The mission of the Arts Department is to create:
The period of The Brightening Air County Sligo Arts Plan 2002-2005 has been marked by a substantial increase in arts initiatives, projects and opportunities for participation throughout County Sligo. The following initiatives are now part of and funded by the annual programme of work of the Arts Department.
Published by Sligo Arts Department in May 2006, Live Music in the Classroom is the title of a research report on the learning that emerged from the Vogler Quartet in Sligo Residency with special emphasis on the Vogler Primary School Curriculum Support Programme. The report was commissioned by The Vogler Partners Steering Group, a group made up of arts and education agencies working at regional and national level - Sligo Local Authorities, Music Network, The Arts Council, Mary Immaculate College of Education, University of Limerick and The Department of Education and Science. A researcher was commissioned by the group to carry out the research. The organising partners intend to channel their enhanced understanding of education and local music development into policy and provision at both local and national level.
The successful Vogler Spring Festival takes place annually each May Bank Holiday Weekend in Drumcliffe, Co Sligo. The 2006 Festival as always revolved around the Vogler Quartet, both as artistic directors and as key performers and joined by acclaimed Irish and international guest artists in a highly distinctive programme, which boldly interweaved contemporary works with 20th century masterpieces. Through the annual Vogler Spring Festival the Arts Department provides ongoing support for the performance and promotion of chamber music of excellence. The continuation of the festival beyond the Vogler Quartet in Sligo Residency timeframe has been welcomed by chamber music enthusiasts locally, nationally and internationally. Work commenced in 2006 on a Composer in Residence type initiative in schools in Sligo Borough and County in preparation for a World Premiere by Children’s Choir and String Quartet at the Vogler Spring Festival 2007.
During 2006, a successful partnership was formed by Sligo County Council with Wexford County Council, St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra and the Arts Council of Ireland to undertake Research into Local Authorities Contribution to Music Development in Ireland. A Research Fellow has recently been appointed to St. Patrick’s College to undertake the research which the partners propose will result in a publication and conference in 2008.
As a local partner in the Vogler Quartet in Sligo Residency Programme, Con Brio, a voluntary group of music promoters established in 1998, developed the very successful annual Sligo Music Series. The 2006/2007 programme is a high calibre music series, following a successful 2005/2006 programme which was possibly their most ambitious to date, with an exciting mix of orchestral, choral and chamber music from both renowned national and international performers.
The County Sligo Youth Theatre is to complete refurbishments on its space at the Factory Performance Space Complex on Lower Quay Street through capital funding received from the Peace II fund allocation. The Youth Theatre presented two of their own productions; ‘Macbeth’ in February and a summer performance of ‘Gruesome Tales’ as well as taking part in other community, regional and cross-border initiatives. The members also worked on their own initiative in producing ‘Never Trust A Vixen’, written by member Jack Kavanagh. Workshops took place in its
theatre space throughout the year with professional practitioners from a wide variety of performance backgrounds including vocal and physical skills, special effects, circus, improvisation, film, dance, movement, street theatre etc.
The Arts Department promotes the participation of older people in the arts through its Golden Years Programme and Intergenerational Arts Initiatives encouraging the integration of older people with other groups and other ages, working closely with the Health Service Executive North West. During the Month of May each year, Sligo’s Bealtaine Festival celebrates creativity in older age through an exciting and wideranging programme of events. The Arts Department has taken the lead in initiating the Sligo Arts and Health Partnership, which takes a holistic view of health beyond the absence of illness and, working with an Arts and Health Steering Group, is currently preparing an Arts and Health Plan.
In 2006 the Sligo Arts Department partnered with local radio station Ocean FM to produce a unique series of radio programmes ‘The Third Sunday’, curated by writer Brian Leyden. Every third Sunday of the month from November 06 to June 07 Sorcha Crowley, presenter of ‘The Arts House’, meets Writers’ Groups throughout County Sligo. The emphasis is on fine writing in poetry and story that at the same time explores how place connects with imagination. Each of the eight programmes present a feature writers group’s own work, poetry, stories, member’s profiles together with a special guest author on the craft and business of writing. Groups are being facilitated by Eibhlin Nic Eochaidh, Creative Writing Advisor to the Arts Office. The programme is an outcome of a long-term advisory role with creative writing groups in Sligo. Since the establishment of the Arts Department in 1997, Sligo Local Authorities have worked with many new and established writers groups throughout Sligo. This innovate programme aims to promote and further the work of creative writing groups throughout the county.
Sligo has a strong traditional music heritage and there are a number of annual traditional music festivals which continued to be supported by the Arts Department this year.
Each year the Arts Department invests in grants and bursaries for arts programmes and projects in the county. The call for applications is advertised through the local media in February/March. For professional artists of all disciplines, there is a bursary to spend a fortnight in an artists retreat to work on a specific project or commission.
Sligo’s Public Art Policy and Programme has influenced thinking at national level. The current series of public art commissions ‘Unravelling Development’ was launched in May 2005. The ten commissions in the series running from 2004 to 2007 highlight the unprecedented level of capital investment in the infrastructure of the Borough and County. With change and development possibly the most striking features of contemporary Irish life, it is important at this time that artists are given opportunities to reflect on or engage with the idea of change as it affects culture, landscape and the built environment. The panel of twelve artists involved work in a variety of disciplines including writing, music composition, new media and the visual arts. They are engaging with a wide and varied public during the course of making and presenting the work.
The Sligo Events Quarterly (SEQ) is a free event guide for arts and cultural events happening in Sligo. Published by the Arts Department, the SEQ is distributed in the North West, and serves to inform the public of what’s on and it assist arts organisations in publicising their events.
The recently launched www.sligoarts.ie is an online resource for the arts community in County Sligo. Important features of the new website are an online guide to what’s on in the arts in Sligo and an Artists Directory. The Directory both profiles individual artists/groups/organisations and benefits the arts community to search for artists for commissions or projects. Other features include a monthly Sligo arts e-bulletin, a project profile section, arts news and much more.