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> Jo Lavelle
It was an exceptionally rewarding visit – one where we created bonds with the team and explored some exciting opportunities that will allow us to work together in the coming months and years.
Rijeka has many similarities to Galway – the weather, for one, believe it or not! During our visit, we discussed the possibility of partnering on some of our projects – for example, ‘Hope It Rains’, which is one of our flagship projects that will effect a cultural change in our relationship to Galway’s weather, so that in 2020, Galway will be a place to come to because it rains!
We’re already working with Rijeka 2020 on their 27 Neighbourhoods and our equivalent – Small Towns Big Ideas. 27 Neighbourhoods provides multiple opportunities for practicing exchange across Europe and developing community skills that both Rijeka and Europe need. Small Towns Big Ideas works on a similar premise…rural Ireland was built on community neighbourliness and family, but this has changed. We need a new support system that can create sustainable places, and places where people feel part of the community, where they thrive. There is a huge opportunity here for us to work together on something that potentially can have such a huge impact on our smaller towns, villages and neighbourhoods in the city. This has the potential to help towns create stronger, more resilient and happier communities.
Other similarities in our programme include the theme of ‘Migration’, as Rijeka has seen much migration in recent years. In fact, many Croatians choose Ireland to migrate to, due to a similar culture, the friendly people and a catholic heritage. Other areas that we plan to collaborate on include food, minority communities, and working with those with disabilities.
During the visit, we also discussed the opportunities around capacity building for both teams, where both the Galway 2020 and Rijeka 2020 teams can upskill, learn from each other and offer support, with the idea that together, we can be stronger.
Capacity building in the areas of street theatre and community cultural programmes was of particular interest to Rijeka. They feel that they could learn much from our street theatre and cultural programmes. Meanwhile, we discussed the possibility of learning from Rijeka’s expertise in classical music and contemporary art.
The benefits of cooperating with Rijeka are many – we can learn from each other, share our expertise, and support each other. Through cooperating, we will automatically be bringing an additional European element to both of our programmes, which will result in a more culturally diverse programme.
We’re delighted to be working with Rijeka in the coming months, and look forward to creating mutually beneficial bonds in the lead up 2020 and beyond.
Hannah Kiely, Chief Executive
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