Virtually There began in Northern Ireland in 2007 as a partnership between one artist, Ann Henderson, and one school, Ballydown Primary School in Banbridge, County Down. The project was funded through Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and continued to receive support on an annual basis. After 7 years of development, and having extended to an additional 5 artists and schools, Kids’ Own was delighted to secure funding from the Arts Council of Ireland to tour an exhibition of work from the project and an associated programme of events to 5 locations in Ireland and Northern Ireland in 2014. A pilot phase of engagement began in the Republic of Ireland, as part of this tour and with thanks to additional supports from The Education Centre, Tralee and Carrick-on-Shannon Education Centre.

Building on this pilot, we were delighted to develop the project in four locations in 2015, with thanks to project support from the Arts Council of Ireland, which continues to fund this engagement on an annual basis.

The artists currently engaged on the project are: Lucy Hill, Kiera O’Toole, Andy Parsons and Anna Spearman. The schools and teachers engaged on the project are: Carmel Broderick (Scoil Eoin, Tralee, Co. Kerry), Janice O’Brien (St Cecelia’s SNS, Sligo), Síona Nic Eoin (Scoil Osraí, Kilkenny) and Louise Clarke (St Matthew’s NS, Ballymahon, Co. Longford).

The project connects with Kids’ Own’s core strategic aims to:

  • Increase children’s access to high-quality arts-based learning by embedding an enquiry-based approach in participating schools.
  • Continue building a body of work by children and artists that represents high-quality enquiry-based practice and reflects the child’s voice.
  • Increase the creative use of technology in Irish schools as a means for connecting with the professional studio practice of artists.
  • Make an evidence-based case for access to long-term arts practice with professional artists in all Irish schools.
  • Build confidence around the value of long-term arts-based practice within the education sector at ground level and policy level.