The Monthly interviews Eileen Branagh from Open Arts about the work of the organisation post pandemic – Part 2

part one of this interview is here

One thing you said in an earlier interview is that going online can require a lot more work, particularly in preparation, than the standard processes for face to face work?

That is definitely true and it is something that we will have to take into account in terms of remuneration of our artists when we have to include that way of working in the future.

I think though we had great support from our funders and beyond our core funders we were able to secure other funds from organisations, so I think everything will get worked out as we go along.

Where to now?

Before the Pandemic started we had a number of goals. We wanted to increase our geographical spread, we wanted to work with a greater number of children and young people, and that is still our aims now.

The big question is how do we get there. I must say that we put so much into our work during the pandemic, our staff, our amazing team of freelance artists, people are tired. It was quite exhausting trying to keep everything moving along in those very difficult circumstances especially with the people we work with.

We are still working our way through and over the next couple of months there are some very good things taking place. We have funding for a new member of staff, we have a number of projects which will be at the showcase stage, and it is our 30th year and so there will be a celebration of that milestone.

Are there any big events planned for that celebration?

Had we come to our 30th year without Covid there we would have planned big events, like we had for our 25th anniversary but at this point we are keeping it relatively low key.

We launched a new poetry book, Words Out, at the Belfast Book Festival and we are slowly getting things back to the way they were before the pandemic. We know people are still nervous about coming out to public events and we never know how the situation with Covid will develop but we are moving along and the situation is very positive.

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