Small Sparks

Call for Proposals


Small Sparks is project where Leitrim businesses of any size and function can work with an artist for three weeks to explore common interest and opportunities for how creative activity can carry benefit for both the company and the artist. There are no preconditions on what the artist (who may be from any arts discipline) might do, and it is not obligatory to have produced anything by the end of the project - although a materials budget is available if required. 

The programme is a further development of Spark, a 6-month artist-in-residence programme developed by Leitrim County Council’s Arts Office and Local Enterprise Office for companies that are interested in collaborating with artists and promoting creativity within their organisation, and artists that are interested in exploring how their thinking, knowledge and practice can have relevance and impact in different environments.

Small Sparks provides three companies that wouldn’t normally work with artists with the opportunity to dip their toe in the water, explore the opportunity, and to see what can be gained from doing so.

For artists, both Spark and Small Sparks provide the opportunity undertake work inspired by the company. Quite naturally, what an artist does will naturally be influenced by the adopted environment, thus providing a greater interest and involvement in the work from staff and clients/customers, pointing to different, creative and innovative paths and serving as a catalyst for new thinking.

While the residency lasts for three weeks, this can be taken in one block or spread over a number of months as agreed between the artist and company.

Over the last couple of years restrictions arising from Covid-19 meant that much of the Small Sparks programme became conversations over zoom and ideas emailed over and back between the artist and management and staff. As we return to more conventional provision, while on-line interaction will remain an important tool, conventional contact is key in order to more reliably establish, develop and maintain the relationships necessary for fruitful work to develop more reliably.


 The Old Rectory Country House
 The Old Rectory Country House is a 18th century Georgian House built in 1827 surrounded by mature trees and looking out over Fenagh Lake. It has been in the Curran family for the past 60 years - the third Curran Family to own it – and over that past 28 years the current owners, Julie & Pat, have renovated the house, converted the courtyard buildings into self-catering apartments and renovated the cottage in the courtyard. More recently they incorporated a semi-permanent marquee to accommodate weddings and small events including quilting retreats, yoga retreats, corporate team building events and murder mystery weekends. Julie & Pat strongly believe in sustainability and are the first B&B to attain the EU Flower in Ireland.  Solar panels are installed on both the house and the self-catering apartments and a rainwater harvesting system supplies much of their needs.  “We love The Rectory and everything we do is to preserve it into the future.” 
 Jinny’s Bakery
 Jinny’s has been run by Sinead (Jinny) since she returned to her native Drumshanbo in 1998 to help in the family business of self-catering cottages and a restaurant set up by her parents James and Moira McGuire in the 70’s.  In 2003 Sinead started selling the breads and cakes produced for the restaurant to the local shops in Drumshanbo.  Sinead’s husband Pascal who has a food science background and ran the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association, joined the business in 2007. Jinny’s is now a team of 11 people supplying brands like SuperValu, Centra, Tesco, Gala, Supermacs and Independent retailers among others and is available online and in 70 locations nationwide. The kitchen and family restaurant that Sinead worked in when starting off Jinny’s bread has now been transformed into Jinny’s Tearooms on the shores of Acres.
 Caz Cards Gift Shop & Printing
 Caz-Cards first began when Caroline, the business owner, was asked to design a memorial card for her grandfather.  There were no cards available to capture his memory, the love he held for his family and life. So, she designed his memorial card.  This was loved so much that Caroline setup this business designing and printing personalised memorial cards.  Caz Cards has since expanded and diversified into personalised greeting cards, mugs, teddy bears and more.


Applicants can be from any arts discipline. While some companies may appear suited to one or other artform, neither the arts office nor any of the companies have any preconceived ideas on what a project might look like or what approach any artist might propose, and as such are entirely open to all artists, disciplines and ideas.

While the arts office held a site visit for artists at the end June, it is not essenttial to have taken part in that visit in order to submit a proposal.

The Proposal

Following the site visit, artists are invited to propose ideas and approaches for a residency at any of the companies. This document is not a definitive proposal that you would be expected to carry out. Rather, by identifying potential approaches, methodologies or even outcomes, the document provides a vivid insight into your thinking, your understanding of the company, and your capacity to develop an innovative project appropriate to that context. Given that this proposal is only based on a short site visit or online research, while it may serve as a useful starting point, the anticipation is that the residency would differ substantially, if not completely, from this proposal.

Your proposal should not have a sole purpose of providing a service or being in service to the company. Neither should you consider the company only in the context of a novel place for you to explore your practice in a new direction. Rather it is about finding common purpose, where what you would want to do as part of your own practice is likely to also carry benefit for the company in one way or another.

You may submit as many proposals as you wish. You may submit more than one proposal for any one company or multiple proposals for more than one proposal. It should be noted that a good proposal will be bespoke to that company and it is unlikely that the same proposal would be appropriate to more than one company.

Proposals should be submitted online only here before midnight on Sunday 31st July.


A panel consisting of representatives of the Arts Office and Local Enterprise Office along with external experts will shortlist applications. A maximum of three proposals will be presented to each company for consideration. One or more of those shortlisted will then be invited to meet with the company.

Applications will be assessed based on the following criteria -

-The quality, innovation and artistic merit of the proposal.
-Understanding of the company and the physical, social and cultural context of the project.
-Previous work and track record (or potential) of the applicant.
-Proven understanding of and ability to collaborate successfully.


-Closing Date for expression of interest: Friday 10th June 2022
-Online Site Visit:  Wednesday 22nd June 2022
-Closing Date for receipt of proposals:  Sunday 31st July 2022
-Residency Period:August - December 2022
-Artist Fee €2,000.00
-Materials Budget:    €500.00

*Leitrim County Council will provide a materials budget as indicated above. This does not prohibit the company providing further funding or further funding being sought from other sources. Small Sparks may also give rise to a proposal that would be suitable for the longer 6-month Spark Programme. Should this arise, this will be taken into consideration by the Arts Office and Local Enterprise Office as part of their planning for Spark.

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For further information contact: 071 96 21694 or email

  • EU Sturctural Fund
  • European Union