Emmet O’Doherty
Head of the Yeats Academy of Arts, Design & Architecture

It is with enormous pride and great delight that I unveil our Yeats Academy 2020 Yearbook. This yearbook celebrates a comprehensive profile of our graduating students and presents a wide range of very creative and inspiring projects developed by our highly talented students. Major global issues are addressed from the environment and climate change, to housing, to mental health and well-being, to cultural diversity, democracy and social inclusion. Creative solutions to problems have been developed with relevance and originality using new technologies and materials in the pursuit of artistic expression. I am thrilled with the quality and standard of their work. Furthermore, my heart is warmed with the stories shared of their positive experiences at IT Sligo.

The last twelve months have been eventful. In June 2019 The Yeats Academy of Arts, Design and Architecture was officially launched by the Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD. The Yeats Academy is a Flagship Department for IT Sligo and it is a particular privilege to be its first Head of Department. The Department continues to see growing student numbers as its reputation as a leader in the creative arts builds on the national and global stage.

This year saw several of our students’ successfully winning national and international awards, most notably Creative Design student Paul Roper claiming both the Global Undergraduate Award for his dissertation in the Architecture and Design category, along with the Institute of Designers of Ireland (IDI) Overall Design Student Award. It is in this spirit that a number of new lecturers have joined us this year from around Ireland and elsewhere bringing with them new ambitions to build on and expand our vision of pursing academic excellence in teaching and research for the Yeats Academy.

In September we launched our Masters of Arts through Creative Practice, a unique programme that promotes transdisciplinary practice and research for all creative arts disciplines. At undergraduate level we have successfully delivered new modules in interdisciplinary practice that allow students from all programmes within the Department to work together on shared projects. This emphasises one of our core values that collaboration is necessary for the challenges we face now and into the future, and that no single discipline can solve such things. With the arrival of COVID-19 we witnessed large scale social and behavioural changes.

How we live, work, learn and socialise underwent a revolution overnight that may now become a reality for the foreseeable future. Students, lecturers and technical staff alike showed remarkable resilience and ingenuity to embrace the digital sphere that challenged the traditional delivery of creative education. I would like to acknowledge the dedication and commitment of the department faculty members and the significant contributions they continue to make.

I would also like to thank the many wonderful visiting lecturers and industry professionals that joined us throughout the year for sharing their knowledge and experiences with our students. There were many highlights, including Laureate for Irish Fiction, Sebastian Barry joining us for a day in February to run a Writing Workshop with our third year Writing and Literature students.

Throughout this period we have continued Yeats Academy of Arts, Design & Architecture | 3 to work on the major €14 million building project that will see the creation of the Northern Campus on IT Sligo as a home for the Creative Arts. In September 2020 we plan to reoccupy the first phase of the remodelled Joseph Downes buildings. I am very grateful for the support given to us by our Head of Faculty of Engineering and Design, Úna Parsons, and the President of IT Sligo, Brendan McCormack for their support in ensuring that the Yeats Academy will be best placed to grow and develop in the coming years. 2020 sees IT Sligo celebrate its 50th anniversary as a provider of third level education.

Shortly after its formation, in 1972 Sligo became the first RTC in the country to offer courses in Fine Art. These educational opportunities were never before available in the north-western region and mark a milestone in the conversation of the creative arts in our region. In 2020, we are once again at the forefront of providing educational opportunities as we prepare to deliver a new Writing and Literature degree online.

This will be the first full-time on-line CAO offering in the country. As we prepare to become a Technological University this is an amazing moment for the Yeats Academy to continue this conversation, to come together to ask what we are, and what we want to be next. We are all privileged to be here, now, to be part of the conversation – a celebration looking forward.