Community cultural initiative worked with more than 6,500 Dubliners to create more than 150 cultural projects in 2019
Dublin City Council Culture Company worked with 6,523 people of all ages and backgrounds from 30 neighbourhoods across the city in 2019 to create 156 cultural projects. The year also saw 14 Henrietta Street, the museum operated by the organisation, shortlisted for the prestigious European Museum of the Year Award. These and other highlights are outlined in the organisation’s annual review.
Founded in 2018, the organisation collaborates with people, communities, cultural organisations, businesses, creative and cultural experts and Dublin City Council to increase cultural participation and embed cultural experiences among everyone who lives in the city. It aims to nurture a sense of ‘cultural confidence’ among all citizens, making the city’s varied cultural offering ‘real’ and accessible, and empowering individuals to explore galleries, museums, history, creativity, and more on their own terms.
Commenting, chair of the Dublin City Council Arts, Culture and Recreation Strategic Policy Committee and Culture Company board member, Councillor Cat O’Driscoll said: “In two years, Dublin City Council Culture Company has made a visible and lasting impact on the capital’s cultural landscape, through its extensive and wide-ranging outreach programme, and through the management of cultural buildings across the city, including 14 Henrietta Street and Richmond Barracks. Last year, alongside its work with local communities, the Culture Company worked with 46 artists and developed 360 partnerships with cultural organisations. We should not understate the importance of an organisation that works in such engaging and impactful ways to ensure Dublin’s citizens are able to access the city’s rich and varied cultural offering.”
Reflecting on the year, Chief Executive of Dublin City Council Culture Company, Iseult Byrne said: “We believe that culture is at the heart of human development and quality of life, and cultural experiences and participation have been shown to have a positive impact on health and wellbeing, social relationships, belonging, community cohesion and pride of place. When people feel connected to their communities they feel safer and stronger, and are healthier. We are proud of what we’ve achieved, which demonstrates the real impact the Culture Company is having on people across the city.
“Our work always starts by listening. Through our Tea & Chats initiative, and our other conversation-based programmes, we have year-round conversations with people across Dublin about their thoughts and ideas on the city and culture, and how they should be represented in the city. By facilitating this dialogue, we ensure that local communities and individuals enjoy cultural experiences that are meaningful to them. It offers them an opportunity to create and participate in projects that are about them, for them and reflect them.
“The active listening that underpins our work is wonderfully reflected in our annual review, which is rendered as a jigsaw. Playfully illustrated by artist, Aoife Dooley it is inspired by the things we heard in our conversations with the people of Dublin through our Tea & Chats programme. She has perfectly captured the essence of our work, and the cultural vibrancy of the capital and its people.”
Culture and COVID-19
Face-to-face interaction has been a key means for the Culture Company to build relationships with the people of Dublin, so the emergence of COVID-19 has presented challenges, to which the organisation has adapted to overcome in 2020. Since the emergence of the pandemic, it has migrated its in-person programmes such as Tea & Chats, Culture Club and The National Neighbourhood to a virtual setting via Zoom, allowing it to build on the achievements of the last year and continue to provide access to cultural engagement at a challenging time. The Culture Company also set up a Culture Connects phone line for anyone who wanted to talk one-on-one about anything culture-related, and for people looking for ways to get involved in cultural activities.
Looking to the future, Ms Byrne added: “The ongoing public health crisis has allowed Dublin City Council Culture Company to demonstrate its flexibility and to continue its critical work in connecting communities with culture. Moreover, the ongoing uncertainty and strain presented by the pandemic, which has been felt by so many, has laid bare the importance of feeling connected to your community and culture, and further highlights the value of our work in this regard.”
“There are also a number of exciting projects coming to fruition to which we are looking forward. These include: the development of our programmes at Richmond Barracks, informed by the desires and interests of people in the area; our partnership with Sculpture Dublin, which will see the development of a new sculpture for Kildonan Park in Finglas, co-created by members of the community; the ongoing development of Kilmainham Mills as a new visitor attraction for the city, including a local oral history project; and our soon to be announced Historian-in-Residence for Children, who will be based at Richmond Barracks and who will develop programmes to enrich access to history for children.”
She concluded: “On behalf of the wider team at Dublin City Council Culture Company, I would like to thank all those who have participated in our initiatives to date. Although it will be in a changed manner and against a different backdrop than 2019, we are looking forward to listening to, and working with more communities and individuals this year, and collaborating further with cultural organisations and cultural experts to create opportunities for cultural participation and create connections across the city.”
For more information on the programmes offered by the Dublin City Council Culture Company, visit www.dublincitycouncilculturecompany.ie.