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As I begin this guest editorship we are heading rapidly towards the close of the year. The darkness of the longest night and the lights of Christmas are nearly upon us. But every ending brings with it a new beginning, with the new year only a month away, and it is the beginnings of things that I have chosen to explore over the next couple of months. We often share the outcomes, or results, the endings of the work we do. In my own role at West Cork Arts Centre I am lucky enough to have two annual exhibitions to showcase the outcomes of our programmes for primary schools and young people respectively. Less often we share the beginnings, the starting points, where and how our ideas emerge, how we begin building a relationship with a group. I’ve often heard or read variations on the theme that art is not about the answers, but more about the questions, so I want to take this opportunity to talk about how we begin projects with children and young people. What questions do we ask, and how do we ask those questions that result in high quality collaborative projects?

 We are often clear about our eventual aims, even if we are not too specific about them, but the question of where and how to begin this process is the important one.

Through my work I am involved in both delivering projects myself and organising projects delivered by others. With a constant cycle of programme taking place throughout the year, a rhythm develops, beginning, ending and beginning again, with new participants, new artists, new ideas, and new challenges. The endings are the fun part. Hanging weeks for the Children’s Exhibition and Youth Event are two of my favourite parts of my job. Then when the celebration is over, its back to the beginning, starting over, this is where the real work is.   





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  • As you say Jo, every project is different. The one key thing that applies to all projects for me is to always allow room to be flexible. However well prepared you are, you can never really know how any group will respond and having the ability to change your plans on the hoof, allows you to respond with them.
    I will be publishing an article soon, based on some experiences of different projects, how they’ve begun and where they ended up. I’d love to get some input from others on their experiences with beginning projects, and how those beginnnings have been reflected, or not, in the outcomes.
  • Hi Alison, It’s a really interesting topic about ’how do we begin’.. I look forward to seeing how it unfolds throughout the editorship. Every group of young people is different; every project is different, but the starting point can be really crucial to how well a project develops. It would be interesting to hear some artists’ thoughts on this... Do they have any key insights into getting a project started?

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