Council launches seven year plan for the arts
Swords Castle was the venue for the launch of the new Fingal County Council's Arts Plan 2019-2025 which will set out the strategy for arts in the county for the next seven years.
Mayor of Fingal, Councillor Eoghan O'Brien was joined by AnnMarie Farrelly, Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, Rory O'Byrne, County Arts Officer and special guest speaker Art O'Leary, Secretary-General to the President, in welcoming an audience of artists, cultural policymakers, educators, families and the general public.
The Fingal Mayor said at the launch: 'I'm delighted to be here today to officially launch the Fingal County Council Arts Plan 2019 - 2025, which sets out a vision for the development of the arts over the next seven years.
'We commend the Arts Office team on their crucial work to date, and look forward, with confidence, to what the future will bring through the implementation of this plan.'
The Arts Office team consists of Rory O'Byrne (County Arts Officer), Sarah O'Neill (Deputy Arts Officer), Julie Clarke (Youth & Education Officer), and Caroline Cowley (Public Arts Co-ordinator), all in attendance.
Speaking at the event, Rory O'Byrne said: 'We have an extensive Arts Office programme of opportunities and initiatives informed by priority policy areas, complemented by the work of two thriving arts centres - Draiocht in Blanchardstown and the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre in the Naul.'
He added: 'This plan takes account of recent developments locally and nationally. Over the next seven years, we will focus our efforts by making space for art, connecting people and ideas, enabling excellence, and developing our capacity to deliver this plan optimally.'
The content of the plan was informed by a process of public consultation that took place over six weeks from May to June 2018.
The first stage of public consultation took the form of an online survey.
The second stage of the consultation employed the 'World Café' methodology, whereby the Arts Office hosted two half-day workshops with invited stakeholders.
The Arts Office consulted with young people through their Youth & Education Programme to ensure that Fingal's significant youth demographic had their voices heard and considered in the planning and delivery of arts and cultural services in Fingal.
In addition, a workshop with the Public Participation Network was hosted by the Arts Office.
AnnMarie Farrelly, Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, said: 'Fingal County Council is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and from the very beginning the arts have been recognised as being essential to the life and wellbeing of our community.
'We are proud of our service which continues to help shape the culture of our county and to make it a better place to live, work and visit'.
Art O'Leary, Secretary-General to the President, praised the work of the art office and commented: 'Fingal is evidently a local authority committed to supporting artists and people of all ages through a quality service that reaches out across people, place and practice. It is the best arts plan that I have read to date.'
Guests were invited to experience two special exhibitions programmed for the occasion, which align with the planning and vision for Swords as a site for contemporary art in the context of the proposed new Cultural Masterplan.
Artist Michele Hetherington presented 'Talk Softly', new site-specific work at Swords Castle. Hetherington is a local Fingal artist and was the recipient of the Fingal Arts Graduate Award in 2018.
Alan James Burns presented Silicon Synapse, a Virtual Reality and psycho-acoustic installation in the historic Carnegie Library, Swords. This artwork is jointly commissioned by Fingal County Council and the European Commission's SciArt programme and is funded by Arts Council of Ireland Open Call Award.
The arts plan also features the artwork of photographer Rich Gilligan.
Originally a native of Fingal, Gilligan has been commissioned by Fingal Arts Office to document and capture the cultural landscape of the county.
This process began in August 2019 and will continue through 2020.