The Minister for Education Norma Foley TD today invited primary and post-primary schools to apply for a new arts in education initiative, BLAST 2021. BLAST – Bringing Live Arts to Students and Teachers – is a new initiative which will enable up to 400 new arts in education residencies in schools each year.
The aim of this scheme is to give pupils in schools all over the country the opportunity to work with a professional artist on unique projects.
These bespoke classes will be originated and planned between the artist, teacher and the school under the coordination of the ESCI network of 21 full-time education centres.
Minister Foley said: “Creativity has an enormously positive impact on young people and never has this been more important. BLAST will support children and young people for an uncertain future where skills like the ability to connect and collaborate with others, engage in creative and critical thinking and practice inclusivity at every level will be paramount to peace, stability, sustainable economic growth and equality.
“I hope that this exciting BLAST initiative will help schools to further enhance creativity in their classrooms. It is important that our children are allowed to express themselves and learn to adapt and collaborate. The BLAST will give students of all ages the opportunity to develop these essential skills, enjoy and explore artistic and creative expression.”
A number of key figures in the Irish arts sector have lent their voice for this initiative including Louis Walsh, Paula Meehan, Celine Byrne, Baz Ashmawy, Imelda May, Mairead Ronan, DWTS judge Brian Redmond, Gráinne Seoige, Lyra and Jake Carter.
Welcoming the announcement, poet Paula Meehan said: “So much depends on the children of the pandemic. The best and most practical gift we can give them is to nurture their creative selves, their dreaming selves, the power of their own imaginations.
“They face a future that demands transformative energy, massive ingenuity, a whole new way of being on this beautiful earth. Right across the country artists have a destiny in that process; and this project invites a partnership of school and artist that will ripple out into the local community — with the potential for an amount of serious fun into the bargain.”
Minister Foley also invited students at primary and post-primary level to design a new logo for BLAST. Students are encouraged to use their creativity to design a logo for this national initiative that all BLAST projects in all schools can use.
The individual winner chosen by the judging panel of Westlife manager Louis Walsh and visual communications programme Lead, TU Dublin, Brenda Dermody will receive a GoPro camera while all entries will receive a certificate from the Department. The competition is open to all students across primary and post-primary schools.
The closing date for entries by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post is Thursday 30 September 2021. Further information on how to enter the competition can be found on gov.ie/blast
How will this BLAST Arts in Education Residency initiative work?
The education centre
Schools will apply for a BLAST Arts-in-Education Residency to the full-time education centre in their area. The Register of Approved Artists in each Education Centre will be arranged by Artist and Discipline, include relevant required and approved training experience, examples of previous work and examples of relevant or related experience in an educational and community context.
Artists from any artistic discipline who have been trained in partnership working with schools will be registered with each of the 21 full-time education centres. Artistic disciplines include visual arts, crafts, music, dance, drama, literature and film. Creative disciplines will be expanded as the BLAST Residency Programme develops over the next number of years.
The Artists on the Register of Approved Artists will have been previously trained and have engaged in School Residencies under Teacher-Artist Partnership CPD and Residency initiative or the Arts in Junior Cycle Programme which are both approved and led by the Department of Education. Artists are currently trained and registered on the Online Register of Approved Artists managed by the education centre network nationally. Garda Clearance for Artists for successful school applications will be sought by the education centre. The education centre will also arrange for payment of the artist which will further remove the administrative burden on teachers and schools.
The school must be in the catchment of the local full-time education centre. Schools may submit only one application.
This initiative encourages:
• Schools, primary and post-primary, that have not recently had an opportunity to participate in such creative initiatives.
• Schools supporting inclusion and enhanced arts-in-education engagement with students from disadvantaged backgrounds and SEN.
• Schools that have a track record in teacher-artist partnership working in the classroom and school.
• A whole-school commitment to the project, but it is not a requirement that all classes work with the artist.
• Projects should have regard to the relevant school curricula where appropriate and have a focus on process.
BLAST Arts-in-Education Residency funding
The artist’s fee is €1,000 per residency, funded by the Department of Education via each education centre. The education centre will pay the artist. The artist will be funded for 20 contract hours including six hours’ planning/development/review time. Funded residencies can be delivered throughout the academic year, commencing in September 2021 in the year the residency is approved.
This initiative is supported by the education centre ESCI network, Teacher Artist Partnership CPD programme, Arts in Junior Cycle, NAPD Creative Engagement Programme and the Arts in Education Portal.
Further information on BLAST, guidelines and the application form will be available from Gov.ie/blast and local education centres’ (21 full-time centres) websites. The application process will open on 4 June and will close on 30 September 2021. Schools can also view a number of leading figures in the Irish Arts sector highlighting the benefits of such an initiative in the lives and education of young people: https://youtu.be/BuvA3ukAXVk
Notes for Editors
The Creative Ireland Programme
The Creative Ireland Programme is a five-year all-of-government, culture-based initiative that emphasises the importance of human creativity for individual, community and national wellbeing. It is led by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. The programme is grounded in the belief that every person has creative capacities, the development of which contributes to their personal wellbeing as well as to the general wellbeing of our communities.
The Programme consists of five pillars:
- Our Young People
- Our Communities
- Our Cultural and Creative Infrastructure
- Our Creative Industries
- Our Global Reputation
Creative Youth – the plan for Pillar 1
This programme aims to support the integration of the principles and key skills outlined in the Arts in Education charter and the Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022), Pillar 1 Creative Youth.
In December 2017, Creative Youth – a Plan to Enable the Creativity of Every Child and Young Person was launched. The ultimate aim is to deliver the Government’s commitment to ensuring that every child in Ireland has practical access to tuition, experience and participation in music, drama, arts and coding. The Creative Youth plan sets out a range of initiatives which will be piloted and implemented in the coming years, including Local Creative Youth Partnerships. The Department of Education, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, the Department of Equality, Children, Disability, Integration and Youth and the Arts Council are key partners in delivering Creative Youth.