How Can the Arts Reflect Diversity in Irish Society?

Background, left to right: Brian Barrett, Head of Culture, Galway City Council; Sinead O’Reilly, Arts Council; and James Harrold, Galway City Arts Officer. Foreground: musicians Petusulo and Touché who will take part in the Places Matter conference.

How Can the Arts Reflect Diversity in Irish Society?

Places Matter conference in Galway next week will explore diversity and opportunity in the arts in Ireland.

On 27 and 28 March, the Arts Council and Local Government are hosting a conference in NUI Galway to explore whether the arts are reflecting the diversity of Irish society and to ask how opportunities for participation can be increased.

Of the 4.8m people living in Ireland, 11% come from 200 different nations. 13.5% of Ireland’s population live with a disability. 

The Places Matter conference will take place on Wednesday afternoon, 27 March, followed by a full day on Thursday 28 March.

Director of the Arts Council, Orlaith McBride, said ‘We have designed the day to inspire the audience to commit to change and leave as ambassadors, equipped with the enthusiasm, tools and signposts to build inclusion in the arts and embrace the diversity of contemporary Ireland.’

On Wednesday, from 1.30pm to 4pm, a workshop called OF/BY/FOR ALL will take place in The Cube, facilitated by Nina Simon, Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. At 6pm, Rory O’Neill will launch the Arts Council’s Equality, Human Rights and Diversity Policy at the Pálás Cinema.

On Thursday, from 9.30am to 4pm, there will be talks, panel discussions and performances. Speakers include Conference Chair Dr Ronit Lentin, former Head of Sociology at Trinity College Dublin; Abid Hussain, Director of Diversity at Arts Council England; Dr William Schabas, Chairman of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway; and Nina Simon. 

There will also be artistic interventions by spoken word artist and rapper Denise Chaila, the Rusangano Family, GloryAnumudu, Petusulo and Touché.

Other speakers include activist Lorraine Maherm; poet Nita Mishra; playwright Rosaleen McDonagh; academic and theatre practitioner Kunle Animashaun; researcher Dr Zoe O’Reilly; cultural consultant Una Carmody; Helen Marriage, Creative Director of Galway 2020; Melatu Uche Okorie, author of This Hostel Life; and musician and tutor God Knows.

For further information visit and for booking visit

Published on 22 March 2019


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