Building Capacity for Cultural Industries: Towards a Shared-Island Approach took place from December 2021 – November 2022.

British Council were delighted to be a core research partner in this research which makes a seminal contribution to understanding cross-island relationships, policies and practices in the performing arts on the island of Ireland. By comparing government arts spending in Ireland and Northern Ireland, classifying cross-jurisdictional relations, including financial relations, and providing an overview of existing frameworks, agencies and entities, this research considers the key inter-related areas and cross-cutting policies that support cooperative, and competitive, relations in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It highlights the need for further discussion, continued collaborative research and ongoing support to enable and build the performing arts on the island of Ireland.

The research saw individuals in academia and the arts worked together to collate and explore existing and new data regarding the extent to which the professional performing arts currently operates through a shared-island approach and what might enable or hinder the nurturing of shared-island ties. The work involved a literature review and data audit as well as a series of workshops, focus groups, and interviews that involved hearing from and valuing the experiences of broader groups of individuals and organisations engaging in the professional performing arts across the island. Dr. Milena Dragićević Šešić, prof. emerita, former President of University of Arts, Belgrade, Founder of UNESCO Chair in Interculturalism, Art Management and Mediation served as an international advisor. 

Funded by the Irish Research Council’s (IRC) New Foundations Scheme 2021, under the Shared Island Initiative Strand supported by the Shared Island Unit (SIU) in the Department of the Taoiseach, this project brought together new and existing academic and sector-based research to understand how all-island relations within the professional, publicly-subsidised performing arts of dance and theatre may be nurtured. 

The process culminated in a final report of findings which was submitted to the Department of the Taoiseach’s Shared Island Unit in December 2022, and which is available to read here or to download below.

The project was led by Dr Victoria Durrer (University College Dublin) in partnership with Dr Aoife McGrath (Queen’s University Belfast), and representatives from Theatre & Dance Northern Ireland, Arts Council Northern Ireland, Dance Ireland and Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre. Cavan County Council Arts Office, British Council Ireland and Arts Council Ireland / An Chomhairle Ealaíon are core research participants with Dr Emma McAlister supporting the work as Research Assistant. 

This project has since been placed as runner-up in the UCD Impact Case Study Competition 2023. You can see more information on this in the video below.

Text on plain background that reads "By working together we can affect change."

Workshops

Workshop 1: Establishing Common Ground 

28 February 2022, University College Dublin

The first of four workshops included the core group meeting at the UCD Campus on 28th February 2022. The aim of this workshop was to capture what capacity building might be required to nurture shared-island connections in the performing arts industry, with a focus on theatre and dance. Small groups discussed their initial expectations and questions relevant to the project. The outcomes of this are available in Discussion Paper 1 below.

Workshop 2: Understanding Cross-Island Working

9 May  2022, Queen’s University Belfast

The second workshop was held at Queen’s University Belfast on the 9th May 2022. the invited group included 15 additional professionals comprising local authority arts and cultural officers, arts managers and researchers with a range of interests, including cultural policy, social policy and spatial and regional planning to share their expertise with the core group. The outcomes of this are available in Discussion Paper 2 below.