Council ready for action on arts plan


ArtScape: It's all about planning in the arts these days, writes Belinda McKeon. When the votes have been counted this weekend, a new Dublin City Council will be in place, and one of its immediate responsibilities will be the development of an action plan to implement the outgoing council's Arts and Cultural Strategy.

The 20-page document was launched earlier this week, after a process of consultation with members of the public and the arts community which, according to assistant city manager Philip Maguire, lasted almost three years.

"We wanted to get the best ideas in at an early stage," Maguire says, "So that it wouldn't be shot to death on publication."

The preface to the document doesn't exactly make these "best idea" crystal clear, making bureaucratic noises about "building capacity" and so on. But read on, and the explication of the seven issues framed as strategic goals - including the need to "give leadership and enable co-operation", to "support the established and emerging artist", and to "develop sustainable infrastructure and capacity" - makes good sense, even if the goals do bear some echoes of a certain plan for the arts once devised in another part of Dublin, now defunct. The proof, as ever, will be in the implementation, which, says Maguire, has already begun, with projects such as the development of artists' studios and residences at the Red Stables in St Anne's Park, Raheny.

"Things kept emerging in discussion and became important themes for the strategy, and accommodation for the arts, in terms both of performance and for the artists themselves, was a big thing," says Maguire. "Commercial rents have priced many artists out of the city."

Because of this, there are plans afoot to develop, in partnership with Temple Bar Properties, the space at SS Michael & John. It is also proposed to look into the feasibility of mobile theatre rigs.

The committee is clearly confident that incoming councillors will be culturally astute - the action plan is loosely scheduled for formulation by December, and it seems likely to take the shape of a five-year plan. Check the Dublin City Arts Office website, where the finalised strategy should soon be available to read (

Killaloe reborn in Limerick

The Irish Chamber Orchestra's Killaloe Music Festival is no more, writes Michael Dervan. But never fear, the news is not of a demise but of a rebirth. The festival is taking a new name, the Shannon International Music Festival, and is moving its base into the heart of the city of Limerick, where it will run from Wednesday, July 21st to Sunday, July 25th at St Mary's Cathedral.

St Mary's, says Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO) chief executive John Kelly, is not only a venue with superior acoustics to St Flannan's at Killaloe. It also has a greater capacity, makes the festival more accessible to a larger audience, and will save the ICO the escalating expense of the fit-out that was necessary each July to turn St Flannan's into a passable concert venue.

Artistic director Nicholas McGegan's second festival brings Irish d\ebuts from Canadian soprano Dominique Labelle, Mexican recorder player Horacio Franco in a programme that ranges through America north and south and Australia as well as closer to home.

The Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery's popular Sundays at Noon concert series has been forced to move venue because the gallery itself is closing for building work. The currently planned June concerts from Sunday 13th to Sunday 27th will take place at the Bank of Ireland Arts Centre in Foster Place. The series will not be able to resume in the gallery before November, as the building work is not scheduled for completion until the end of October.

'Playboy' of west and east

As the Abbey heads west, Druidsynge goes east - both travelling with Synge's Playboy of the Western World, writes Lorna Siggins. The Abbey interpretation opens in Galway's Town Hall Theatre tonight (june 12) and plays for a week before heading further north to Letterkenny, Belfast and then to Dundalk, Cork, Kilkenny and Sligo.

However, Druidsynge's highly successful version has been invited to Edinburgh, and there's talk of London's West End by the end of the year.

Already, Garry Hynes of Druid Theatre is preparing for the next in the series of Synge plays which she intends to stage - The Well of the Saints (italics) and The Tinker's Wedding (italics).

And just as the Playboy was brought to Geesala in north Mayo, where the author based it, so this pair will be staged simultaneously in the hills of Wicklow. They will also run in Galway and at the Dublin Theatre Festival.

In a separate development, Geraldine Aron's My Brilliant Divorce (italics), which had been commissioned by Druid and premiered in Galway in 2001, has been leased to Christina Harris and Hit Productions. It will be directed by Gary Down and will star Genevieve Lemon in the title role .

This week, as Galway also prepares for its own Bloomsday celebrations in the Nora Barnacle House and at the Galway Arts Centre, the committee involved in the annual Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering has also been busy. It has commissioned Galway Youth Theatre to stage an adaptation of Lady Gregory's Myths and Legends (italics), which will be devised and directed by Ron Goodall.

However, this will cost, and so the Gregory committee is hosting a gala evening in the Town Hall Theatre to raise funds for the project. It has earmarked June 17th, during the Abbey Playboy run, for a gala evening.

Tickets will cover a wine reception, seats at the Abbey's Playboy and supper in the theatre after the show.

Tickets for the June 17th event available from the Town hall Theatre box office (tel: 091-569777)

Magic SEED directors

Three playwrights and three directors have been chosen to participate in Rough Magic's mentoring programme SEEDS 11. The initial SEEDS programme was confined to the fostering of new writing but its successor has been expanded ,to allow emerging directors to participate in a parallel programme.

The three playwrights are Neil Bristow (Dublin), Bryan Delaney (Tralee) and Rosemary Jenkinson (Belfast). The three directors are Tom Creed (Cork), Darragh McKeon (Offaly/Dublin) and Matthew Torney (Belfast/Dublin).

An experienced theatre director will mentor each artist throughout the eighteen-month programme. Mentors already confirmed for the writers' programme include Vicky Featherstone (Paines Plough, London) and Philip Howard (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh).

Mentors confirmed for the directors' programme include László Marton (Vigszínház, Budapest) and Suzanne Osten (Unga Clara, Stockholm). Other directors who will contribute to the programme on an informal basis include Declan Donnellan (Cheek by Jowl, London) and John Crowley (freelance director, London).

Each of the playwrights will be commissioned to write an original play for Rough Magic which will be developed with the mentors and in workshops. The emerging directors will gain experience working with Rough Magic's artistic director Lynne Parker, and their mentor directors. As part of the Dublin Fringe festival SEEDS II SHOWCASE in October 2005 the three commissioned plays will be presented as a series of public readings.

Cork networking

Locked-up libraries in Palestine, Youssou Ndour's campaigns in Senegal, infant games and songs in Paris and the Art Cart from Northern Ireland are all elements of the community of shared endeavour represented by EUnetArt, which held its annual meeting in Cork last weekend, writes Mary Leland. This year's host was Boomerang Theatre, whose Director, Trish Edelstein, had also organised the programme of theatre events which preceeded the meeting; MagicNet was a three-year experiment in collaborative productions between different countries which, while supported by EUnetArt, must now give way to other youth-focussed art events. The meeting itself was the arena in which these events, most in their initial stages, were unveiled to commissioning bodies; as the proposals attracted the attention of other members gatherings and workshops talked through the detail. Is a tent, for example, better than a mobile venue for accessibility or is any structure necessary at all? Can the schoolyards of Europe provide a shifting, immigrant population the opportunities for shared understanding? If "My heart is a Penguin" (a splendid realisation by Filip Bral of Belgium of an earlier project uniting the children of several countries in a narrative of contemporary music, art and literature) can go on tour, what's to be done for the thousands of youngsters relying on the enterprise of Jan Willems and his drama teachers in Gaza? Why Arts Network Asia is using its resources to assist artists from countries from Cambodia to the Phillipines and China to manage funding application processes was explained by Tay Tong, while the influence of the Youssou N'Dour Foundation animated the presentation of Conseilleur Dr. Abdoul Aziz M'baye. Russians explained the need for contact not just with their obvious great cities but with the smaller ones; Bernard Tissot of the Centre Pompidou spoke about his tactics, Gavin O'Conor of Wheelworks and Catherine Boothman of the Arts Council gave Irish perspectives, and activists from Finland to Canada shared ideas, experiences and information as they enjoyed the calm and the sunshine of UCC's campus on the bank holiday weekend.