24 February 2018
By Mary Bermingham
New partnership between UCC and Cork Opera House boosts Cork’s reputation as city of learning and culture
The stage is set for one of the most exciting collaborations in the history of Irish theatre between University College Cork and Cork Opera House. An eight-year partnership will see these two organisations work together to educate and inspire the next generation of arts managers, creative practitioners and professionals which will have a significant impact on the arts industry. The collaboration will establish Cork Opera House as a Learning Theatre and will enrich the student experience in UCC.
The partnership was launched on Tuesday, February 20th
The partnership is an Irish first: A formal partnership of this nature, scope and duration has never taken place between an Irish theatre and a university
The partnership will include internships for UCC students in Cork Opera House and the development of an MA in Arts and Cultural Management, a theatre artist in residence and a jointly-funded PhD programme.
The partnership reflects UCC’s strategic priorities: to strengthen its relationship with the city, to enhance Cork as a city of learning and culture and to engage more actively in the community
The partnership will enable UCC to host large-scale international conferences using the Opera House facilities which will enhance UCC’s academic reputation and give an economic boost to the city
UCC will invest €60k (plus VAT) annually over the eight-year period of this partnership from non-exchequer funding
The partnership will be represented by a roof sign on the Cork Opera House building highlighting Cork’s status as a city of learning and culture reflected in this new partnership, replacing the ‘Toyota’ sign.
The multi-layered UCC-Cork Opera House partnership will facilitate students becoming interns at the theatre. The internships will include the areas of organisational management, marketing, production, business development and stage management. This aspect of the partnership supports the national target set out recently by Mr Richard Bruton, Minister for Education and Skills of providing all higher education students with the opportunity to undertake work-placement as part of their studies by 2025.
Cork Opera House and the UCC School of Music & Theatre will collaborate on the research and development of a new MA in Arts & Cultural Management which will begin in 2019.
A Theatre Artist in Residence will undertake development work at Cork Opera House which will inform his/her contribution to teaching in the UCC School of Music & Theatre as well as to the broader University population.
A jointly-funded PhD programme will be launched exploring the impact of Cork Opera House on Cork and the southern region for the last 163 years. This academic research piece will use the expertise in Opera / Opera Archival Studies that exists in the School of Music & Theatre at UCC.
The partnership also represents smart utilisation of Cork city’s assets. Cork Opera House will provide UCC with access to a 900-seat auditorium at preferential rates which the University will use for large student events and to increase UCC’s conferencing offering. This will enhance the University’s reputation, generate income for the University and provide a major economic boost to the city.
UCC and Cork Opera House branding will be displayed throughout the Opera House and on the iconic tower reflecting the nature of this partnership whose institutions are deeply embedded in the educational, cultural and economic fabric of the city. It reinforces and enhances Cork’s reputation for culture and education through its designation as a UNESCO City of Learning 2017 and as one of eight EU ‘ideal’ cities for culture and creativity according to the EU’s Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor 2017-18 and it supports the aims of Creative Ireland.
UCC will invest €60k (plus VAT) annually from non-exchequer funding in the partnership over an eight-year period. This reflects the University’s leadership role in spearheading development in Munster as a counterbalance to the Dublin region which is one of the UCC’s strategic objectives.
Speaking of the new initiative Jools Gilson, Professor of Creative Practice and Head of the School of Music and Theatre at UCC, said:
“This collaboration brings two worlds together. For us, it’s the missing piece of the puzzle – we have scholarship, lively debate, exploration, and a great deal of practice-based learning in the performing arts, but we can’t replicate what it means to run a successful venue. This collaboration offers our students this practical hands-on opportunity to intern in a lively opera house in areas from stage management to marketing.”
Eibhlín Gleeson, Chief Executive of Cork Opera House, believes the new partnership will have a long-lasting impact on the Arts scene in Cork and beyond.
She said: “Our aim is to develop arts industry leaders for the future. Our two institutions are investing in the future of arts in the region. We are developing and mentoring the people who will become the producers, arts managers, technicians and heads of arts institutions in Cork and beyond. This partnership will give students access to a rounded learning experience including unique insight into the workings of Cork Opera House. We want to create a city where the arts can thrive.”
Tim Healy, Chair of Cork Opera House added: “This collaboration is unique in its structure and innovative in its ambition. There are great synergies there and we’re looking forward to the world of possibilities this partnership will generate. Beyond the direct impact of this, the wider scope of this is that we are putting Cork at the centre of this industry as the leaders and visionaries taking innovative approaches to how we learn and create together.”
While UCC President Patrick O’Shea said of the partnership: “As key institutions in Munster, Cork Opera House and University College Cork are responsible for helping shape the arts and cultural sector in our region and beyond. The partnership will provide a pioneering platform for the next generation of artists and practitioners to learn and gain experience. It will enable young artists and practitioners to enter the workforce with confidence, resilience and a deep understanding of the industry and its opportunities.