Countdown to City (Re)Searches

Community Arts Partnership has been trying to widen the conversation locally, nationally and internationally about issues of access and participation in the cultural life of our society.

We have been involved in exploring these areas with a range of artists, and activists in other organisations and indeed, other countries. Now, we are bringing together a range of highly regarded, experienced and indeed award winning people, from Brazil, Netherlands, USA, Lithuania, Germany and Ireland to meet in Belfast and look again at what makes culture important and what is valuable about culture and creativity.

The concept of cultural agency is at the heart of our initiative. Cultural agency opens up a debate on how culture works and on whose behalf and provokes timely questions about who we see as cultural agents in our society. It can prompt questions about how cultural agency is exercised, and to what ends this cultural agency is directed?

Invitations have been sent to a variety of individuals and organisations but if you are interested in any of the sessions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Circle practitioners include: Fernando Marquespenteado (Brazil), Fiona Woods (Ireland), Jeanne van Heeswijk(NL), Mary Jane Jacob (USA), Niall Crowley(Ireland), Niall O’Baoill (Ireland), Susanne Bosch(Germany/NI), Vita Geluniene (Lithuania) and Vagabond Reviews(Ireland), Eleanor Phillips (Ireland)

The EU Project Assessor noted in her assessment of the project application: “Here is a research based on the correct observation that there has been an institutional failure to create conversations between arts/culture and other momentums for social and political rights, and rightly place their efforts in the framework of developing a new consensus about the public value of culture.”

The research project partners are Ed Carroll (Blue Drum), Conor Shields (Community Arts Partnership) and Vita Geluniene (Kaunas Biennial).  The project funders are the Family Support Agency, the EU Culture Programme Culture Policy Analysis Strand and Give EUR Hope.

We want to talk to you and hear your thoughts about access and participation to culture. We want to know what helps, what hinders, who has cultural power and where the value of public culture lies? Through our international research programme, City (Re)searches, we want you to join us and share your knowledge, experience and vision.

We’re going to develop a document, connecting all the conversations that we have had from Cork, to new conversations in Belfast, Kaunas in Lithuania and Rotterdam in Holland. This “20:20 Vision” publication will chart the journey but also give signposts to new cultural destinations and directions.

Mary Jane Jacob, Ed Carroll, Conor Shields, Jeanne van Heeswijk

We are in the process of finalising the timetable and can confirm the running order of events:

  • Day 1 Wednesday 20 February: An afternoon session will provide access to the public space where anyone can drop in and tell us what they think.
  • Day 2 Thursday 21 February: Community Artists and Community Activistsare invited to join us for a morning session and share their experiences in relation to notions of cultural agency and the value of culture.
  • Day 3 Friday 22 February: Statutory Agencies, Policy Makers, Funders, Politicians and Trustees and leaders of local organisations are invited to join the morning session. 11am -1pm
  • Day 4 Saturday 23 February: This final session will be open to the public and enable people to provide their opinion around the value of culture and at the same time our CAP team will help the public get creative.

There will be afternoon sessions, where invited groups and individuals will assist the City (Re)searches look at local experiences of culture and the value of creativity through creative workshops.

The full timetable and further details will be made available over the coming days and weeks, so please keep an eye on the website, twitter or facebook for further details. For more information about the City (Re)Searches initiative contact Conor Shields or to register interest in the event, email

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New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.