Kilkenny County Council - Arts

By: Kilkenny County Council  05/12/2011
Keywords: practitioners

Mary Butler, Arts Officer

May I initially introduce myself as Mary Butler, Arts Officer. I took up this position in August 2002, two days before the Kilkenny Arts Festival and what a re inauguration to the Arts in Kilkenny that was!

I am originally from Kilkenny but I have lived away for about the last fifteen years. I am a practising artist myself and have been involved arts administration in for a number of years.

I see the role of the Arts Office to be many things including:

  • developing and co-ordinating artistic activity within the City and County
  • ensuring balanced cultural arts provision through encouraging local arts and by promoting touring arts.
  • motivating and inspiring enthusiasm for the arts by promoting it as a worthwhile and positive activity for all
  • advising, assisting and supporting persons, groups and organisations
  • helping to make the arts a realistic career choice for people
  • broadening and enriching participation both in regards to audiences and those directly involved in events
  • also working with others to help bring the arts closer to local communities
  • keeping the arts high on peoples agenda

Arts Office Location - No. 76 John Street, Kilkenny

The Arts Office moved from no. 72 John Street to no. 76 John Street, into what was formerly Meubles furniture shop, in August 2009. This space accommodates our offices upstairs and a flexible space on the ground floor which is used for residencies, exhibitions, launches, courses and much more.

Opening times Monday to Friday 9:30am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm

We are also on



and have a

Arts Office Information

Arts Office: Structure & Role

The arts play an integral role in the life of Kilkenny. From local community groups to micro-enterprises, from solo practitioners to national organisations, Kilkenny has a long history of cultivating and showcasing the arts in its many guises. A high percentage of the population is currently engaged in arts, crafts and design. Creative practitioners have resided in Kilkenny for many years and have provided a rich legacy for the county.

The function of the Arts Office is many things including:

  • developing and coordinating artistic activities and events across the county
  • encouraging and inspiring enthusiasm for the arts and promoting it as a valuable, positive and worthwhile activity for all
  • through partnerships and linkages working to bring the arts to a wider community
  • broadening participation through increased audience and practitioner involvement
  • administration of an annual bursaries and Arts Act Grant
  • facilitating partnering synergy and skills exchange between groups, individuals and agencies involved in the arts advocacy

The Arts Office continually develops and delivers an inclusive Arts programme working to dispel notions of elitism in the sector. Through partnership with other groups, we deliver a programme of activities where the arts are open to all, enjoyable, gratifying and a tool for lifelong learning. Our annual exhibition programme in County Hall and the Watergate theatre presents a diverse range of shows which are accessible to all. They range from very colourful multi media shows to purely painting and sculpture. Other initiatives include workshops in libraries, poetry readings and exhibition space for local community groups, schools, and individuals. For example Rio round the corner, a Brazilian drumming workshop for children which culminated in a performance for parents and friends, also papermaking and printmaking workshops, which have been very popular with adults.

One of the best practical examples of inclusiveness in action was the very successful Postcards from The Edge project (2004), which resulted in the exhibition of 4,000 postcard sized works from a largely local but also national and international audience. The Arts Office invited everyone, young and old, professional, hobbyists etc to create exhibition pieces. They could be decorated or embellished in any way. These postcards were subsequently exhibited in the Link Corridor in County Hall. Entries ranged from simple written messages to knits, paintings, collage, clay, glass etc. Five judges selected 50 postcards which were subsequently auctioned purely on visual merit with proceeds contributing to a Childrens Art Day for Kilkenny city and county. The whole event was a huge success. Our annual Arts Act Grants also support a wide variety of initiatives such as childrens drama, youth orchestras, short term music programmes, womens projects, photography, music and visual arts events. We also publish an annual Poetry Broadsheet giving local writers a platform for their work and this year we are launching a Rhyme Rag, i.e. a poetry broadsheet for 12 18 year olds. School subsidies are administered in order to assist schools in attending Barnstorm Theatres childrens productions and various organizations receive grants to enable them to bring high quality arts events to Kilkenny. Networking events and discussion evenings are organised to enable practitioners and those interested in the arts to meet, learn and socialise. Our relocation to a prominent new space within the city gives us a much improved presence within the town. This is also extending the significance + credence of the arts and it is also an acknowledgement of the value + and impact the arts has within our society. This is also enabling us to organise and stage a more diverse range of activities and services, including, residencies, workshops, seminars, courses, exhibitions. Also access to our publicity files, arts magazines and catalogues for students and the general public.

Mary Butler,
Arts Officer,

February 2005


Keywords: practitioners

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