Verbal's role to fore at major conference

The important role of the Verbal Arts Centre and its innovative arts and cultural project, 'Crows on the Wire', will be to the fore at an international conference taking place in Dundalk, Co Louth, this week.

Picture for blog story Verbal's role to fore at major conference

Conference delegates from across Europe, Africa and the USA will this week hear about the role of an innovative arts and cultural project in exploring the human stories behind the establishment of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Dr Mhairi Sutherland, Community Engagement Facilitator at the Verbal Arts Centre, will address delegates about the ‘Crows on the Wire’ project which was created in 2013 to explore the transition of the former RUC from the perspective of rank and file members.

Heather Humphries, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, opened the Bridging Ages conference, ‘A Place, A Border – Different Stories’, which is taking place at the County Museum in Dundalk from June 2-5.

The conference is examining how stories can be collected and shared with others in programmes and events to promote understanding and dialogue. The delegates hail from Germany, Poland, Italy, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and the USA as well as Ireland.

Dr Mhairi Sutherland, who will address the conference on Thursday, June 4th, said: “It's a great honour to have the opportunity to speak about the role of the Verbal Arts Centre and ‘Crows on the Wire’ in addressing issues of conflict and promoting reconciliation.

“’Crows on the Wire’ is a powerful testament to the value of the individual story, its expression and exchange with others through the medium of arts and culture. The project is a significant strand of the ‘purposeful storytelling’ ethos of the Verbal Arts Centre.”

The ‘Crows on the Wire’ script, commissioned from writer Jonathan Burgess, toured NI as a theatrical performance in 2013, accompanied by post-performance discussions with panel members composed of former and serving police and security forces, former Republican prisoners, academics and journalists.

It was produced as an educational resource App in 2014, intended to aid the ‘Teaching of Controversial Issues’ in schools at Key Stage 3 and 4.

This year the project has received support from the Department of Foreign Affairs to promote ‘Cultural Diplomacy through the Arts’ with communities in Derry~Londonderry, Armagh, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal.

The ‘Crows on the Wire’ project aims to engage with individuals and groups from both main traditions affected by the themes of the play, through a programme of community engagement.

Further information on the conference, is available at

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