Get Togethers

a place to just be…& a place to sit

“If you design & provide places for creativity & arts engagements, make these spaces work for everybody”

The Get Togethers were a series of sessions and presentations about and for community feedback on spaces for public/community use that are creative and socially inclusive. Perceptions of space, experiences, locality and the impacts available spaces have on creative engagements and our social health. These engagement sessions were open, for all individuals, members of the Irish Wheelchair Association, Offaly Disability Equality Network and Ballycumber Active Age Group in the accessible Charleville Centre, Tullamore. Presentations with discussion events for A Conscious Place for living, Places, Engagements, Personal & Community Narratives were supported by the Offaly Public Participation Network.

Feedback & considerations – Tullamore Community Arts Centre
  • Communities/group consultations on schedules and times for arts programmes.
  • Consult with Artist & Disability Ireland as regards to access and inclusion.
  • Wide tables & chairs & counter space, easily cleaned, high enough for wheelchair users.
  • Sinks /utilities/sockets to be accessible.
  • A2 drying rack and storage space for artwork in progress.
  • Dark, easy clean storage with a range of drawers and shelves, for large paper roles, sheets and canvasses which are easily accessible in height and have a diverse functionality.
  • All of the above to be hidden by sliding doors, as opposed to individual doors on cupboards which may be cumbersome.
  • Display screen, room compatible for usb, bluetooth, projector etc.
  • Wall space that is not precious but functional for hanging/tacking artwork in progress and notices eg. An area of soft wallboard/cork sheet wall section.
  • Respectful use of space Notice & Agreement.
  • The use of A Creative Charter for groups to advocate and update.
  • Selling point aspect is the all Ireland central location, quick access to train station and motorways.
  • This list is not exhaustive and should be ever evolving and progressive.

The feedback and body of work endeavoured to inform the Local Executive and County Development Plan by a Community Wellbeing Survey via the Offaly Public Participation Network. The subsequent artwork were the responses and research for the exhibition Activate, which investigated spaces accessible and inclusive, public seating and the voice of the community in regards to socially inclusive spaces such as the new Community Arts Centre in Tullamore. This exhibition @theatrium in Áras an Chontae, also highlighted the necessity of tactical decision making in the planning process and how artists can contribute.

Consult Arts & Disability Ireland for updated best practice on access and inclusion.

Tokenism community consultations frustrate progress and help no one.

Rowena Keaveny & Julie Spollen presented and organised The Get Togethers, discussing the Anam Beo programme and projects, arts advocacy and engagements and inclusiveness of the arts. Enabling a conscious place for living arts practices and creative collaborations for community social health. An engagement opportunity for the artists to be consultative for ‘Activate’. The potential of how the arts and the design of an area enhance our lives and the activities we do impact us. Our focus was on public outdoor spaces and buildings, artistic, a social and civic participation that is respectful and socially inclusive. The community are the experts of the locality.

“Places are made better by people being in them”

“Benches are symbols of what it means for a space to be shared and public seating is genuinely democratic”

Dr Owen Douglas Urban & Rural Planner Designer.

Public Participation in the Planning Process

Dr Owen Douglas School of Architecture, Planning & Environmental Policy, University College Dublin. Critical thinking in art and design contexts in order to enhance living conditions for participants and the wider community.

Essentially, Dr Owen Douglas provided a friendly conversation and review on the planning history of the area. This was an informative session about a vision for a better place to live, to be expressive, to have a voice, how to engage and encourage the best use of the public realm, avoiding tokenism feedback. Lack of a conscious design for cultural engagements is a social injustice as it silences a voice for personal and community narratives. Spaces need to be adaptive for usage and fundamental freedoms, to ensure and enable inclusion and means of expression to all members of the community. Owen mentored the facilitating artists in the set up of the workstations, using visual pictures, questionnaires and how best to measure the feedback. All information gathered on participant feedback sheets were done in an anonymous fashion.

Catherine Donnelly Dance Artist made a presentation about her practice and peoples perceptions of space, their experiences, their locality and impacts on creative engagements and our social health. A live dance improvisation inspired by the space & those present. Catherine lead group creative movement responses to the sessions. ACHILLes Dance Initiative facilitate, develop and attract participation in community and contemporary dance in Mayo and Roscommon.

Laura Angell Visual Artist

Author of Bargello Stitch. Represented by @tastecontemporary Half of @bargello_sistersLaura’s style combines various practices; drawing, sewing and painting. Laura allowed the group to explore her work with samples and explained how her practice tends to be sculptural and wall based installations, in which she uses images and handmade objects, that when combined, tell an intended narrative.

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