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The Closure of the CE Arts Squad

Arts Squad

The Closure of the CE Arts Squad

Arts in the city centre will soon be without one of its longstanding community endeavours with the news that the Liberty College based City Arts Squad CE project is to close at the end of June.

Art Squad is a Community Employment Scheme involved with Community Art/Culture Projects in the greater Dublin area. CDETB sponsors two Arts Squads – one based in The Liberties College and one in Finglas.  The Arts Squad employs artists and art workers to develop a variety of creative projects with voluntary, charity and community groups. It also offers its services to schools, day care centres and hospitals. Their activities include murals, sculptures, paintings, batik, ceramics, music, craft workshops, computer graphics, festivals and exhibitions.

I recently met with Fiona Clarke the CE supervisor for the City Arts Squad in the Liberties College. Fiona, a polite dark haired lady with piercing blue eyes relayed her dismay to me at the closure of the arts project in the college.  She said this CE scheme has being running for 25 years and it was one of the first in the country. Fiona was very keen to highlight some of the high quality work that the students had completed in their tenure with City Art Squad. I marvelled at the variety of the high quality work that was on display.  An exhibition was taking place that evening at 6pm.  It was called ‘Wake’ and it would be running from that evening until June 18th 2015.

As I snapped pictures with my camera I sighed at what a shame it will be to close this project, after viewing the cleverly created exhibitions.  When I had finished taking pictures I wandered into a classroom where refreshments were to be served to the guests.  Fiona pointed to a small white coffin which was placed in the middle of the room.  This, she said was a creative way (if a little macabre) to symbolise the closure of the project. She said they had left photographs of their work inside of it.  People could take a photograph as a souvenir. I peered inside and looked at the many photographs staring up at me.  There were pictures of people laughing, some pictures of animals and various other photographs inside the coffin.  Fiona said herself and the other artists came up with the idea of the coffin to mark the ending of the project, and they decided to put the pictures inside of it to represent the work they had produced during their tenure there.  They first wanted to have a ‘wake’ and were going to use Glasnevin Cemetery for this, but then they decided it would be best to have it in the college.

The City Arts Squad has two centres, one in Finglas and the other one in the city centre.  Fiona enthused about how much she loved working with the 30 participants.  She said they had an excellent team spirit and she would miss discussing ideas with them. She said she has sourced other CE schemes in Dublin for the artists.  Some of the participants will be going to the South Dublin Voluntary Groups.  Others will be going to the Down to Earth Theatre Company in Tallaght.  We are fortunate enough to receive two participants from the City Arts Squad to work with our youths in the Fountain Resource Group. They will pass on their areas of expertise to our young people.

Fiona said she will be transferred to the Youth Guarantee Scheme where she will help young people aged between 18 and 24 years old with further training after they leave school or become unemployed. I’m sure she will be an asset there, and the other participants will use their creative ways to flourish in every task they undertake, both now and in the future. Good luck to them all!

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