REPRESENTATIVES from Sherkin underlined how the arts degree programme is ‘vital to the island’ when they met members of the Joint Committee for Culture, Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs recently.
Majella O’Neill Collins, a founder and facilitator of the DIT-accredited Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts, and Aisling Moran, the co-ordinator for Sherkin Island Development Society, spoke about the success of the programme and what it contributes to the Island community, as well as the wider West Cork community.
Majella O’Neill Collins, who has been involved in the programme for last 17 years, explained: ‘A show for the degree course runs for two days and attracts an estimated 1,000 people to the island.
‘Many artists, writers, poets and musicians live on the island, but the population from September to May increases substantially, which makes a huge difference to the pubs and restaurants, as well as the hotel and the hostel.
‘In the winter, it creates an extra buzz. Without it, the island would be dead during those months. The artist bring life to the community because they stay for weekends and do art projects, such as installations and videos.’
Aisling Moran said the programme’s organisers are delighted with the financial support they get from the Department and Cork County Council, but, she said: ‘The funding process is still an issue.
‘This is a community of 100 people and we must find a sustainable method of funding it so the members of the community – who did something positive in organising it – do not have to find €60,000 up front to fund it.’
She said such an undertaking is not sustainable for a small community in rural Ireland, so they are proposing a meeting where everybody could discuss how to fund it, or if there is a way of pre-funding it.
Aisling Moran said the Sherkin Island Development Society can provide the reports – all the facts and figures – about the programme, but she said it is up to everyone, working together, to find a solution.
The next BA in Visual Arts, has a new intake of students this September.