displacement and uncertainty, the Summer School on Collaborative Practice and Social Change is framed by global and translocal frameworks.We were delighted to launch in 2023 an International Fellowship Fund that will widen access to the Summer School, generating international exchange and a growing network and alliance between artists and activists. 2023’s School focused on collaboration between artists and investigative journalists, with the aim of integrating the place-based skills of socially engaged arts practice with the forensic, storytelling skills of journalism. The Summer School on Collaborative Practice and Social Change is generously supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and The Community Foundation of Ireland.



July saw the final performance of the group brought together under the Community Engagement Through Performance Art (CEPA) project, facilitated by artist Sally Walmsley under the supervision of Dr. Marcos Dias, project lead. The CEPA project investigates the potential of performance art in urban space to be a conduit for the values, needs and desires of those displaced (in this case, Ukrainian refugees), thereby raising awareness for their situation among wider publics. This project was supported by funding from the Irish Research Council. Dr Marcos Dias (DCU) is the project lead, working in collaboration with Ukrainian Action in Ireland and Create.



In August, as part of the Creative Places Tuam programme, we worked with a local working group to offer The West’s Awake Community Weekend. We were thrilled to welcome home grown musicians, artists, crafters, performers, poets, filmmakers, singers, writers, storytellers, positive disrupters and more, to take part in a two-day festival, across nine venues, in the streets and public spaces. From emerging talents to award winning voices, the weekend was a celebration of creative Tuam, by Tuam, for the West to enjoy, with over 25 events including a live music stage, children’s activities, film screenings, a craft market, exhibitions, poetry readings, tea ceremony, audio walking tours, street performance, Tuam Herald poster type print workshops, music sessions, dancing and much, much more. This event was supported by Creative Places Tuam, Galway County Council Arts Service, The Saw Doctors, Galway Rural Development and the local community.

Over the Summer the artists awarded the Artist in the Community Scheme Artist Mentor Award began to connect with their mentors, who act as a critical friend/guide as mentees develop their projects. Over a six-month period, awardees will engage in dialogue with their mentors towards building key capacities, while interrogating and consolidating their collaborative socially engaged practice. Awardees include Isabella Catherine Dogliani, Silvina Sisterna, Maria Mc Sweeney, Vithoria Escobar and Maria Gasol, who will be mentored by Aisling Byrne, John Conway, Ruairi O’Donnabháin, Cathy Coughlan and Kate O’Shea, respectively.



August and September were both packed full of information sessions, both for the Artist in the Community Scheme Research and Development and Project Realisation Awards, and the Bursary award. We are always delighted to welcome back previous recipients to share their knowledge and experience, and invited Mary Sullivan, Dr Sinead McCann, and Cathy Coughlan this time round.



In October we hosted our annual National Networking Day, this year with the theme of Collaborating on Climate Justice. Guest speakers included the Climate Justice team from TASC, the think tank for action on social change, experienced environmental campaigner and journalist John Gibbons, artist and accredited sustainability educator Dr Cathy Fitzgerald, and a range of collaborative artists currently engaged in work related to climate justice in a panel chaired by Ala Buisir; AlanJames Burns, Sheila Flanagan and Rita Marcalo. These presentations, and a workshop facilitated by TASC, stimulated discussion amongst those present and provide a basis for developing future work in this vitally important area. Watch a short film from the day here.



In November we offered another Continued Professional Development (CPD) event; Collaborative Arts as Collective Pedagogy with Aida Sánchez de Serdio Martín. Collaborative and socially engaged arts practices involve an exchange of expertise – a form of both embodied and tacit knowledge between artists, community members and organisations. This highly nuanced, yet expert and negotiated exchange is at the heart of collaborative practice, yet it is often described simply as ‘process’. However, collaborative and socially engaged art is a form of knowledge production, where different life experiences and expertise crystallise as a form of dialogical collaborative pedagogy. Through practical exercises, this workshop built on participants’ experience to explore the grounding notions and imagine new possibilities of collaborative arts practices as processes of collective learning.

Congratulations to all successful applicants to the AIC Scheme (Round Two). In 2023, we facilitated the awarding of over €250,000 in funding, via the Artist in the Community (AIC) Scheme, the largest annual spend on AIC awards since Create began managing the scheme in 2001. In addition, over €75,000 was allocated for development work, in support, research, evaluation and networking for prospective and current applicants to the scheme this year. The Arts Council’s investment is reflective of both Create’s advocacy for and development of the AIC Scheme, as well as the growth and confidence in the field. We are pleased to have awarded 26 Research and Development awards, nine Project realisation awards, two bursaries and one artist residency in partnership with Fire Station Artists’ Studios. We have also supported five artists to engage in in-depth rigorous mentoring with professional artist mentors.

As we marked Create’s 40th anniversary this year we also saw development of our reading room and archive project. Significant progress has been made in cataloguing the archive collection of ephemera and photographs related to community cultural development in the 1980s and early 1990s, providing a great resource for any artists, academics, or activists working in the field. We are always pleased to open the space, and this year the Artist Mentor Panel and mentees, the Critical Friends group, and visiting artists including MA students from the NCAD MA in Art and Social Action, and representatives from Kunstwerkt (Belgium) made great use of the space and resources. We look forward to commencing the works on a redesigned space, led by our architects Plattenbau Studio, on site in early 2024.



We were pleased to welcome Abi Ighodaro to the office in November and December, as part of the Gap Day programme. Gap Day gives professional freelance theatre practitioners across Ireland paid time to think, dream and plan. We really enjoy being able to host Gap Day artists in our reading room and offices, and look forward to hosting more visits in 2024!

Since 2007, Create has provided access to Garda Vetting for a large number of organisations including arts centres, commissioners, production companies, arts events and festivals, film-makers, community cultural groups, and creative activities. Create has processed over 3,000 individual vetting applications this year alone, supporting the provision of arts activities to young and vulnerable people across Ireland. Please note that the Vetting service will be closed over the festive period, from the 15th December to the 16th January.

Create is pleased to announce Evelyn Broderick and Kathryn Maguire as the recipients of 2023 Artist in the Community Scheme Bursaries. The purpose of the bursary award is to support and nurture professional arts practice, for an artist in any artform who has a track record of working collaboratively with communities of place or interest in the making and interpreting of art. This is a developmental bursary aimed at practitioners who are facing particular barriers and/or challenges in developing their collaborative socially engaged arts practice.


What’s to come?

After four years and an investment of about €500,000, we are excited to work with the Arts Council and Galway County Council on the next phase of Creative Places Tuam, the pilot of the nationwide Creative Places scheme. Create has worked with many voices from Tuam including local artists, businesses, voluntary agencies, community groups, and more, to learn from this period and devise sustainable supports for the creative ambitions of the town. We are also beginning the work of archiving this stage of the project, as a lasting legacy for Tuam and the field of place-based practice.

This year, we were delighted to embark on a new partnership with The Rowan Trust, an independent foundation fighting for social justice with communities who have been pushed to the margins. Our strategic alignment offers invaluable opportunities to connect and support each other’s work to embed collaborative arts practice in social action across Ireland. The funding provided by the Rowan Trust will enable Create to embark on new experimental initiatives with a focus on equality, inclusion, and systemic change.

Our work would not be possible without the support of our funders, the Arts CouncilDublin 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 socially engaged and collaborative artists and community members, who we are proud to support and work with on a daily basis.