Footfall – Plenary session

In the afternoon, a discursive ‘Plenary Session’ was devised and facilitated by Ailbhe Murphy and Ciaran Smyth of Vagabond Reviews, with participants seated at 6 large round tables. Key issues pertaining to the artist led sector were discussed across 3 thematic strands. The table-based discussions were documented by both a note-taker and a moderator, who had been assigned to each of the 6 tables. At the end of every thematic, each moderator provided summarised feedback to the collective audience, which was documented.


Thematics and Moderator Feedback:

1. Alternative Values

Building on the FOOTFALL research programme, this thematic explored collective values. Key questions included: Can we construct new language to communicate what is different about smaller, artist-led arts and cultural initiatives? How should artist-led organisation articulate their identity? What are the features that distinguish us from other organisational forms? What conceptual tools can we use to advocate for recognition and resources?

2. Sustainability

This second theme addressed questions of precarious labour and sustainability. It asked: how is it possible to nurture and sustain an ongoing collective presence in the face of scarce and capricious funding streams?

3. Organisational Forms

This thematic was future orientated, considering strategies for moving forward. It explored and critically analysed key ideas about self – organisation, inquiring as to possible organisational forms: a coalition, a union, a network, other?


Plenary Session Participants

The free event was fully booked, with 70 attendees, 5 invited contributors and 17 coordinating volunteers.  Artists, curators, writers and students were among the audience, as well as academic staff from GMIT, NUI Galway, Burren College and NCAD. It was noted that although they had been invited, there were no local political representatives, City or County Arts Officers, Councillors or policy-makers in attendance. The event was well-attended by representatives of artist led organisations (including several who had already completed the Organisation Survey). We would like to sincerely thank all of the participants for contributing so generously and openly to the discussion.

Organisations in attendance at the FOOTFALL symposium included:

• Adapt, Galway

• Artlink, Donegal

• Artspace Studios, Galway

• Broadstone Studios, Dublin

• Catalyst Arts, Belfast

• Cork Artists Collective, Cork

• Engage Art Studios, Galway

• Expanded Draught, Galway

• ITSA Collective, Galway

• Kitchen Table Collective, Galway

• Lorg Printmakers, Galway

• The Guesthouse, Cork

• Occupy Space, Limerick

• Ormston House, Limerick

• Pallas Projects, Dublin

• Talbot Gallery & Studios, Dublin



Following the FOOTFALL seminar, the research coordinator, Shelly McDonnell and the report writer, Joanne Laws embarked on the process of collating, coding and analysing the various strands of data. Based on the material provided by the note-takers and moderators as well as the presentations of the invited speakers, seven core themes were identified which provided a framework for a detailed Seminar Report (Laws, 2015).