Knowledge Centre Blog

Thoughts On Commencement Of The Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland Programme By Niall Cleary, CEO, Graffiti Theatre

Niall Cleary

When I arrived in Cork, a little over six years ago, the city began to tell me stories about Graffiti. I met playwrights, actors, designers and arts managers who had started their journeys as members of our youth theatre. I met teachers, taxi drivers and hairdressers who transformed into children again as they recalled the magic of a Graffiti production that visited their school years before. As one bike repair man told me as he glowed and recalled his seven year old self, “I just couldn’t believe that the adults had made this show just for me!”

Being entrusted with the keys of Graffiti, both the literal and metaphorical ones as a Director and CEO, is a privilege for me. This feeling is shared by my colleagues. The keys unlock the door into our venue, a theatre space and arts hub for children and young people in Cork. They also open a door to a lifelong love of the arts of thousands of children and young people every year. They unlock the creative power of the children we serve to amplify their voices and let them know that they are citizens with agency. Again and again this leads to transformation and the building of community through creativity and kindness.

As we approach our 40th anniversary in 2024, so many people have grown up with Graffiti. It’s wonderful to serve the current generation. So much has changed and yet so very little. Our values of deep engagement and respect for children and young people remains constant. No company can survive without reinvention and renewal of ideas and energy. We are so proud to take the next steps on this journey with Business to Arts.

For the team at Graffiti, this is an opportunity that we have been strategically building towards for the past few years. Our ambition is to position Graffiti as a Creative Centre for Children in Cork. A beacon for children’s creativity and source of inspiration and expertise that radiates out from the building and into the wider community.

Growth takes place on two planes. We send our roots down to create deeper engagement and relationships with the children and partners we currently work with. We also send those roots out, to discover new partners, funders and donors who believe that children and young people are our greatest asset and worth the investment. We are delighted to find such new partners in Business to Arts and the investment of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

In Molly Twomey, we have found a Fellow that shares our passion; an artist herself, she believes and truly shares our ethos and will communicate that locally, nationally and internationally as we grow.

Every great journey begins with a single step. We are ready to take that step and look forward to meeting both the challenges and opportunities that the journey presents.

Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland is a partnership between Business to Arts’ New Stream programme and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media

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