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Arts Council project to preserve culture on West Cork’s islands

July 10th, 2021 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

Bere Island, Dursey Island, Whiddy Island, Heir Island, Long Island, Oilean Chleire and Sherkin Island are all set to benefit from the three year investment plan to develop and sustain new creative opportunities.

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RESIDENTS on seven West Cork Islands will benefit from a three year €450,000 investment programme to develop and sustain new creative opportunities for all age groups.

‘The Creative Places, West Cork Islands’ programme is an innovative project that will be rolled out over a three-year period on Bere Island, Dursey Island, Whiddy Island, Heir Island, Long Island, Oilean Chleire and Sherkin Island.

The programme aims to strengthen existing local contemporary and traditional arts practice and create long-term community-led engagement in the arts. It’s also about the preservation and promotion of unique island cultures.

The County Council is heading a consortium of local arts and development agencies to deliver the project which includes Bere Island Projects Group, Sherkin Island Development Society, Comharchumann Chléire and Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre.

Each programme will have a coordinator or researcher who will begin local conversations to discuss and plan a range of creative and participatory projects for local people to take part in and enjoy. The scheme will create employment for coordinators, artists and researchers interested in place based arts development.

Cllr Gillian Coughlan said island communities are very important to the local authority.

‘Although, our Islands may be subject to certain economic pressures and are more remote in terms of geography, they are also innovative and resilient.  The Arts Council’s commitment to sustain investment through the scheme over a three-year period will allow the necessary time to develop and deliver a range of initiatives to support sustainable artist and community engagement on each of these islands. Ann Davoren, director at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre said they were delighted to be a key partner in the scheme: ‘The project is focused on building capacity in the arts, in socially engaged practice, in extending the range of, and embedding, creative opportunities for island communities and in so doing, to underpin the capacity for living in remote and rural island and coastal environments.’

Aisling Moran, Community Development Co-ordinator with Sherkin Island Development Society added: ‘The West Cork Islands have a lot to offer and we are looking forward to learning, creating and sharing this project with everyone.’

John Walsh Manager of Bere Island Projects Group said: ‘This project has the potential to make the islands off West Cork creative places for our communities and for national and international artists.’

Máirtín Ó Méalóid, Bainisteoir, Comharchumann Chléire Teoranta said: ‘As a partner in this project I feel that it will provide a wonderful range of opportunities for community participation in the development of arts infrastructure for the future.’

Director of the Arts Council, Maureen Kennelly said it was important that public investment in the arts reaches and benefits more people in a sustained and meaningful way.

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