We asked Lucy Cochrane from Community Arts Partnership to take a breath and tell us more.
‘Well, Community Arts Partnership takes the lead in the promotion, development and delivery of community arts practice, to affect positive change’
And what does that mean?
‘We offer the widest possible range of assistance and opportunity to get creative and engage in community-based arts activity.’
So if my friends and I want to get creative in our local neighbourhood but don’t know how to go about it...
‘We provide a wide range of services to individuals and groups interested in community arts. We support communities through our fully funded workshop programme throughout Northern Ireland with a focus on those most marginalised in society. And although the programme has now closed for 2012 applications, we also develop and deliver tailor-made arts projects for your particular need or budget - so if you fancy, for example taster sessions in a range of art forms, or want to develop a particular project - this can be arranged.’
Great but what if we’re complete novices and don’t know one end of a paintbrush from the other?
‘Our workshops are all participant-led, facilitated and supported by trained and proven professional artists. And...’
‘All our projects culminate in an exhibition, publication or performance. For example, groups showcase their work at the end of the sessions which is a great chance to celebrate their achievements it also gives other people a chance to see some great art! Recently we held a Trash Fashion show at Kings Hall Belfast for participants to model the outfits they created on stage. We also launched two poetry anthologies for children and adults where many participants read from their work at the launch events.’
Well that’s fantastic Lucy
‘Oh there’s lots more, it’s not just hands on work we do, CAP also provides an information service for individuals and groups who can contact us about a variety of issues including funding, starting up a group, getting involved in community arts and much more. We also send out the Community Arts Weekly (CAW) e-news which provides the latest news, jobs, opportunities, events, training and funding news.’
You are clearly committed to promoting the arts in Northern Ireland.
‘Yes, CAP is very committed to promoting the profile of the community arts sector in order to ensure that access to the arts is maintained and improved upon. Through our advocacy and consultation work we provide feedback on policies and issues affecting the sector and we also carry out research. Our research programmes within Northern Ireland are currently examining access to arts for older people and people in rural areas. On a wider scale we have co-initiated ‘City (Re)Searches’, a research project across four European States which will examine the public’s understanding and value of cultural rights.’
Working with other organisations is important to you?
‘As a partnership we are continually forging new links locally, nationally and internationally and we provide talks, training and promote engagement in community arts. Our most recent partnership has been to collaborate with Culture Northern Ireland, Voluntary Arts Ireland and on the Art Take Part project.’