Cultural Playing Field

Living Together Giving Together by Robin Simpson
February 25, 2011, 5:45 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , ,

On Friday I was at Stormont in Belfast to take part in ‘Living Together Giving Together’ – a Celebration of Volunteering in Sports, Arts and Faith-based Organisations, organised by Voluntary Arts Ireland. This event was the culmination of ‘Another Way In’, Voluntary Arts Ireland’s two-year cross-border project in partnership with the Gaelic Athletic Association, Church of Ireland and City Church Belfast, which was funded jointly by the Northern Ireland Assembly Department for Social Development and the Republic of Ireland Government Department for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs. Opening the event, the Northern Ireland Minister for Social Development, Alex Attwood, said he was sorry that the Republic of Ireland Minister, Pat Carey, was unable to be present because of the general election. Alex Attwood stressed that the project had been jointly funded by the Belfast and Dublin administrations and was working across the border, “bringing organisations from different backgrounds together to demonstrate the wider potential of volunteering”. The Minister commended the work that Voluntary Arts Ireland and the other partner organisations are doing. The keynote speaker, cultural broker Peter Jenkinson, spoke about the need to be “bigger than self” and urged organisations to “make friends with strange people”. He said it is increasingly important to make connections, break down barriers and put people together. Don Sexton, from the Department for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs in Dublin, said there was now “a recognition that the Third Sector is part of the solution” and that “the infrastructure has to be protected”. At the end of the event Maeve Walls, from the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development, announced that “in recognition of the work done, the Minister is encouraging the partner organisations to make an application for funding for another year of this project”. This was excellent news at the end of a great event and what has been a fantastic project. Congratulations to Kevin and Tony for organising the celebration and to Isobel for all her work on ‘Another Way In’. And many thanks to the members of Larne Youth Arts Co-operative who spent the day recording vox pops interviews with many of the delegates (including the Minister) – I look forward to seeing these on the website and Facebook shortly.

Robin Simpson.


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