Two significant appointments in relation to the delivery of the Tipperary Town Revitalisation Strategy and Action Plan have been made over the past week.

Maria Minguella will join Tipperary Town Revitalisation Task Force as Social Inclusion Coordinator on November 14th. Maria has a strong professional background managing and co-ordinating social inclusion policy development and research within Ireland. She has led and pioneered a number of innovative and creative social inclusion policy initiatives, action plans and strategies, that have been recognised at national and European level. Maria was the driver of the Cork City of Sanctuary Movement and its Strategic Plan of Action 2018-2020 since its start in September 2017. She also led the development of the Cork Community Music Education Network and Cork Music Education Partnership in addition to the publication “Music as a Tool for Social Inclusion” (2009), which set the agenda for the Cork Music Generation Programme, known in Ireland for its unique Social Inclusion and Community based focus.

The position is being funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD), Tipperary County Council (TCC) and South Tipperary Development Company (STDC), with the appointment seen as an important first step in driving the Task Forces Social Inclusion Programme forward. The implementation of a comprehensive Social Inclusion Programme for the town is highlighted as a priority action in the upcoming TTR TF Strategy and Action Plan, as it aims to work with existing service providers to enhance resources and tackle the high rates of deprivation and disadvantage that have long effected the town.

Separately, Leisa Gray has been appointed by Youthwork Ireland Tipperary as Creative Places Tipperary Town Coordinator and will take up her role on Monday November 7th. Leisa is a creative facilitator and socially engaged arts practitioner. Her background is in community engagement, library, museum and gallery education, arts and health and partnership work. Her art practice uses artworks and everyday-objects for inspiration and explores textiles, print-making, writing, collage or drawing. She has produced many art projects in the UK and Ireland, in youth clubs, day centres, hospitals and care homes, at festivals, in museums, libraries, arts centres and in public spaces. She has a wealth of collaborative experience involving artists, educators, curators, health and social care staff, youth workers, and people from “communities of interest”.

Tipperary Town was awarded € 371,000 from the Arts Council under the Creative Places Programme in May 2022 following a competitive application process. The opportunity was open to places that had not benefitted from sustained arts investment in the past. The programme is a partnership between Youth Work Ireland Tipperary, Tipperary Town Revitalisation Task Force, Tipperary Excel, Tipperary County Council, Tipperary Co-Op and numerous other local community and voluntary groups. It will build upon existing cultural strengths in the town to create a new momentum which will ensure more people in the town can choose, take part in and benefit from brilliant arts experiences. Tipperary Town will be one of 12 places who are now part of the expanded national Creative Places programme, which includes small towns, urban areas, rural and island communities.

Carmel Fox, Chairperson of the TTR TF welcomed the appointments, highlighting the tremendous collaboration that has taken place among the various stakeholders to get to this point, “Throughout our early research and consultations the issue of social exclusion and deprivation came through in virtually every discussion, and it was clear that the challenge in this area was enormous. All the various agencies and stakeholders have come together to help develop a response, and it is wonderful to see that effort begin to pay off. Having dedicated coordinators on board to work with the local community and leverage more resources is a huge step forward in addressing this challenge. I want to thank the funders for showing belief in our plan and in what we are trying to achieve”.