#LoveIrishResearch BLOG: Orlaith McBride tells us why research in the arts matters

The Arts Council is the state agency for leading and developing the arts in Ireland. We have a ten year vision, Making Great Art Work, which places evidence-based policy making at the heart of the strategy’s success. We can only do this in partnership with other agencies with specific expertise in the area of research.

The Arts Council has always valued the Irish research community’s contribution to advancing arts development and has made a number of strategic alliances with 3rd level institutions to this end over the last number of years specifically in the area of dance research at the University of Limerick and with a number of other University residencies in UCD, UCC, TCD and with our education partners at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Mary Immaculate College, College of Education, Rathmines and Mater Dei. These partnerships have allowed artists, academics and students to further areas of joint interest using practice and participation in the arts to further specific research agendas.

More recently we have linked directly with other disciplines in the humanities in the useful application of their resources and findings in an arts context. Specifically the All Island Research Observatory at Maynooth University has supported us to better understand and use spatial analysis and planning in how we plan and provide for the arts regionally and locally.

We have also recently partnered with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) specifically analysing the Growing Up in Ireland study to better understand arts and cultural participation.

We particularly welcome the initiative of the Irish research community in recently establishing an all island, cross-disciplinary research network, the Cultural Policy Observatory Ireland and look forward to opportunities for future collaborations with this network.

Because the Arts Councils believes that research helps us to better understand people and places, supporting us to reach new audiences for the arts as well as helping us plan to plan more strategically for the future.

Our Making Great Art Work Implementation Plan 2017 – 2019 specifically sets research ambitions, examining the Living and Working Conditions of Artists and longitudinal research measuring levels of participation in the arts. Only by working in partnership with research partners can we progress such significant pieces of work.

We therefore are working to developing a new strategic partnership with the Irish Research Council over the coming months harnessing our collective expertise in the arts and research. Such strategic research partnerships will enable us to provide an evidence base to better inform Arts Council strategic planning, decision making and advice. Engaging with research supports the Arts Council in being the expert body in the arts and provides us with the qualitative and quantitative evidence to argue for the arts and the unique place that they occupy in Irish life.

Orlaith McBride is Director of the Arts Council.