In an exciting new initiative by the Linenhall Arts Centre, theatre artist Elaine Mears will join the team as Associate Artist for a period of eight months in 2021.
The goal of this initiative is to offer financial stability and security to an artist during the pandemic, facilitating the artist in focusing entirely on their work. Mears will spend her time at the Linenhall developing her practice and working on a theatre project which centres around the Mall in Castlebar.
Mears is looking forward to engaging local communities in the creative process through the collection of stories and public engagement through multiple mediums. "I’m delighted to be joining the Linenhall Arts Centre team. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to develop my arts practice in such an esteemed and creative environment. This support will allow me the time to expand on a number of theatre and visual arts projects I am undertaking over the next year," she said.
This will be the first time that the Linenhall has engaged an artist in this manner and is one step further in embracing artistic thinking and energy into the culture of the organisation. Supported directly by the Arts Council, this initiative is part of the Linenhall’s ongoing commitment to engage the artist's voice and to put artists at the heart of its work.
"A career in the arts can be precarious at the best of times and many artists are more vulnerable now than ever", said Linenhall Director, Bernadette Greenan. "It is essential that arts centres continue to find sustainable ways to support artists. This is a small step, but we hope that as it develops, it will have valuable outcomes for theatre artists based in the West. We will learn and grow from this experience and we hope to put that knowledge to good use in the future."
A professional theatre maker, visual artist, and costume and set designer, Mears recently returned to her roots in Mayo. Her experience in community development and human rights has been particularly influential, in terms of engaging with complex ideas which explore the human condition, power dynamics and art, as a means of promoting awareness of marginalisation and exclusion.
Professional theatre-making is an area of unexplored potential at the Linenhall Arts Centre and the addition of Mears to the team will introduce a strong theatre-making strand to the organisation’s future. Having artists work and create in the building on an ongoing basis will bring life back to the space, after the long periods of lockdown.
Her current project If walls could talk centres around the Mall in Castlebar, which she aims to turn into a site of sound exploration. She will develop characters from stories and memories shared by the Castlebar community about this very significant area of the town, which has such a rich history. More information on the project will be released in the coming months. Mears commences her role as Associate Artist at the Linenhall this May.