Work it. Project Arts Centre, Dublin

20 April 2011

Visual Arts Workers Forum and Project Arts Centre presented Work it. – the first in a series of networking forums organised by, and for, all of us working to evolve the Visual Arts in Ireland.

Work it. was a day-long event organised around the following sessions: What’s new Pussycat? on challenge and innovation; What do we want and how are we going to get there? on lobbying and action; Ethical Attitudes on what do arts workers today find important to fight for – for artists, for stakeholders, or for themselves?

For more images, see the VAWF Facebook page.

Challenge and innovation: more than ever, visual arts workers are facing the need to change, to adapt to new operating systems, budgets and policies, and to find creative solutions to formidable problems. Often reluctant to accept change, institutions are also undergoing self-inflicted surgery to try to grow artistically while shrinking economically, and to constantly step away from the coal face to consider communications, audiences, and the potential reach of contemporary art. This session aims to bring to light the most prominent problems facing four Visual Arts Workers, and the most creative, inventive, commonsensical or absurd ways forward that might help to inspire all of us working in the sector. Challenge and innovation – sometimes real innovation is born through adversity.

  • Chair: Tessa Giblin (Curator, Project Arts Centre, Dublin)
  • Speakers: Michele Horrigan (Curator, Askeaton Contemporary Arts, Limerick), Isobel Harbison (curator and critic, London), Vaari Claffey (Freelance curator), Clíodhna Shaffrey (Board member, TBG&S, Dublin)

Format: four 10 minute presentations

Isobel Harbison, during her presentation at Work it.

Action and unity: The National Campaign for the Arts kick started in 2010 amidst fear and worry about the financial future of the arts in Ireland. The campaign is lobbying to ensure the arts are on local and national government agendas and recognised as a vital part of contemporary Irish life. How can visual arts workers respond positively to the challenges facing the arts? Do we need to unite with other lobbying groups or fight our own corner? This session proposes to highlight key questions through debate.

  • Chair: Sarah Glennie (Director, Irish Film Institute, Dublin)
  • Speakers: Isabel Nolan (Artist), Tania Banotti (Chief Executive, Theatre Forum, Dublin), Dylan Haskins (Founder, Exchange Dublin), Mary McCarthy (National Sculpture Factory, Cork)

Format: panel debate / interview

Work it., the first edition of VAWF, was developed by Tessa Giblin (Project Arts Centre, Dublin), Rachael Gilbourne (Artist/Assistant Curator, Project Arts Centre, Dublin), Anne Lynott (Curatorial Fellow, MAVIS, Dublin), Emma Lucy O’Brien (VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art, Carlow) and Ruairí Ó Cuív (Dublin City Council).

Contemporary art constitutes a vast, unregulated sector, and although Ireland’s market is still at an early stage in development, the institutional, freelance and self employed arts workers of Ireland have little in the way of codes of best practice or even acceptable limits to guide them in our best to do business fairly. This session aims to prise apart attitudes to fiscal transparency, the use and advantages of contracts, the relationship of the visual arts in Ireland to the international art market, and the problems and pitfalls of working within an unregulated system. If your ethical attitude within the visual arts is of your own making, what do workers today find important to fight for – for artists, for stakeholders, and for themselves?

  • Chair: Ruairí Ó Cuív (Public Art Manager, Dublin City Council)
  • Speakers: Valerie Connor (Freelance), Finola Jones (Director, mother’s tankstation, Dublin), Rosie Lynch (Independent Curator), Mick Wilson (Dean, The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, Dublin)

Format: four 10 minute presentations