The Savoy Hotel hosted a World Cafe event on Tuesday, May 16th to have the opinions and ideas of the public be heard on the city’s arts and culture.
The consultation event’s aims were to have local culture groups, creative practitioners, festival organisers, community groups and individuals contribute their views which will then form the recommendations that will go to the council on a new model for culture and the arts in Limerick.
The recommendations made will feed into future plans in the strategic investment in culture across the city and county.
Neil Peterson moderated the meeting and gave a thorough presentation about how exactly the public’s ideas will be implemented into the city’s plans for arts and culture. Peterson is the Director and Founder of Inside Track, a consultancy group which focuses on helping clients to deliver positive social and economic changes.
In 2005, Neil joined the Liverpool Culture Company to lead the Liverpool welcome programme in the build-up to Liverpool’s 2008 years as European Capital of Culture. Neil said: “Limerick has come a long way in terms of culture and what we wanted to do today is to look at the journey the city has come on and how we got to this point.”
He continued: “What’s really exciting about working in Limerick, is its clear that from what the Mayor said and from what the councillors have said, that culture is central to the vision for the future of Limerick.”
Mayor of the city and county, Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon said: “This event was an ideal opportunity to hear what the people in the sector feel should be done to help expand and develop the Limerick arts and culture scene.”
Director of Culture and Arts, Josephine Cotter-Coughlan said: “We believe that by working more strategically together with the culture and arts sector we can strengthen the arts, improve public participation in the arts, and secure and sustain a vibrant arts infrastructure.”
From listening to the feedback of all the discussions that took place at the World Café Event, and through analysing all the Facilitators Notes, the Cross Party Culture and Arts Working Group gathered your recommendations which are outlined below.
Public Engagement: Developed in partnership with the arts sector, this should focus on creating more affordable, accessible, family friendly, fun events especially for children and young people.
Transparency is central to the new model: A need for better accountability through clearly communicated arts and culture policy and defined funding streams from the local authority as well as a reasonable lead in times.
Peer Panels: Clarity and transparency that these are made up of expert and informed practitioners and people that are independent with no conflicts of interest, leading to fair and unbiased decisions, based on published criteria. Offering feedback on unsuccessful applications can help with future opportunities. Funding decisions and awards should be published and based on merit
Review resources available: Particularly funding, which may require redistribution, again based on merit, and pooling aiming for more capacity building and sustainability. There is a need to support equality of opportunity.
Partnership model: It is essential to include the voice of Artists and Producers in decision-making and governance processes for the new model. Ensure that the Culture and Art Working Group has an equal balance of stakeholders. The group should be made up of Artists and Producers, Elected Representatives and Local Authority Arts Staff, and can be refreshed every 2-3 years.
Remuneration of Artists: This was seen as a key principle, artists deserve to be paid professional, sustainable rates. Artists should be able to afford to live and work in Limerick. A model for social and cooperative housing for artists should be made available.
Community-based arts centre: Limerick needs a central culture hub; made up of studios, work spaces and meeting rooms.
Balance of County and City: More balance is needed between arts provision for the county as well as city-based events. Projects and festivals could tour to both the city and county, with shared publicity, encouraging cultural mobility.
Communications: This needs clearer focus and improvement, from information on resources through to centralised cultural information and ticketing.
Evaluation and evidence base: Funding and events need support to capture and map experience and develop evaluations. Arts and culture in Limerick should have a clear evidence based, not purely in numbers or bed nights but also acknowledging the social impact – art and culture can transform.
Acknowledge voluntary inputs: Voluntary hours, labour and investment by artists, the arts community and participants need to be acknowledged and recognised.
Recognise and value the arts: It should be clear and evident that the arts and culture are valued, respected and acknowledged.