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5 arts initiatives making waves right now

With arts sector funding receiving cuts every year, private arts funding is stepping into the breach. We take a look at the arts initiatives that together with support of businesses are leading the way.

Irish business have a long tradition of supporting the arts. The Allianz Business to Arts Awards recognise business, artists and arts organisations that develop creative partnerships, bring the arts and artists into mutually beneficial partnerships across society. Here are just some partnerships making waves. Check out the Business to Arts supplement in today’s Sunday Independent or online.

St. Michael’s House Multi-Sensory Stories

This initiative first began in 2013 when KPMG partnered with St. Michael’s House to create Multi-Sensory Stories. The Multi-Sensory Stories reading-pack is an imaginative sensory developmental aid for young children with intellectual disabilities and their families. The idea behind the pack grew from the work of two of the organisation’s home teachers, Mairead Naughton and Maria Nolan’s, who have worked with young children with intellectual disabilities and their families.

The aim of the pack is to improve children’s sensory development and awareness. Each pack contains specially written stories and a range of props that bring the story to life by touch, smell, sight, and sound. Both the stories and packs were created by KPMG staff, highlighting that it’s not just monetary assistance that is deemed valuable.

The Multi-Sensory Stories project won Best Creative Staff Engagement Award at the Allianz Business to Arts Awards 2015.

Cliona Harmey’s ‘Dublin Ships’

‘Dublin Ships’ is an innovative project by artist Cliona Harmey, commissioned by Dublin City Council, which has sparked the curiosity of Dublin commuters. The project’s aim was to reconnect the work of the sometimes forgotten Dublin port with the citizens of the city. This was achieved by placing large digital screens on the Scherzer Bridges in the capital's docklands (in front of the national convention centre) showing the movement of the ships at the port. The ships are displayed in real time on the screens as they move in and out of Dublin Port. Such was the interest and success of sparking conversations about the port - a key aim of the project - the project has been extended to run until November 2015.

Cliona Harmey’s ‘Dublin Ships’ project won Jim McNaughton Perpetual Award for Best Commissioning Practice at the Allianz Business to Arts Awards 2015.


Pallas Projects/Studios

Pallas Projects/Studios is a non-profit art space that has been striving to support new Irish artists all over Dublin since its inception in 1996, recent cuts however have diminished the institution’s capacity to continue developing opportunities for Irish contemporary art and the work of new artists.

With that in mind, Pallas Projects/Studios partnered up with Whyte’s Auctioneers to hold a New York style gala fundraising auction. The event introduced contemporary artists’ work to auction-goers and the public at large and encouraged Irish people to engage with and invest in the work of Ireland’s living artists.

Whyte’s Auctioneers who usually deal in the secondary-market and not directly with Irish artists themselves have chosen to support the initiative and forgo their fee and commission for the event. All artists involved on the night donated their work in order to promote and help sustain a pillar of the grassroots non-profit sector - Pallas Projects/Studios.

Pallas Projects/Studios and Whyte’s Auctioneers won the daa €5,000 Arts Award at the Allianz Business to Arts Awards 2015.


Super Paua – Aunty Ben

Super Paua is a theatre company set up in 2013 that has created Ireland’s first ever LGBT play for young children. Aunty Ben tackles the issues of gender identity and bullying. The play uses humour in an age-appropriate way to champion diversity. The story follows a 9-year old girl called Tracey who lives with her mother and uncle, who happens to be a drag queen, who she calls Aunty Ben. For her this is normal, but when friends start to make fun of Aunty Ben, the children go on a journey of understanding together. Director Sian Ni Mhuiri commented: “The main thrust of the show is children standing up to bullying and adversity, and trying to figure out how you can be yourself”.

Super Paua and Aunty Ben won the Allianz €5,000 Community Art Prize at the Allianz Business to Arts Awards 2015.

Sing Out With Strings - Irish Chamber Orchestra

Sing Out With Strings is an Irish Chamber Orchestra workshop initiative in singing, song-writing and violin tuition for 300 children across Limerick city. Inspired by El Sistema, the Venezuelan model of music education, which provides free instrumental and vocal tuition countrywide, Sing Out With Strings has gained a significant place within the musical fabric of primary music provision in Limerick’s regeneration process. The project is uniting communities, building local pride, creating vehicles for expression, stimulating emotional responses and developing tangible musical knowledge and skills.

Sing Out With Strings by Irish Chamber Orchestra was ‘Highly Commended’ in the Best Long Term Partnership category at the Allianz Business to Arts Awards 2015.

All of these projects and initiatives have been awarded or highly commended at the Allianz Business to Arts Awards. Check out the Arts to Business supplement

The awards have recognised businesses, artists and arts organisations that develop creative partnerships, bringing the arts and artists into mutually beneficial relationships across society.

As well as arts sponsorship, the Awards recognise examples of arts and business organisations working together in other areas such as mentoring, training, events, staff engagement or development, commissioning artists, CSR initiatives, community engagements etc.

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