Clifden Community Arts Festival began its 40-year life in Clifden Community School in 1977 and the arts in education has been the central ethos of the festival ever since. With the opening of a new community school in Clifden this year, the festival which takes place from September 13-24 2017, will be part of this new and exciting beginning for the town. The festival celebrates the arts for the children of Clifden Community School, Scoil Mhuire, Claddaghduff, Cleggan and Cashel and Ballyconnelly National school, helping to develop artistic and social skills, and provide an outlet for self-expression and development.
This year audiences can expect a very high quality artistic programme with a superb literary, musical and visual art content which again will have the community arts of Clifden and the surrounding hinterland as a central focus with creative writing, music, theatre and film workshops and performances with a special segment for secondary school students taking place in the local schools for the duration of the festival.
Fíbín and Erris Arts Centre will present ‘Clann Lir’, directed by Brendan Murray. ‘Clann Lir’ is a unique show combining live art, storytelling, and music based on The Children of Lir. A series of exciting images will be created live on stage by artist, Dara McGee, as the mythological, vivid story unfolds of how King Lir’s children, Finola, Fiachra, Conn and Aodh, are banished by their evil stepmother to spend 900 years as singing swans in three remote locations in Ireland.
The ground-breaking, multidisciplinary Footsbarn Travelling Theatre will celebrate its world premiere and revisit the Clifden Arts Festival with its internationally acclaimed adaptation entitled “Bottom’s Dream”, based on a Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, and “Mingling with Moliere” to create an evening of magic and comedy. The fantastical Footsbarn Troupe will conduct a series of innovative workshops in various schools around the area.
Sean-Nos national dance champion and past-pupil Sean Joyce will make a welcome return to pass on some of his superb, dancing skills. Modern dance workshops will take place all week with all classes under the wing of the brilliant Magda Hylak who has studied Dance and Theatre at the University of Wroclaw.
Master of rhythm, musician Sean Halpenny, who first visited the Clifden School 23 years ago, will present his breathtaking bodhrán workshop. Music today will be provided by The Slyne Heads, past students; Peter Carey, Paddy Newman and Adam Conroy. John Durning will return with his popular guitar workshop and Marie Sheridan will begin her singing workshop. Peter Crann will also carry out fantastic drumming workshops in preparation for opening night.
The sublime Contempo Quartet with Dr. Fionnula Moynihan will also feature at festival. The RTE Contempo Quartet has forged a unique place in Irish musical life and is currently Ireland’s National Television & Radio Broadcaster’s Quartet in Residence and is also the resident quartet on the West Coast of Ireland in the Galway Music Residency.
When Betty Boomer, Jean Valla McAvoy, Paul Rubeo, and Steve Stanne began singing together 30 years ago, the name made sense—a play on Betty’s name and the fact that all are children of the baby boom. Bassist Robert Bard fit right in demographically when he joined later on. “Betty and the Baby Boomers” will feature at the Clifden Arts Festival, and the name is known to folk music fans from the mountains of Connemara in Ireland to the Catskills overlooking New York’s Hudson Valley, their home base.
Carmel Dempsey is one of Galway’s best-known musical performers - a distinguished musician, a talented singer, with a great sense of humour, possessing all the necessary characteristics of a truly great Entertainer.
Artist in residence Joanna Mc Glynn, Allanah Robbins and the fantastic LUXE street art workshops are also included in the schools programme at the festival. Another crowd pleaser will be Norbert Stolze’s “Pencilmassacre” exhibition. As a visual artist in Hannover, holding periodical exhibitions and workshops in Germany and Ireland, he has been working with pencil almost exclusively for a number of years. This will be the 3rd Exhibition of “Pencilmassacre” at the Clifden Arts Festival.
Since 2004, ‘Fidget feet’ a pint sized Irish aerial circus company, has grown exponentially and have performed across five continents to thousands of people. They will once again perform at this year’s festival showcasing their spectacular acrobatics and incredible talent. Through their captivating, vibrant aerial dances they tell stories which appeal to all age groups by using theatres, from cranes, hidden in forests, or swinging from buildings all over the world.
Fidget Feet was founded by choreographer and aerial dancer Chantal McCormick from Donegal and musician and media artist Jym Daly from Cork in 2004. As part of the Schools Programme, Fidget Feet will include older students in their workshops and the parade as they begin their preparations for the Grand Parade extravaganza. There will also be sensational Stilt-walking workshops with the Belfast Circus a dynamic display which will lift the atmosphere to new levels with a creative edge that is simply magical.
The ever popular Joanne McGrath and Tony Curtis will give workshops on the joys of reading and renowned author and poet Terry McDonagh will feature in the School’s programme. The School’s Film Festival will include a variety of films based on the school Film Studies curriculum for the Junior and Leaving Certificate Examination.
Helen O Donoghue, Senior curator with Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA ) will also give a special presentation, in an informative talk that is suitable for Leaving Certificate Art students. She is the head of Education and Community Programmes at IMMA and was appointed to her current role in 1991. She has developed the programme from the inception of the museum which includes initiatives for both formal and informal learning.
Since IMMA opened its doors, Helen explored the engagement between the artist, artwork and the public. She used examples of work at IMMA to raise questions for future strategies and programmes and the Department regularly curates exhibitions evolving from the Education and Community programmes.
The Festival has had continued success over the last 40 years as the integral members have trusted their instincts, followed their passions and are aware and comprehensive of what they focus on as their visions unfold. In the process they have shared something truly beautiful with the rest of us that will in turn inspire others to do the same.
For more information about the Clifden Arts Festival and ticket sales, please visit www.clifdenartsfestival.ie