“Social inclusion ensures that those at risk of poverty and social exclusion gain the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economic, social and cultural life... It ensures that they have greater participation in decision making which affects their lives” 

F. Farrell et al (April 2018) Social inclusion indicators for ESF investments, Brussels


"The more awkward the issues the more we want to hear them"[06-2019]

Ann O'Connor, Participation Manager at the Council reported that the Arts Council is revising its participation policy. So what are challenges ahead:(i) can it shift from an emphasis on the consumption/production model and the over emphasis on the 'supply side' and relatively little focus on the 'demand side'; (ii) can engagement and participation through community art be visible when the compass of the Council registers only audiences for the subsidised arts; (iii) can the silo based categories of the Council i.e. children, young people, disability, older people, diversity etc., really find a  new way to be integrated; (iv) what is the role of the Arts Council in social inclusion; and (v) how to make participation a value not a branding.


Response to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission[03-20191]

In March 2019 we wrote to express our concern at the visibility accorded to cultural rights by the Irish Commission and to request some action to develop this focus in your ongoing work. Its new Strategic Plan valuably states that “We believe that the adoption and application of economic, social and cultural rights play a fundamental role in the creation of a more just, inclusive and sustainable society”. However, this important understanding is then undermined by the commitment that follows which is limited to social and economic rights. Cultural rights have been rendered invisible in the plan despite this statement. Recently, the open call for applications under the Rights and Equality Grant Scheme 2019 was published seeks only to Advance Economic and Social Rights Across Housing, Health and Decent Work. Read [+]

A New European Agenda for Culture [02-06/2018]

A staff working document publishes in parallel with the New Agenda document reports from the Stakeholder Consultation Meeting, 19 February 2018, Brussels. Stakeholders were asked if they could emphasise or change just one aspect of current EU policy collaboration on culture, what would it be?
Points mentioned by more than one stakeholder are:
- support smaller organizations and community arts: funding, capacity-building, dissemination
- link culture and education, capacity-building and lifelong arts education for pros and amateurs
- balance the intrinsic value of culture with instrumental role of culture for social inclusion.

A New European Agenda for Culture combined with the Commission Staff Working document. Read [+]

Art and Heritage working for Social Inclusion

During 2018 3 cluster and brainstorming meetings took place within the EU to examine social inclusion and to set priorities across all programmes.

Voices of Europe Structured Dialogue [06-09/2018]

Case studies of the Faro Convention Network and the Interional Community Arts Festival will be included in a new brainstorming report dedicated to social inclusion in heritage and the arts.  Ed Carroll was nominated by the European Anti Poverty Network - Ireland. He joined Ailbhe Murphy from CREATE and 25 other participants in the “Voices of Culture” Structured Dialogue of the cultural sector with European Commission. The Commission proposed to structure discussions around three questions:   

1. Which recent projects in Europe best demonstrate the effectiveness of culture and heritage activities in fostering social inclusion, in partnership with other sectors?  

2. What are the main success factors and obstacles for culture and heritage organizations?

3. What (more) might public authorities do to facilitate effective partnership working between culture and heritage organizations and other sectors, in projects to promote social inclusion?   role of heritage in addressing societal challenges on the table.   

The report will be published soon and will form the basis for a Dialogue meeting with the Commission later on 17 September 2018.  It will be uploaded on the Faro Convention Network Library once it is available

VoC Chrissie Tillier Read [+]
VoC Brainstorming Report Draft Text (June 2018)

VoC Website: Voices of Culture


EACEA Cluster Meeting on Social Inclusion [10/2017-04/2018]

BEACEA is the body contracted by the EU to support EU Erasmus +, Citizens and Creative Europe. At the end of last year Ailbhe Murphy from CREATE along with 50 participants took part in a dedicated cluster meeting on social inclusion. One of its onclusions is to

"Empower vulnerable and disadvantaged people:
Participants emphasised that projects need to involve the people they aim to support from the beginning of the projects' activities, instead of simply presenting them with the end product. Disadvantaged and vulnerable people have to be provided with authentic opportunities to share their experiences and express their views as equals. In addition, it is important to realise that by enabling them to share their knowledge
and skills with others, the society as a whole benefits."

EACEA Cluster Report Read [+]

Social inclusion indicators for ESF investments.[04-2018]

For us who are interested to explore how art and culture can integrate a poverty perspective in its outcomes a new report by Fintan Farrell and Patrizia Brandellero is helpful.  They worked to recommend indicators for the new round of ESF structural funding. Both are thematic experts on inclusion and held discussions in the ESF Thematic Network Inclusion (TNI) as part of the ESF Transnational Platform. One way to integrate poverty and social inclusion is to develop indicators in local community initiatives that capture outcomes. The report lists some of the following:

-The number of participants engaged that are at or below the risk of poverty and social exclusion indicator.

-The number of participants engaged who experience severe material deprivation

-Per cent of participants from identifiable disadvantaged groups (e.g. children, disabled persons, lone parents, homeless people, children/minors/adults living in institutions, ethnic minorities, Roma/Travellers, prisoners/ex-prisoners, long term unemployed, people living in segregated settings…….)

-The number of participants who have left institutional-type care settings

-Per cent of participants from geographical areas experiencing high levels of poverty and exclusionof participants who regard the intervention as having improved their situation and their chances to overcome poverty, exclusion and inequalities.

ESF Transnational Platform Read [+]




Community Culture

Since 2015 when Blue Drum developed the Community Culture Strategy it has coproduced a series of national events focused on finding interconnections between artists and activists working at community level. A digital platform is also under development. 


Summer 2018 - Glendalough

Connecting community, art and heritage to social inclusion and poverty. Read [+]

Summer 2017 - Glencree

Tasked with a renewal of community art at local level needs activists and artists acting without help and without permission. Watch [+]

October 2016 - Galway

Gone But Not Forgotten and the legacies of community arts and culture as agency for social justice and transformation now

Short Review May 2017  Read [+] 

Website: LegacyPapers

These legacy papers are prepared in the form of a series of transcripts from new interviews with François Matarasso


Broken Politics

Civil society's role in creating real change

Saturday 18th June, 2016 10.30am – 3.30pm. The Mansion House, Dublin 2

Our representative political system is failing to respond to the core challenges of global and local inequality and climate change that face us.  There is widespread acknowledgement that new ways of organising politics and decision making are required. Civil society has a major role to play in making more effective democracy and meeting the needs of all people.  It is vital that all parts of civil society concerned with social, economic, environmental and global justice and equality come together to reflect, connect and imagine new strategies for transformative change at this important time in our society.  We really hope you can make it. Register [+]  



Community Culture Demonstation Projects

Since our country-wide series of cultural workshops we have progressed our ideas.  Local community development is about values, people and place. Civil society, including activists and artists, has a central role in developing sustainable urban and rural space. We are interested in developing a funding application, a collquium and identifying partners to join us in this work.  The vision for this initiative is to cultivate processes that embrace culture as a driver of integrated, sustainable and transformative practices within communities, and to ensure that opportunities created are accessible to all.  Read [+]


Framework for Collaboration

The Irish Arts Council and the County and City Management Association (CCMA), the local government management network, have just agreed “A Framework for Collaboration”. The Framework marks thirty years of collaboration between the Arts Council and the local authorities. We have reviewed its value as a new way for these partners to work together, maximise the impact of their collective efforts, and reflect their shared belief in the contribution of the arts to cohesive and sustainable communities. Read [+]


Capital of Culture Bids

None of the winning bids applied for the Culture 21 Prize which will be announced in Mexico in June 2015.  Dublin City Council Arts Office nominated its Art Plan 2014-2018.  Dublin 2020, Three Sisters 2020, Galway 2020 and Limerick 2020 have been very inventive for the purposes of advocacy in terms of consultation with citizens and came up with a host of platfroms: kitchen tables, culture cabins, speak outs and teas and chats. Can the rhetoric translate into community involvement in final bid making. Read [+]

Capital of Culture

Action for Change

It seems that as an organisation, the modus operandi of Blue Drum will be even more nimble and focused into the future now that Tusla has decided it is not funding any support structures after this year. 

A new vision for the Arts?

Summer’s end saw the following publications from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and the Arts Council:

Culture 2025 Discussion Document Read [+]

Value for Money and Policy Review of the Arts Council

Read [+]

Making Great Arts Work: Arts Council Strategy 2016-2025.

Read [+]

The Agency of Community Culture

Promoting Cultural Rights

Following our series of cultural rights workshops in Mayo, Sligo, Cork, Limerick and Galway we have produced a Charter for Cultural Rights and will produce a set of workshops notes and further workshops in the autumn. We're interested in what you think about the Charter.  Read  [+]

Tulsa - Child and Family Agency - New Website

Support for Blue Drum comes from the Child and Family Agency, which was established on the 1st January 2014. It is now the dedicated State agency responsible for improving wellbeing and outcomes for children. TUSLA has now produced its first performance framework for the Agency. Read [+]

Social Inclusion Forum 2014

1st April, 2014, Croke Park, Dublin.

The City (Re)Searches: Experiences of Publicness took part in the showcase of social inclusion projects during the national forum. Minister Joan Burton spoke about the need to balance priorities of public value and public trust. The meeting provided a practical opportunity for engagement between officials from Government Departments, Community and Voluntary Organisations and people experiencing poverty. READ [+]

Also, here is a submission to the Northern Ireland Assembly invited from the Arts Council (NI).

Northern Ireland Arts Council

New way of working in family support

The Meitheal Model is a key driver of the development of an area-based approach to prevention, partnership and family support through local area pathways as part of the National Service Delivery Framework of the Child and Family Agency. Meitheal is an old Irish term that describes how neighbours would come together to assist in the saving of crops or other tasks. In this context Meitheal is a National Practice Model to ensure that the needs and strengths of children and their families are effectively identified and understood and responded to in a timely way so that children and families get the help and support needed to improve children’s outcomes and realise their rights. Read [+]

Community Culture Strategy

The report of the Dail Eireann Committee on Arts and Disadvantage will be published soon.  Blue Drum is currently working with groups in Limerick, Cork and Dublin as well as an inter departmental working group to prepare the Strategy. For us, access and participation by poor children, families and communities is our priority.  Our approach fits well with recommendations from EU and UNESCO studies. 

Read EU Report [+]

Read UNESCO Report [+]

Read Strategy Aim and Objectives [+]


Limerick and Cork Exchanges


Two parallel exchanges take place in Cork and Limerick about community arts on September 12 and 13 respectively.  The Cork exchange is organised by Ballyphehane / Togher CDP and the Limerick exchange will be part of a Creative Communities meeting. The potential of community arts to stimulate creativity in disadvantaged communities, to engage these communities with the arts, and to enable resilience and affirmation of identity within these communities is largely unrecognised and unsupported.

Utilising the Arts to Combat Disadvantage

The Report from the Committee is due for publication before the summer 2014.  We submitted our submission which asked what has the State done for cultural iInclusion and has it worked.Read[+]

Also, recent data from Public Policy allowed us to put together a national picture of Local Authority Arts Programme spending. This information is based on the 2014 Estimates. 


Here are the transcripts from various witness statements made during March and April 2012 to the Dail Committee.

Department Heads Statements

Dublin City Council, Common Ground (Inchicore), and Axis (Ballymun)

Cork City Council, City of Cork VEC, Cork Academy of Music, Graffiti Theatre Company

Arts Council & National Campaign For the Arts

Western Care, Mayo County Council, Offaly County Council, Anam Beo, Tacú Family Resource Centre

Limerick City Council, Louth County Council, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Upstate Theatre Company

Earlier in February there was a discussion with City of Dublin VEC about music education in disadvantaged areas. It had been unsuccessful in its application to the Music Generation programme.

Arts and Music Education in Disadvantaged Areas: Discussion


What is community art?

Produced in 2010 by DCTV

art works reports uk

During 2019, Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly continue to produce a set of important podcasts on cultural democracy. What's really interesting is that this work is without commission or logos. Refreshing!   You can read and listen here:  Read [+] 


art works reports uk

Funding the Cooperative City presents an interesting set of case studies.

Read [+] 

The City at Eye Level is a compendium of placemaking actions produced for the Amsterdam Placemaking Summit in October 2017. 



art works reports uk

Village Magazine puts


art works reports uk

Village Magazine puts


Funding the Cooperative City presents an interesting set of case studies.

Read [+] 

The City at Eye Level is a compendium of placemaking actions produced for the Amsterdam Placemaking Summit in October 2017. 



art works reports uk

Village Magazine puts spotlight on arts and culture

Read [+]  Ireland's First Culture Policy

Read[+]  The Emperor Has No Balls

Read[+] Collaborating but not Listening

Read [+] Culture Bids Can be About Change not Money


Creative Europe report on Audience Development

According to the report cultural institutions need to rethink how to engage with three categories:

Audience by Choice

Audience by Habit

Audience by Surprise


Our Voice, Our Rights
A Parallel Report In Response to Ireland’s Third Report under
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Join us for the official Irish launch on Wednesday 19 November at 11am  in the Oak Room of the Mansion House. 50 local and national organisations working on the ground around Ireland have their say about rights in Ireland today.

Ireland will be examined under the Covenant on  Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in June 2015, and the UN Committee will be drawing up its List of Issues for this examination in early December


For disadvantaged individuals and groups are able to access and enjoy their cultural rights through targeted inclusion measures.

7th May 2014, Science Gallery, The Naughton Institute, Trinity College, Dublin 2

The Advocacy Initiative in association with Claiming Our Future and Blue Drum will hold a seminar about the role of arts in campaigns. .  Read [+]

Department of Arts

Statement of Strategy

Submission November 2014

Imagine if local services were delivered from the point of view of local citizens. That becomes a mute point when you think 80% of funding for the Arts is allocated to around 230 arts organisations.  Blue Drum took part in focus group meetings with the Arts Council and will make a submission. 

Read  [+]

Arts Council Review

July 2014

The Steering Group Review Report strongly advocated that the Arts Council should be a development agency for the arts focussed on the public good.  In its consideration of The Public it argued:
‘The public’ and ‘the citizen’ appear to be secondary concerns of Arts Council policy. The public are largely conceived of as audiences for the professional arts, with the following consequences:
A. There is an almost exclusive emphasis on the production / consumption model of the arts. Within that model most Arts Council attention is paid to the ‘supply side’ with relatively little focus on the ‘demand side’.

B. There seems little emphasis on engagement and participation as a fundamental and valued aspect of the arts in Irish society. The amateur arts – one important such aspect – do not appear to register in Arts Council policy and strategy.

C. People who are not part of the audience for the subsidised arts largely fall outside of the compass of the Arts Council and its actions and investments.

D. There is little evidence of attention to the potential of digital technology to extend the reach of the arts within Ireland and internationally. Complementary to the matter of ‘reach’ is that of standards (specifically mentioned in the Arts Council’s statutory remit)and the challenge and opportunity bound up with the effect that digital dissemination has on audience expectations of production values and performance standards.

E. There is limited evidence of demographic understanding informing arts planning.9
F. Relative to the size of the population cohort, their developmental significance, their economic dependency, and the stated public preference for spending on them10, the
current investment by the Arts Council in provision for children and young people in
out-of-school settings (where the Arts Council has primary responsibility) is low.

G. There is an increasing risk of the Arts Council presiding over a growing ‘disconnect’
between the arts (as it defines and funds them) and significant cohorts of the population (who define and engage with them in quite different ways)11.

H. Most Arts Council communication is sector-facing.

Our work involves a lot of conversations and assemblies. So we find this helpful.


The Seven Helpers

1. Be Present

Start well. Start slowly. Check everyone in.


2. Have a good question

A good question is aligned with the need and purpose of the meeting.


3. Use a talking piece

A talking piece an object that passes from hand to hand.

4. Harvest

Never meet unless you plan to harvest your learnings.

-Create an artefact.

-Have a feedback loop.

-Be aware of the unexpected..

-Co-created is co-owned.

5. Make a wise decision

If your meeting needs to come to a decision, make it a wise one.

6. Act.

Once you have decided what to do, act.


7. Stay together

Relationships can help create sustainability.

Source: Chris Corrigan

from the Art of Hosting Practitioner's Community