Our Creative Communities


Small Towns Big Ideas has been mobilising communities in the city and county to embrace their creativity through innovative projects over the last year.

Here, we meet just some of the people behind the projects.

Elske Bhreatnach, ARD Family Resource Centre – Culture Café


“I really enjoyed working on the Culture Café project; it was such a privilege to meet such wonderful and lovely people and bring people from completely different parts of the world together, learning about one another’s culture, geography, language, music and of course, food!

Doughiska is one of the most multicultural suburbs in Ireland and over half those living there come from outside Ireland. There are 41 different languages spoken in the local school, and so many of these communities were on our doorstep. People love to have the opportunity to share their culture with others, to show their fashion, and to cook for others; it’s so important when you’re new in a country to bring a piece of home, to get the chance to speak about your home country and to feel accepted. It’s also great to learn about other newcomers and Irish communities.

Many people do feel very isolated. Refugees are still struggling with what they have had to deal with, others are still struggling with a new language and trying to fit in here in Ireland – to get work, to get qualifications recognised. So, when people who are in the same boat come together, there is a kind of strength that comes from their shared experience. It’s great to meet people from the same country who you never knew lived in your same town -you can make friends and make connections – that’s what it’s all about!”

Our main aim with the Culture Café project was integration – for people from different cultures to come out together in a local setting on an evening to enjoy themselves, meet their neighbours and maybe learn something new! And it looks like we achieved this. Thanks to Galway 2020 for supporting our project; people keep asking us when the next one will be!”

Markus Voetter –  Smart Arts Kinvara


“As a commercial and fine-art landscape photographer, the Smart Arts Kinvara project gave me the chance to share my passion for photography with 12 teens over a three-week period. In what was so much more than just a photography course, the teens learned the fundamentals of photography and how to overcome the limitations of their smartphones to create stunning photographs. The young artists’ best images were then printed and framed and together with 12 corresponding pieces from the established KAVA network formed a strong body of work for a joint art exhibition. The exhibition’s opening night was a major success with the gallery brimming with excitement from young and established artists, parents and friends. This project was a powerful and uplifting experience for everyone involved and an important and memorable event for the community of Kinvara. I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of it.”

Breandán Ó Loinsigh – Ballindereen Sur Le Mer


“The Ballinderreen community came together to showcase, over a weekend, what we all enjoy in our local natural environment – the seashore, the oysters, the music and conviviality. It was a team effort that ran effortlessly because of the local support and the continual interest shown by the Small Towns Big Ideas team. The festival saw neighbours come together in a relaxed atmosphere, forging friendships that have lasted long after the event came to an end. Bonds were created, and this has spilled over into other local groups like the GAA, Athletics and music/dance organisations.”

Pam Flemming, KAVA – Smart Arts Kinvara


“Smart Arts Kinvara was a great opportunity for KAVA artists to collaborate with some of the youth of the town in a project that was both fun and a learning experience for the young and enthusiastic students.”

James Riordan – Bru Theatre


“Re-imaging a part of Galway’s history with a team of artists I admire, collaborating with new creatives in making street theatre and watching people’s faces as The Fisherwives tried to sell them fresh fish was a fantastic experience. I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to bring theatre to the streets, to do something I am passionate about and to connect with what has come before.”

Saifur Rehman – Culture Café


“From the perspective of the Pakistani community, we were honoured to be part of the Culture Café project. It was an amazing experience; we really enjoyed sharing our culture with the wider community and it was wonderful for us all to learn from one another and share our cultures. The Café was a warm and welcoming space to bring from different backgrounds together.”



Photos: Julia Dunin


Small Towns Big Ideas Round 2

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