Arts help children to move, grow and dream... check out Cruinniú na nÓg

A national day of free creativity for children and young people will be celebrated in Cork this Saturday. Cork City Council Arts Officer Jean Brennan tells us more
Arts help children to move, grow and dream... check out Cruinniú na nÓg
Cheeky Cherubs Billy O'Connell, Ameve Cotter, Lewis O'Donovan, Maeve Cotter and Denis Burke having fun in Cork City Hall at the launch of Cruinniú na nÓg. Picture: Darragh Kane

CORK city is delighted to be celebrating Cruinniú na nÓg on Saturday, June 15 this year. Ireland is the first, and only, country in the world to have a national day of free creativity for children and young people under 18, and the day has been welcomed by all of the cultural institutions and organisations in Cork City.

Cruinniú na nÓg is a flagship initiative of the Creative Ireland Programme’s Creative Youth plan to enable the creative potential of children and young people. Cruinniú na nÓg is a nationwide initiative that sparks children’s and young people’s enthusiasm for culture and creativity through child-focused free events including performances, theatre, art, readings, screenings and much more.

The first Cruinniú na nÓg took place in 2018, and here in Cork City we had a wonderful day. You might have seen the Bus Eireann double-decker bus that goes around the city featuring local heroes Cillian Murphy and the boys from the Young Offenders — this was made as part of last year’s event.

This year, Cork City Council is delighted to be presenting a packed programme of events for Cruinniú na nÓg on Saturday, June 15, with 22 activities across 16 venues, events that cover the whole city, designed for children aged 0 to 18.

Culture has always been a pillar of Cork City, and for our city, but this day is of particular importance, as it encourages our youngest citizens to get involved with making, creating and doing. Ensuring our young people develop creative skills is one of the most important things we can do.

Participation in culture is a right for all children, as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. This has been recognised in The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014–2020, where the Government recognises that: ‘Early and ongoing exposure to art and culture lays a positive foundation for creativity, an essential component in critical thinking and innovation.’

The Creative Ireland programme of government has as its first pillar Enabling the Creative Potential of Every Child, while Cork City Council’s Culture Strategy has a priority to Recognise Youth Culture as a Creative Force and an Art Form for Cork City.

Cork City Council Arts Officer Jean Brennan
Cork City Council Arts Officer Jean Brennan

Cork City Council recognises the transformative ability of arts and cultural activity and exploration for everyone. The arts are intrinsically valuable because of their ability to connect head and heart together, to move us, to help us grow, to encourage us to dream. This is even truer for our young people. If we want to develop healthy, happy, curious, empathetic children, active participation in arts and cultural creation and experience is a vital step. Through the child’s participation in culture, as creator and artist, and experiencing the work of other creators and artists, children learn to build key skills for the future. They build understanding of others; they learn to express their own identity; to understand diversity, and to build a world view that brings meaning to them as unique individuals. They learn about innovation, they develop flexible minds, they become more empathetic.

Children have an immense capacity for imaginative play, which arts and cultural activity highlights and develops. Strong imaginative processes and an ability to interpret these are now understood as key components of good mental health. Partaking in cultural activity, especially when this involves creation as well as participation, ensure that children can interpret and transform culture through their own experience. For all of us, our goals are to build healthy, creative and sustainable societies. This starts with giving young people the tools to create, to experience, to innovate, and to think flexibly.

So, take advantage of the huge array of activities that young people can take part in this year on June 15. At the launch of the event earlier this month the former Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Mick Finn said: “I encourage young people of all ages to get out and get involved and I also ask parents to get on board as motivators to action.”

Libraries across the city are hosting a range of exciting events with Cork City Library, Douglas, Bishopstown, Glanmire, Hollyhill, Ballincollig, and Blarney all joining in the action. The Glucksman and Crawford Galleries are opening up their doors especially for young people with tours, drawing and architecture workshops, and storytelling while the Atrium in Cork City Hall will be hosting drawing and printmaking workshop for children. St Peters hosts an imaginative tour of North Main Street, and Triskel Christchurch has classic cinema for children. Rebel Streets takes over the Lido in Blackpool, with hip hop, street art and mural making.

There’s lots to do outside as well, with events in Elizbeth Fort, while Douglas Street Park is transformed into a family day of reading, storytelling, and performance. Ballingcollig Regional Park and the Gunpowder Mills host African drumming, traditional Irish music and chalk art. The tiniest of people can go to an event designed specifically for them with early years arts play experiences at Beag from Graffiti Theatre Company, Blackpool. All of these events are free to all.

Cork City Council has a vibrant culture, with a host of venues, festivals and events for all of us to experience art created by and for us. June 15 is a day that allows our children to experience these, and to become familiar with the range of activities available all year round across our venues and festivals. It is an opportunity for our young people to have fun, to create wonderful work, and to dream.

As the American poet Langston Hughes says “Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken- winged bird that cannot fly.” Let us use Cruinniú na nÓg this year to develop a nation of strong winged young dreamers.

For all the details, times and information see the full programme of events on cruinniu.creativeireland.gov.ie

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