THE TOWN Hall Theatre this week announced details of a ground-breaking programme of artist supports including commissions, awards, and residencies worth more than €150,000, made possible through support from the Arts Council, the Galway City Council, and others.
The programme aims to support the development and creation of work by artists in Galway and is specifically designed to help artists during the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. All funds will be distributed before July.
''If the Covid lockdowns of the past year have has taught us anything, it is surely the value of the arts to society,” said Town Hall Theatre director, Fergal Mc Grath, “but we need to remember there can be no arts without artists and arts workers.
"While Covid-19 has been a source of significant stress, worry and perhaps even fear for many, there is now a vaccine light at the end of the Covid-tunnel. However, for artists, as with many others affected by the pandemic, we're not there yet, so society needs to do everything it can in the interim to support those who are supporting us''.
Residencies and Bringing It All Back Home
With the financial assistance of the Arts Council and the Galway City Council, a series of Town Hall residencies in 2021 will include a writer in residency/new play commission with Christian O'Reilly; theatre artists in residence with Little John Nee [pictured above] and James Riordan; and Dance Theatre Residency with Breandán de Gallai. All residencies will engage with local artists and local audiences.
Remote Control, the hugely successful artist development programme with James Riordan [pictured below] of Brú Theatre and Galway Dance Project, will be extended to include four artists and will again offer remote mentorship and, where feasible, in-person engagement, networking and professional development events. These four commissions are open call, with information on how to apply available via www.tht.ie
Open call commissions will include a second series of the highly successful Bringing It All Back Home project, with up to 10 commissions planned for 2021. Supported by Creative Ireland, Bringing It All Back Home will again involve a panel of theatre makers, musicians and writers who will engage with residents in nursing homes and care homes across Galway, and then research, write and present digital vignettes inspired by those engagements.
For 2021, the Town Hall Theatre, with the support of the Government's Keep Well Community Resilience Fund, administered by the Galway City Council, will offer an innovative bespoke module of Bringing It All Back Home for all transition year classes in Galway city which may be rolled out across the State later in the year. All Galway city secondary schools will be contacted in the coming weeks.
Supporting new theatre
In 2021 Galway Town Hall Theatre will establish a Theatre Development Programme which will offer support and mentorship to independent and emerging artists. The open call programme will be facilitated by director Andrew Flynn, who will lead the programme and establish a panel of experienced theatre makers from various disciplines (who have all excelled in their careers ) that will share their knowledge and experience with independent artists.
The programme will offer practical support, career guidance, and art form mentorship to the next generation of theatre makers. Andrew and his panel will be available to work with individual artists and companies to support them in developing their art form and ensuring these artists can enhance their work and observe best practice from established theatre makers.
'The work being done by artists and arts organisations will lead, and inspire, Irish society as we recover from the pandemic' - Fergal McGrath
Following the success last year of the inaugural Patron Donation Awards, Town Hall Theatre in April hold an open call for the 2021 awards, the purpose of which is to support artists, companies, or producers based in Galway city or county, to research, develop and complete projects which are original, ambitious, and have something to say about the times we live in. The Town Hall Theatre will offer a minimum of five awards of up to €5,000 each. In addition to the financial bursary, the award will include rehearsal/development space in the Town Hall, and mentoring, as required and when feasible.
With the support of the Department of Justice and Equality, the Town Hall will again - subject to Covid-restrictions - work with Catherine Young Company on The Welcoming Project, an initiative which aims to foster and promote cultural integration and social inclusion among Ireland's new communities and their local communities, through music and dance.
Following the success of the pilot project in Galway in January and February last year, the Town Hall has invited the company to deliver a follow up dance integration programme. The Welcoming Project will be delivered by professional artists (dancers/musicians ) in world dance styles and encourages a 50:50 mix of locals:migrants.
Young Curators Programme
Later this year, Town Hall Theatre will hold an open call for participants on a planned Young Curators Programme, designed to give young people a voice in programming at the venue. All young curators will be aged between 18 and 29, and be drawn from a diverse socio-economic and cultural background. Some of these young curators may be pursuing a career in the arts, perhaps studying at third level, and all should benefit from establishing connections with arts professionals.
Town Hall Theatre is also working jointly with An Grianán Theatre in Letterkenny on the commission of a new play by Sarah Jane Scott.
“Through these initiatives, we hope in some small way to help artists cope with this devastating pandemic,” said Mr McGrath [pictured above]. “Like the Arts Council, we believe the work being done by artists and arts organisations will lead, and inspire, Irish society as we recover from the pandemic.”