2020 Summer School on Cultural Diversity and Collaborative Practice



For a third year, Create and Counterpoints Arts are pleased to announce the Summer School on Cultural Diversity and Collaborative Practice for up to 15 artists, held from the 20th to 24th July. The Summer School is an initiative of The Arts Council’s Artist in the Community (AIC) Scheme  and managed by Create, the national development for collaborative arts.

The deadline for submission is 5pm 18 May

About the Summer School

The concept of ‘cultural diversity’ is often narrowly read through the lens of policy. It’s a repeated term but what does ‘cultural diversity’ mean in practice: in people’s intimate lives, in neighbourhoods and within communities of place and interest? How does the practice of cultural diversity resonate as an intersectional and dynamic part of everyday life?

How might the experience of ‘cultural diversity’ be enacted in the context of collaborative arts practice? How might ‘cultural diversity’ form an intrinsic part of the artistic, socially engaged process and act as a powerful driver for social change?

This summer school is interdisciplinary both in curriculum and composition of participants, presenters and facilitators. It takes the form of a five-day residency enabling a ‘think and do’ collaborative approach, utilizing creative workshops, critical and comparative case studies, one-to-one mentoring, international guest artists including curators, policymakers and activists.

Directed by: Dr Áine O’Brien – Co-Director/Co-Founder Counterpoints Arts

Visiting artists and facilitators include:

Abdullah Al-Kafri, Executive Director, Ettijahat Independent Culture

Isabel Lima, Independent Artist and Director, The Gresham Horse project

Juan del Gado, Independent artist and Co-Founder/Creative Producer, Qisetna


Artist in the Community Scheme (AIC)

A key aim of the summer school is to create a peer-to-peer space in which to explore the the concept of ’cultural diversity’ through the lens of the Artist in the Community Scheme (AIC), which has to date resulted in rich cultural ecosystems and cross-sector methodologies. Funded by the Arts Council and managed by Create, AIC has a long history in the development of collaborative arts in Ireland.

Established in 2002 with the aim to encourage and support meaningful collaboration between artists and communities of place and/or interest, the AIC scheme supports dynamic collaborations across  art forms and context areas across the country. Examples include film making with divers off Malin head, Co. Donegal;  dance in Cape Clear Island, Co. Cork; sound art with Beekeepers in Limerick to visual arts with Migrant Women’s Group in Dublin. 


Summer School on Cultural Diversity and Collaborative Practice

Who should apply? 

  • Any Artist based in the Republic of Ireland who is from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background, including members of the Traveller community, migrants, refugees and people in need of international protection who are in a position to take up this opportunity, will be particularly welcomed.
  • Emerging, mid-career and established artists, based in the Republic of Ireland, who have a collaborative arts practice (working in any artform including architecture, circus, street art and spectacle, dance, film, literature, music, opera, theatre, visual arts and traditional arts). Undergraduate students are ineligible to apply.
  • Artists who are interested in exploring the questions outlined above alongside their individual and shared practice. 

How to apply:

To apply please submit 

  1. a) Proposal (maximum of two A4 pages). See Proposal outline
  2. b) CV and/or Biography 
  3. c) PDF with a maximum of 5 examples of recent projects with short descriptions and relevant links which can include images and videos.

Proposal outline

In order to make the best case for why you should be part of the Summer School, you should give very careful consideration to what you include in your proposal. 

  1. a) Tell us about your practice 

Describe your work, mention recent achievements and give a general overview of your main interests and ambitions as an artist, relevant to your proposal.

  1. b) Your proposal- Why do you want to attend the Summer School? 

You should include the following. 

Outline why you are applying to this summer school. Explain your interest in the issue of cultural diversity and the Artist in the Community Scheme and what you wish to learn and explore alongside other participants. 

We want to know why the Summer School interests you, tell us something about why  ‘cultural diversity’ might be relevant to your current and future practice. Why apply now? What do you hope to develop in your practice in relation to this area of work?

Since the summer school will be run along the lines of a ‘think and do’ residency, we invite participants to play an active role in all aspects of the programme. We’re therefore interested to hear about what you might contribute to the summer school’s conversations and collaborative activities. What will you bring to the collective table?

This is the place to put any other information you consider relevant.

The deadline for submission is 5pm 18 May

Send completed applications to: apply@create-ireland.ie 


Location for the Summer School

The five-day residential summer school will take place between the 20th – 24th July. Participants will stay in Killary Lodge Co. Galway which is a country lodge nestled among mature native trees, just 250m from the waters of Killary Fjord, in the heart of Ireland’s stunning Wild Atlantic Way. The house has 10 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms. Please note that participants must be willing to share bedrooms. The residential will include full board, travel and an appropriate honorarium. 

For enquiries contact support@create-ireland.ie 


Selection process

Selection will be made by a panel of representatives from Create and Counterpoints Arts. The open call will be advertised through usual visual arts channels, informal networks and complementary fields of development. 


Emerging Situation – COVID 19

Create places great importance on the health and safety of the artists and communities we work with. We are monitoring the situation with regard to Coronavirus/ COVID 19, and will adhere to any recommendations issued by the HSE and/or the National Public Health Emergency Team. Reliable, up to date information on the Coronavirus is available from the HSE:  https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/coronavirus.html

In the event that we decide to postpone or cancel an event due to official recommendations, we will notify those who have booked places.



Create is the national development agency for collaborative arts in social and community contexts. Create supports artists across all artforms who work collaboratively with communities in different social and community contexts, be they communities of place or those brought together by interest. They seek to foster current and future potential for collaboration between artists and communities, encouraging art projects that reflect the exciting ways in which collaborative arts represent a complex range of ideas and approaches.  As a resource organisation we offer supports for artists working in social and community contexts. These include professional development, mentoring, project development support, commissioning and project opportunities as well as research and training. Create believes that by working together, artists and communities can purposefully explore how collaborative arts engage in distinct, relevant and powerful ways with the urgent social, cultural and political issues of our times. 

Counterpoints Arts support, produce and promote the arts by and about migrants and refugees and communties of place/interest. Our work is done in collaboration through local, national and international co-productions – with artists, arts, cultural and educational organizations, neighbourhoods/communities of place and civil society activists. We believe in the ability of the arts to inspire social change and reach our mission via three integrated strands: ‘Enabling, Producing and Learning’. We develop strategic programmes and platforms, enabling organisations and practitioners to improve networking, develop practice and showcase work. We produce high quality work across different artforms and outputs – events, exhibitions, commissions, digital platforms, artefacts and residencies engaging diverse audiences. We facilitate learning through peer-to-peer learning labs and platforms – encouraging imaginative reflection, cross-sector conversations, skills transfer, and the sharing of evaluation and impact.


Dr Áine O’Brien is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Counterpoints Arts, London and has worked across the arts, education and activism in the US, Ireland and the UK.  Áine set up the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice in 2005 (re-named Centre for Socially Engaged Practice-Based Research), a doctoral programme aligning migration research with the creative arts; and created FOMACS (Forum on Migration and Communications) in 2007, developing creative, arts and cross-sector public projects focusing on migration.

Her creative productions to date within the University sector, FOMACS and Counterpoints Arts (spanning across documentary film, print, exhibition and curation) explore global storylines linking migration with social justice and change. Including film productions: Silent Song  (2000) on Kurdish lyrical protest in Europe; Here to Stay (2006) on migrant activism; and Promise and Unrest (2010) on gendered migration and long-distance motherhood. She is co-editor of a combined book/DVD-ROM Projecting Migration: Transcultural Documentary Practice (Columbia University Press, 2007); and is co-editor of Art, Migration and the Production of Radical Democratic Citizenship (forthcoming Rowman and Littlefield International). 

Áine leads on Counterpoints Arts’ Learning Lab platform, developing national and international learning/creative production partnerships (with artists, cultural activists and organisations, policymakers and academic institutions). And on the cross-platform Who Are We? Tate Exchange programme at Tate Modern.  

Abdullah Al-Kafri, Executive Director,  Ettijahat Independent Culture

A playwright and cultural activist, Abdullah Alkafri works as a trainer in the field of arts and culture. He has taken part in many projects focusing on writing, particularly for theatre, organized by both Syrian and international organizations, and co-organized “Miniatures: A Month for Syria”, in collaboration with Shams Association in 2013; and “Agora: Platform for Theatre Labs”, in collaboration with Hananne Hajj Ali (in 2014), both of which took place in Beirut.

He has published/directed several plays, including Mrs Ghada’s Pain Threshold in Beirut; was a member of the selection committee for ‘Arab Contemporary Dramaturgy’ (organized by IEVP 2012) selecting nine Arabic texts to be published in French. He has contributed to ‘An Enemy of the People and Pillars of Society: the Tragedy of the Individual’, produced by the Ibsen Conference in 2014 in Norway with Zoukak Theatre Company.

Abdullah was awarded first place in the 19th Mohammad Teymour Competition for Theatrical Creativity for his text ‘Damascus – Aleppo’ (shortlisted for the BBC Competition for Best Translated Work in 2008). Abdullah graduated in Theatrical Studies from the High Institute of Dramatic Arts, Damascus, 2004 and completed his Master’s study at Saint Joseph University, Beirutin 2015. He is currently a PhD Student at Saint Joseph University, Beirut, Lebanon.

Juan del Gado, Independent artist and Co-Founder/Creative Producer, Qisetna

Based in London, Juan delGado works across a range of media including installation and photography, exploring themes of displacement, landscapes, disability and gender. The experiential rather than the visual is consistently emphasised through his work. delGado examines issues and themes on-site, in the location where the ‘narrative, the content of the project is waiting to be unfolded’. His intention is to actively engage the audience, challenging perceptions of what they are experiencing by presenting varying elements of the work in different media that inform each other; often through the visual and audio.

He is the co-founder and creative producer Qisetna: Talking Syria, an on-line platform initiated in 2013 to share the voices of those internally displaced within Syria. His work has been supported by The British Council, Spanish Ministry of Culture, Artschools Palestine, Arts Council England, The Wellcome Trust amongst others.His film installation Altered Landscapes toured across the UK and Internationally, and delGado is currently working on a creative documentary and multi-screen installation, In the Shadow of the Midnight Sun, set in the Arctic and focusing on human displacement and climate justice.

Isabel Lima, Independent Artist and Director, The Gresham Horse project

Isabel Lima is a Newcastle-based artist whose practice addresses the overarching themes of Identity, Culture and Place. Her own family history of displacement is the catalyst for her research. Isabel develops artist-led projects in collaboration with groups of people who have systematically suffered injustice and/or oppression caused by capitalism and colonialism, namely refugees and people seeking asylum.

In her current research Isabel is approaching socially engaged art as a site of production and transformation that goes beyond representation and contains within its scope the possibility to enact change. Isabel construes her role as an artist and that of the artwork as fundamentally linked to openness and vulnerability in a constant process of becoming. This process of becoming is relational and flexible in order to remain committed to place, context and lived experiences.