Cultural Connectedness Exchange Network

The Cultural Connectedness Exchange Network (CCEN) is an unincorporated association of Irish and Northern Irish artists and creatives, cultural providers and commissioners, collaborating for better representation. It currently has 30 members, ranging from cultural organisations, individual artists and Embassy representatives.


As part of the 2020 Liverpool Irish Festival, a Cultural Connectedness Exchange was held to introduce Irish and Northern Irish artists to Irish and Northern Irish cultural commissioners and providers (mainly in England), to determine

  • the needs of Irish and Northern Irish artists (particularly those working in England or with England-based organisations)
  • barriers they were facing post-Brexit and during Covid-19
  • how cultural providers/commissioners could provide value/service in relation to Covid-19/Brexit.

This initial meeting has progressed to a (roughly) bi-monthly network meeting. it developed this paper (LINK) to start identifying needs and issues facing Irish and northern Irish creatives in Britain and to pose questions we want to take up with change makers. The aim is to meet and work together to create a positive, representational network that supports and promotes Irish and Northern Irish arts and culture in England (and Britain more widely) using its membership. The Network will also develop information toolkits to help people access information and funding, which will be linked to below.

We intend for this to become a valuable network to any Irish or Northern Irish artist wanting to work in public art delivery as well as to cultural providers and commissioners who focus -or could focus- on Irish and Northern Irish work.

CCEN is still young and welcomes new additions. If you need any further information -or want to join- please contact the Liverpool Irish Festival Director, Emma Smith, on [email protected]

To watch previous sessions, please visit the Cultural Connectedness Exchange events listed on our past event page which you can find here.

Future meetings

25 Jan, 8 Mar, 12 Apr and 24 May 2022. Meetings happen on a 6-weekly rotation. The remaining meetings will likely be: 5 Jul, 9 Aug, 20 Sept, 25 Oct and 29 Nov 2022, but these will be reviewed and confirmed in May.

. Meeting dates for 2022 will be set at the Dec meeting.

Previous meetings

See recordings of each of our previous sessions, using the followng links:

How to join

To ensure you receive meeting invites and updates about the network, it is important to sign up. We ask all members to confirm that they
a) are happy to join (this means committing to regularly attending bi-monthly meetings and taking on actions that help drive the network on)
b) will share their email address with other signed-up members s the network can communicate with itself; and
c) understand they can leave the group, but what has already been transmitted between members cannot be revoked.

If you agree to these principles, please use this link to sign up.


These lists are not exhaustive and will grow as the network develops and more time can be invested. They are quick starter to finding information on funding for and commissioners of Irish and Northern Irish work (primarily in England or (all) Ireland).

Quick links to arts funding in England

  • Arts Council England project grant funding (remember – to access Arts Council England funding you must use their portal, known as Grantium. You have to register for this and approval of your registration can take 10 days.) Link.
  • Arts Council IrelandLink.
  • Arts Council Northern IrelandOrganisations and individuals links.
  • British Council – this link is for visual arts funding, but there are others. Mine the site for more!
  • Culture Ireland – funds travel, accommodation and per diems, but not artist fees – link. The aim is to promote the presentation of Irish arts internationally.
  • Government of Ireland – multiple funds generated from the Emigrant Support Programme.
  • National Lottery Reaching Communities – regional funding and multiple levels – link. Check your eligibility first, using their online checker.
  • National Lottery Heritage FundingLink.

England’s leading Irish and Northern Irish arts and culture organisations

Cultural Connectedness Exchange Network member representation

Our membership represents organisations including

  • Birmingham Irish Association
  • Éirephort
  • #IAmIrish
  • Irish Arts Foundation
  • Irish Embassy
  • Irish Film Festival London
  • Irish In Britain
  • Kabosh Theatre
  • Learpholl Conradh Na Gaeilge
  • London Irish Centre
  • Luton Irish Forum
  • Manchester Irish Language Group
  • Maskell Media
  • The Sound Agents
  • Vital Exposure
  • Wake The Beast

and numerous independent practitioners. This is a growing list of collaborators, positive advocates of Irish and Northern Irish creative production and producers.

Why can Irishness be othering and how did it lead us to the CCEN?

Let’s be clear – it shouldn’t be. Violence towards, isolation of and bullying happens against Irish people, to subjugate and make them ‘other’. We will not tolerate this.

For the Irish in Britain, specifically England, people may be isolated for many reasons. Over centuries, individuals and groups have left the island of Ireland with motives ranging from safety to free economics. Famine, political hardship, lack of acceptance for faith, sexuality, actions against God/society, abuse and combinations of the above mean it is often vulnerable people who travel. Host cities and those therein can view economic migrancy as threatening, leading to insolation and difficulty. Arriving in large groups has meant Irish migrants have become the ‘whipping population’ for other (previously) vulnerable groups who pass on the position of the bullied to the bullies as a way of ending their own isolation (‘No blacks, no dogs, no Irish’). Common issues Irish people can -and do- face, include common tropes/assumptions that they are

  • poor and hungry (famine; unable to earn at home; determined to have a working class/rural accent by those who know no better)
  • uneducated, illiterate and slow minded and/or ‘great craic’; alcoholics and drug users (‘Paddy and Mick go into a bar…’)
  • white
  • Catholic/Protestant/Christian
  • terrorists (IRA or other)
  • criminals (transportation)
  • violent
  • abusers or abused.

White-on-white racism (not that all Irish people are white) often goes unchecked and so English-on-Irish (or Irish-on-English though rarely ‘British-on-Irish’) has continued hiding in plain sight. This kind of nationalism has not received the rejection and review that other ‘white racism’ has rightly received, such as that of white-on-Black or white-on-Asian racism, returning us the to ‘No blacks, no dogs, no Irish’ example.

Why do these things matter? Because prejudgement is not self-determined. It limits everyone’s choices and long-term access, predetermining success or ability despite best efforts, being neither merit nor potential based. It considers nothing of a person’s lived-experience, skills, tolerances or attributes.

Where must we consider The Creative Case? The Creative Case factors in all we do; contracting, Board member make-up, artists and audiences. As a minimum, it must track national averages and reflect our links with Ireland and Britain. We have more about our approach in our Artistic Policy, too.

The above is not an exhaustive article on why Irishness can be othering, but a summation of the experiences we came to understand. This has led us to develop a more representational voice in recent years, as well as standby other oppressed peoples, shoulder-to-shoulder by way of alliance.