Surviving or Thriving ? – Supporting Wellbeing in the Irish Arts Sector

Surviving or Thriving ?

Surviving or Thriving? is a six-part online series from The Arts Council/An Comhairle Ealaíon and Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT). Taking place over three weeks from March 15th to April 1st 2021, it has been designed to support the wellbeing of arts professionals in Ireland, with particular relevance to the present Covid-19 pandemic.

The Life of Stuff - Surviving or Thriving - Supporting Wellbeing in the Arts Sector

The series, which is open to all those working in the arts in Ireland and is free of charge, will consist of panel discussions and workshops, and podcasts and other online resources available ongoing. And its aim is to:

  1. Strengthen resilience.
  2. Restore confidence.
  3. Promote connectedness across the arts sector. 

The Surviving or Thriving ? programme features panel exchanges chaired by psychologist Dr Maureen Gaffney, with guest speakers from a range of art forms, including writer Anne Enright, musician Eleanor McEvoy and artist Austin Ivers, in addition to follow-up workshops and online resources exploring self-care and wellbeing. 

Admission is free, but booking is required. 

Further details and booking links for all events from and  

Surviving or Thriving ? Programme Schedule

Here’s an outline of the Surviving or Thriving? programme schedule: series and speakers:

Monday 15 March: 
Panel Exchange 1: Literature 
Chaired by Dr Maureen Gaffney, with guest speakers writer Anne Enright, writer Helena Close and poet Stephen Sexton.

Tuesday 16 March: 
Workshop 1: Literature
Slowing Down as a Source of Creativity, facilitated by poet Lani O’Hanlon

Thursday 18 March, 10.30am:
Panel Exchange 2: Visual Art
Chaired by Dr Maureen Gaffney, with guest speakers artist Brian Kielt, artist Miriam O’Connor and artist and educator Austin Ivers.

Friday 19 March, 10.30am:
Workshop 2: Visual Art 
Sustaining the Self, facilitated by artist Marie Brett.

Surviving or Thriving ? - Supporting Wellbeing in the Irish Arts Sector - Free Series

Monday 22 March, 10.30am:
Panel Exchange 3: Collaborative Arts
Chaired by Dr Maureen Gaffney, with guest speakers visual artist Deirdre O’Mahony, choreographer/ curator Ruairí Ó Donnabháin and dance artist Tobi Balogun.

Tuesday 23 March, 10.30am:
Workshop 3: Collaborative Arts 
Building a Culture of Care: Anti-burnout practices for socially engaged artists, facilitated by trainer, researcher and activist Dr Krini Kafiris and artist Kate O’Shea.

Thursday 25 March, 10.30am:
Panel Exchange 4: Dance
Chaired by Dr Maureen Gaffney, with guest speakers choreographer and dance artist Fearghus Ó Conchúir, choreographer and dance artist Catherine Young and choreographer David Bolger.

Friday 26 March, 10.30am:
Workshop 4: Dance 
Embracing your dance practice and knowledge to support your wellbeing, facilitated by Dr Jenny Elliott, dance artist, choreographer, Artistic Director and CEO, Arts Care, a leading arts and health organisation in Northern Ireland.

Surviving or Thriving ? - Supporting Wellbeing in the Irish Arts Sector - The Arts Council and Waterford Healing Arts Trust

Monday 29 March, 10.30am:
Panel Exchange 5: Music
Chaired by Dr Maureen Gaffney, with guest speakers songwriter and performer Eleanor McEvoy, composer Jennifer Walshe and Tony Sheehan, Director, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork.

Tuesday 30 March, 10.30am:
Workshop 5: Music 
Nurturing the Creative Mindset:  Time and tools to support resilience and forward thinking, facilitated by Grainne Hope, musician, Director of Kids Classics and Atlantic Fellow Global Brain Health Institute at TCD.

Thursday 01 April, 10.30am:
Panel Exchange 6: Theatre
Chaired by Dr Maureen Gaffney, with guest speakers theatre maker Louise Lowe, actor and director Aaron Monaghan and costume designer Catherine Fay.

Thursday 01 April, 12.30pm*
Workshop 6: Theatre 
Working in the Arts: How to live on the edge of chaos, facilitated by Chartered Psychologist and musician Louize Carroll.
*Note: Different time for this workshop

Surviving or Thriving ? - Supporting Wellbeing in the Irish Arts Sector - Free Online Series and Programme

More about Surviving or Thriving ?

“Surviving or Thriving? has been developed in response to the cessation of arts activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Covid-19 has had a profound professional and personal impact on artists and arts workers, with major structural impacts for organisations.  Artists and arts workers from across the arts sector in Ireland provided a myriad of real-life examples of the effect the pandemic has had on their wellbeing to the Arts Council for its report Survive Adapt Renew.  Among its recommendations the report included commitments to building resilience, inclusion and sustainability in the sector as it faces into the future. 

Each element of Surviving or Thriving? seeks to inspire and support, while acknowledging current challenges and realities.  Recognising the need to break through the saturation of online events available and to offer real value to the target audience of arts professionals, WHAT has been liaising with national and regional art form and development organisations who have offered their expertise and guidance in developing the programme and putting together a high calibre line up of speakers.  These organisations include Music Network, Visual Artists Ireland, Theatre Forum, Words Ireland, Create, Age and Opportunity, Minding Creative Minds and Dance Limerick.” 

Photos by Skylar Kang – CC0 Licence

Further Reading: The Life of Stuff Irish Art Q&A Series

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