The idea for the application was devised during the planning for a professional development programme for artists called ART CONNECT. This was developed in partnership with the Mayo Arts Office Public Art Co-ordinator, Gaynor Seville and artist Aideen Barry who was employed to help devise this series of initiatives. The project was further developed in partnership with Visual Artists Ireland. Art Connect is part of a wider public art programme in Castlebar, called Landmark which includes permanent and temporary artwork commissions, a residency and bursary schemes for emerging artists.
The idea for the professional development programme for local artists was to respond to some of queries received from artists on a regular basis at the Mayo Arts Office, including difficulty find information on opportunities and events, lack of networking opportunities and places to publicise their work. We wanted to address this in a creative and interactive way.
The idea came to develop a phone application that would work as a signposting system. All the information most artists are looking for is out there, either via local authority arts offices, Visual Artists Ireland, which has huge online resources, the arts council and so on. What we want the app to do is to be the central point for all of this information. The original idea was for a type of golden pages for artists.
In addition to the support from CISNET, Visual Artists Ireland have also contributed financially to the project and are now partners in the development of the app. Having VAI on board has meant the app can access their database and pull all their news feeds, listings and updates directly to the app.
All the entries in the app have to be submitted through the VAI website, this ensures all entries are vetted first so that there is no duplication, that all entries are relevant and any companies or individuals known to have provided bad services to artists can be omitted.