Local Area Groups / Visual Artists Cafés

Remove that sense of isolation by joining us for a Visual Artists’ Café. Meet your peers in a friendly and convivial atmosphere. Hear from fellow artists in your area about their work and directions that they are exploring. Find out about supports for visual artists in your local area. Learn about current events and news from the visual arts world. Meet Visual Artists Ireland’s representative and find answers to professional practice questions. Become part of the community of fellow visual artists.

The objective of VAI’s Local Area Groups is to: assist in the removal of the sense of isolation, increase awareness of fellow artists and supports in local areas, provide knowledge on national and international supports and information provision, and the delivery of Help Desk services onsite.

We have already seen great progress and indeed we now have more and more calls to the office about artist led initiatives assisting us in the delivery of our work around the country. This is balanced by Arts Offices in some counties and also the Professional Development Programme that is happening now in almost every county in Ireland. All of this is then brought together on an All Ireland scale at our annual Get Together – Ireland’s National Day for Visual Artists.

To facilitate this we have developed ‘The Visual Artists Café‘. This event is a flexible format designed to provide artists with a space to learn, share information, and meet with fellow artists and those working in the sector in an open and convivial atmosphere.

Options for the structure of a Visual Artists’ Café are:

  • Professional Development: A half day seminar or key note address from artists or specialists on career development, current trends in specific areas of practice, or visual artists rights and advocacy
  • Show & Tell: a fast paced presentation by up to 10 artists on their current work, areas of interest, or concepts that they are currently exploring in their practice. The format is also open to curators, writers, and artistic directors to show their current ideas or modes of engagement. There are three versions of Show & Tell which are held around the country.
    • General – VAI works with artists and arts officers in local areas to develop a show and tell. There is an open call for participants in our eBulletin, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. The event is free for VAI members with a small charge for non-members that goes towards refreshments for the evening.
    • Studio / Artist Led Initiatives – VAI works with specific studios and artist led initiatives to enable them to host a Show & Tell for their members and general audience. This is a free service to VAI Organisational Members, with a flat rate for organisations who are not members of VAI. Entrance to the event is free for VAI members, studio artists, and members of artist led initiatives who are hosting. There is a small charge for non-members that goes towards refreshments for the evening.
    • Gallery/Studio Patrons or Friends Schemes – Galleries and studios can offer Show & Tell as one of the benefits for their Patrons or Friends Schemes. Studio/Gallery artists present their work to the invited audience. It is also possible for the Studio/Gallery to elect to have an open call for artists to participate if they wish. This is a free service to VAI Organisational Members, with a flat rate for organisations who are not members of VAI.
  • Film Screening: a screening of a specific film, moving image work, or showreel of short films either being worked on in the specific area/organisation, or one that can engage with an informal discussion around topics that are either current or inform a specific area of thinking.
  • Key Note Speaker: a presentation by an artist on their career development.
  • Speed Curating: we work with you to invite curators to give advice and review portfolios.
  • Help Desk: a forum to explore current issues arising in the sector combined with more formal private one to one sessions about specific legal, financial, or other topics.
  • Informal networking: participants are provided with the opportunity to briefly introduce themselves to the gathering and, if they feel comfortable, to give a brief introduction to their practice. This allows you to then identify people that you may wish to speak to or opens up an atmosphere that people with shared interests can identify each other.

Each event is accompanied by the provision of up to date information about what is happening in their locality, opportunities that may be in the pipeline, and access to sources of information.

Be a part of it!

Visual Artists’ Cafés take place throughout the year across the country. Keep up to date on these and the many other opportunities available to visual artists by subscribing through our website to our eBulletin, or check the current edition of The VIsual Artists News Sheet.


If you are part of an artists group or artist led initiative, why not consider hosting a Visual Artists Café in your local area. Email noel@visualartists.ie for further details.

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