New arts project beats to its own rhythm

  • The Autonomy Project

A new arts project has been launched in Limerick which will harness the power and the resurgence of activism within young people.

The Autonomy Project is a bold and exciting initiative that focuses on a global resurgence in art and Youth activism, providing a platform to explore how we can express individual autonomy in our society.

It is funded by an Arts Council Invitation to Collaboration Award.

Funding was awarded after Limerick City and County Council’s Arts Office along with Lisa McLoughlin, who will run the project, posed the questions: “What is the relationship between the individual and society? And how can artists help young people to explore and develop their own sense of independence, freedom and self-determination?

This might seem like a big question and will demand of the participants to think about the world and discuss its many faults and problems. But through this questioning, it will also show how art can be a powerful political tool and perhaps generate social change.

The United Nations Convention on Human Rights enshrines the right of young people to express their views in matters affecting them and have their opinions given due weight commensurate with age and maturity. This project proposes to provide a platform to the young people of Limerick to explore, through art, how they can express themselves across a range of issues such as identity, gender orientation, social justice and voice.

The Autonomy Project

Lisa McLoughlin, who is a dance artist and academic and who will lead The Autonomy Project said “Focusing on a global resurgence in art and youth activism, The Autonomy Project will bring together the work of internationally recognised artists, Limerick based youth groups and academics to explore the theme of autonomy across a wide spectrum of voices or perspectives. At its centre, Phase One of this project proposes to ask the young artists of Limerick: what do you want to change and how?”

Limerick City and County Council’s Culture and Arts Officer Sheila Deegansaid: “The Arts Council strategy for public engagement in the arts includes a focus on young people and they state ‘We will make provision for children and young people a key focus of our relationship with local government’. Alongside this strategic objective, the Taoiseach launched Creative Youth – A Plan to Enable the Creative Potential of Every Child and Young Person. Limerick is leading the way with the Autonomy Project in delivering these strategic objectives and with the Autonomy Project we recognise that young people are the curators of their own lived experience, navigating the daily realities of life in a way which is both unique and familiar to them.”

Phase One of The Autonomy Project will be delivered in partnership with organisations such as Limerick Youth Theatre, Dance Limerick, The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, Music Generation and GOSHH with a performance at Limerick Fringe in April 2018.

An international symposium with contributors on art and autonomy will also take place in April at the University of Limerick, led by Dr Niamh Nic Ghabhann.