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Covid-19 has fundamentally altered the pathway for the arts and culture in a way that may not see a return to normal levels of work in the arts until 2025. Many artists have seen their work come to a complete stop and although the Government’s Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19 allows for resumption of artistic activity at certain“levels”, it is not envisaged that audiences will return to normal scale until at least 12 months’ time. This dramatically alters the opportunities available to artists.

The Local Authorities and the Arts Council have, therefore, taken this moment to come together to pilot an alternative investment opportunity for artists, through which they can develop themselves, create new work and participate in a peer-led exchange process.

The scheme is led by the Local Authority Arts offices throughout Ireland, who are key resources in the national arts infrastructure. They have a critical role in artist development and have been supporting, commissioning and developing artists at grassroots level for over 35 years.

Platform 31 recognises the unique needs of artists at this moment and aims to support their development and thinking processes during this difficult time. It will allow them space to reflect on how they might move forward in a meaningful way supported by peers, by a network of advisors and mentors addressing their emerging needs, and by the constant, expert and experienced resource that is their Local Authority Arts Office.

Scheme objectives

The overall aim of Platform 31 is to allow 31 artists the space and time to reflect on how they might test new ideas, research new approaches and make work in a different way, while being connected with and supported by peer practitioners, advisors and mentors.

The scheme is specifically not project or output focused. It will establish a national, peer networking framework for participating artists, introducing them to a pool of critical thinkers to share their work and learnings, and encouraging a national conversation about creating work in local contexts.

The Local Authority Arts Offices and the Arts Council have articulated the following objectives of the Platform 31 scheme:

  • To support 31 artists with bursaries worth €8,000 to take the time to think about and test new ways of working and collaborating;

  • To create a developmental / advisory framework to support participating artists;

  • To create a national peer network, discussion and exchange forum for participating artists;

  • To showcase participating artists, their work and their collaborations as part of this scheme;

  • To share artist learnings and practice developments locally and nationally;

  • To document and evaluate the process to inform future schemes;

  • To focus on mid-career artists who have previously had investment from Local Authority Arts Offices / Arts Council;

  • To shine a spotlight on how Local Authority Arts Offices have supported, and continue to support artists throughout the country.