Sourced from

What Does He Need?

Artist Name(s) Fiona Whelan and Brokentalkers
Artwork title What Does He Need?
Context/Background Established in 2018, What Does He Need? is a long-term collaborative project between artist/writer/educator Fiona Whelan, theatre company Brokentalkers and the Rialto Youth Project exploring how men and boys are shaped by and influence the world they live in. This cross-sectoral and trans-disciplinary project operates at the intersection of collaborative arts, performance and youth work. Built upon short-term and longitudinal modes of engagement through residencies, workshops, public art works and ongoing programmes, What Does He Need? engages multiple publics with the intention of creating a significant public dialogue about the current state of masculinity.

A long-term collaborative project exploring how men and boys are shaped by and influence the world they live in.

To date, the What Does He Need? project has grown through partnerships with: The Children and Youth Action Group of the North West Inner City Network; Philosopher Dr. Rob Grant; Artist/Researcher Susanne Bosch; Professor Kathleen Lynch; Professor Sharon Todd; Composer Denis Clohessy; Paper Panther Productions;

To date, the What Does He Need? project has received funding and support from: the Arts Council, Dublin City Council Arts Office; The LAB Gallery; Grangegorman Public Art Programme; Create/Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme; National Youth Council of Ireland; Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth; Irish Museum of Modern Art; Project Arts Centre.

This project builds on an initial collaboration between Whelan, Rialto Youth Project and Brokentalkers in 2016 which resulted in the National History of Hope performance (Project Arts Centre, 2016) as the final public manifestation of a four-year intergenerational project between Rialto Youth Project and Whelan, exploring contemporary equality issues for women and girls living and working in Rialto.


'New public artworks explores what influences modern masculinity' - Enda O’ Dowd, Irish Times, 24 May 2021:

'A poem, co-written by young men, reveals what shapes their lives' - Stephanie Costello, Dublin Inquirer, 7 April 2021:

'What Does He Need?: Reflections on a cross-sectorial and transdisciplinary project unfolding in public'- by Fiona Whelan, Art & the Public Sphere, Volume 9, Numbers 1-2, 1 December 2020, (pp. 85-96):

'What Does He Need?' - by the What Does He Need? team with Charlotte McIvor Source: ‘…the lives we live’ Grangegorman Public Art Book (pages 120-125), 24 February 2021:

What Does He Need? Audio piece by Fiona Whelan, Brokentalkers and Rialto Youth Project. Hosted by Technological University Dublin, 24-26 June 2021. Conference programme:

What Does He Need? Audio piece by Fiona Whelan and Brokentalkers. Followed by Conversation: Fiona Whelan & Ray O Neill, School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health at DCU, 7th International Irish Narrative Inquiry Conference, Dublin City University, 16-17 June 2021.



Fiona Whelan is a Dublin-based artist, writer and lecturer at the National College of Art and Design. Her art practice is committed to exploring and responding to systemic power relations, most specifically as they relate to class and gender inequality. Fiona has a strong commitment to long-term cross-sectoral collaborations. Since 2004 she has worked closely with Rialto Youth Project exploring lived experiences of systemic inequalities with young people and adults. This work typically manifests as visual, performative or dialogical encounters in which multiple power relations are exposed and interrogated. Since 2016 she has explored the cross disciplinary potential of this work with theatre company Brokentalkers. Her writing focuses on the complex relationality, labour and ethical challenges of this practice and includes co-writing with sociologist Kevin Ryan, in a collective writing platform ‘Two Fuse’. In 2019, Fiona received her PhD at the Centre for Socially Engaged Practice-Based Research at TU Dublin.

Brokentalkers are led by co-artistic directors Feidlim Cannon and Gary Keegan. They have been described as ‘one of Ireland’s most fearless and path-breaking theatre companies’. They devise original, accessible live performance and explore new forms that challenge traditional ideologies of text-based theatre. Their working method is founded on a collaborative process that draws on the skills and experiences of a diverse group of contributors from different disciplines and backgrounds. Some are professional artists, performers, designers and writers and others are people who do not usually work in the theatre but who bring an authenticity to the work that is compelling. Brokentalkers make work that responds to the contemporary world, using elements such as original writing, dance, classic texts, film, interviews, found materials and music to represent that world in performance. Brokentalkers also work within the participatory arts sector, collaborating with communities to produce works of artistic excellence as well as providing quality arts experiences for participants.

Charged with providing leadership and fostering new approaches to engaging openly and respectfully with young people at risk, the Rialto Youth Project has defined its mission as follows: In an age of inequality, where working class communities are oppressed, the Rialto Youth Project is working towards bringing about social change, providing an integrated youth service, based on the needs of young people and in particular those most at risk. In practice, this has involved a particular commitment to working within two major local authority flat complexes, Fatima Mansions and Dolphin House, while also maintaining an area-wide youth service and other forms of regional, city-wide and national affiliations.

Commission Type The Arts Council,Local Authority,Other state agency
Commissioner Name Multiple, including Grangegorman Development Agency and Grangegorman Public Art, in partnership with Create.
Project commission dates January 9, 2019 - January 1, 1970
Public Presentation dates March 13, 2019 - January 1, 1970
Artform Theatre,Visual Arts,Other
Art Practice Arts Participation,Young people children and the arts
Funded By Dublin City Council,The Arts Council
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 10000 - 30000 euro
Project commission start date 09/01/2019
Location Multiple sites in Dublin
County Dublin
Town Dublin City Centre
Content contributor(s) Jenny Haughton
Relationship to project Public Art Coordinator
Public engagement

Multiple publics including children, young people, adults, youth workers, community workers, community leaders and educators.