Be Part! Creative Europe Project (2020 – 2023) Art BEyond PARTicipation. Towards a better understanding of the entanglements between power, politics, place and publics in arts practice.
Cork Midsummer Festival believes that access to the arts should be for everyone. Working with communities through participation projects is fundamental to Cork Midsummer Festival’s ethos. As a member of BE PART, a four-year Creative Europe collaboration initiative, developing ethical protocols for creative participation in the art. Cork Midsummer Festival with community partners are supporting Irish and international artists developing new participatory artworks from 2020-2023, some large (e.g. installations, exhibitions, performances) some small (discussions and workshops etc).As part of Midsummer Moments in 2020, visual artist Marie Brett presented online artwork Day of the Straws in collaboration with writer Katie Holly and made in dialogue with community historians, healers, fortune tellers and other interested people. The project culminated in a website artwork, which was launched in 2021.
Tusla’s Springboard Project, a community based family project that strives to ensure positive outcomes for children, and has been collaborating with Cork Midsummer on community arts participation since 2018. For Be Part Springboard and Cork Midsummer are collaborating with on a number of Creative Engagements via Springboard’s long-term engagement with Traveller children and families living in the Farranree, Fairhill and Knocknaheeny areas. Throughout spring 2021 mother and daughter visual artists Julie and Annie Forrester led a series of engagements with traveller families, exploring relationships and connections with local environs and with Cork Midsummer Festival's cultural programmes. The artists exchanged stories, maps and drawings with families, and shared visits to special places – together mapping the stories of the city from their personal perspectives. Award-winning visual artist, teacher and Traveller woman Leanne McDonagh joined the project as guest artist and adviser.
In 2022 new artists were invited to host workshops with children from Traveller families, exploring different forms of creative expression and these children were invited to self- select if they wished to pursue creative explorations with these artists. Dancer / choreographer Andrea Williams and theatre- maker Eszter Neìmethi have facilitated a participatory process with almost 30 Traveller children from the north-west area of the city, who have collaborated with these artists through Springboard’s after-school groups at Cork City Partnership in Knocknaheeny. These workshops have been guided by the interests of the children involved, supporting the expression of their own creativity, individuality and exploring what their culture means to them. The projects are participant-led, with the children informing decision-making, from artist selection through to activities undertaken. Participants have been consulted throughout the process, including to decide how they would like the work they undertook to be shared to the wider community. Groups with Andrea Williams will perform in Midsummer Parade on 21 June and groups with Eszter Neìmethi will celebrate their work with a private exhibition for family and friends.
As part of the 2022-2023 Be Part programme, Cork Midsummer Festival will support participation projects with three groups in Cork: Springboard Project and Traveller families; Suisha Inclusive Arts – Cope, and The Kabin Studios – Music Generation.
BE PART - BEyond PARTticipation is an audience and organisational development project in the field of participatory art practices implemented by ten European and non-European partners. BE PART is a practical and critical exploration of collaborative art-making and sharing. It sets out to create a network of co-creators, supported by artists and organisations to collectively foster new approaches and structures for the co-creation and mobility of artworks. Cork Midsummer Festival, Ireland with co-partners Santarcangelo dei Teatri (Italy), Scottish Sculpture Workshop (UK), Artsadmin (UK), Association Festival De Marseille (France), Kansallisgalleria (Finland), Kunstencentrum Vooruit (Belgium), L’Art Rue (Tunsia), Latvijas Jauna Teatra Instituts (Latvia) and City Of Women (Slovenia).
Supported by Creative Europe, The Arts Council, Cork City Council, Tusla, Springboard and Cork City Partnership.
Image: by Dee O’Regan of Creative Engagement with artist Eszter Neìmethi
Santarcangelo Festival (Italy – lead), Artsadmin (UK), L’Art Rue (Tunis), Association Festival de Marseille (France), City of Women (Slovenia), Cork Midsummer Festival (Ireland), Kansallisgalleria (Finland), National Theatre Institute of Latvia/ International Festival of Contemporary Theatre Homo (Latvia), Scottish Sculpture Workshop (UK), Vooruit (Belgium).
Image: Marie Brett. Teenage Girl Wearing a Face Covering (Irish Lockdown), Undisclosed Location, County Cork, (photograph). Day of The Straws, 2020. Photograph: Marie Brett. Courtesy the artist