Youth voice, equity and visibility have been key to the approach applied in establishing one of the country’s first pilot Local Creative Youth Partnerships in Limerick and Clare. These core values are set out in Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board’s Local Creative Youth Partnership Strategic Plan 2020-2022.
The very beginning of the work of the Partnership in Limerick and Clare was to undertake an in-depth consultation with young people, informed by Hub na nÓg’s methodology to include youth voice at every level of programme activity. Having met with over 400 young people in youth clubs, community centres, direct provision centres, disability services and some after-school settings, the Partnership began to respond to the voice of the young person in the design and delivery of its programmes. The consultation process threw up many innovative ideas around what creativity means to young people. While dance, film, photography, oil painting, scriptwriting, cinema trips, handcraft and hip-hop featured as some of the more popular creative activities, environment, animal care, boat building, and simply having free time to hang out with friends were recurring themes throughout.
Creative programmes that responded to the voice of the young person began in Limerick and Clare in 2019. A mural programme in Scariff, a diverse art fair in Dance Limerick and a photographic project in Rathkeale were some of the first projects to be realised from young people’s ideas through consultation. Each consultation became a stepping stone in the building of strong partnerships in different parts of the Limerick and Clare region. Key partners from inception have been Clare Youth Service, Limerick Youth Service, Foróige and the many independent clubs that exist in community settings. The Partnership works closely with members of the Youth Work team of the ETB. From this starting point, the LCYP has been able to access youth clubs and projects where the hard-to-reach and seldom heard young person’s voice can be found. In communities where no dedicated youth body exists, the LCYP works with family resource centres, community councils, school completion programmes, scouting groups and youth disability services. The Youth Work team is also pivotal in opening doors to such community organisations.
The arts and culture sector also plays a vital role in the delivery of Limerick and Clare’s LCYP programme. Fresh Film, Dance Limerick, The Hunt Museum, Limerick City Gallery of Art, Glór in Ennis and the three established youth theatres have each partnered or advised on programmes with Limerick Arts Office and Clare Arts Office playing a key role – particularly for Cruinniú nÓg and Culture Night. Strong partnerships have also been garnered with Limerick Childcare Committee and with Clare County Childcare Committee, with whom programmes in dance and story, respectively, are ongoing.
The Partnership has undertaken two youth arts festivals; Scairt na hÓige in 2020 and Call and Response in 2021. As well as making young people’s creative work visible, these festivals help reach into peripheral areas of both counties, pulling together programmes of work on different scales, to build inclusion and connection. The many facets of festival management further work to build partners from arts, business, social development, as well as from youth. Local development companies like the PAUL Partnership and West Limerick Resources are partners in delivering programmes and offer further opening of doors to communities.
As the LCYP in Limerick and Clare embraces its third year of activity, it does so from a strong foundation built on partnership and youth voice, within a rights-based approach, to bring creativity and arts participation to those young people who may experience barriers around cultural provision.