Don will soon be gone from DTF


Art Scape Gerry SmythThe news this week that the artistic director and chief executive of Dublin Theatre Festival, Don Shipley, is leaving his position only two years after taking it up came as something of a major surprise and shock to many in the theatre community.

Shipley is to return home to Canada, where he will take up a high-profile job as one of the artistic directors with the Stratford Festival of Canada. The opportunity to lead Stratford Festival of Canada "fulfils a lifelong ambition" of Shipley's.

He says "there is no other position on the planet that could have seduced me away. This new appointment provides me with an extraordinary opportunity to return to my roots as a stage director of the classics as well as new original creation."

Shipley took over at the helm of the theatre festival when his predecessor, Fergus Linehan, moved to Australia to run the Sydney Arts Festival. Shipley, the first non-Irish director of the Dublin festival, plans to see out this year's festival, before moving back to Canada. He will also assist in the "smooth transition to our 50th anniversary festival in 2007". Shipley came to Dublin with several high-profile positions with theatre companies and organisations in Canada under his belt.

This year's Dublin Theatre Festival programme will be unveiled later this month, but already a number of productions have been signalled, including Tom Murphy's new play, Alice Trilogy, which he will also direct for the Abbey Theatre.

Alice Trilogy was originally written for the Royal Court in London, where it was first produced last November. Corn Exchange will present a new play by Michael West (from an idea by Mark O'Halloran and Annie Ryan, they say ). Entitled Everyday, the cast will include Derbhle Crotty, Andrew Bennett, Tom Murphy - the actor, not the playwright - and Mark O'Halloran.

Although Shipley pulled some major international shows to Dublin last year - from Lithuania, Russia, Belgium, South Africa and London - there was some sense of disappointment at the dearth of home-produced work. The Dublin Theatre Festival will run from September 29th to October 14th.

She's a jolly good fellow

Fiona Kearney, director of the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork, has been awarded the inaugural Jerome Hynes Fellowship, which provides her with a place on the UK-based Clore Leadership Programme, an initiative of the Clore Duffield Foundation to strengthen leadership across the arts.

The fellowship is worth about €71,000-€50,000 from the Arts Council and £15,000 (€21,670) from Clore. The fellowship was renamed in memory of Jerome Hynes, the council's former deputy chair and chief executive of Wexford Festival Opera, who died suddenly last September.

It is the highest award the Arts Council offers to an individual and as deputy chair Hynes was instrumental in establishing the link between the Arts Council and the Clore Duffield Foundation.

The Leadership Programme was set up with the aim of nurturing leaders in the arts in the UK and fellows have been selected annually since 2004.

Kearney will start her programme in September and will participate in a year-long schedule of work, research and training and receive professional development through mentoring and tuition. She will also be seconded to an organisation where she will have experience of managing a high-level project.

The 34-year-old began her curatorial career as programme co-ordinator at the National Sculpture Factory in Cork and went on to direct the visual arts programme of Triskel Arts Centre. In 2003, she was appointed the inaugural director of the Lewis Glucksman Gallery.

First gawk at Galway gallery

The long-awaited, much-anticipated opening of Galway's new museum near Spanish Arch took place last night with an exhibition of 55 artworks from the Bank of Ireland collection, writes Lorna Siggins.

The three-month exhibition includes works by Louis le Brocquy, celebrating 90 years, by Robert Ballagh, John Behan, Martin Gale, Tony O'Malley, Nano Reid, Patrick Scott and Camille Souter. The range dates back 40 years and reflects a "seminal period in Irish art history", according to the bank, which says that some of the pieces have never been exhibited together before.

The museum's own formal opening is due to take place at a later date, but the exhibition will give the public an opportunity to inspect it before permanent exhibitions move in next November.

Office of Public Works architect Ciaran O'Connor, who designed the €50 million Marine Institute headquarters across the bay at Oranmore, is also responsible for this design - with brightly lit spaces which, says the Bank of Ireland, act as a "perfect foil" for its collection.

Bank of Ireland chief executive Brian Goggin said that financial support for the "cultural infrastructure" was an "important element of corporate sponsorship", but its new regional initiatives were also designed to "filter our sponsorship directly to the key influencers of the arts in this region".

The exhibition, entitled On Reflection, runs until September 24th.

Around the corner on Dominick Street, Jane Talbot's engaging photographic record of Galway's inner city community in "the West" continues in the Galway Arts Centre.

Up in north Co Mayo, the Ballinglen Arts Foundation is exhibiting 27 works by 21 international artists who have participated in its international fellowship programme, and this Summer Exhibition continues in Ballycastle, Co Mayo, until August 31st.

Compass points the way

Compass Records, the Nashville-based record company, has played a huge part in reinvigorating the recorded music output of Irish traditional musicians both here and in the US as a result of its voracious appetite for great music, writes Siobhán Long.

Founded by Californian jazz and bluegrass banjo genius, Alison Brown, along with her husband, Garry West, Compass has in the last five months alone supported album releases by Lúnasa, Solas, Winifred Horan and Mick McAuley, Mick Moloney, Danú's vocalist and flute player, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Liz Carroll and John Doyle.

In addition to that, its world music catalogue is just as formidable, bringing in such diverse artists as Bruce Molsky, Darol Anger and Eileen Rose.

Recently, Compass Records announced its purchase of the physical sales rights to the Green Linnet Records catalogue from Digital Music Group.

Many will be familiar with the long-running contretemps between Lúnasa and Green Linnet over the distribution of their CD, Redwood.

Frustrations have been rife among the Irish traditional music community regarding the quality of distribution arrangements in the US and worldwide. As a young, vibrant company (established in 1995), with an established track record in supporting Irish music in all its colours and shapes, Compass Records is again demonstrating its appetite for operating at the cutting edge of the music business, where there are no colour-by-numbers safety nets.

While leaving the Green Linnet back catalogue's digital music rights to Digital Music Group, Compass retains its focus on pushing hard copy music on to the record shelves at a time when it's becoming increasingly difficult to source an eclectic mix of off-the-shelf music.

It looks like the company is hell-bent on challenging the hegemony of the internet, and in the process, it might just succeed in luring more disenchanted listeners back from the brink of aural extinction.

Divas in Donegal

With the summer arts festival season in full swing, Donegal is about to celebrate its 18th Earagail Arts Festival - surely one of the most widely-spread (geographically, that is) festivals in the country.

This year's festival will deliver 35 shows right across the county, from July 10th to 23rd.

Highlights in the music programme include Brazilian diva Joyce, pianist Joanna McGregor, Scottish singer Eddi Reader and folk legend June Tabor.

Circus comes to Letterkenny in the form of inventive company Nofitstate, and there is plenty of family-centred entertainment including the Children's Cheering Carpet (the Japanese Garden) and the Púca Puppets with their show The Fish's Wishes.

Full details of the festival are available on