Report of the Consultation Process on
The Arts of Irish and Ulster Scots:
Investigation and Needs Analysis
Scátheagras phobal na Gaeilge
Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich
216 Bóthar na bhFál
Béal Feirste BT12 6AH
Teil: 028 90 438132
A response regarding The Irish Language Arts
to the Report by
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland
on the Arts of Irish & Ulster Scots
POBAL with support from Trevor Ó Clochartaigh
1.) Introduction ………………….3
2.) Terms of Reference ………………….5
3.) Methodology ………………….6
4.) Summary of Local Meetings ………………….7
5.) Summary of General Meeting ………………….13
6.) Conclusions ………………….22
7.) Recommendations ………………….23
8.) Action Plan ………………….40
Introduction by Janet Muller
Chief Executive, POBAL
POBAL is a representative partnership that provides a democratic forum and strategic direction
for the groups that have created the north’s thriving range of social, economic, artistic and
educational projects for the Irish speaking community in the north.
Our work consists of two main elements: advocacy and strategic support for Irish language
grassroots Irish language organisations. In 2004, our development work on the ground included
POBAL’s Irish Language and Literature Arts Roadshow. This showcased the language and
literature arts of singer, collector and writer Páidrigín Uí Uallacháin and musician Steve Cooney,
and the unique partnership of poet Louis de Paor and songwriter John Spillane. With generous
support from the Arts Council, POBAL also collaborated with six local Councils (Omagh,
Fermanagh, Belfast, Down, Newry and Mourne, Strabane) and with local Irish language
organisations to strengthen appreciation of the Irish language arts and develop the audience, to
link Irish speakers together and to build self-expression and self-confidence.
As an integral part of our advocacy work, we assist our membership, which includes Irish
language Arts Centres and projects such as Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich, An Droichead and An
Gaeláras, the professional drama company, Aisling Ghéar, and many other arts and cultural
groups, in analysing and explaining their needs. We facilitate meetings between our community
and a variety of government, statutory and public bodies. This work has naturally included
efforts to represent the views of Irish language arts organisations to the Department of Culture,
Arts and Leisure, to the Arts Council NI, to Foras na Gaeilge and to other relevant bodies.
In particular, we followed the process around the commissioning and drafting of the research on
the Arts of Irish and Ulster Scots with interest, and therefore when the Arts Council NI
approached us to facilitate a consultation process with our own community around the section of
the report that relates to the Irish language arts, we agreed.
The process consisted of a series of local meetings and culminated in a half-day conference in
Belfast. We were fortunate to be able to work with Trevor Ó Clochartaigh as facilitator at the
conference and in preparing the final reportback document in conjunction with ourselves. The
consultation was a lively and interesting process. It reflected the importance of the arts to our
community. It also pinpointed the feasibility, the need and indeed the way, for the Arts Council
to take immediate actions to develop the Irish language arts, as well as working towards longer-
It was clear throughout the process that the Irish speaking community welcomed the initiative of
the Arts Council in commissioning the report, and that it was eager to participate on an ongoing
basis in developing the Irish language arts, our audiences and our artists in conjunction with the
key agencies. POBAL should like to thank Róisín McDonough, Chief Executive and Damien
Smyth of the Arts Council NI for their support, as well as all those members of the Arts Council
Board who attended the half day conference to hear for themselves what the Irish speaking
community had to say.
We should like to thank all those who gave their time to be part of the process to date and, like
yourselves, POBAL looks forward to further positive outcomes to build on the Arts Council’s
actions to date.
2.0 Terms of Reference
2.1 This is a response regarding the Irish Language Arts, to the report commissioned by the
Arts Council of Northern Ireland, on Arts in the Irish Language and Ulster Scots. This
response has been prepared on behalf of POBAL the representative organization for the
Irish language speaking community in Northern Ireland, working in conjunction with the
Arts Council, in dialogue with the Irish language speaking community in Northern
2.2 This report only deals with the elements in the document which pertain to the Irish
2.3 This report reflects the views of the Irish language community, individual artists and
representatives of Irish language and arts organizations, who made submissions and/or
participated in a series of public meetings and a half day seminar held by POBAL in
October, November and December 2004.
2.4 The aim of this report is:
2.4.1 To welcome the publishing of the report by the Arts Council
2.4.2 To get feedback from the community on the strengths and weaknesses of the
report, as relayed to POBAL through the consultation process.
2.4.3 To make recommendations on how to improve on the report, so that any
development or actions that the Arts Council undertakes as a result, will fulfill the
needs of the Irish language arts community.
2.4.4 To make suggestions regarding partnerships which could be entered into on a
regional, national or international level, with suitable organizations, which would
move towards achieving the aims of the Irish language arts community in
2.4.5 This document will show that the report is a very positive first step in the advisory
process towards an ongoing dialogue about the Irish language arts sector. We will
make recommendations as to how that dialogue could be developed in the future,
leading to quality actions and delivery of the Irish language arts on a ongoing
3.1 The methodology that POBAL adopted in compiling this document was to seek feedback
from the Irish language arts community in Northern Ireland on the Arts Council report on
Arts in Irish and Ulster Scots.
3.2 To this end four preliminary meetings were organized with the Irish language community
in Belfast, Newry and Derry in October and November 2004.
3.3 Arising from these meetings a further public half-day seminar was organized in Belfast,
on December 2nd 2004, to get more feedback from the public and to analyze the Arts
Council’s report findings further.
3.4 An independent facilitator, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, was appointed by POBAL to:
3.4.1 Discuss and agree a structure for the seminar, with specific emphasis on
workshops and other effective ways of gathering feedback from participants.
3.4.2 To assist with the Chief Executive and staff of POBAL in the efficient running of
3.4.3 To develop a suitable system for collating and recording feedback at the seminar.
3.5 The half-day seminar was held in the Culturlann in Belfast on December 2nd, 2004.
3.6 The results of the consultations were taken into account and the facilitator put them into
the context of other arts initiatives that are happening all over Ireland and abroad.
Including the Gaeltacht Arts plan and the Southern Arts Council’s Traditional Art’s plan.
3.7 As a result of this it was possible to assess and contextualize the opinions from the
meetings on a regional, national and international basis.
3.8 The independent facilitator then forwarded a list of recommendations to POBAL for their
assessment and for amendments to be made.
3.9 Based on this dialogue the independent facilitator, in consultation with POBAL, devised
an action plan that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland can adopt of their own accord, or
with the participation of other state bodies or organizations on an All-Island or
4. Summary of Local Meetings
4.1 In this part of the report we will describe the local meetings that were organized to discuss
the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s report on the Irish Language and Ulster Scots Arts.
4.2 Four of these meetings were organized. In Newry on the 8th of October, in Derry on the
20th of October, in Belfast on the 13th of October and the 11th of November. A general
meeting was organized in Belfast on the 2nd of December.
4.3 The points raised at the local meetings can be categorized under the following headings:
Feedback on Singing
Feedback on Literature
Feedback on Drama
Feedback on Music/the Traditional Arts
4.4 General feedback
The following is a summary of the general feedback from the local meetings:
The general feedback can be classified under other subheadings as follows:
4.4.1 Points relating to the Status of Irish Language Arts
a. The Irish Language Arts need to accorded a higher status (which as a result would
heighten the status of the Irish language in the North also).
b. A long-term plan is needed to develop the Irish language arts.
c. They need to be developed in an All-island context (both Arts Councils could co-
operate to this end).
d. Good examples of the type of development possible can be found abroad,
particularly from the Gaels in Scotland.
e. The Arts Council should make positive linkages with the County Councils in
developing the Irish language arts.
f. An individual should be employed to serve the Irish language community in all
sectors of arts development.
g. Professionalism must be emphasised.
h. The image that arts activities are merely for the ‘fur coat brigade’ must be
i. Funding for the Irish language arts mustn’t be allocated to a single ‘pot’ of
money, with restrictions on funding from other budgets for the arts in general.
j. Music, dance – set and ceilí- are deemed to be in a relatively healthy state. The
language based arts (e.g literature, song and drama) are much weaker in
comparison and they should be targeted for specific development.
4.4.2 Points relating to the definition of Irish Language Arts
a. The definition in the report is unsatisfactory. It limits the Irish language arts and
the categorization is not good. The opposite appears to be the case for Ulster
b. The definition in the document should be broadened. Other forms should be
included such as traditional and contemporary song, duologues (agallamh beirte),
lúibíní, and storytelling, which pertain in particular to the Irish language.
c. Television is omitted.
d. Comedy is omitted.
e. The visual arts are linked to Irish as well.
f. There is a danger that dance could be omitted.
g. Certain people were of the opinion that dance, music and the likes, which are
done through the medium of Irish, should be included in the definition. Others felt
that a line should be drawn between the traditional and the Irish language arts.
h. The report appears to be trying to link Irish with something that is ancient, things
that relate to the past.
i. Specific references should be made to professionalism in the Irish language arts.
4.4.3 Points relating to the function of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland
a. There are a lot of worthwhile proposals in this report and it is a good starting
b. More practical proposals are necessary.
c. The Arts Council has been very successful in developing the English language
arts and they deserve due praise for this.
d. The appointment of an Irish Language Arts Officer to the Council with specific
expertise in this area is well overdue.
e. Suitable individuals, with an understanding of the Irish language arts, should be
appointed to other positions within the Council and those who have no interest in
this sector should be let go.
f. The Irish Language Arts community should have specific representation on the
g. Members of the Arts Council board should understand:
that Irish Language Arts are within their area of responsibility and
there is a difference between the traditional and the Irish language arts.
h. The Arts Council should undertake the development outlined in the document
i. The Arts Council should meet immediately with Irish language arts practitioners
who are working in this area at present.
j. It would befit the Council to institute substantial arts awards for Northern Ireland
(for example: recognition for the development of Irish language arts, for ‘life time
achievement’, the best young composer etc.).
a. Worthwhile financial backing should be given to Irish language artists, which
would make it worthwhile for them to practise their art.
b. It must be ensured, that there is a direct link between funding for Irish language
arts activities which receive assistance, and the language itself.
c. Development and ongoing revenue funding is essential for the Irish language arts.
This funding should be given in a structured manner and should build on existing
d. A ‘ring fenced’ budget for the promotion and marketing of Irish language arts is
a. The audience, which pertains specifically to the Irish language arts must be
b. It is believed that there is a specific audience connected to the Gaelscoileanna,
which could be harnessed.
c. Irish speaking Visual artists, who can describe their specific art in Irish to schools
and the Irish language community, are essential.
4.4.6 Delivery and Infrastructural development
a. Not many people are working in the Irish language arts in the North and it is hard
to make ends meet.
b. All art forms should be developed in the Gaelscoileanna and English medium
schools, which teach Irish.
c. Contemporary experiences of the arts, should be provided for children through the
medium of Irish, to encourage them to develop an interest.
d. The ‘Slogadh’ competition should be revived. You could have a specific
‘Slogadh’ for Ulster.
e. If activities were happening on a more regular basis, people would become
accustomed to attending. There are not enough events at the moment. Ways of
increasing audience numbers should be examined.
f. There should be an Ulster radio station.
g. Linkages with Universities should be fostered.
h. Visible gatherings and celebrations are essential. Festivals for adults are needed,
as well as Summer courses for young people.
i. Places all over the North where you can purchase the Irish language arts are
needed (such as the Culturlann in Belfast).
j. Training courses for Irish language artists should be provided.
k. The POBAL ‘Roadshow’ should be developed with a showcase as its finale.
l. Irish language artists should be encouraged to present their work in Irish (the
Columba Initiative’s ‘Leabhar Mor’ project, which was a collaboration between
Gaelic speaking poets and visual artists from Scotland and Ireland, being a prime
example of how this can be achieved.).
4.4.7 Other General points
a. A time frame is essential for achieving the goals outlined.
b. Good suggestions should be acted upon immediately.
c. A talented person, employed to develop the Irish language arts should be recruited
d. More videos and films for the youth, particularly teenagers, should be developed.
e. A database of the North’s Irish speaking community and those interested in the
Irish language arts would be a valuable marketing aid.
The following is a summary of proposals relating to Singing made at the local meetings:
a. Sean-nos is only one aspect of singing in the Irish language. A more accurate
definition is needed.
b. All types of Irish language singing should be covered in the document, including
traditional singing, contemporary, children’s songs, accompanied and
unaccompanied, ‘lúibíní’, rock and pop music.
c. Specific reference should be made to contemporary music for young people.
d. Composition and the songwriting, as well as translation from other languages,
should be included.
e. There should be a competition to encourage young people to write new Irish
f. You cannot separate traditional music and song. The definition needs to be more
g. Feis’s (festivals) are very important. They should be developed.
h. It is quite odd that a bursary, in the context of West Belfast only, is suggested.
The following is a summary of the proposals relating to Literature made at the local
a. Poetry is not mentioned at all in the report and it should be.
b. There are only a small number of writers working in Irish. This dearth of writers
has a big impact on the Irish speaking community.
c. The market for Irish language literature must be developed.
d. There is a huge divide between the spoken and verbal Irish language arts.
e. The habit of reading is developed in school.
f. It is important, but also dangerous, to focus only on the Gaelscoileanna in relation
to the future of Irish language literature.
g. Literature shouldn’t be dictated only by the curriculum.
h. A lot of teachers are unaware of the Writers in Schools scheme.
i. Children don’t get enough to read. They need some fun material, or strategies to
encourage them, a comic for example.
j. Economies of scale can be achieved by working with publishers from other
k. Writers needn’t leave the North to secure a publisher, but Northern publishers are
at a huge disadvantage.
l. Writers awards are mentioned in the report, there are quite a lot of these already.
m. Adults are badly in need of reading material also.
n. There are very few outlets where you can buy Irish language books.
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o. If a book is successful it should be translated
The following is a summary of the proposals relating to Drama made at the local meetings:
a. Good marketing and PR is essential to attract audiences to plays. Someone should
be employed to do this.
b. Street theatre isn’t mentioned in the report and it should be.
c. The proposal to provide bursaries for Theatre practitioners is welcomed.
d. We need a project where an external practitioner visits schools to scout and
develop talent. But there is a shortage of these trained practitioners.
e. People should be targeted, who have a flair for acting, who can teach drama and
are good with young people, to encourage them to participate in this artform.
f. A schools study should be undertaken to find out what the needs of teenagers are.
g. Training for theatre professionals is essential.
h. Theatre professionals should be able to undertake a Degree of some sort in drama.
i. There are too few Irish language plays being produced.
j. There is a negative opinion voiced on pages 14 & 18 of the report. According to
one practitioner, these pages are grossly incorrect and they carry a residue of the
report done by Ray Yeates. This is worrying, as the Arts Council had to rescind
his report because they admitted in was inaccurate.
k. There should be more music and dance in Irish language plays.
4.8 Music/Traditional arts
The following is a summary of the proposals relating to music and the traditional arts:
The range of music should be broadened (jazz for example)
A festival like ‘Slogadh’ should be set up immediately to promote music.
As regards the music awards suggested in the report, TG4 already have such an
award for traditional music.
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5. Summary of the General Meeting
5.1 Following on from the local meetings, a general meeting was called for Irish language
arts practitioners, to further develop the discourse and issues raised locally. Individual
artists, representatives of arts and Irish language organizations from across the North
were invited to attend. Over fifty people were at the event.
5.2 The agenda for the meeting included a welcome address from Janet Muller, Chief
Executive of POBAL. Then Róisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of
Northern Ireland, addressed the gathering. She outlined the Council’s view of the
consultation process, welcoming the general meeting and the anticipated
recommendations of the POBAL document. She reiterated that the report is a proposed
framework document for the development of the Irish language arts and that the emphasis
would be put on immediate action that could be undertaken on the recommendations
made. The full script of Róisín’s speech now follows:
5.3 Speech given by Róisín McDonough, Chief executive of the Arts Council of Northern
Ireland, December 2nd 2004, at the Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich.
Maidin mhaith gach duine agus fáilte romhaibh. Tá súil agam go mbeidh lá rathúil
againn inniu. (Good morning and welcome to all. I hope you will have a fruitful day,
I want to thank Janet at POBAL for inviting me to say a few words by way of
introduction to your day and, indeed, to thank POBAL as a whole for managing the
thorough process of consultation on this report.
Most of you will be familiar with the broad context of language rights. I want to take
this opportunity to reassert the Arts Council’s determination to re-affirm Irish-language
arts fully within the mainstream of our funding policies.
Lá last week reported the views of some in the wider arts community in Belfast
objecting to funding for Irish language and Ulster Scots arts because it was apparently
diverting funding from the arts as a whole.
This is not the Arts Council’s view. There are three engines driving the Council’s
ambitions regarding the arts in Irish.
The first is our own assessment of the historical poverty of those arts in our society, in
terms of their visibility and the low-level of funding.
The second is our assessment of the current requirements of the arts in Irish to ensure
they flourish and develop on their own terms, as well as having a bearing upon the arts
in other languages, being influenced in turn by them and together reinvigorating society
as a whole.
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The third is the obligation placed upon us by legislation. The recognition of Irish,
particularly under Part 3 of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages,
the consequent obligations of government and its agencies, as well as the
responsibilities outlined in the Good Friday Agreement, have set the tone for changing
attitudes towards language in our society.
The Arts Council unreservedly welcomes those obligations upon it. They shape our
work, providing guidelines along which we hope to see development in Irish-language
Without wishing to fetter your discussions today, I do want to stress that the report
before you is a snapshot of an arts environment, rather than a language environment.
Research into the arts of any kind is a difficult task given the often elusive and
unquantifiable character of creativity.
Trying to gauge the needs of a particular sector of arts creativity can be even more
problematic, because needs can change quickly, some priorities emerging and others
withering even over a short period.
The context of the arts in Irish, even over the period since this report was
commissioned, has altered with the concept of a Gaeltacht centred on this building
having developed rapidly and with educational needs having come into clearer focus.
The Irish language arts issue reaches across performing arts, community arts, literary
arts, traditional arts and into the visual arts as well.
The Arts Council is also mindful that there are Irish-speaking individuals and
communities in rural areas which have specific requirements, which are unlikely to be
met by Belfast- or Derry-based support, for example.
From the Arts Council’s point of view, this report, this audit and needs analysis, is no
more – BUT also NO LESS – than a framework. It may over-emphasize some areas,
under-emphasize others, may miss some entirely and may include matters which at this
time some of you will regard as minor or even irrelevant.
Perceptions and opinions on those are important and will be seriously noted.
But as well as reviewing and assessing the accuracy or adequacy of the report, I would
urge you also to think about the immediate future.
In a word, I would urge you to think about ACTION.
I would hope that, following consultation with the sector such as this gathering today,
recommendations will come forward from you which will inform the Arts Council’s
policy-making process and which will, put bluntly, help to form policy itself.
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There are elements of the report before you, which the Arts Council can address on its
own with its own resources. There are others, which arts organizations will need to
work together with us to bring into effect. And there are other elements, which we will
all need to promote urgently to Government.
This report and its consultation process, strengthens all our hands in meeting the arts
needs of Irish speakers. That is the whole point of it.
I don’t need to remind you that, while the arts can achieve many things, they cannot
achieve on their own all the many and varied aims and objectives of the Irish language
Today, I would urge you focus on what the arts in Irish do, what they are for, and what
they can achieve as well as what they deserve. Those are matters which lie behind the
audit and needs analysis, however imperfectly understood.
Tá súil agam go mbainfidh sibh tairbhe as an lá agus beidh mé ag dúil le hamharc ar
na díospóireachtaí. Go raibh maith agaibh. (I hope you enjoyed the day and I am
looking forward to observing the debates. Thank you.).”
5.4 The meeting was then divided into three workshop groups. Each group had to report back
on the recommendations made in their workshop. The following describes the parameters
given to each group:
5.5 Workshop 1: Professional Practitioners
The aim of this workshop was to focus on Irish language arts as they relate to those who
are, or who aspire to work fulltime/professionally in this sector. How is it possible to
create a favourable environment for these people? The group was asked to consider these
issues under the following headings and how recommendations might be delivered, that
is what ‘delivery mechanisms’ are available:
5.6 Workshop 2: Community Arts
The aim of this workshop was to focus on Irish language arts as they relate to those who
are or who aspire to work part-time or on community arts projects. How is it possible to
create a favorable environment for these people? The group was asked to consider these
issues under the following headings and how recommendations might be delivered, that
is what ‘delivery mechanisms’ are available:
5.7 Workshop 3: The Arts and Youth/Education
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This group was asked to focus on the relationship between the Irish language arts and the
Education system and/or Youth. What educational and arts initiatives need to be
undertaken to create a positive atmosphere for the development of the Irish language
arts? The group was asked to consider these issues under the following headings and how
recommendations might be delivered, that is what infrastructure is necessary to
implement the recommendations:
At Primary level
At Secondary Level
At Third Level
For Young People, outside the formal education system
5.8 General feedback from the workshops
5.8.1 The workshops were very lively and the outstanding characteristic was that there were a
lot of opinions being offered. It was quite obvious that every group could have spent a
much longer time debating the issues at hand and it is recommended that be done, in an
organized manner, at some stage in the future. It was quite clear that people felt that this
was the beginning of an ongoing process and that the recommendations outlined here are
only the beginning of the debate as regards the Irish language arts.
5.8.2 The workshops could only focus on a small portion of the ideas being generated within
the timescale allowed.
5.8.3 People also indicated quite strongly that they therefore focused on what they deemed to
be the most imperative actions which need to be taken, that will have a short term impact,
but that more consideration would need to be given to the development of the Irish
language arts in general if a comprehensive policy is to be formulated.
5.8.4 Participants were very positive that there would be plenty of visible activity in the Irish
language arts in Northern Ireland if proper resources were provided. There are
fundamental questions which need to be addressed, however, as regards the availability
of suitable infrastructure and providers to deliver these activities in the short term.
5.9 Specific feedback from the workshops.
This is a brief synopsis of the feedback from the workshops:
5.9.1 Workshop 1 - Focus on professional artists/providers
5.9.1.i Recommendations relating to Literature
a. More Writers-in-Residence are needed
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b. Effective marketing is essential
c. Works must be translated into other languages
d. Publishers need assistance
e. Bursaries must be provided for Irish language writers
f. A compulsory purchase scheme for libraries could be instigated, meaning all
libraries would have to purchase every new book published in Irish. Such a
scheme operates in Denmark.
g. Writers need editorial assistance
h. New writers should be developed by targeting new writing talent in the
5.9.1.ii Requirements pertaining to these Literature recommendations
a. The setting up of an organisation or academy for the Irish language arts. Such an
organization must have an integrated, consistent approach to Literature
b. The appointment of a specific officer, with a specific budget and an advisory
panel, within the Arts Council, to develop Irish language literature.
c. The setting up of a suitable quality control mechanism for the projects receiving
5.9.1.iii Recommendations relating to Singing
a. Financial assistance should be provided for singers wishing to work fulltime
b. Audience development, starting with children from four years upwards.
Explanation and dramatization of themes and imagery in songs
c. A recording fund for Irish language songs and singers
d. Singers-in-Residence in different contexts; in the community, in institutions or in
specific geographic areas
e. Development of Song collections
5.9.1.iv Requirements pertaining to these Singing recommendations
a. The appointment of a specific officer, with a specific budget, within the Arts
Council, to develop Irish language song and singers
5.9.1.v Recommendations relating to Drama
a. To set up a Gaelic ‘Tyrone Guthrie Centre’
b. The formation of three to four drama companies
c. To set up an All-Ireland drama competition with substantial prizes
d. To provide training opportunities in the specific drama skills; e.g. acting, lighting,
stage management, design etc.
e. Ongoing support for Youth Drama, not just Summer camps
f. Development of practitioners skilled at working with the youth
5.8.1.iv Requirements pertaining to these Drama recommendations
a. To bring together all existing practitioners to discuss development requirements
for the sector
b. Build on the strengths of existing companies
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c. To develop projects initially, audience development will then follow
d. Stage and screen drama are two very different things
e. Both Arts Councils on this island need to co-operate and to use their resources
f. Emphasis should be placed on high quality product
5.9.2 Workshop 2 – Focus on Part-time/Community
5.9.2.i Developments pertaining to Drama
a. Core funding for the setting up of a ‘Drama Master school’ should be provided
b. Workshops should be provided in remote areas
c. A translation system/company should be developed to foster audience
development and accessibility
d. The development of workshops for young people
e. Performances for young people on a regular basis and financial assistance for the
provision of this
f. Funding for Puppetry
g. Irish language plays to be on the programme of established festivals
h. Funding to be provided to set up a network of small theatre companies
i. A grant scheme for new Irish language plays
j. A grant scheme for new Irish language plays for Young People
k. Accessibility to training for all to be ensured
l. To foster cooperative projects and mentoring schemes
5.9.2.ii Developments pertaining to Writing/Literature
a. More material available for all age groups, particularly young people. The following
actions are desirable:
a. The translation of the ‘classics’ into Irish
b. Magazines, comics and books for teenagers
c. Books with production values comparable to Encyclopedia
b. The development of a website that would be a project for writers and readers
c. A promotional newsletter for publicity purposes
d. The development of the international market for literature
e. Encourage writing competitions for young people
f. Foster a broader range of publishing
g. Development of modern DVD’s and Cassette books
h. The collection of community writing
i. Focus on the development of poetry to encourage people to start writing as it is most at
risk as an art form
5.8.2.iii Developments pertaining to Music and Song
a. The development of Singing should be prioritized as it is in more danger of being lost
than instrumental music
b. Emphasis must be placed on high quality practice
c. Sufficient funding should be made available for it and activities developed that will bring
it to a wider audience (perhaps through established festivals such as Féile an Earraigh).
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d. Set up a scheme where accomplished performers mentor young performers
e. The set up of suitable developmental schemes with proper funding
f. Teachers should have proper music qualifications and courses should be provided in all
areas of the music industry, so that young people will realize that a career in the music
industry is a viable option
g. The purchase of high quality instruments to be made available to learners who show
5.9.3 Workshop 3 – Focus on the Arts in Education/Youth
5.9.3.i General observations
a. Both Irish medium and English medium schools should be taken into consideration for
the development of Irish language arts
b. Qualified arts teachers are needed
c. Schools need visiting tutors across the range of arts disciplines
d. An audit of available facilities should be done and quality of output should be monitored
e. All areas of the Irish language arts should included in the curriculum
5.9.3.ii Primary level
a. Specific material should be commissioned for primary schools
b. Good quality books and translations are essential
c. Interactive products should be developed for this sector
5.9.3.iii Secondary level
a. Emphasis should be placed on learning about the Irish language arts
b. Competitions such as ‘School around the Corner’ could be set up. (This could be
developed into a tv series)
c. The Arts Council could sponsor this
5.9.3.iv Third Level
a. Development of Writers-in-Residence in the institutions
b. Try and focus the Gaelic societies on the Irish language arts (on an All-Ireland basis)
c. Set up Irish language arts Summer courses
d. Set up a Colleges festival in the Irish language arts
5.8.3.v Arts Development for Youth
a. Give events a more modern image
b. To develop ‘stars’ in the Irish language arts
c. Set up Culture and Arts clubs for young people
d. Develop Gaelic cartoons
e. Encourage the development of modern art forms (e.g. Have a rap’ competition at the
5.10 General Feedback after the Workshops
5.10.1 After the reports from the workshops were given, the General Meeting was invited to
offer feedback on what they had heard. Here is a synopsis of the main points raised:
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a. The strongest point raised was that meaningful financial assistance should be
given immediately, to those professional artists established already who are
trying to live off their art, as oppose to them having to resort to ‘begging
bowl’ tactics to eke out an existence. A list should be compiled of these people
and they should be given monetary aid that would allow them to then focus
on their art for the good of the community as a whole.
b. It was felt that poetry and song should be marked as areas of priority for
development for a number of reasons:
(a) Some of the finest exponents of these art forms are resident in Northern
Ireland and their contribution should be recognized, for their own benefit and
as an example to young people, who may be considering the Irish language
arts as a career option in future.
(b) These artists are central figures in their communities and these art forms are
most at risk it’s felt.
c. A debate followed as to whether the visual arts should be counted as an Irish
language art form. A majority were in favour of it’s inclusion for the following
It was noted that it is very difficult to separate language from the visual arts,
because in many cases the subject matter is based on other art forms including
literary ones and that also these artists are necessary to debate the art form in their
The example of the ‘Leabhar Mor’ project was cited as an example of how the
visual arts and poetry were inextricably linked in artistic expression.
It was argued that language based material can often be the inspiration for the
visual artist, in the same way that certain songs inspire musical adaptations.
Visual artists are an integral part of the community they live in and that
community is richer as a result of their presence.
It was thought that visual artists have a responsibility to practise their art form
within and for the benefit of their community.
d. A clarification was offered that the Tyrone Guthrie Centre does indeed welcome
applications from Irish language artists and that the Administrator is an Irish speaker.
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6.1 It was quite clear from the feedback after the various meetings and workshops that this is
merely the beginning of a broad debate. Participants have very strong and diverse
viewpoints regarding the Irish language arts and it would be wise to engage them in
further deliberations as to the development of this sector. It is also very clear that they are
extremely passionate about the subject matter. A continuous consultation process,
between the Irish language arts community and the Arts Council and other state agencies,
would be recommended, to widen this debate and to move it forward.
6.2 It is extremely clear that the definition of the Irish language arts needs to be broadened to
include its different aspects.
6.3 Those high quality artists, who are trying to make a living from their craft, need
immediate assistance to provide them with an income befitting their standing in the
6.4 There is no doubt that this sector is grossly underdeveloped from a financial,
infrastructural, delivery and audience perspective.
6.5 Immediate action is essential, as is comprehensive, integrated development. Both short
and long-term strategies will need to be employed.
6.6 The fundamental issue to this whole debate is funding. It is clear that the Arts Council of
Northern Ireland alone will not be able to fund all the recommended initiatives. But it is
expected that the Council take a leading role in developing the specific projects, with
regard to bringing other key players on board who could co-fund these ventures.
6.7 Assistance from the County Councils and other State agencies on both sides of the border
is desirable, as well as private patronage to implement the necessary strategies. There will
also be room for input and funding from an international dimension from agencies that
foster the development of projects in minority languages.
6.8 Linkages with the educational infrastructure are paramount. These will have to be
developed as a matter of priority.
6.9 Effective co-ordination of implementation is imperative.
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In this part of the report we make recommendations that take into consideration the way we feel
this process should be advanced. In addition to this and where applicable, appropriate
partnerships will be proposed. We don’t need to remind you that this list could be added to or
subtracted from, but what we have here are the priorities as we see them and a suggested
approach as to how they should be implemented. It is our opinion that the Arts Council has a
pivotal role to play when it comes to instigating the different initiatives, but that they will only be
delivered successfully through participation with other organizations, providers and the general
The Report Recommendations are divided into three sections:
o Proposals for Immediate Action (7.3.2.ii)
o Proposals for Specific Actions to be significantly progressed by Autumn 2005
o Proposals to be addressed in the context of a five year plan (7.3.3)
We suggest that the definition of the Irish language Arts in your report should be amended, to
portray the comprehensive nature of the sector, as well as the need to embrace the modernity,
creativity and openness of the different art forms being practiced. We suggest that the definition
should read as follows:
‘The Irish language arts are any art forms which are practiced through the medium of the Irish
language. They can be in a traditional or contemporary form, formal or informal.’
7.3 The Council’s Role
7.3.1 We are certain that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s role in developing the Irish
language arts in the North, should be a central and pioneering one. The report you commissioned
is a very positive step forward. This foundation needs to be built on with positive action to
broaden and develop the Irish language arts to cater for the needs of the community.
7.3.2 The following are a number of specific recommendations that relate to the Council’s role
and the fostering of the Irish language arts within the organization itself:
It is recommended:
7.3.2.i Status within the Council
That the Irish language arts be given due respect at every level and in all areas of the Arts
Council of Northern Ireland’s activities. This can be achieved by developing a positive policy for
the development of Irish language arts and that all its officers be instructed to adopt the policy
and put it into practice in their day to day activities.
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We would also recommend that the Board of the Council should be representative of the Irish
language community: representing professional artists, the Irish language arts centres and
companies which provide services in the Irish language arts. The Council’s recruitment policy
should be favourable to the Irish language arts also. That means that any new employees should
speak Irish and should be positively disposed to the Irish language arts. A language awareness
programme should be provided for current employees, to inform them of the importance of
languages in general. This training should subsequently focus on the richness of the Irish
language arts so they may better understand proposals put before them from this sector.
7.3.2.ii Immediate Actions
There are a number of immediate actions we believe the Northern Ireland Arts Council should
take, which are essential, we believe, if the Irish language arts in Northern Ireland are to flourish.
Because of the delicate nature of the sector the Council must take it upon themselves to prioritize
these actions and keep them foremost when planning developments in Irish language arts. We
will now consider the Immediate Actions we propose should be taken:
a. To Strengthen and Facilitate the development of Irish language artists.
It is essential that the Council co-operate with exemplary artists who are working
at the moment, to help them in the development of their work in any way
possible. Be that in financial form, in the form of advice about existing Arts
Council programmes, advice about other potential funding sources and/or
practical advice of any type that would help them create or present their work to
b. To Strengthen and Facilitate the development of recognized Irish language arts
A number of the above-mentioned centres exist and it is crucial that the Arts
Council does everything within their power to ensure the viability and
development of them. We include in our list of these centres the Cultúrlann
McAdam Ó Fiaich and An Gaeláras. These centres have been pioneers in the
development of Irish language arts up to now, being a focal point for arts
organizations to congregate, grow and develop. Funding for these centres must be
ensured (and other centres like them), through future Arts Council funding
mechanisms and assistance in helping them to secure funding from other suitable
c. To Strengthen and Facilitate the development of Companies/Providers.
Not unlike the aforementioned venues, there are a number of established arts
organizations, which the Arts Council should prioritize when allocating funding.
It makes a lot of sense to build on the foundation that’s already there and there are
a number of worthwhile projects being undertaken such as those of Aisling Ghéar,
Ababú, An Ceathrú Póilí etc. The Arts Council must ensure that adequate funding
be allocated to these organizations through existing Council mechanisms and
assistance should be forthcoming to help them secure funding from other suitable
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d. The Development of Specific Marketing and Performance Facilities.
One of the points which was continually being raised through the consultation
process was that the development of suitable marketing and performance facilities
for the Irish language arts is needed. Therefore, it is essential that the Arts Council
should take this into consideration in any marketing or capital developments that
they are planning. Activities that are promoting the Irish language arts should be
given priority status.
Also, it is extremely important that assistance be given to the Irish language arts,
through marketing activities or in venues, which already receive funding from the
Council. All these venues should have an Irish language arts policy and should
positively promote the work of Irish language artists in their communities.
e. Develop a Comprehensive Programme in conjunction with Gaelscoileanna
Very often during the consultation process it was said that it is essential to attract
young people into the Irish language arts sector, if they are to develop. One
positive way of achieving this goal as a priority, would be for the Council to
engage with Gaelscoileanna immediately, to formulate a plan to promote the Irish
language arts in their schools. This programme should be broad enough to cover
all the Irish language arts disciplines and emphasis should be placed on the fun
element of these activities.
Six arts schemes for Irish medium schools throughout the north, animated by
travelling teachers, must be put in place immediately:
Amhránaíocht (amhránaíocht nua-aimseartha san áireamh)
Singing (including contemporary singing)
literature arts (both written and verbal arts, and including modern
forms, such as comics, cartoons etc)
the arts through the medium of new technology (video, film, computer,
f. Key Events for Irish speaking children
Taking the aforementioned point on board, it is also essential that a number of key
events for Irish speaking children be developed. The Arts Council could devise
such a programme in conjunction with POBAL. This is essential to give children
from a young age, the chance to engage in Irish language arts activities, so they
accept them as a natural part of their lives and development. The seed must be
planted with this age group now if we are to reap a future harvest. Activities of an
interactive nature should be emphasized, with an element of public performance,
so that due recognition is given to these activities by parents and the wider
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7.3.2.iii Specific Actions for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to undertake
As well as acting immediately on the objectives mentioned above, it is our measured opinion that
the Arts Council of Northern Ireland should focus initially on specific actions which are more
imperative because of their centrality to the community and/or are more easily deliverable
because the necessary infrastructure or providers exist already. We believe it is essential that
the planning be done, providers chosen, and work be well under way on these Specific
Actions before Autumn 2005. Let us now outline the Specific Actions we would suggest. In a
number of cases potential partners are mentioned who may be of assistance from a financial,
expertise or facilities perspective:
a. Bursaries for Exemplary Irish Language Artists
Over and over again during the meetings it was asserted how essential it is to
recognize the small handful of Exemplary Irish Language Artists who are
practicing their craft already. It would be a fitting gesture of the Arts Councils
commitment to this sector if you recognized these artists by awarding them with
bursaries. These would signal to the general public, that the expertise of these
artists is duly recognized and gives formal State recognition to the Irish language
arts. We recommend that 10 such bursaries should be instigated immediately,
to a value of £10,000 each, to assist these exemplary artists. The bursaries
would be awarded to give these artists the space needed to focus on the work at
hand and not to have to worry about the ‘begging bowl’ mentality which they
must employ to make ends meet. The awards would not mitigate against any other
form of payment for artistic work, as long as the objectives of the scheme were
met. Each of these artists should have specific objectives for the year and should
be in regular contact with the Irish language Arts Officer (that the Arts Council
would appoint) about their progress. Emphasis should be placed on creating an
artistic work rather than on teaching their genre. It would be envisaged that they
might be available to give public talks or exhibitions/performances. These
bursaries should work in a similar way to the ‘Aosdána’ scheme available through
the Council in the Republic.
We recommend that 2-3 bursaries be made available for Singers-in-residence to
be employed in the community to promote singing as a medium.
Partners: The artists, POBAL, County Councils
b. A Website and Literary Magazine
We recommend that the Arts Council, in conjunction with ‘an Cheathrú Póilí’,
should develop a website and marketing campaign for the shop to promote it’s
goods all over Ireland and abroad. (USA & Canada included)
Partners: An Cheathrú Póilí
The development of a website/printed literary magazine to promote and market
Irish language literature.
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Partners: Poetry Ireland, Universities, Irish medium schools,
c. Marketing Officer (Literature and Language)
We recommend that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland would give financial
assistance to employ a fulltime Marketing Officer, based in ‘An Cheathrú Póilí’,
to build on curret external sales work and marketing (selling books to schools, at
festivals, arts events etc.) margaíochta (ag díol leabhar le scoileanna, ag féilte,
ócáidí ealaíne, srl.). They would be expected to provide a professional, co-
ordinated marketing and publicity service for Irish medium literature and
Partners: An Cheathrú Póilí, Internet and marketing companies
d. Marketing Campaign
That the Arts Council in conjunction with other suitable partners, would
undertake an extensive marketing campaign of the literary material which is
already available in the Irish language to promote it with the general public. Part
of this campaign would be the development of a marketing network through arts
and cultural outlets and bookshops across Ireland, abroad and on the internet.
Partners: Marketing professionals, An Cheathrú Póilí, the Arts Councils,
Foras na Gaeilge, the Columba Initiative, Údarás na Gaeltachta
That the Arts Council undertake the development of a co-ordinated marketing and
ticket selling scheme and develops strategies to help improve selling and publicity
for Irish language events etc.
Partners: An Chomhairle Ealaíon, soláthraithe, comhlachtaí margaíochta
We recommend that the Council should undertake continuous Public Relations
activities try to ensure that emphasis is placed on Irish language literature in the
media and in publishing campaigns.
Partners: A publicity company, the various media
f. A Website and Books on Singing
A plan for the building of a website and series of books using the wealth of songs
(including contemporary songs) and material recorded by Irish language singers
should be developed, which would give a background to the songs and different
singers, and funding for this project should be sought.
Partners: the Traditional Music Archive, the Folklore Dept., singers, Ceol!
g. Setting up a Young Peoples Arts Festival
We recommend that the Council, in conjunction with POBAL, should co-ordinate
the setting up of a new Young Peoples Arts Festival. This would be an annual
Irish language arts festival for the north, celebrating the best of the events in the
Irish language arts that year. It would encourage the full participation of the
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children as well as a celebration of the best of Irish language arts. It would include
workshops, productions, exhibitions, and debate on the Irish language arts.
Partners: Gaelscoileanna, POBAL, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, Gael
Linn, Foras na Gaeilge, DCAL
The Arts Council should also establish the feasibility of a dedicated Children’s
Centre for Irish speaking children and young people, possibly to be built on the
Gaeltacht Quarter area in West Belfast.
Partners: POBAL, An Chultúrlann, the Board of the Gaeltacht Quarter,
h. Partnership with ‘Acair’
We recommend that the Literary Officer of the Arts Council make immediate
contact with the Scots Gaelic publisher ‘Acair’, to investigate the feasibility of
doing an Irish language version of the comic ‘Smathsin’ and other books for
young people that they have published. This would have many advantages
including that the material should be suitable to young readers in Northern
Partners: Acair, Lá, Irish medioum secondary schools and Irish speaking
children in English medium secondary schools
i. A Translations Programme
The Council should put together a panel of educationalists, publishers and
translators to develop a translations programme for Irish language books. They
would debate which books to choose, how best to translate material into Irish and
how this should be done.
Partners: Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, An tÁisionad, An Ceathrú Póilí,
POBAL, publishers, translators, universities
j. A Database
We recommend that the Arts Council should fund the development of a database
to catalogue Irish speakers in Northern Ireland, which would act as a marketing
tool for any future campaigns.
Partners: NISRA, Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich, Gaelscoileanna, pobal na
Comhpháirtithe: Aisling Ghéar, Ababú, Fibín, Macnas, An Chultúrlann,
Iomairt Cholmcille, Proiseact nan Ealan, Foras na Gaeilge, Ealaín na
Gaeltachta, na Comhairlí Contae, TG4
k. A Drama ‘Scothscoil’ (Masterschool)
The Arts Council should provide financial assistance for the development of a
drama masterschool or ‘Scothscoil' in conjunction with partners from the South
and Scotland, building on the ‘Lasair’ project, which was organized under the
auspices of the Columba initiative in 1999 and 2000.
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Partners: Aisling Ghéar, Ababú, Fibín, Macnas, An Chultúrlann, Iomairt
Cholmcille, Proiseact nan Ealan, Foras na Gaeilge, Ealaín na Gaeltachta,
local Councils, TG4
l. Ród Seó na Gaeilge
That POBAL’s Irish Language Arts Road Show be developed
Partners: POBAL, The Arts Council, local Councils, the Irish speaking
7.3.2.iv A Ring-fenced Budget
It has become quite clear that substantial funding will need to be required to achieve the
objectives, in developing the Irish language arts. Therefore, we propose that the Arts Council
sets up a ring-fenced budget immediately for the promotion of the Irish language arts, with an
allocation of £250,000 for 2005, which would increase to £500,000 for 2006 and 2007.
We also suggest that the Council allocate 10% of existing budgets in the different disciplinary
areas for the promotion of the Irish language arts. (i.e. 10% of the Drama budget for Irish
language drama etc.).
7.3.2.v Set up an Action Committee
That an Action Committee be set up under the auspices of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland
to take the recommendations of this report onboard and implement them. This committee would
comprise of four representatives of different mediums of the Irish language and the Irish
language arts community, and four appointees of the Arts Council with an independent
Chairperson. The committee would analyze the findings in this report and would sanction the
spending of the Budget mentioned above. They would have to set immediate, twelve-month and
long-term strategies for the development of the Irish language arts. Here are the immediate
objectives we recommend:
The appointment of an Irish Language Arts Officer
The presentation of Bursaries for Exemplary Artists
Develop priority areas of development for 2005
Sanction funding for schemes under these Priority Areas
7.3.2.vi An Irish Language Arts Officer
It is extremely clear from this consultation process, that people feel it essential that an Irish
Language Arts Officer be appointed within the Arts Council of Northern Ireland immediately.
We recommend that be done straight away. Here are a list of responsibilities that officer should
have. They should:
a. Act on the direction of the Action Committee.
b. Do a review on the work of, and formulate an Irish language arts policy for the
c. Contact the key players in the Irish language arts sector and act as a contact point
for them within the Arts Council.
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d. Collect information for the Action Committee on the pool of Artists who could be
considered for bursary awards.
e. Assist these Exemplary Artists in drawing up a work agenda for the duration of
the bursary and to monitor progress on the delivery of agenda.
f. Present a document to the Action Committee on the Priority Areas for
Development for 2005. This would take into account the urgency of actions
needed, potential delivery mechanisms and other potential funding sources, which
might be drawn upon.
g. Formulate, with the Action Committee, a five-year development plan for the Irish
language arts, in consultation with the artists, potential funders and educational
institutions. This plan should be completed before the end of 2005.
h. Make contact with other potential funding agencies in Northern Ireland, the
Republic and abroad, as well as with Irish language arts and community
organizations, that may have a positive role to play in the development of Irish
language arts in Northern Ireland. A specific study of the Gàidhlig Arts Agency
(Proiseact nan Ealan) should be undertaken.
i. The Officer would also be responsible for maintaining and developing contact
with Irish language arts groups who are active at the moment to facilitate the
effective co-ordination of events, which are already planned.
j. It is also imperative that the Irish language arts Officer monitor policy
developments at governmental, local, regional and European level, which will
have an impact on the sector. He/she should keep the community informed of any
such developments and be active in campaigning these agencies or bodies to
ensure conscious action on the issues pertaining to the Irish language arts.
k. The Officer would also act as secretary to the Action Committee and must
undertake any other reasonable activities that they would request.
7.3.2.vii Priority for Poetry and Singing
It is clear that there is great scope for development of the Irish language arts. But it will be
essential to prioritize development in the sector. We recommend that Poetry and Singing be
chosen for priority action. A number of initiatives should be put in train in 2005 to start
developing these forms immediately. We will make recommendations for the development of
other art forms later in this document and the Action Committee and Irish Language Arts officer
will have to suggest which initiatives from which disciplines should be given primary attention.
7.3.2.viii A Comprehensive Five Year Plan
After the Action Committee has implemented the aforementioned Immediate Actions, it should
turn its attention to the development of a Five Year Plan for the Development of the Irish
language arts. Such a plan would be based on the many suggestions made in this consultation
process. There will be a need for continual input from the Irish language arts community and
priority should be given to language-based initiatives. An effective lobbying campaign will need
to be co-coordinated to ensure that sufficient funding is put in place to deliver this plan.
7.3.2.ix A Developmental Organization for the Irish Language Arts?
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There is fundamental question, which the Action Committee will have to consider early in this
process. That is, regarding infrastructure, whether or not a developmental organization for the
Irish Language Arts, acting as a conduit between the arts community and sources of potential
funding, is needed. What we mean is, do we need a Northern Ireland version of the Gaidhlig Arts
Agency (PNE), to seed, nurture and produce new projects in the region and internationally? The
Gaidhlig Arts Agency emphasizes arts activities of a very high standard, which are innovative
and alternative. They take a project-based approach as oppose to specific strand based
development in particular disciplines. They have developmental, training and lobbying aspects to
their approach. They are the focal point for the development of Gaidhlig medium arts and have
acquired serious critical acclaim at home and abroad for their work.
7.3.3 Specific Developmental Proposals
We recommend specific developmental areas for the Irish language arts as a result of the
consultation process we have facilitated and the research we have done in compiling this report.
These are developments that, the Action Committee, under the auspices of the Arts Council,
should undertake to deliver and provide a basis for the five-year plan they are to formulate. They
can be categorized under the following headings:
Musical and Singing Developments
7.3.4 General Developments
Here are a number of general recommendations, relating to drama, that the Action Committee
and the Irish Language Arts Officer should adopt, to assist them in their development of a 5-year
plan to promote the Irish language arts. We have mentioned suggested partners who may provide
funding, expertise or facilities:
a. The setting up of a Panel of Specialists in each arts discipline, representative of the sector
from which they are chosen, to inform long term policy developments and monitor the
quality of delivery of projects, which are developed as a result.
Partners: Action Committee, Arts Council, the artists, An Chultúrlann, An Gaeláras
b. The development of a database of providers in the different disciplines which would
build on the one compiled by ‘Ealaín na Gaeltachta’ for Údarás na Gaeltachta and the
Arts Council in the Republic.
Partners: Ealaín na Gaeltachta
c. To lobby existing, established, festivals to include the Irish language arts in their
Partners: the Festivals, Comhaltas Ceolteoirí Éireann, the Arts Council in the
South, local Councils
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d. To contact awards organizations such as the Aisling awards, Irish Film & Television
Awards, An tOireachtas, theatre and Film Festivals, music festivals etc to gain a
recognition for the Irish language arts in their activities.
Partners: As outlined
e. To set up, and financially support, substantial Arts Awards for Northern Ireland, which
would celebrate the best of the Irish language arts annually. (Perhaps these could be held
in conjunction with an Irish Language Arts festival).
Partners: Corporate sponsors, Foras na Gaeilge, Arts Council
f. To contact Irish speakers in small and third-level institutions in Northern Ireland to assess
the developmental potential within the organizations and to develop a specific Irish
language arts programme with them. .
Partners: Queens University, the University of Ulster, St. Mary’s, Irish language
g. To organize short-term courses in the different arts disciplines; drama, literature and
Partners: The artists (companies and individuals) providers from bothe the Irish-
medium and English-medium sectors who would be capable of provided high
standard courses, the universities, Foras na Gaeilge, Údarás na Gaeltachta, the
h. To develop a comprehensive vocational training programme across the different arts
disciplines in conjunction with suitable Third Level institutions North and South of the
Partners: Queens University, University Colleges Galway and Cork, Limerick
University and the Galway-Mayo institute of Technology
i. To contact the Director of the Irish Language Television Development Fund, UTV, TG4
and RTÉ to open discussions on developments in the Irish language arts which relate to
television, film and multimedia.
Partners: As outlined
j. To put together a development plan to promote the Irish language arts through the
educational system at primary, secondary and third levels as part of and complementary
to the curriculum.
Partners: Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, CCEA, the artists, The Department of
7.3.5 Drama Development
Here are a number of recommendations, relating to drama, that the Action Committee and the
Irish Language Arts Officer should adopt, to assist them in their development of a 5-year plan to
promote the Irish language arts. We have mentioned suggested partners who may provide
funding, expertise or facilities:
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a. Work with established companies to see what practical assistance could be given to them
to facilitate them delivering their output to a wider audience.
Partners: Aisling Ghéar, Ababú
b. To bring together drama practitioners from all over Ireland to draft a long-term strategy
for Irish language drama and to analyze the needs of the sector.
Partners: Foras na Gaeilge, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Aisling Ghéar, Ababú, Fíbín,
Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, Léirithe POC, Amharclann na Mainistreach, Graffitti,
An Comhlachas Náisiúnta Drámaíochta, both Arts Councils
c. To ensure that between 3-4 professional Irish language theatre companies are active in
Northern Ireland within the agreed timescales.
Partners: Aisling Ghéar, An Chultúrlann, An Gaeláras, An Dámhscoil Nua, the
Irish speaking community
d. That the Irish language theatre companies have, as an integral part of their work, a policy
of touring their productions and that they increase the number and regularity of their
Partners: the Providers, the County Councils, Foras na Gaeilge, the Festivals
e. That there be a debate with providers regarding the development of their productions and
the use of more music and dance in their shows.
Partners: The Providers
f. That discussions be undertaken with the Tyrone Guthrie centre to request that more space
be allocated to Irish language theatre practitioners.
Partners: Tyrone Guthrie centre, Both Arts Councils
g. To co-ordinate regular residencies for dramatists and to have them speak in public, with
groups and individuals about their craft.
Partners: the Dramatists, the various festivals, schools and universities
h. That a simultaneous translation service be acquired and provided for productions.
Partners: Translation companies, Aisling Ghéar, An Cultúrlann, Foras na Gaeilge,
the County Councils
i. That an integrated drama training development policy be formulated and coordinated in
partnership with the formal and vocational educational institutions.
Partners: University of Ulster, Queens University, Trinity College, University of
Ireland-Galway, HETAC, FETAC
j. The provision of regular vocational training for drama practitioners in conjunction with
providers and educational organizations.
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Partners: An Chultúrlann, An Gaeláras, An Dámhscoil Nua, Dept of Education and
Learning, Ealaín na Gaeltachta, Siamsa Tíre, An Taibhdhearc, An Comhlachas
Náisiúnta Drámaíocht, Amharclann na Mainistreach (The Abbey Theatre)
k. To develop and co-ordinate a network of mentors and to seek ongoing funding for such a
structure for drama practitioners.
Partners: An Chultúrlann, An Gaeláras, The Department of Education and Learning,
Ealaín na Gaeltachta, Siamsa Tíre, An Taibhdhearc, An Comhlachas Náisiúnta
Drámaíochta, the Abbey Theatre
l. To develop a training strategy for teachers and tutors within the educational system to
train them in drama and theatre skills.
Partners: St. Mary’s College, Mary Immaculate College Limerick, St. Patrick’s –
Drumcondra, the Departments of Education , Dept of Education and Learning,
Comhar na Múinteoirí Gaeilge, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, Gaelscoileanna
m. To provide puppetry workshops
Partners: Ababú, Fíbín,Macnas, Gaelscoileanna, various festivals, An Chultúrlann,
An Gaeláras, Comhluadar
n. To provide financial incentives for the development and writing of new plays for adults
and young people.
Partners: Bord na Leabhair Gaeilge, Foras na Gaeilge, An tOireachtas, An
Comhlachas Náisiúnta Drámaíochta, Cló-IarChonnachta, An Taibhdhearc, Ealaín na
Gaeltachta, Amharclann na Mainistreach
o. To set up a network of Youth Theatres across Northern Ireland in conjunction with other
Partners: the National and Ulster Youth Drama Associations, An Taibhdhearc, the
Dept. of Education, Youth organizations.
p. To formulate a street theatre development policy.
Partners: Pádraig Breathnach, ‘Spraoi’, ‘Macnas’, the County Councils, the various
7.3.6 Development of Literature
Here are a number of recommendations, relating to literature, that the Action Committee and the
Irish Language Arts Officer should adopt, to assist them in their development of a 5-year plan to
promote the Irish language arts. We have mentioned suggested partners who may provide
funding, expertise or facilities:
a. To prioritize Poetry as the primary area for development
Partners: Poetry Ireland, the Irish Writers Centre, ‘Cúirt-International Poetry
Festival’, BBC NI, TG4, Universities and Irish medium schools
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b. Prioritize developing new and emerging writers
Partners: Poetry Ireland, the Irish Writers Centre, ‘Cúirt-International Poetry
Festival’, the schools and universities
c. To undertake specific development strategies aimed at developing the traditional literary
forms such as the ‘agallaimh beirte’ (duologue), ‘lúibíní’ (musical duologue), ‘ceapóga’
(musical monologue), ‘amhráin saothair’ (waulking songs) and storytelling through a
series of workshops throughout Northern Ireland.
Partners: Companies and individual artists, An Comhlachas Náisiúnta
Drámaíochta, An tOireachtas
d. To set up a library of existing stories, folklore and literary material from the north, and to
locate this in POBAL’s proposed Educational and Visitors’ Centre in the Gaeltacht
Quarter in Belfast
Partners: POBAL, Dúchas, Linenhall Library, Irish Folklore Commission, and
e. To catalogue the work that is being written at present, and add it to the above collection.
Partners: POBAL, Irish Folklore Commission, the universities, and the County
f. To develop strategies that will promote a habit of reading literature among the young in
particular. Writers’ visits to schools to be encouraged.
Partners: An Cultúrlann, An Gaeláras, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, the
Library Boards, the Department of Education, the County Councils, Department
of Culture, Arts & learning
g. To recruit 2-3 Writers- in Residence to work within communities or specific institutions
to promote the development of Irish language literature.
Partners: An Chultúrlann, An Gaeláras, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, the
Education and Library Boards, The Dept of Education, Dept of Culture, Arts and
Leisure, local councils
h. We recommend that the Council, in conjunction with publishers and the Southern Arts
Council, should facilitate and fund the development of an electronic catalogue of the
books available in the Irish language.
Partners: An GUM, Cló Iar-Connachta, Cois Life, Bord na Leabhar Gaeilge,
Irish Literature, Cúpla Focal, O’Brien, An tAisionad, universities Bord na
Leabhair Gaeilge, Lagan Press, Coiscéim, Cló Mhuigh Eo, Cois Life
i. To organize a Literary Competition for Young people to encourage them to start writing.
Partners: Private sponsors, BBC NI, Poetry Ireland
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j. To set up a panel of Editors in the different literary disciplines and to partner them with
writers who are developing their craft.
Partners: the Literary Officers of the Arts Councils, Róisín Ní Mhianáin, the
k. To foster linkages with publishers in other regional or minority languages with a view to
developing literary material in conjunction with them.
Partners: the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages, Mercator Media,
Council of Europe
l. To investigate setting up a Compulsory Purchase Scheme for Irish language literature in
Partners: Dept of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Education and Library Boards
m. To develop an ongoing Talented Writer recognition mechanism in conjunction with the
Third level institutions, to assist talented young writers in the colleges.
Partners: the Literary societies in the Universities, the Irish departments, the
Writers in Residence
n. To formulate a plan to develop literary material in the form of audio books and DVD’s
Partners: The Editorial panel, Gael Linn, Foras na Gaeilge
7.3.7. The Development of Music and Singing
Here are a number of recommendations, relating to Music and Singing, that the Action
Committee and the Irish Language Arts Officer should adopt, to assist them in their development
of a 5-year plan to promote the Irish language arts. We must be open to take all forms of singing
into account when developing policy: Sean-nos, traditional singing, contemporary, newly
written, rock, pop, rap, classical, accompanied or unaccompanied, lúibíní, amhráin saothair,
choral etc. We have mentioned suggested partners who may provide funding, expertise or
a. To encourage both Arts Councils to set up schemes to jointly develop Irish singing and
music throughout this island.
Partners: the Arts Councils
b. The Arts Council to fund research to establish a database of musicians and music schools
capable of teaching music through Irish and to source funding to support them.
Partners: The Arts Council, Dept of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Foras na Gaeilge,
Big Lottery etc
c. To assess the collections of songs available and to collect more material in conjunction
with the Irish Music Archive and other suitable agencies
Partners: The Irish Music Archive, universities, Comhaltas Ceolteoirí Éireann
d. To set up a recording fund to record 2-3 cd’s with established Northern singers. One of
these should be targeted at a schools audience.
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Partners: Gael Linn, Cló-IarChonnachta, Foras na Gaeilge, the County Councils,
both Arts Councils
e. To add to the store of songs available on a continual basis and devise strategies to make
the material available through publications, recording and educational activities.
Partners: The Irish Music Archive, the Folklore Dept. University of Ireland
Dublin, Comhaltas Ceolteoirí Éireann, Gael Linn
f. To record the output of the Singers-in Residence and the communities within which they
are working, in the form of CD’s.
Partners: The Singers-in-Residence, POBAL, the County Councils, the
Traditional Music Archive, Gael Linn, Foras na Gaeilge
g. To work with the established singing festivals on the provision of workshops and
masterclasses in Irish language singing.
Partners: the Established singers, An tOireachtas, Comhaltas Ceolteoirí Éireann,
both Arts Councils, the County Councils
h. To lobby television and radio programme makers to use material from Northern Ireland
in their programmes.
Partners: the various media practitioners
i. To start negotiations with the Director of the Irish Language Broadcasting fund regarding
the development of a television series showcasing Irish language song and music from
Partners: the Fund Director, TG4, BBC NI, UTV, RTE
j. To assist in the setting up of a representative organization for Irish language singers and
musicians form Northern Ireland.
Partners: the musicians and singers
k. The setting up of a high quality instrument loans scheme for young musicians, who show
great talent in traditional music.
Partners: The Pipers’ Club, Armagh, Comhaltas Ceolteoirí Éireann
l. To set up a training programme, where established masters share their expertise with
talented young musicians.
Partners: The Pipers’ Club, Armagh, musicians, universities, World music
centre-University of Limerick
m. That the Arts Council should develop a week long ‘Rock School’ for young people, with
the emphasis on producing contemporary music which young people listen to
Partners: An Chultúrlann, Established bands, musicians and singers
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n. A series of workshops for Young people, in the contemporary music forms, in
songwriting, instrumentals skills, mixing, the music industry etc., as well as providing
assistance on how to set up bands, to organize and present concerts.
Partners: An Chultúrlann, An Gaeláras, An Dáhmscoil Nua, recognized bands,
musicians and singers, Cork University
o. The Arts Council to set up a patronage scheme where established musicians take on
younger talented musicians as their apprentices.
Partners: the musicians, Irish medium schools
p. To develop a degree in music and in Gaelic language Singing in conjunction with
recognized educational institutions.
Partners: University of Ulster, Queens, Limerick and Cork Universities
q. To develop links with traditional music organizations in Scotland, Nova Scotia and
Partners: East Coast Music Association (Nova Scotia), Scottish musical
organizations, Ireland-Newfoundland Partnership
r. To set up a network of touring venues for musicians and singers who would be
organizing a tour of Ireland.
Partners: Both Arts Councils, Music Network
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8. Action Plan
8.1 That concludes the findings of this consultation process, which we undertook on behalf of
the Northern Ireland Arts Council. In line with the findings of this report, we believe that
there is a need for a continuing process that will place particular emphasis on contact
between the Irish speaking community and the Arts Council. As part of POBAL’s
recognized role, we are willing to play an active role in this process. As is quite obvious
there are a huge amount of recommendations to be undertaken, but that they are all of
vital importance is unquestionable. An energetic and committed approach will be needed
if the needs of the Irish language Arts community are to be met in a satisfactory manner.
Therefore, an Action Plan needs to be put in place immediately to set the wheels in
8.2 This is the Action Plan POBAL would propose:
a. That this report be presented to the Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Arts Council
within two days of its receipt.
b. That the Chief Executive would seek clarification from POBAL on any of the points
raised in this report as soon as possible after that.
c. That the report would then be put before the next meeting of the Arts Council for their
d. That funding be put in place for this financial year.
e. That the proposals for immediate actioning be pursued without delay.
f. That consultation with POBAL should then be sought within three months regarding the
selection of suitable representatives from the Irish language arts organizations and
community, for the Action Committee.
g. That the post of Irish Language Arts Officer be advertised as soon as possible.
h. That the Committee and Officer start putting the recommendations of this report into
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