Transforming Arts practices into truly sustainable and critical endeavours in contemporary Europe

Critical Academy proposes a three year long project generating a transnational space for practice-based research where cultural organisations focus on fostering capacity building in the Arts sector. Critically evaluating current practices, proposing new business models, and encouraging a wholesome and sustainable practice through critical research, it proactively prepares the sector for future challenges.

Over the last decade, PhotoIreland has worked tirelessly on a number of projects within Ireland and internationally, gathering a sound understanding of the overall context of the Visual Arts in Europe. We have gained a valuable insight into the many and universal challenges that affect the sector, persistent across Europe if not indeed across the globe. We have come to the realisation that most significantly underfunding, low-risk approaches, outdated educational programmes, and lack of critical attitudes are leaving the Arts, the Cultural sector, and its agents behind, unable to compete. Meanwhile, other sectors, at times not necessarily perceived as progressive as the Visual Arts, have adapted to economic and technological shifts much more readily and successfully.

It is true that our sector has not excelled in adapting to and adopting new technologies, in nurturing sustainable practices, in inclusiveness and accessibility, or in dealing openly and honestly with the financial burdens shared by its agents. Despite the efforts of certain organisations and collectives across Europe, oftentimes the result of grassroots movements, there is still a huge need to foster capacity building and open an international dialogue around these, and other, core issues.

Critical Academy is committed to opening up a new radical space to learn, research and examine contemporary Visual Art practices, as much as the Arts Management and Cultural Policy that affect them. The academy proposes a series of events, grounded in the 21st century, running over a three-year period, through a considered educational and research programme; developed in collaboration with key partners and associated cultural organisations, it focuses on building capacity in the Western Balkans, aiming to enhance intercultural dialogue and increase transnational circulation within Europe.

Currently, Critical Academy is a project led by PhotoIreland, looking for two Arts organisations in the Western Balkans interested in joining. Potential partners sought include cultural and Arts organisations interested in contemporary Visual Arts practices. Other potential partners could include multidisciplinary organisations such as those working in Science and Arts projects, interested in effectively changing the landscape described, with a critical and experimental approach. These may include universities, museums, galleries, festivals, research networks, platforms, collectives, etc.


Core Values —

As an Arts organisation, PhotoIreland considers essential the endorsement and implementation of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Goals and Values of the European Union of inclusion, tolerance, justice, solidarity and non-discrimination. In addition, the Critical Academy proposes its activities to create, develop, and strengthen inter-cultural dialogue and cultural exchange amongst its members, participants, and audiences.