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Minister Foley announces 425 new BLAST Arts in Education residencies in schools and 40 new Creative Clusters commenced

Minister Foley announces 425 new BLAST Arts in Education residencies in schools and 40 new Creative Clusters commenced

Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD, has today announced the latest updates to BLAST and Creative Clusters as part of the Creative Youth Plan 2023 – 2027.

Announcing the creation of 425 new BLAST Arts in Education Residencies, Minister Foley said:

“I am so pleased to announce that 425 schools have been selected to take part in the BLAST 2023 initiative I announced earlier this year under the Creative Youth Pillar of the Creative Ireland Programme. I welcome these schools into the new initiative in 2023 which Brings Live Arts to Students and Teachers.

“The initiative will provide additional opportunities for schools to collaborate with established artists and creatives, supporting our children and young people to collaborate and engage in creative and critical thinking – all crucial skills for their futures. 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 residency projects 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. Each residency is worth €1,100 which is fully funded by the Department of Education and the local Education Centre will pay the Artist for a 20-hour residency which will be delivered throughout the academic year, commencing from September 2023. I look forward to seeing how these exciting artist in residency opportunities in schools develop over the coming year”.

Poet Paula Meehan has said of BLAST: “The best and most practical gift we can give students is to nurture their creative selves, their dreaming selves, and 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.”

With the creation of 40 new Creative Clusters, Minister Foley said:

“Now more than ever, it is important that our students are supported to develop their creativity and given flexibility to express themselves in a variety of exciting new ways. Today I am proud to announce the 140 schools that are coming together to form 40 new Creative Clusters. I look forward to seeing how these exciting projects develop over the coming two years. This year has once again seen a very significant level of interest from schools applying to participate in the 2023 Creative Clusters initiative across the country.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for schools to work together on a project of their choice. Schools are given complete freedom to design and develop their own project, with support from a local facilitator and their local Education Support Centre. Through Creative Clusters school communities are collaborating, through creativity to find new ways of working. These new and creative approaches to teaching, learning and sharing result in bringing relationships to the fore through shared and equal leadership with children and young people. Our Creative Clusters are exploring environmental learning, coding, wellbeing, diversity and empowering transitions.

“Under this scheme to support schools to build capacity in creativity, schools in each cluster will enjoy access to a specialist facilitator, artist or creative expertise in whatever their chosen area of interest or theme might be. These resources will help the schools to build a project of learning and activities tailor-made for their students. As part of this funding allocation, a cluster may receive up to €15,000 funding to help bring their plans and ideas to fruition in 2023-2025. To date, the Creative Clusters initiative has seen schools around the country work together to develop creative projects and collaborate on new ideas based on their local experience and unique perspective.”

Creativity has an enormously positive impact on young. BLAST and Creative Clusters will support children and young people with skills like the ability to connect and collaborate with others, engage in creative and critical thinking, and practice inclusivity at every level.

Notes for Editors

The Creative Ireland Programme

Building on the success of the Creative Ireland Programme 2017-2022, the Irish Government extended the programme for another five years to 2027. As one of the 5 Pillars of the Programme, the cross Departmental new Creative Youth Plan 2023-2027, which was launched on the 28th March of this year, will further embed and integrate creativity in all its different forms to support the hardest to reach children and young people.

The new Creative Youth Plan provides everyone from birth to 24 years with even more opportunities to experience and to enjoy all that art and creativity can bring. Within the Department of Education, programmes such as BLAST and Creative Clusters are key in-school programmes developed under Creative Youth and have shown us the benefits creative engagement can bring for children and young people.

You can find out more here.

Details of new schools participating in BLAST 2023 from September 2023 are available below.

To date over 1,500 schools have successfully applied for a BLAST residency since its inception in 2021.

Creative Clusters

Creative Clusters is an initiative of the Department of Education, led by and in partnership with the Education Support Centres Ireland (ESCI). Creative Clusters provide schools with access to creative people, skills and resources that will support them to draw on their own skills and experiences and those within their wider communities. Creative Clusters is an initiative under Creative Youth 2023-2027 – A Plan to Enable the Creative Potential of Every Child and Young Person, which was published in March 2023 as part of the Creative Ireland Programme.

Details of new schools participating in Creative Clusters from September 2023 are available below.