Cultural Playing Field

Running Your Group Weekly, 17 December 2012 by Robin Simpson
December 21, 2012, 11:16 am
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On Monday afternoon I hosted the last Running Your Group Weekly of the year. Kevin, Daniel and I were joined by special guest John McBride from North West Volunteer Centre. John is the Volunteer Co-ordinator for Derry/Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 and spoke about the City of Culture volunteering programme, given us details of some of the planned initiatives and a sneak preview of some of the major events that will be taking place in Derry/Londonderry next year. The City of Culture programme sounds very exciting and it’s great to see volunteering at the heart of the plans.

Kevin using Running Your Group Weekly to announce a new initiative offering amateur artists and voluntary groups the opportunity to help celebrate Derry/Londonderry UK City of Culture in 2013 by putting on special events in the Verbal Arts Centre during the year. ‘Our City of Culture’, an initiative of Voluntary Arts Ireland and the Verbal Arts Centre, invites amateur groups to make their own contribution to the 2013 celebrations by putting on a special event or performance in the historic Verbal Arts Centre on the city walls, see:

You can watch the recording of Running Your Group Weekly at:

Running Your Group Weekly will return at 5 pm on Monday 7 January.

Robin Simpson.


Luminate Festival strategy group meeting by Robin Simpson
December 14, 2012, 2:32 pm
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I was in Edinburgh on Thursday to take part in a meeting of the Luminate Festival Strategy Group at Creative Scotland. We reflected on the first Luminate Festival – Scotland’s Creative Ageing Festival – and agreed it had been very successful. There were 282 events, reflecting a wide range and diversity of activity across Scotland. There were some geographical gaps in the festival’s coverage and we discussed how to address this for the 2013 festival.

Robin Simpson.

Running Your Group Weekly, 10 December 2012 by Robin Simpson
December 14, 2012, 2:31 pm
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On Monday I hosted this week’s Running Your Group Weekly in which Kevin and I reflected on our ‘Digital Creativity and the New Amateur’ seminar in Cork last week. Watch the recording at: and do join us there next Monday at 5 pm.

Robin Simpson.

Put Your Best Pencil Forward by Robin Simpson
December 7, 2012, 4:59 pm
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On Thursday afternoon we launched an exhibition of drawings from the Voluntary Arts Ireland ‘Put Your Best Pencil Forward’ project at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery in Cork. Put Your Best Pencil Forward was part of The Big Draw – a national campaign to encourage more people to get actively involved in drawing. We received over 230 entries from all over the UK and Ireland which are displayed on the VAI Facebook page. Curators from the Lewis Glucksman Gallery then chose their favourite 20 drawings to be exhibited in their prestigious gallery space. Some of the chosen amateur artists were present on Thursday to see their drawings displayed in the gallery. It was great to see the high quality of the drawings and to see amateur artists getting proper recognition from the professional arts world. You can watch the video compilation of the chosen drawings at

Robin Simpson.

Digital Creativity and the New Amateur, Cork by Robin Simpson
December 7, 2012, 4:57 pm
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On Thursday I was at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery in Cork where I hosted the third in our series of seminars on ‘Digital Creativity and the New Amateur’. It was a fascinating conversation with local amateur and professional artists which looked at the increasing range of opportunities to share artistic work digitally and the attendant difficulties of getting your work noticed. We also discussed copyright issues, opportunities for online peer support, feedback and encouragement and the continuing importance of local groups and the opportunity to meet face-to-face.

Robin Simpson.

Arts & Volunteering Toolkit launch, Belfast by Robin Simpson
December 7, 2012, 4:56 pm
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It was International Volunteers Day on Wednesday and I was at The MAC in Belfast for the launch of our Arts & Volunteering Toolkit. The toolkit, originally developed by Voluntary Arts England and Volunteering England, was adapted for use in Northern Ireland by Voluntary Arts Ireland and Volunteer Now. Wendy Osborne from Volunteer Now said all research shows that where volunteers are well managed there is greater impact. She hoped that the toolkit will be used by arts organisations across Northern Ireland to improve their volunteer management. Nick Livingstone from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland congratulated Voluntary Arts Ireland and its partners on developing the toolkit and said that its launch in the run up to Derry UK City of Culture 2013 could not be more timely.

Robin Simpson.