News & Updates

Sea Change: Socially Engaged Arts on the island of Ireland - A Blueprint for Change

26 Apr 2019

EVENTS: 17th-18th MAY

Cork Community Art Link and Community Arts Partnership associated with Blue Drum together with The School of Applied Social Studies UCC have developed an all-island initiative to explore, through a range of discussions and deliberations, the power of community arts to promote, advocate for and ultimately deliver positive change.


“Socially Engaged Arts on the island of Ireland - A Blueprint for Change”

17/18 May 2019 – Cork


17 May – 10.30 am to 5.30 pm Boole 1, Boole Basement, Main Campus, University College, Cork – panels and speakers
18 May – 11am to 5pm, 
The Lido, 71 Watercourse Road, Blackpool Cork – networking, discussion and blueprint development


Community Arts in Ireland has forged a variety of practices and roles incorporating and promoting ways of working, with creative and often radical approaches. Whilst collective arts practices have been employed very successfully in communities across the island, as a community of practice, socially engaged artists, organisations and participants have struggled to advance a strategic outlook for the island. At this crucial moment, as the island emerges from one century of change, to enter another, it seems timely that those artists and practitioners most concerned about working within the most vulnerable and marginal of our communities respond to these new threats and greater uncertainties.


• An all island dialogue, bringing together, in conference, practitioners, researchers, advocates and activists to share, explore and co-author a blueprint for socially engaged arts practice to promote positive change.
• Discussions, deliberations and networks will be developed over a two-day workshop/exchange with the outcome agreed and published thereafter.

Longer term

• This Blueprint to offer support and guide a series of further actions, explorations and to deepen the strategy to assist all communities to access community arts and promote better practice and lasting change. 
• Develop series of Wikipedia based articles, web-based podcasts and accessible texts to support greater sharing of practice across an all island network.


• A repository of ideas that will advocate and strengthen community arts practice on the island of Ireland and beyond.
• A shared observatory and platform combining opportunities to reflect on practice, regard others’ work and develop co-operative community arts opportunities beyond local neighbourhoods or nations, and celebrate common allegiances and alignments to increase cultural democracy.


Culture, can be the preserve of the privileged few or instead, it can be the building block that strengthens our democracy, celebrated as a basic human right, helping to create a world where all people are free to enjoy the benefits of self-expression, access to resources and community.
- Manifesto for Cultural Democracy 2018


Friday 17 May 

Keynote speakers
Francois Matarasso; community art worker, writer and researcher who recently published A Restless Art; How Participation Won and Why it Matters 
Ed Carol; The Blue Drum Agency - advancing cultural rights, creativity and resilience in communities. 
Rita Fagan; Manager Family Resource Centre CDP, community activist and social justice campaigner.
Carol Kane; Freelance artist, facilitator, Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding facilitator and project co-ordinator
Ann O’Connor; Head of Arts Participation at Arts Council of Ireland / An Chomhairle Ealaíon

Rosie Meade; School of Applied Social Studies UCC, conference chair

As well as keynote speeches and presentations there will be two panels; one in the morning, one in the afternoon, each with five panellists engaging in conversation and debate about community and participatory arts. Time will be allotted at the end for audience questions.

Sea Change Day 1 Eventbrite Ticket Registration


Saturday 18 May 
Key note addresses by video
Franco Bianchini; Professor of Cultural Policy and Director of the Institute for Research on Culture and the Creative Industries, University of Hull 
-Key issues around cultural development, participation and engagement
Conor Shields; CEO of Community Arts Partnership, Belfast
-New Culturally Democratic Possibility is just around the corner but, is that still out of reach?

Saturday will also see large scale networking sessions, where questions will be explored to help frame the debate and engagement and more generally assist to develop a range of blueprints and ideas for future collaborative working across Ireland. In collaboration with the Conor Shields participation on the FMH Association Marcel Hicter pour la Démocratie Culturelle European Diploma Programme, this process will further develop an observatory of culturally democratic community arts practice across, not just across the island of Ireland but well beyond, across the EU into Africa and Palestine. This shared platform will enable further learning, collaboration, advocacy and a platform for further co-operative developmental practice and projects.


Sea Change Day 2 Eventbrite Ticket Registration


NB: This is a free event but booking is essential.


Civic & Community Engagement

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