This is a serial post linked to the previous. I had been prompted to think about the question how far art can be a transformative force impelling socio-economic change by a recent visit to Dingle, a beautiful little fishing port in Co. Kerry.
My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that art is a part of culture and culture is intimately interconnected with place.
Culture is one of those slippery concepts. Following Raymond Williams, I take culture to mean the way we think about things and the way that we do things around here, in this place. It is not fixed but can change according to ideas and thoughts and actions of the people of that particular place that become commonly accepted, or acceptable. People can arrive; people can leave and, over time, a shift in demographic may bring about a change in the prevailing culture.
Art and artifacts, as much as artists, craftspeople who imagine and make them become part of this gradual, constant change. The direction and degree of change can,of course, to some extent be engineered. But it takes intimate understanding of the topography, the particular geography, the local environment, to be at all certain about an outcome. Once anyone has moved in their voice joins the rest. The artists’ voice by itself does not achieve change.
The change in the fortunes of Holstebro, in N.West Denmark, came about through a combination of enlightened policies and because the town itself had potential for development. It is now an energetic, beautiful, regional hub. Dingle is Festival Central. At the drop of a hat a new festival is launched. The town reflects a festival aura. Come to festive Dingle! Rain or shine it never disappoints.