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DkIT Host Event on Sustainability in Arts, Heritage and Tourism

23 May 2024

Dundalk Institute of Technology recently hosted a hugely successful event on sustainability across the arts, heritage and tourism involving researchers from the Institute and stakeholders from across the region and national policy makers. With funding from N-TUTORR, the event informed how themes of sustainability are embedded in the learning and teaching at the Institute, addressing challenges faced by industry and society.

Dr Ronan Bree, Institute Lead for N-TUTORR at DkIT welcomed in particular the two keynote speakers, Dr Nessa Cronin from the University of Galway and Professor Simon McKerrell from Glasgow Caledonian University. Dr Cronin has contributed to recent national strategy documents and highlighted how culture has been recognized as the fourth pillar of sustainability, requiring us to consider how the creative and performing arts respond to and reinforce messages of climate action. Dr McKerrell challenged those present to consider value and the point of exchange, highlighting connections between sustaining traditions and the public good.

Councillors Conor Keelan and Maeve Yore from Louth County Council, Mark Mohan from Fáilte Ireland and Gary Clarke from Creative Spark contributed valuable perspectives to the discussion while presenters included Elaine Doyle from the Arts Council of Ireland, Paul Hayes from An Táin Arts Centre, Darren McQuillan from Íontas Arts Centre and Oscar Diaz from Fab Lab at Creative Spark Dundalk. Musician, television producer and festival maker Dónal O’Connor was one of a number of speakers whose presentation highlighted the interconnections of the creative industries and tourism sector. This was reflected in the presentation by DkIT researcher Colleen Savage, whose research is having a very significant impact in south Armagh where her sharing of local songs has positive impacts on sustainable communities and tourism development.

The occasion also offered the opportunity to share ongoing research at DkIT. TUTF scholar Aminah Dastan provided insights into how festivals become spaces for wellbeing, which Paula Mullen and Kayla Rush discussed in relation to how we provide wellbeing supports for student through our teaching. The concept of the ecosystem was recurring with TUTF scholar Darren Culliney focusing on challenges to the Irish traditional music ecosystem of the border region while recent graduate Dr Maurice Mullen focused on Fingal and north Dublin. In contrast, Gordon Ramsay focused on the resilience of marching bands in the Loyalist communities of Northern Ireland and their role in creating opportunities for socializing and participating in cultural activities. In his examination of themes of sustainability in the films of Cartoon Saloon, Luke Malone also highlighted how the popularity of these films has had an impact on tourism in Kilkenny. Local tourism consultant Jason McGee challenged us to value Dundalk’s industrial heritage and highlighted the potential to create experiences centred on the Macardle’s Brewery in the town.

The event promoted an ethos of transdisciplinary thinking. Nursing student James White combined his studies with his interest in music to consider how we can integrate the arts into elderly care. Science lecturers Dr Suzanne Linnane and Dr Caroline Gilleran Stephens demonstrated how their use of social media with students has enhanced an awareness and understanding of sustainability, particularly amongst farmers and agriculture students.

This event was co-hosted by the Creative Arts Research Centre and Tourism Research Group at DkIT and the occasion demonstrated how thinking across disciplines presents greater opportunities for our students and external stakeholders. By bringing together a range of stakeholders, the event highlighted how collaboration is critical to achieving sustainability. Collaboration between DkIT and sector leaders in our region creates opportunities for both to develop and respond to challenge in creative ways.

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