This is the sixth year of Mayo County Council Arts Office Annual Youth Arts Programme - Excel. The programme runs throughout the month of November and is aimed at young adults and teenagers. Workshops and masterclasses were provided for groups already in the arts as well as open events for young people who wanted to try something new.
This year saw a jam-packed programme catering for all interests and took place in venues across Mayo. The programme started off in Ballyhaunis with artist Chris Leach; at this open event participants really used their imaginations and created a temporary art sculpture, which was photographed in the streets of Ballyhaunis. Other open events included a performing poetry reading with poet Tony Curtis which took place in Ballina and Louisburg. Animation workshops by the Galway Film Centre were run in Belmullet. At this workshop young artists unleashed their creative talents and made clay models and drawings, all participants got a DVD copy of their work. Belmullet also saw hip hop artist Jen Fleenor give an open workshop to an energetic group of young dancers. Up coming musicians attended Ballina Arts Centre for a music panel discussion with Jon Richards from Galway Bay FM, Steve Reddy from FMC and Shane Power from the Guggenheim Grotto band. Budding art students attended portfolio preparation talks in Castlebar given by Joe Wilson, NCAD, Alice Lyons, GMIT and Nuala Moloney, IT Sligo.
Piping masterclasses took place with Achill Pipe Band. Cindy Cummings gave a dance and movement masterclass for theatre to aspiring young actors from Mayo Youth Theatre, Ballina and Phoenix Youth Theatre Works, Belmullet. Mayo Youth Theatre also participated in a voice for theatre masterclass with Max Hafler. Cantoraí Umhaill, Mayo Girls’ Choir, received a masterclass from the expert, Mark Keane. Singer/Songwriter Declan De Barra shared his wisdom with the passionate musicians from Crimlin Community Arts Music Collective. James Cavanagh gave a masterclass to the Mayo Youth Orchestra.
A dance workshop with Ríonach Ní Néill was held in Coláiste Mhuire, Tuar Mhic Éadaigh to great success. Marianne Heemskerk gave print-making workshops to talented teenagers at Westport’s Neighbourhood Youth Project. Castlebar Neighbourhood Youth Project’s Intercultural group, pooled their talents together and made a short drama with Galway Film Centre. Writer/director John Breen gave drama workshops to imaginative TY students at McHale college in Achill and Our Lady’s Secondary School Belmullet. Puppet maker Carmel Balfe made original puppets with inventive participants from Kilkelly Youth Group. The month long Excel programme drew to a close with energetic Castlebar-based Do You Play House, who had a creative workshop making props with Mayo County Council’s Arts Squad. Mayo County Council’s Arts Office were delighted with the workshops and would like to thank all the talented teenagers who attended, and the facilitators and venues which made this programme possible.