The Culture Club Project was one of the worthy nominees at the 2016 AONTAS STAR Awards. These awards are part of the Adult Learners’ Festival to acknowledge the fantastic work undertaken by adult learning projects throughout Ireland.
The Culture Club is a partnership project between Barnstorm Theatre and Butler Gallery, Kilkenny Castle that run a critical analysis course for adults. It is a group of adults who meet regularly with trained facilitators and artists to explore how they can make informed decisions about art and theatre. They explore art-criticism through workshops, discussions, attendance at theatre and visual art events which helps to build up their terms or reference, language and knowledge, and confidence.
During the Kilkenny Arts Festival the Culture Club project meets regularly with the Red Square Young Critic’s Group, therefore becoming an inter-generational project. The groups together put their learning into practice though a serious of preparation and debriefing workshops.
Culture Club has been running since 2012 and each year goes from strength to strength.
Barnstorm Outreach & Education Officer – Anne Galligan says “ The programme is one of the highlights of our year. It has encourage people to get involved in the arts and to become knowledgeable about what is happening in their locality. We have had many people who may be interested in visual arts but who do not attend theatre and visa versa, who have left embracing a wider spectrum of art forms. Barriers to art range from a lack of knowledge about what’s happening, confidence to enter buildings never visited, afraid that opinions are unworthy because of a lack of knowledge, a need to article responses to arts experience and feeling unable, the list goes on. The methodologies used are not based on traditional methods of education such as ‘banking’ i.e. teacher talks and learners listen. They are a mix of group work, experiential learning and active exercises to explore knowledge and personal attitudes regarding the arts. It is as much about the participant’s personal and social development as the artistic development. There have also been achievements made by participants that were facilitated by taking part in the programme that were not intentional by us, the organisers, as some have gone on to further education in Art or Theatre and others have developed their career paths, having found their confidence to pursue a career either in the Arts or Critical Analysis. And then there are the added bonuses of having fun, taking a break from life, mixing with others that have a shared interest and doing something for yourself. But probably best to leave the last words to our participants over the years...’
‘The age differences, the different backgrounds of participants – widened the overall experience of learning about art and theatre.’
‘This project opened up access to buildings where people like me would not normally go’
‘This project offered a chance to connect with people you may never have met – connecting over the arts...’
‘It demystified the art-world’