Children in family hubs and direct provision to benefit from new initiative

by Rachel Darcy

Hundreds of children in family hubs, Direct Provision centers and Deis schools will receive a gift package of new books by Irish authors as part of a new Arts Council initiative.

The gift packages are being distributed to help ensure that as many people as possible can experience Culture Night this Friday, September 18.

Encouraging all parents to participate with their children, the government agency for funding and developing the arts has partnered with Children’s Books Ireland to publish a special guide to 100 of the best Irish books for children.

The Books Make Things Better reading guide, with a specially commissioned illustrated cover by Oliver Jeffers, will be distributed free of charge through bookshops and libraries, or can be downloaded online.

“This is the first year that the Arts Council has taken on the stewardship of Culture Night, and it’s a year of extraordinary challenges, not least for artists and the entire arts sector,” said Arts Council Director Maureen Kennelly.

“We believe passionately that the arts are for every single person in Ireland, and that is at the heart of the Equality, Human Rights and Diversity policy we launched last year. That’s why we have invested in broadening and diversifying audiences and participation in Culture Night.”

Kennelly detailed that because of the ongoing Covid-19 public health restrictions much of Culture Night would be virtual this year, but more than 1,000 real books would nonetheless be delivered to hundreds of families around the country.

“Ireland boasts a wealth of artistic talent that, this year more than ever, we must promote and support,” Maureen Kennelly added.

“Our goals for Culture Night in 2020 are that it represents the vitality of art across diverse communities, that it acknowledges the value that art brings to all our lives, and its essential role in promoting wellbeing within society.”

The Arts Council is also highlighting a number of projects around the country for their commitment to equality, human rights and diversity, which includes:

  • ‘Songs of Protest’ that will be sung at Pearse Museum by artists with disabilities, a project by Tallaght Community Arts and Alternative Entertainments
  • Film portraits of five women who are fighters for gender equality and social justice in Ireland by Outlandish Theatre Company, which will be projected in Dublin
  • Pal, a specially commissioned short film by Shane O’Reilly about a Deaf woman, who feels even more isolated living alone during lockdown. 

The Culture Night ‘trailblazers’ this year, represent the diversity of contemporary Irish artists, Fehdah, Mark Smith, Michael Gallen, Matthew Gardiner, Úna-Minh Kavanagh and international trailblazer Maeve Higgins now based in New York will  highlight the international interest in Culture Night this year through the online aspects of the programme.

Full details of the programme can be seen on www.culturenight.ie

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