31 Local Authority Culture & Creativity Plans were launched, read An Taoiseach's speech from the day.
Read An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s speech from the Dublin Castle launch or watch an excerpt in the video below.
“This is an important moment because it illustrates so much of what Creative Ireland is all about: community, local empowerment, participation and collaboration.
These are not abstract words or ideas – these are the building blocks for a better society, and a better quality of life for all.
It has already been quite a journey and many of you in this room have been on it for several years now – for we shouldn’t forget that the journey began in late 2014 when we started out with our plans and hopes for the Centenary year.
To all of you who are working to make Creative Ireland a success, I want to express heartfelt thanks, on my own behalf and on behalf of the Government. I want to say a special thanks to those of you who worked on the centenary as well. We asked a lot of you right through 2015 and 2016 – and now, with barely a pause for breath, we’re asking a lot of you again.
In all of that work you have demonstrated a spirit of generosity and idealism. I hope you all know how important your work is.
And so it’s a pleasure to be with you once again as we mark another milestone on the Creative Ireland journey. Let me remind you of some of the other milestones so far.
· In June 2016, Minister Humphreys and I began our discussions with John Concannon on a possible legacy initiative to draw on the unprecedented citizen engagement and participation in the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme;
· By September, we were consulting widely to decide how we could create a significant and appropriate project;
· By November we had a draft programme that we felt reflected the real significance of the Centenary Year – the year-long engagement with local communities to reflect on identity, community and citizenship;
· In December, we officially launched Creative Ireland;
· In January, each of the 31 Local Authorities established a Creative Ireland culture team to bring together expertise across arts, heritage, libraries, archives, museums and communities – and draw-up a plan for local areas;
· Also in January, Creative Ireland made its first mark in the US with a major launch at our Consulate in New York;
· Beginning in February and continuing through March and April, thousands of people, including myself, attended 35 public workshops across the country – this was a hugely successful exercise and it is important to say this was thanks to your efforts;
· In Washington around St. Patrick’s Day, we launched the new portal website for Ireland, Ireland.ie, and a short film, This is Ireland, which has now been shared and viewed by more than 2m people worldwide;
· On Easter Monday, more than half a million people participated in Ireland’s new national day of creativity – Cruinniú na Cásca – with Cruinniús taking place in every county across the country – again thanks to your extraordinary efforts;
Those are just some of the big public moments, but this been the most collaborative and the most consultative piece of policy making that I have witnessed in a long political lifetime.”
“It isn’t easy work. We’re doing something very ambitious – seizing the moment, responding to a widespread sense of hope that with returning prosperity we can do better this time – that we can invest in ourselves, and especially in our children.
Just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean it is not worth doing.
This project is hugely important as it ensures that the legacy of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme belongs to everyone – and we need to constantly remind ourselves of that. There will be times when we feel worn down by the sheer effort that it takes to drive forward a programme of this scale and ambition.
But we have to keep going – it’s the right thing to do for our country. That’s why it’s an all-of-government programme, local and national working together, and that’s why it’s about that most essentially human characteristic – creativity.
I want to commend you all for these programmes. They mark a truly important beginning and they show the extraordinary range of creativity in our communities.
I asked to see a representative sample of the kind of activities and events that are coming through in these programmes. I’ve picked out just one event from one programme, not because it’s the biggest or necessarily the best, but because it illustrates the values and aspirations that underpin the programme.
It’s an event from the Donegal programme called Wainfest – an arts and books festival for children. There are many things to say about Wainfest. It’s been around for 21 years – so we’re building on what we already have; It was in fact created by the Donegal Library Service – a testament to the role of local authorities in arts and culture; It’s about children – and it’s becoming more apparent every day that Creative Ireland is really about children; It embraces heritage alongside the arts – something that is of crucial importance in Creative Ireland because it involves place and language as core elements of identity and culture; And Wainfest is a collaborative effort, involving Donegal County Council, the Regional Cultural Centre, the County Museum, the County Donegal Heritage Office – and now Creative Ireland.
I should add that I love the title – a festival for ‘wains’ – a reminder that Donegal and Scotland are in many respects the same place – but today isn’t a day to talk about Brexit!”
The ability to ‘collaboratively create’ is in fact what makes us human. It is what underpins all real progress, political and social. It is when we stop being creative, and when we no longer collaborate, that things begin to fall apart.
“Ladies and gentlemen, around the time that we were putting Creative Ireland together as an idea, a children’s writer called Frank Cottrell Boyce was writing in the Guardian Newspaper about his experience working on the opening ceremony for the London Olympics in 2012. He wrote about many of the things we are talking about now, the importance of arts and creativity for our entire life experience, in his case the importance of the written word. He said:
“I don’t write to help inspire people to become writers. I write to inspire them to become readers. Because I believe good readers make better engineers, and bakers, and surgeons, and parents and partners who are just a lot happier.”
The same is true of every other form of creative expression. We are not all artists but we are all capable of having our lives enhanced and enriched by the arts. Arts and culture make it possible for us to be better people, and to be a better society – a better people who together appreciate a shared love.
There’s one final thought that I want to leave with you. It’s about trust and generosity. 2016 was a great success for many reasons, but one of the reasons – maybe the main reason – is that we decided to trust ourselves, and people all around the country responded generously to that trust.
The government trusted the local authorities, local authorities trusted community groups. There was no Centenary message, no orthodoxy. Artists and historians approached the year with complete freedom– and the public responded with open minds and hearts. Tens of thousands of people gave generously to the year, without any expectation of reward or recognition.
It is those qualities of trust and generosity that we are trying to capture again in Creative Ireland. The generosity of gifting our children every possible creative opportunity, and trusting that they will as a result be better people, better citizens, and that they will create for all of us a better Ireland.
Beir bua – thank you.”