We have won a Global Award for culture engagement, from the World Organisation of United Cities and Local Governments.
This international award recognises cities, local governments and individuals who have focused on innovative responses to provide creative and cultural opportunities for their citizens. This, the fifth edition of this award, took special consideration of actions during Covid-19 and post-pandemic recovery.
Dublin City Council Culture Company and Dublin City Council have been named as winners alongside Buenos Aires, Argentina. Thank you to everyone who collaborated with us in our projects. You helped Dublin win this award.
With a choice of 100 candidates from all corners of the world, the International Jury for the World Organisation of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) decided that the winner of the Prize in the category “City / Local or Regional Government” was 'AWE' - Cultural Engagement through Accessibility, Wellbeing and Evidence, submitted by Dublin City Council Culture Company and Dublin City Council.
Committee for Culture
The UCLG is the largest network of local and regional governments in the world. The mission of UCLG's Committee for Culture is to promote culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development. It works together with cities through experiences of collaboration, dialogue, cooperation and knowledge-sharing of the 21 actions for culture (Agenda 21) to advance the global response and actions to uplift communities and empower at a local level. The mission of the UCLG Committee for Culture is “to promote culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development through the international dissemination and the local implementation of Agenda 21 for culture”.
Our work has won the overall Global Award for Culture Engagement for our AWE programme, a new model of connecting people with culture through ‘Accessibility, Wellbeing and Evidence’. Devised by the Culture Company with the support of Dublin City Council, it puts the people of Dublin at the centre of cultural policy through collaboration.
At the Culture Company, our approach is one of continuous collaboration. We listen to learn what is important to people, then in response, we programme culture in the local areas based on what is heard. We test new models and activities and finally maintain communications to ensure that the work stays relevant and of interest to the people of the city.
The pandemic caused the city to re-examine how people participate in culture. The AWE model was used to assess its impact on our ability to connect, converse and create. We researched and devised case studies to follow the impact of cultural participation on people, and the role it can play in our lives and our communities.
A number of themes emerged including community, loneliness, need for connection, mental health, certain areas in the city being left behind, and a lack of participation in culture for certain cohorts. The work focused on the accessibility to culture during this period, including moving long-standing programmes online and providing digital training and support to participants on programmes. (One example of this was ‘Home Truths', which paired an artist with residents of nursing homes in the city - showing how unique cultural opportunities can improve wellbeing and inclusion for people who found themselves isolated throughout the pandemic.)
The three strands of the Culture Company’s award-winning AWE are:
ACCESSIBILITY - The question of how people find, share and participate in the activities of the Culture Company.
WELLBEING - Could cultural participation support increased well-being at a time when frontline services were under immense pressure and the mental and physical health of the wider population was ‘at risk’ from infection, enforced isolation and social distancing, and the closure of many community and cultural services?
EVIDENCE - As cultural participation impacts how connected people felt to their neighbourhoods and the city, now we wanted to learn what role it could play at this extremely challenging time and in turn, how best culture can contribute to our post-pandemic recovery.
What the jury and the Lord Mayor have to say
A statement from the awards Jury includes: “The Jury commends the innovative and resolute work of the Culture Company. Through listening and creating responsive actions to improve accessibility and inclusion, more ways into culture during the pandemic were created. The methodology of ‘AWE’ has not only ensured the cultural rights of citizens during the pandemic and beyond, but it included extensive research that could be considered as a benchmark for other cities.”
The Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland said, “On behalf of the people of Dublin, I am proud to receive this global award. The innovative approach of the Culture Company makes culture more accessible to everyone in our city. Through continuous collaboration with local people in their local areas, we are able to deliver the cultural themes and ambitions expressed by our citizens. When the work reflects the people they are naturally more engaged with it and more connected to their communities, resulting in them feeling safer, stronger and healthier. It's an innovative people-first approach that is now a model for local community cultural engagement on the international stage.”
Thoughts from Dublin
Richard Shakespeare, Assistant Chief Executive of Dublin City Council said, “With continuous conversations with community groups, youth leaders, artists, residential care homes, businesses, Dublin City Council and national cultural institutions, the Culture Company is devising programmes that improve accessibility, inclusion and wellbeing and creating more ways of getting into culture. Their approach is making a meaningful difference in keeping them connected to each other and their local communities through cultural spaces, buildings and programmes. It means that the people of city can directly and authentically contribute to devising cultural policy of the city for all who live and work in it and visit it. This award is great recognition for the work put in by the Culture Company. It is a credit to Iseult and her team and how they’ve engage with a broad range of stakeholders since being established in 2018.”
Iseult Byrne, CEO of Dublin City Council Culture Company said, “Putting people first is our way of working. Much of our work is based around people’s shared stories that come from ‘tea & chats’ conversations. These help us to devise programmes that interest people and meet their cultural needs. As activity moved online in the pandemic, we asked ‘who is being left behind?’ We continued our conversations with community groups, youth leaders, artists, residential care homes, businesses and national cultural institutions and worked with them to devise programmes that would improve accessibility, inclusion and create more ways of ‘getting into’ culture during the pandemic. This award is a very welcome and exciting confirmation of our approach.”
If you're interested in finding out more about the Culture Company's work, you can find out how to get involved below.