Culture and Creativity in Waterford
Waterford is a growing and connected county where we celebrate our cultural heritage, our diversity and our unspoilt natural landscape. We understand that our people are our strength and by working together we create tremendous bonds that bring about great outcomes.
The Creative Ireland Creative Communities Programme has provided Waterford with wonderful opportunities to deeply consider the value and strength of the innate creativity in our communities over the past five years from 2018-2022. Almost 300 Creative Communities projects have been delivered in this timespan, including community-based activities via our annual Open Call and local authority organised projects. Through Creative Communities funding we have seen the impact of creativity in public policy in areas such as heritage, building conservation, archives, Irish language, literature and community development through a variety of initiatives. Waterford Libraries and Waterford Arts departments have supported writers, dancers, artists and our new communities to create new collaborative works and have ensured that the ambition of Creative Waterford has extended the opportunity for people in Waterford to be creative.
Bodhrán Making Workshop with Michael Vignoles and students from the Mercy Secondary School Waterford. Photograph by Patrick Browne.
The population of Waterford has grown by 9.4% between 2016 and 2022, making it one of the fastest growing populations in Ireland and the fastest growing in Munster. This increase is due to natural population increase as well as migration and the trend is expected to continue. Our Creative Waterford Strategy must ensure that we are involving all members of the population and including everyone in our policies and activities as we move forward during its lifetime.
The Waterford City and County Development Plan 2022 - 2028 outlines the future development of Waterford. In this document, WCCC refers to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and outlines 8 points which incorporate the overarching objectives of the Goals. The Creative Waterford Strategy aligns itself to these Goals, supporting environmental actions, rural economy and connectivity, and in particular supporting the following statements:
- To support a strong, sustainable, diverse and successful economy, underpinned by enterprise, innovation and skills and access to quality education for all.
- To protect, conserve and enhance our unique natural heritage, landscapes, seascapes, biodiversity, built and cultural heritage asset
- To make places more sustainable, inclusive, diverse, accessible, and safe with the highest standards
The Creative Waterford Strategy is cognisant of the SDGs and we will work to implement them in our projects and activities, ensuring that the work of the team and the Open Call activities are sustainable, support innovation and ensure that creativity is seen as core to delivery of inclusive, accessible and diverse activity.
At local level, the Creative Waterford team are involved in developing and implementing strategies, which place creativity and cultural activity at their core or recognise its value in increasing wellbeing, social cohesion and economic development. These include the Heritage Plan review, WCCC Irish Language Scheme, the Library Development Plan and the Arts Plan. The Team is also involved directly and indirectly in the delivery of other Waterford strategies including the Waterford Economic Strategy 2040 which feeds into Waterford Local Economic & Community Plan 2022-2026, the Waterford Digital Strategy 2022 – 2026 and the Climate Action Plan, each of which has a bearing on the delivery of local authority services to our communities and stakeholders.
Waterford City and County Council is participating as one of 19 Sláintecare Healthy Communities Programme with the Waterford Local Community Development Committee and our existing Healthy City and Healthy County plan. WCCC has recruited a Healthy Community Local Development Officer to coordinate activity from a local authority perspective. This increase in resource for local authorities is aimed at integrating the health and wellbeing agenda with their broader agenda and supporting a social determinants approach to health inequalities. Creative Waterford acknowledges the importance of this Programme and will endeavour to build links in our approaches to wellness and collaborative activities with Healthy Communities.
Waterford Cultural Quarter is an urban regeneration project based in Waterford City Centre. This initiative is viewing regeneration through the lens of culture, putting place making and collaborative community action at the heart of the WCQ Strategy 2021-2025. Through the Urban Regeneration Development Fund (URDF), WCCC is planning projects such as WCQ Art House, a gallery and co-working space for creative agencies and individuals, WCQ Place, a culture and community hub with an emphasis on services to migrants and community activity, and Gov Lab, a data gathering, processing and dissemination centre which examines environmental, economic and creative industries in the South East. Each of these, and other, projects will have very strong links with the creative and cultural ecosystem in the South East region.
The Irish Office of Waterford City & County Council has been integrally involved in the development of the recently-approved Irish Language Plan for Dungarvan as a Gaeltacht Service Town. The plan contains a range of aims and objectives to promote the use of Irish in the town, focusing on families and young people, the business sector and education providers in particular. The actions contained therein will foster and encourage creativity in the promotion of our native language in Dungarvan and the Irish Office/WCCC will continue to support the local committee, Dún Garbhán le Gaeilge and the soon-to-be-appointed Language Planning Officer in the implementation of the Language Plan over the coming years.
“Culture-led regeneration and development strategies can transform places. CCS not only provide economic benefits (through local taxation, job creation, innovation and supply chains), and social benefits (e.g. improved wellbeing and community cohesion) but also contribute to ‘place making’ by making cities and regions more attractive to work and live, encouraging inward investment, inward labour flows, higher productivity and increased tourism. Culture-led regeneration and development policies focus on economic and social development of a city or region through promoting and enabling cultural and creative activity.” OECD (2022), The Culture Fix: Creative People, Places and Industries, Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED), OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/991bb520-en.