3 July 2021
By Tom Collins
West Cork and its seven Island communities are set to benefit from a three-year €450,000 programme to develop and sustain new creative opportunities for all age groups, through the Arts Council’s ‘Creative Places Programme’.
‘The Creative Places, West Cork Islands’ programme is an innovative development and community engagement project that will be rolled out over a three-year period on Bere Island, Dursey Island, Whiddy Island, Heir Island, Long Island, Oilean Chleire and Sherkin Island. The programme aims to strengthen existing local contemporary and traditional arts practice and create long-term community-led engagement in the arts.
Reacting to the announcement, the new Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Gillian Coughlan said,
“We are delighted to receive a ‘Creative Places’ designation for West Cork and its inhabited Islands. Our island communities are very important to us in Cork County Council. Although, our Islands may be subject to certain economic pressures and are more remote in terms of geography, they are also innovative and resilient. The Arts Council’s commitment to sustain investment through the Creative Places Scheme over a three-year period will allow the necessary time to develop and deliver a range of initiatives to support sustainable artist and community engagement on each of these islands. Cork County Council has undertaken a considerable amount of Arts development work in West Cork and on the islands and this ‘Creative Places’ award will enable us to work with our local partners to bring this work to an entirely new level.”
Cork County Council is heading a consortium of local arts and development agencies that includes Bere Island Projects Group, Sherkin Island Development Society, Comharchumann Chléire and Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre.
The programme’s ambitions include strengthening the interconnectedness of the islands, supporting creative community engagement with climate adaptation & digital technology and giving expression to what it is to be an islander focusing on the lived experience of inhabitants, which is governed to a large extent by nature, tides, weather and climate change.
Ann Davoren, Director at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre said ,
“As an organisation concerned with the development of the arts in rural areas, and with issues of access to, and participation in, the arts for all sectors of society, Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre is delighted to be a key partner in Creative Places: The West Cork Islands. The project is focused on building capacity in the arts, in socially engaged practice, in extending the range of, and embedding, creative opportunities for island communities and in so doing, to underpin the capacity for living in remote and rural island and coastal environments.”
Aisling Moran, Community Development Co-ordinator with Sherkin Island Development Society noted that
“This funding will build skills, create links both inter island and inter-generational. It will bring us all together to have the opportunity to create something new and exciting. The West Cork Islands have a lot to offer and we are looking forward to learning, creating and sharing this project with everyone. We are very grateful to the Arts Council and Cork County Council for supporting the application.”
A key part of this programme will be creating opportunities for artists and communities to work together through socially engaged practice that positively impacts on islanders’ ongoing cultural participation and the preservation & promotion of unique island cultures.
John Walsh Manager of Bere Island Projects Group expressed his delight to hear that the West Cork Islands have been chosen to be a ‘Creative Place’,
“This project has the potential to make the islands off West Cork creative places for our communities and for national and international artists. We look forward to working with our other partners and the County Council on this exciting development”
Máirtín Ó Méalóid, Bainisteoir, Comharchumann Chléire Teoranta said,
“We welcome the support through this long-term investment, which gives recognition to the work that has been ongoing to develop the West Cork Islands as centres of arts and culture. As a partner in this project I feel that it will provide a wonderful range of opportunities for community participation in the development of arts infrastructure for the future.”
Director of the Arts Council, Maureen Kennelly said,
“We are delighted to be significantly investing in these places in this focused manner. It is very important to us that public investment in the arts reaches and benefits more people in a sustained and meaningful way. We look forward to seeing the ambitious new projects that these inspiring communities create together, and we are excited by the prospect of supporting them to celebrate and animate new places.”