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The National Neighbourhood : Press Play

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Why Press Play?

We’re first up with the ‘blogging’ I’m told – so let me begin by introducing myself. I’m Emma Connors, Arts Development Manager at axis Arts Centre in the heart of Ballymun. axis is delighted to be working with all of the other partners on The National Neighbourhood: Press Play project. It is a real opportunity to develop something memorable, fun and meaningful with local people in the North-West area of Dublin, Dublin City Council, The National Museum of Ireland and the Abbey Theatre.

Good ideas need to be teased out; they should be challenged; and they must be given room to breathe and time to take form

Developing a new project is an exciting and at times nervous process. It takes time, energy, thought, lengthy conservations, attention to detail, consultation, confidence and lots of post-its. Good ideas need to be teased out; they should be challenged; and they must be given room to breathe and time to take form. PRESS PLAY has gone through that process – and what we have now is a vibrant project that we’ve started to roll out and we’re excited to see how it all comes together over the coming months.

So what’s PRESS PLAY all about? Well, if I were to come up with a simple tagline to sum up the project, I’d say…

‘Pressing play on creativity in Cabra, Finglas, Whitehall and Ballymun’

Inspired by the theme of ‘PLAY’, we have a wonderful mix of artists/facilitators involved in the project including visual artists, musicians, model makers, rappers, museum guides, composers, play officers, writers, theatre practitioners and videographers.

As with all other national neighbourhood projects, PRESS PLAY is a multi-layered project with many stakeholders, so we decided to draw up a set of ‘Cultural Basics’, a checklist of sorts that we can refer back to over the next few months. It’s about staying true to the project’s aims, remembering why we’re doing what we’re doing and keeping the project on track. Let me end our first blog by sharing some of them here.

PRESS PLAY // CULTURAL BASICS

  • ‘Press play’ on creativity in Cabra, Finglas, Whitehall and Ballymun
  • Citizen consultation feedback (Teas & Chats) should be kept in mind and used to guide all stages of the project development whenever possible
  • Make the project and its outputs as visible as possible
  • Ensure the project has some meaningful legacy
  • Develop a programme of memorable and one off pop-up cultural experiences for the community to maximise participation and animate the area
  • Involve as many local people in the project as possible
  • Have fun with the community
  • Get ‘unlikely’ groups/individuals working together
  • Foster values of ‘Excellence and inclusion’
  • Don’t rush the process and think laterally
  • Create opportunities for cross community participation (i.e. Finglas and Whitehall collaborating together)
  • Ensure that The Abbey Theatre and The National Museum feel a real connection to the local community and vice versa; that the project is developed with the National Institutions’ and local needs and wants firmly in mind
  • Tailor the project in such a way that The Abbey Theatre and The National Museum work together too – not separate projects; but one overall project with different project strands with one overall project vision
  • Use the project as an opportunity to ‘unearth’ local artists (living and working in the area) and to connect them to the project and the local community in an engaging and active way
  • Culturally programme into the North West area in new and innovative ways
  • Create showcasing opportunities for the area (outdoor presentations/events where possible)
  • Offer some ‘by night’ engagement
  • Ensure the project has an intergenerational element – younger and older people working together creatively
  • Don’t pick ‘obvious’ groups to work with – get ‘unlikely’ people involved, ‘hidden’ groups, those who don’t ‘normally access culture’
  • Use the project as an opportunity to develop a new sense of pride in the area
  • Keep the Dublin 2020 Bid (The divided city), Teas & Chats learning, Dublin City Council Arts Plan in mind
  • Create a meeting of minds between ‘sports’ and ‘arts’
  • Ensure the project is strategic, innovative, long term and most importantly meaningful for those involved
  • Encourage large numbers of participants
  • All projects should come together – a common thread through all the project elements
  • Making culture/creativity visible in the community
  • Foster and encourage co-creation and new connections between a wide range of stakeholders when possible
  • Support capacity building on a local level (i.e. piloting a Dublin Connects Culture Club)
  • Involve a group of young people as project/cultural ambassadors
  • Keep looking at opportunities for the project to blossom/develop and stay ambitious for PRESS PLAY
  • Play with the community!
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