Most publicly funded arts organisations in Ireland provide outreach programme or audience development programme that offers community engagement and participation in arts practice. These educational programmes are offered to all age groups and occur on site at the cultural institution or offsite in a community setting. Encountering the Arts Ireland (ETAI), an alliance of a diverse range of arts and cultural organisations working with education providers, advocate for greater collaboration and alignment in policy between organisations and government agencies in order to provide children and young people with sustained opportunities in the arts and culture in and out of school.
Local authorities also offer numerous cultural education and participation opportunities for their communities. Local authority arts offices frequently partner with individuals, groups and organisations within their locality to develop projects and programmes for children and young people. For example the Fingal county council’s arts service normally commits over 50% of the annual expenditure to supporting educational programmes. These programmes are primarily developed for children and young people but also include activities for professional development and lifelong learning for older generations.
Youthreach is a programme of second-chance education provided by the Department of Education and is directed at unemployed early school leavers aged 15-20. The programme provides two years of integrated education, training and work experience. The programme is delivered in out of school settings, including engagement with arts institutions.
A number of youth focused cultural organisations offer education in their discipline, such as Dublin Youth Theatre. The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) promotes the use of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) and Digital Youth Work in youth work settings. Their Equality and Intercultural Programme supports youth workers to embed equality, inclusion, diversity and interculturalism into youth work settings. NYCI’s Youth Arts Programme is produced in a strategic partnership with the Arts Council and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The programme aims specifically to realise the potential of young people through good quality youth arts practice within youth work organisations and the non-formal educational sector, and to develop appropriate policies and activities at local, regional and national level.
CREATE is the National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts. The organisation supports artists and communities to ‘co-create work of depth, ambition and excellence’. The organisation, although a great advocate of high quality interventions, has limited reach and capacity given its limited funding allocation.
The Creative Ireland programme offers opportunities for communities to engage in cultural activities. The agency acts as a go-between, working across government and civil society with the aim of promoting understanding of the value and importance of creativity and wellbeing. They work within as well as outside of schools and across all ages supporting cultural education through the following initiatives: Creative Schools; Local Creative Youth Partnerships; Fighting Words; Youth Theatre Ireland; Music Generation (see chapter 3.5.4); and Cruinniú nan Óg; Creative Communities.