Cross-Island Cultural Policy

Building Capacity for Cultural Industries: Towards a Shared-Island Approach

Download the Final Report: Building Capacity for Cultural Industries: Towards a Shared-Island Approach for Dance and Theatre

Funded by the Irish Research Council’s (IRC) New Foundations Scheme 2021, under the Shared Island Initiative Strand (8) supported by the Shared Island Unit (SIU) in the Department of the Taoiseach, this project brought together new and existing academic and sector-based research to understand how all-island relations within the professional, publicly-subsidised performing arts of dance and theatre may be nurtured.

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Individuals in academia and the arts worked together to collate and explore existing and new data regarding the extent to which the professional performing arts currently operates through a shared-island approach and what might enable or hinder the nurturing of shared-island ties. The Core Research Group, further detailed in the report, agreed on working principles that emphasise sharing and critical debate that are mutually respectful and equally valuing of one another’s perspective and experience.

The work involved a literature review and data audit as well as a series of workshops, focus groups, and interviews that involved hearing from and valuing the experiences of broader groups of individuals and organisations engaging in the professional performing arts across the island. Dr. Milena Dragićević Šešić, prof. emerita, former President of University of Arts, Belgrade, Founder of UNESCO Chair in Interculturalism, Art Management and Mediation served as an international advisor.

The process culminated in a final report of findings to the Department of the Taoiseach’s Shared Island Unit.

Discussion papers from two workshops are available to read as well: 

The project was led by Dr Victoria Durrer (University College Dublin) in partnership with Dr Aoife McGrath (Queen’s University Belfast), and representatives from Theatre & Dance Northern Ireland, Arts Council Northern Ireland, Dance Ireland and Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre. Cavan County Council Arts Office, British Council Ireland and Arts Council Ireland / An Chomhairle Ealaíon are core research participants with Dr Emma McAlister supporting the work as Research Assistant.

Cross Border Cultural Policy in Practice

Cross Border Cultural Policy in Practice took place at The Garage Theatre, Monaghan Education Campus, Armagh Road, Monaghan on Fri 9 November 2018, 10:00am – 4pm

Those engaging in the amateur, voluntary, commercial and publicly-subsidised cultural sector gathered together to explore a range of questions on cross border exchange in an informal, conversational setting such as:

  • Where do working relations across the border happen, how, why and in what conditions?
  • What implications does this have for cultural policy making on the island?
  • Who / what would benefit from a more joined-up approach to cultural policy on the island and how might this work?
  • What negotiations might be involved to take this to fruition?

While conscious that cultural policy in the North and South of Ireland can involve political overtones, historical hangovers and difficult reflections on cultural identity, citizenship or territory, the geographical proximity of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, can also provide opportunities for thinking productively about cultural policy as an all-island endeavour.

Cross-border working is a particular area in which these issues are addressed. For instance, there are already precedents in well-established links in the fields in sport, health, arts, education and justice where North-South policy alignment and shared working, frequently take place to the benefit of all.

While Brexit was not the focus of our discussion, it has become the inescapable backdrop for future working relations, practices and policies in relation to the cultural sector on the island of Ireland, and is thus an inevitable and important context we took into account.

Participants included Prof. Cathal McCall, Queen’s University Belfast; Prof. Daire Keogh, Deputy President, Dublin City University; Monika Sapielak, Director at the Centre for Creative Practices and ArtConnected Opportunities; Dick Gleeson, (former) City Planner, Dublin City Council; Raquel McKee, Spoken Word Artist, Independent Arts Manager and Performer, with sessions hosted by Tania Banotti, Director Creative Ireland, and Cathy Bennett, Public Representative, Monaghan County Council and Operations Manager, The Garage Theatre.

Organised by the North South Social Innovation Network and Cultural Policy Observatory Ireland