In research recently conducted by the Arts Council of Ireland, it was found that one of the biggest impediments to accessibility to the arts is time. For the most part, cultural institutions follow the same timetable as people clocking in and out of their 9-5 jobs. Most of the big national institutions are open at the weekend, but even then the hours are curtailed. I have found myself banging my head against the brick wall and railings that encloses the National History Museum on more than one Sunday morning, cursing the fact that it doesn’t open until 12. For any family with young children, the day is almost half over by then.
The establishment of Culture Night in 2006 has had a big impact on raising awareness of the issue of accessibility as well as the awareness of the arts as well. The festival atmosphere and the widespread free events has proven to attract people who might not find themselves in a gallery or at a concert during an entire calendar year.
For those who get in and out of cultural institutions all the time, meanwhile, the access-all-areas approach is still thrilling. There are opportunities to take workshops with artists, sing on stages usually occupied by professionals, and, my favourite, to get in to buildings usually closed to the public. Full details of the programme are available at http://www.culturenight.ie
Every night is culture night when your main employment and interest is in the arts, so I will be keeping it fairly low-key, attending a local daytime event at the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire. What are you going to do with your little ones?
PS: Apologies for the lack of pictures. Working off an i-mac for the first time and having some teething problems. Hope to pretty up soon.