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Grandmother Monica Dunne from Kilkenny City with granddaughter Lucy Hayes 9 years as they launch the Kilkenny Arts Office ‘Knitted Together 3’ project


On our way to a decade of creativity: Highlights from the first 5 years

min read

On our way to a decade of creativity: Highlights from the first 5 years

min read


On our way to a decade of creativity: Highlights from the first 5 years

With an impressive 7,500+ creative initiatives already completed to date, we’re delighted to confirm that the Creative Ireland Programme will continue to 2027!

The first initiative of its kind in Europe, the Creative Ireland Programme champions the enormous value of arts, culture and creativity in the health and wellbeing of every person in Ireland.

Today, we are delighted to announce that the Irish Government has chosen to extend the programme for another five years. That’s five more years of Creative Youth, Creative Communities, Creative Industries, Creativity, Health & Wellbeing, and Creative Climate Action & Sustainability.

Realising our full creative potential

Launched in 2017 as an all-of-government culture and wellbeing initiative, this extension is in many ways a win for each and every person in Ireland. At the project’s heart is the vision that everyone should have the opportunity to realise their full creative potential, so that’s a very welcome five more years of creative opportunities to explore!

Since its origin, thousands of opportunities have been created by the Creative Ireland Programme to unlock a veritable ecosystem of creativity. We couldn’t have nurtured this unique ecosystem without the strong cohesive partnerships we’ve fostered between central and local government, industry, artists, policy makers and most of all the vibrant communities in which the projects were delivered.

In just five years, the Creative Ireland Programme has emerged as an immensely positive framework for change and how we think about creativity. 

The thousands of community-led creative initiatives that have taken place nationwide to date have promoted invaluable participation, inclusion and cultural expression. 

So just what have we been up to?

Cruinniú na nÓg

Ireland is the first, and only, country in the world to have a national day of free creativity for children and young people under 18. Our unique Cruinniú na nÓg initiative has grown from strength to strength in the last five years. The hopeful seeds of youthful creativity that were sown back then have now flourished into a massive flagship event in the nation’s cultural calendar. 

Each June, thousands of children and young people enjoy the opportunity to express themselves creatively and, more importantly, explore whole new creative avenues. From daring circus skills to super stop-motion animation, a chance to step into the performer’s spotlight or test their might as mini Master Chefs – Cruinniú na nÓg has unlocked a barrage of creative talents across the country.

Cruinniú na nÓg 2022 saw over 101,000 young people participate in an incredible 1,690 free cultural events nationwide. These events were led by 1,246 exceptional creative practitioners, without whom the calibre and variety of creative expression that Cruinniú na nÓg offers, just couldn’t happen.

Above: Línte na Farraige, Galway. Pic: Peta Niittyvirta

Creative Climate Action

In 2021 we turned our attention to climate change and society’s role in combating it with the launch of the Creative Climate Action Fund

This unique initiative brings together the skills and expertise of the creative community, climate activists, NGOs, academics, Government organisations and local communities to devise projects that raise awareness and change the behaviours that have contributed to the climate crisis. 

Out of 160+ applications, 15 innovative projects were chosen as fund recipients in 2021. With each bringing a creative approach to illustrating and making the changes needed to fight climate change, the initiatives have been wonderfully varied and multi-faceted. 

From Línte na Farraige’s coastal light installations that indicate projected sea level rises, to The Bohemian Way – a pollinator walking route that aims to bring communities together through conversation and a love for their locality. From Repair Acts Ireland’s work which has highlighted the need to reduce consumption by rediscovering the art of repair, to Creative Climate Action Crumlin’s Kingfisher Project which is transforming waste ground by the River Poddle into a community resource for education, knowledge, engagement and social capital building. The projects undertaken since 2021 have been truly innovative and thought-provoking.

What’s more, the 2022 iteration of the Creative Climate Action Fund – Creative Climate Action II: Agents of Change – has just been launched. We are now seeking creative projects that encourage everyone to: rethink their lifestyles; connect with the biodiversity crisis; enable a fair and just transition in making lifestyle changes; assist citizens in understanding the climate crisis, and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Creativity in Older Age and the COVID-19 crisis 

In response to the isolation caused by the pandemic lockdown in 2020, we were intent that people should still have access to creative experiences – particularly older and more vulnerable members of our communities. 

The Creative Ireland Programme worked with the Mobile Music Machine to bring the joy and energy of live music to residential care homes, hospitals and mental health settings around the country. 

Travelling nonstop throughout 2020 and 2021, the Mobile Music Machine delivered 1,650+ concerts by over 100 celebrated musicians across 23 counties. Devised by cellist Gerald Peregrine, this joyful project culminated in a gala concert at the National Concert Hall in June 2022. 

Led by conductor David Brophy and with a 45-piece orchestra, the concert also featured the Frontline Workers choir and the Age Friendly Ireland intergenerational choir.

And our work related to older citizens’ health and wellbeing extends far beyond the pandemic. Earlier this year we awarded €560,000 to creative projects centred around enhancing older people’s lives. ​​Just some of these projects involved creating a radio soap opera in West Cork, developing lace making skills in the Men’s Sheds in Carlow, creating a community garden in South Dublin and working with analogue cameras in Cork. 

Creativity at school and in the community

One of our earliest initiatives, Creative Schools has blossomed year on year since its 2018 beginnings. Run by the Arts Council, the initiative supports schools/centres in placing the arts and creativity at the heart of school-goers’ lives. 

Providing opportunities for children and young people to build their artistic and creative skills – to communicate, collaborate, stimulate their imaginations and harness their curiosity – 650+ schools have participated to date with another 186 having joined in 2022

From large primary and post primary schools in major cities, to special schools and Youthreach centres, and even smaller schools on islands like Inishbofin, Achill, Inis Oírr and Inis Meain – the variety of schools involved shows that creativity truly lives everywhere.

Of course our Creative Communities are always working hard to maximise their creative potential and stimulate active participation in towns, villages and cities nationwide. 

With the help of local artists, creatives, cultural and heritage organisations and community groups across the country, each of the 31 local authorities has been busily fulfilling the Culture and Creativity Strategy they devised five years ago. These were designed to enable people to work together to transform their communities, their lives and their environment through creativity. 

Just one example of the great work they have been doing is the explosion of stunning street art projects around the country. Creative Ireland has supported a number of local authorities’ street art projects from the likes of acclaimed graffiti artist Aches, the Walls Project and SEEK Arts Dundalk. The beauty of this creative outlet is writ large in Cork via the Ardú Street Art Project, and is evident in the little details too with 100 of Galway’s electricity boxes having been decorated by local artists.

Remember you can always stay up to date with what’s happening in your county by visiting the Creative Communities section of our website.

Where to next?

Through Creative Ireland’s work since 2017, the Government has emphasised the importance of culture and creativity’s role across a host of policies. 

The Creative Ireland Programme has also led in policy development by supporting conferences where new ideas around Creative Youth, Creativity and Health and Wellbeing, and Design in Government were introduced with invaluable contributions from international and national experts.

The next five years will see us continue our work in deploying the power of creativity to support a wellbeing that extends community-wide.

While our priorities around children, young people and our communities are as firm as ever, we will also place a greater focus on health and wellbeing, our creative industries, climate action, and social sustainability. We hope these renewed priorities will also bring opportunities for creative engagement with citizens who are seldom-heard and are at risk of disadvantage.


Creative Ireland Programme extended to 2027

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Here’s to the next five years, we can’t wait to see where the abundant creativity of this country takes us.

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