Artists to work with schools as pupils urged to develop creative side

Artists are to work with schools in a government initiative to help children explore and develop their creative sides.

Actress Cathy Belton is pictured with Darmian Benzusenco launching the Arts Council's Creative Schools Programme. Pic: Andres Poveda

Around 150 primary and second-level schools will benefit as arts and creativity are put at the heart of young people’s lives.

The Creative Schools initiative is a key part of the youth element of the wider Creative Ireland programme. The details were announced by Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Minister Josepha Madigan and Education Minister Richard Bruton, who are inviting the country’s 4,000 schools and Youthreach centres to apply to take part.

The pilot Creative Schools programme will see 150 selected but the Arts Council is also seeking 37 creative associates to work directly with them.

Each school will work with their associates to develop their own unique programmes of arts and creativity. This could include more visits to galleries or artistic performances, providing audience opportunities for children’s own work, providing arts and creativity training for teachers, or exploring creative ways to teach and learn.

More than half of the creative associates will be practising artists who will be partnered with schools in their region, working with them for up to 60 days during the school year.

Schools will also be helped to develop and strengthen relationships with the broader cultural and community infrastructure, and be encouraged to share their own learning and new practices with other schools.

Third-class pupils Sofia Bulgutoe, Hasnain Ahmad, Sindieja Bekere and Kevin Zeng, of Central Model Senior School, with Education Minister Richard Bruton and Culture Minister Josepha Madigan. Picture: Andres Poveda

The programme is being managed by the Arts Council, whose director Orlaith McBride stressed that schools at different stages of their journey with arts and creativity would be included in the pilot.

“The most important thing is for schools to confirm their interest in developing the arts and creativity at their school, to show that the school leadership is on board, and that children and young people will be facilitated to have a central role in planning creativity for their school,” she said.

Those associates who are not artists or people attached to artistic or cultural organisations will be experienced school teachers who have an arts or creative background, which could be in areas like visual arts, drama, music or opera, literature, dance, comedy or circus arts, among others.

The teachers’ schools will have approval to hire substitutes for around 20 days a year that they are likely to be working on the Creative Schools programme.

The schools taking part will get a once-off €2,000 grant and training for their teachers.

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