Towards an Informed Strategy of Art for Reconciliation
Dr Alexander Coupe, Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool
The decades following the 1998 Good Friday/Belfast Agreement have seen significant interest in and support for activities aimed at fostering reconciliation in Northern Ireland through arts and cultural expression. A broad range of actors are involved in developing and delivering Arts for Reconciliation (AfR), extending from regional, national and transnational funding bodies to local politicians, regional arts and heritage organisations, arts practitioners and community development agencies. The presumption that participation in arts and cultural activities can deliver reconciliation objectives is deeply embedded, not only in policy thinking and funding regimes, but also within the common sense of actors involved in the development of AfR practices and in project design and delivery. However, despite a strong tradition of artistic practice that reflects on conflict in order to transform it, there exists no comprehensive strategy outlining the particular role of art in reconciliation. Drawing upon interviews with practitioners, funders and policy makers conducted as part of the AHRC-funded ‘Art of Reconciliation’ project, this presentation explores the flaws in the way AfR projects are currently funded and evaluated, and seek to outline what an informed art and peacebuilding strategy might look like.
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The Conference was organised as part of the AHRC/ESRC funded Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research project Sounding Conflict: From Resistance to Reconciliation 2017-2021.