24 Jan 2022

LEADER urge Kilkenny towns and villages to get smart with art programmes

Food for the Soul workshop highlights importance of rural artists

Kilkenny News

Painter and mixed media artist Graham Carew (The Artist in the Shop, Castlecomer) at the Food For The Soul workshop PICTURE: Dylan Vaughan

Community groups can ensure the future of arts in rural settings, and help preserve their local heritage, by thinking smart when it comes to developing new ideas.
At Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP)’s recent ‘Food for the Soul’ information and training workshop, local community groups, organisations and activists were advised to capitalise on rural development funding by incorporating sustainable arts, culture and heritage projects into their own ‘Smart Village’ strategy.
Held at the picturesque Cowshed, Mountain View, Ballyhale the event, which was part of the Smart Villages training series, Food for the Soul featured a range of speakers from Kilkenny’s professional arts and cultural sector, including artists from the Oscar-nominated Cartoon Saloon.
The assembly discussed the integration of culture into everyday lives and opportunities within the Smart Villages’ Look to the Future Programme, which aims to improve quality of life amongst rural communities and businesses in Kilkenny.
The event was structured around five key themes: Creative Enterprise; Cultural Inclusion; Community Engagement; Creating Space for Creativity and Celebrating Place: Festivals and our Towns. The workshop participants discussed issues that ranged from local enterprise, town assets, diversity and solidarity to festivals, oral histories, repurposing heritage projects and ground-up community action.

Food for the Soul workshop in action PICTURE: DYLAN VAUGHAN
The workshops were followed by a Village Council panel discussion featuring Ann Mulrooney (Cartoon Saloon), Alan Counihan (artist), Helena Power, (community activist), Anna O’Sullivan (Butler Gallery) and Etaoin Holahan (Fennelly’s of Callan).
This was the second in a series of events organised by KLP to introduce local communities to rural development funding opportunities and follows the highly successful Look to the Future information and training workshop at Ballykeeffe Amphitheatre last year. The aim of the concept, is to ensure local groups and organisations ‘Think Smart’ about future options for rural communities.
“Rural communities must be empowered to create and implement their own local visions within a balanced bottom-up and top-down development and governance process,” said Declan Rice, CEO of KLP.
“Food for the Soul, which focused on our relationship to culture in our everyday lives, has confirmed to us the thriving arts and cultural scene that we are so lucky to have here in Kilkenny. It has also identified the potential for rural communities to make the most of opportunities that are out there to develop arts and heritage projects.
“We at LEADER can provide funding for planning, training, capital, marketing and co-ordination of broad-based initiatives to help make Kilkenny’s rural arts, culture and heritage sector to flourish and support communities in being an attractive place to locals, potential residents and visitors.”
Journalist and presenter of RTE’s Ear to the Ground Panel, Helen Carroll, who hosted the Village Council panel, noted the importance of developing new connections between communities, post-Covid:
“The experience of the last year and a half has taught us just how important culture and the arts are to our everyday lives,” she said.
“When something is taken away from us, we realise just how much it enriched our personal, social and, for many, professional lives. I hope it’s something we’ll never take for granted again.”

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