Community Cultural Hubs
DCAL’s commitment to the development of Cultural Hubs reflects evidence that multipurpose community based facilities can provide physical and virtual community infrastructure and networks. They also provide a centre of gravity for localised and joined up approaches to cultural-led community engagement, growing the creative industries, and wider economic and social development.
DCAL and other stakeholders commissioned research in 2014 to consider the value and practicalities of cultural hub development. That research demonstrates that creation of multipurpose community venues can assist DCAL in achieving high level objectives to tackle poverty, social exclusion and inequality.
Through the North West Social and Economic Development Fund, DCAL supported 15 Cultural Hubs across the North West from Portstewart to Castlederg and including Coleraine, Derry, Dungiven, Limavady and Strabane. The hubs were created by investing in equipment for already existing community centres and other facilities. As a direct result of the investment the hubs are now equipped with Macintosh computers which are used to provide access to online technologies for local people and to deliver skills development and training local communities. A number of the hubs also received ipads and musical equipment, while Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart has been supported with Digital Fabrication Equipment. Prior to the commencement of the project, the 15 community venues had limited IT equipment and therefore a relatively low capacity to support access to skills in the creative industries. Some groups, such as the Strabane Ethnic Community Association (SECA) had no digital equipment at all.
These cultural hubs are now equipped to service their local communities with digital access and skills training programmes.
The new equipment and training opportunities will enable the community venues to offer new skills to the community in areas of the creative and digital industries which will open career paths for young people. The digital equipment can be utilised in a wide range of community projects and the Cultural Hubs can now source funding from the Big Lottery Fund and other bodies to undertake exciting educational intiatives for people of all ages within their communities.