Cultural Playing Field

Arts and Civil Society Symposium, Cork by Robin Simpson
October 21, 2011, 12:08 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , ,

On Thursday and Friday I have been in Cork for the Creat and Voluntary Arts Ireland Arts and Civil Society Symposium. The event was held at Christchurch, Triskel Arts Centre – a converted church in the heart of Cork City’s shopping area. An audience of artists, arts organisations, academics, students and funders from across Ireland gathered to discuss how arts and culture can be reaffirmed at the heart of civic engagement. I chaired a breakout session looking at Measuring Artistic and Social Impact which was a practical and positive discussion about evaluation. It was particularly interesting to be talking about impact measurement again so soon after our Growing the Grassroots event in London. It was good to hear the debate about civil society and the arts in a Republic of Ireland context and to meet a wide range of people from the Irish arts sector.

Unfortunately the symposium was somewhat overshadowed for many of us by a fire that broke out just after midnight on Thursday at the hotel at which many of the delegates were staying. A large blaze in the car park behind the hotel was extinguished before it spread to the hotel building and thankfully no-one was hurt, but the hotel was filled with smoke and we were not allowed back to our rooms until 4.30 am. It was a difficult and exhausting experience and I felt sorry for the speakers on the symposium agenda on Friday morning who faced a largely shattered and drained audience.

On Friday the Carnegie UK Trust sponsored a challenge debate as part of the symposium which saw speakers from Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Italy, England and Spain discuss ‘Arts, Civil Society and Crisis’. This looked at economic, social and political change across Europe and its impact on arts and civil society.

Robin Simpson.

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