Irish Art and sustainability policy research from 2015 onwards

Update 2 July 2019 : Since giving my recent talk in Galway in June 2019 on the urgent need art and sustainability supports for Irish Arts communities in Ireland, there has been an important and very welcome development.

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On 28 June 2019 Creative Carbon Scotland announced that Caitriona Fallon and Theatre Forum Ireland had been assisted by them to set up a Green Initiative for Arts in Ireland.

Read more here on my new site on ecoliteracy services for the arts in Ireland at

Irish Art and sustainability policy research from 2015 onwards

2019: Invitation by Dr Nessa Cronin to speak at the Moore Institute, NUIG. See more about this seminar ‘Culture’s Critical Role – Ireland’s response to the Environmental Emergencies’ here or listen below.

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Click to download

A study, Creative Carlow Futures (Fitzgerald, 2017; download here) which began as a review of international art and sustainability for County Carlow, quickly grew to scope policy for all of Ireland.

The report argues the under-acknowledged, but potential central role of the Irish art sector to engage civil society toward more sustainable futures.


I received some very welcome support from artists and residents in Carlow and beyond. I submitted an abstract of the report for the 50th Conference of Irish Geographer’s  to address the theme is ‘The Earth as Our Home’. To my surprise, I had an enthusiastic response and invitation to present my findings on 10 May, 2018 at Maynooth University from Professors Karen Till, and Gerry Kearns.

Below is an edited version of my presentation:

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Here is the abstract:

‘Raising the Shining, Reflective Shield’: the urgent need for cultural policy
to engage Irish civil society toward eco-social well-being 

Building on cognitive research and environmental philosophy, recent international cultural policy research, and as underlined by the United Nation’s publication of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for people and the planet, there is growing evidence that the arts have a key role alongside science to engage a wider public toward more sustainable living and overall well-being. Unprecedented and accelerating climate and other eco-social challenges, if examined through moral reasoning, require urgent action from all sectors, and in particular, the art sector. This presentation explores these ideas to begin a conversation about starting a new public art for sustainability policy in Ireland.

A recent art and sustainability study report for County Carlow and Ireland by Cathy Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald, 2017) highlights comprehensive cultural research, policy and strategies that are being implemented in Britain to foster the cultural sector to engage with issues of sustainability. This presentation reviews the report, which includes a discussion of the reasons why we in the cultural sector must act urgently, and demonstrates the diverse ways creative practitioners can engage with complex scientific issues. The study highlighted strategies from developed national art and sustainability programmes in England and Scotland, which include: assisting national and local cultural institutes to adopt energy audits so they become public champions of sustainability-learning for their visitors and audiences, and which also reduce running costs and make carbon savings ; curating events to educate cultural practitioners in sustainability science; and developing strategies that enable closer partnership between art and science and improved ecoliteracy for the sector.


Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in this work. Comments are very welcome.

A workshop at the conference hosted a conversation about how cultural policy for sustainability was held on Fri 11 May 2018, RM  SE129 from 9-10.30 am, Maynooth University, Ireland.