Club Tropicana - providing vital social events for people with intellectual disabilities

Final preparations are currently underway for Club Tropicana, a summer arts project which brings together people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends, culminating in a fun-filled social night out for all at the Black Box Theatre on Friday June 24.

Helping to bring Club Tropicana to life are people with intellectual disabilities from around Galway who have been involved in all aspects of the project from composing and playing music on the night to designing tickets and posters. With just over a week to go before Club Tropicana kicks off, one Galway mother has spoken of the value this arts participation project brings to her son.

Nancy O’Shaugnessy, from Renmore, explains that Club Tropicana provides a social night which is vital in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. She said: This event is so important to us as a family. It is a night for my son Emmet to socialise with his family and friends and it is a way of building his confidence. It is a valuable night as we all get to socialise in a fun environment. The night is so important to everyone as we get to see how the work of this project has built the confidence of all involved.”

Emmet, who has previously been involved in designing posters and tickets for last year’s Club Tropicana, said: "Its a brilliant night. I really look forward to it. I get to meet people I haven't met in ages. Everybody is so happy."

Providing entertainment on the night will be The Fish Police, an acclaimed three piece band from South London, who will mix a strong ‘70s punk attitude with a hip hop swagger and a dash of pop to create original tunes with edge. Support will come from Galway-based Soundscape Music Project musicians who have been integral to the running of the event. Club Tropicana will also showcase DJ and VJ performances from Heart n Soul, a leading UK creative production company, together with Soundscape Music Project. Also as part of the event, Heart n Soul will lead a series of DJ and VJ workshops with Soundscape Music Project while the Fish Police will facilitate a song writing masterclass with Soundscape musicians, culminating in a performance at Club Tropicana.

Jonathan Reynolds of Soundscape Music Project said: “Club Tropicana is a place for people to socialise, perform for one another and also take part in producing and running the event. Soundscape hope to encourage all people with intellectual disabilities to join in the fun.”

“The workshops are a really important way of building skills among trainers and service users. Heart n Soul and the Fish Police will work with participants on music that will be performed on the club night."

Club Tropicana is an initiative that is part of the Arts and Disability Networking (ADN ), an innovative model which aims to increase local capacity in the area of arts and disability. It was developed and piloted by the Arts Council, Arts & Disability Ireland (ADI ) and Mayo County Council Arts Office.

Now in its second year, ADN Phase II is working with Galway City and County arts offices and respective Social Inclusion Offices with the aim of increasing the involvement and engagement by people with disabilities in the arts in Galway. ADN Galway will invest in training, high quality arts programming, commissioning new work, provision of access services and targeted development support to arts venues and organisations.

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