Winter Talks: Fiona Whelan and Dannielle McKenna – Socially engaged arts and youth work practice

Event · Talk

Winter Talks: Fiona Whelan and Dannielle McKenna – Socially engaged arts and youth work practice }
Summer School on Cultural Diversity and Collaborative Practice. Create and Counterpoints Arts, 2018. Image: Aoife Herrity

1st Dec 2021



In a series of talks, network meet ups and community gatherings held over Winter 2021/22 we hope to create a space to discuss collaborative art and youth work practice and how it can be an asset and activator of change in communities of all kinds.    


How does an artist create a relationship with a community?  Exploring the durational work of Fiona Whelan and Rialto Youth Project, we will listen to the artist and youth work partner talk on the practicalities of initiating this work and how, when embedded it can lead to impactful, challenging and political work.  This will be a practical talk, exploring relationships power dynamics, practice and the need for ongoing commitment to collaboration and partnership.    

All are welcome to attend, but we particularly welcome artists who have an interest or experience in Collaborative arts practice and those who work with children and young people in schools, training or youth services and via formal or voluntary community organisations and groups.    



Fiona Whelan is a Dublin based artist, writer and lecturer at NCAD. Her art practice is committed to exploring and responding to systemic power relations related to inequality. Fiona has a strong commitment to long- term cross-sectoral collaborations. Since 2004 she has worked closely with Rialto Youth Project exploring lived experiences of systemic inequalities with young people and adults, co-producing multiple public works including What Does He Need? audio and public poster project (with Brokentalkers, The LAB, 2021), Stevie (2020), Natural History of Hope (also with Brokentalkers, Project Arts Centre, 2016), Policing Dialogues (The LAB, 2010) and The Day in Question (IMMA, 2009). Much of which is documented in her critical memoir TEN: Territory, Encounter & Negotiation (2014). Her writing practice focuses on the complex relationality, labour and ethical challenges of collaborative arts practice and includes co- writing with sociologist Kevin Ryan, in a collective writing platform ‘Two Fuse’. See Freedom? (Cork University Press, 2018). In 2019, Fiona received her PhD at the Centre for Socially Engaged Practice-Based Research at TU Dublin.   


Rialto Youth Project 

Dannielle McKenna is team leader of Rialto Youth Project. Charged with providing leadership and fostering new approaches to engaging openly and respectfully with young people at risk, the Rialto Youth Project has defined its mission as follows: In an age of inequality, where working class communities are oppressed, the Rialto Youth Project is working towards bringing about social change, providing an integrated youth service, based on the needs of young people and in particular those most at risk. In practice, this has involved a particular commitment to working within two major local authority flat complexes, Fatima Mansions and Dolphin House, while also maintaining an area-wide youth service and other forms of regional, city-wide and national affiliations. 



related programme
Artist and Community Supports

What Does He Need?
Fiona Whelan
Rialto Youth Project