Ana Maria VIEIRA FERNANDES, TU Dublin, Ireland
Bernadette QUINN, TU Dublin, Ireland
European cities have become more ethnically diverse in recent decades. They face common challenges in trying to integrate migrant groups and foster cultural inclusion in the context of dynamic and often challenging local development contexts. Dublin is no exception, having experienced growing arrivals of immigrants in recent decades.
Public spaces are key for the cultural inclusion of immigrants (Sezer 2018), offering visibility for different groups, opportunities to engage with others, and a chance to express cultural values. However, migrants can struggle in their attempts to lay claim to public space (Brighenti 2012). Festivals and other cultural activities held in public spaces have an important role to play in this regard (Wu, Li, Wood, Senaux & Dai 2020). They can empower migrants to get involved, allow identities to be expressed, and foster a sense of belonging.
This paper aims to understand how festivals held in public spaces can serve as vehicles to foster cultural inclusion. It draws on an empirical study of the Five Lamps Arts Festival, a community-based festival held in Dublin’s North East Inner City where immigrants comprise 52% of the population. Using semi-structured in-depth interviews with festival organisers and volunteers, it investigates the festival-making practices adopted to foster inclusion and identifies the problems encountered in the process. Findings highlight the mechanisms adopted by the organization to collaborate with migrant groups in the programming, production and staging of the festival. Working with volunteers from diverse ethnic backgrounds is found to be key. Staging a variety of cultural activities (e.g. Capoeira classes, Afro-Brazilian workshops) aimed at particular ethnic communities in local public spaces both during the festival, and at other times throughout the year, is also key in promoting diversity and encouraging active engagement with cultural life, public amenities and other community members.
Keywords: community festivals|public space|cultural inclusion|ethnic diversity|Dublin