How CIT is adding to cultural vibrancy of Cork

CIT contributes greatly to the cultural vibrancy of Cork and is No.1 in European cities on that front, writes Gerard O’Donovan, Head of the College’s Faculty of Business and Humanities
How CIT is adding to cultural vibrancy of Cork

HIT FILM: The Young Offenders film is an example of CIT’S links to Cork’s cultural life

It is worth noting that in research recently published by the European Commission — the ‘Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor’ — Cork outscores Paris, Florence and Copenhagen to take the top spot on ‘Cultural Vibrancy’!

‘Cultural Vibrancy’ measures the cultural ‘pulse’ of a city in terms of cultural infra-structure and participation in culture. This is one of the three aspects of creative cities measured by the Monitor and it looks at ‘vibrancy’ rather than simply the cultural riches of a city.

Cork is recognised as the liveliest of all 168 cultural and creative cities identified in Europe, reflecting the number of venues, events, productions, performances, exhibitions and festivals taking place here in a typical year.

Both CIT Crawford College of Art and Design (CITCCAD) and CIT Cork School of Music (CITCSM) constituent colleges of Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) are among the oldest national educational institutions, with the CITCCAD founded in 1807 and CITCSM in 1878. They contribute and deliver programmes and graduates that add value to cultural life and vibrancy in Cork.

CITCCAD and CITCSM are key players in contributing to that picture, and this is in large part due to the fact many of our graduates stay in the city and become true cultural ‘animators’; setting up or becoming involved with galleries, artist-run studios, creative businesses, etc.

Examples from CCAD include the Backwater Artists, National Sculpture Factory, Cork Printmakers, Sample Studios, Over the Line Studios, and Sternview Gallery. Our students and graduates exhibited work in the windows of Brown Thomas in 2016 and every year, during the degree shows that exhibit the work of our final year students, galleries across city and county select student work for exhibitions to take place the next year.

More directly, CIT and CITCCAD contribute to the vibrancy of the visual arts in Cork through the CIT Gallery at Wandesford Quay and the James Barry Exhibition Centre on the main Bishopstown campus.

Students and graduates from CITCSM work and have roles in countless schools and music colleges around the country, both primary and secondary, the Academy of Popular Music, Voice Works, the Army Band, Alsa Productions, Strung, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and concert orchestras.

The CIT Cork School of Music occupies a unique place in the educational and cultural landscape of the city: a civic institution with 139 years of history filling a vital societal role as the only state provider of professional instrumental education in the city, with many, young and old, benefitting from this world class facility.

It puts on about 400 recitals and performances per year open to the public with many free events and features prominently in the key cultural events in the year e.g. Cork Guinness Jazz Festival, Cork Midsummer Festival Cork Pops, Cork Youth Orchestra, Cork Folk Festival, Cork International Choral Festival, Culture Night, Fleadh Ceoil, Life Long Learning Festival as well as annual Christmas concerts and performances.

Gerard O’Donovan, Head of CIT’s Faculty of Business and Humanities Picture. Darragh Kane
Gerard O’Donovan, Head of CIT’s Faculty of Business and Humanities Picture. Darragh Kane

Its diverse programmes in music, theatre and drama and music technology ensure graduates have expertise and music competency in many areas, making them employable but enabling them to work and remain in the city.

Last year, the highest grossing Irish Film was the Young Offenders, enjoyed by many because of the Cork connection. Written and directed by Peter Foott, lecturer on the BA in Theatre & Drama programme in CITCSM, it features Cork actors, including Peter’s wife Hilary Rose, who also lectures in CITCSM. Principal offender in the film Chris Walley began his career in the CITCSM Youth Theatre and won scholarships in grade 7 and 8 before gaining a coveted place in RADA in London.

Emma Willis and Tommy Harris, graduates of the BA in Theatre and Drama Studies, also feature in the film. Live music for the soundtrack was recorded in the CITCSM Studio by music technology lecturer Keith Clancy, ably assisted by popular music student Barry O’Connell, and was brilliantly performed by string players from the BMus and MA in performance courses.

You can see how CIT Cork School of Music, through music and theatre, is having an impact in the real world, showing the calibre of staff, students and graduates. It’s true to say if you attend a performance in the city it’s likely to involve a CITCSM student or graduate.

CIT is continuing its commitment in the city by investing and opening a new building at 46 Grand Parade for Postgraduate Fine Art students, where student work and exhibitions will be on display in the ground floor gallery space.

Both colleges also engage with voluntary organisations such as Cope Foundation, Age Action, Music Generation, and Mayfield Arts Centre and this ensures diversity, inclusiveness and participation in the arts and music by many Cork people.

In a recent survey, one in six people hadnever been to an art gallery so I encourage the people of Cork to visit the Wandesford Quay Gallery and many more in the city.

The Creative Industries sector in Ireland is estimated to be worth €4.6 billion. The real opportunity for Cork is the creation of a city centre Creative Hub where creatives and industry reside together so the outputs are truly impactful, innovative and value-creating, continuing to grow its ‘Cultural Vibrancy’.

Finally, I encourage Corkonians to continue to support the many cultural events in the city and county including many at CITCSM AND CITCCAD, further details: and

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