Theatre Forum Expands To Become Performing Arts Forum At Sligo Gathering

The event aims to build a connected, diverse, and strong community for artists and arts workers.

By: May. 21, 2024
Theatre Forum Expands To Become Performing Arts Forum At Sligo Gathering
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This May, Theatre Forum will become Performing Arts Forum. The organisation's vision is that this is a forum that supports artists, arts workers, and organisations to build a better connected, more diverse, and stronger community and secures the resources needed to sustain the sector.

'At the core of Performing Arts Forum is the profound value of connection. It's about the relationships that are built, the ties that are strengthened, and the sense of belonging that sustains the performing arts community.'

Irma McLoughlin

Sligo Gathering

For two decades, Theatre Forum's annual Gathering has stood as a landmark event in the performing arts calendar. This year, in Sligo, holds an extra special significance as the organisation's first as Performing Arts Forum.

The Gathering is an event which brings together the whole performing arts sector on the island of Ireland each year. Hundreds of artists, arts workers and arts organisation people from arts centres and production companies, festivals and funders will get together in Sligo for two days of conversation, provocation, and inspiration.

Over the two days, many themes will be explored under the concept Where Connection Creates Change including freedom of expression, career viability and sustainability, advocacy, audience research and lots more.

'Over these two days, we invite everyone to step away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It's a chance to come together, to connect, and to reflect on what truly matters, what lies ahead, and how we can collaboratively shape our future.' Irma McLoughlin

The programme consists of a series of events programmed by Cian O'Brien exploring the arts today: Artistic freedom and the intersection of art, politics, activism and advocacy; and The (actual) state of Performing Arts.

This will be followed by a cultural programme of performing arts curated by Cairde Sligo and showcasing some of the best of local arts scene.

The two days present a golden opportunity to discover the local arts landscape in Sligo. Through our sessions and artistic programme curated by Cairde Sligo Arts Festival, you'll get to visit the Hawk's Well, The Model, Yeats Academy of Arts, Design & Architecture (YAADA), the Factory Performance Space, and Queen Maeve Square.

Performing Arts Forum together with Catríona Fallon founded the Green Arts Initiative in Ireland at the Gathering in Belfast in 2018. Practically at this event, the schedule is fully aligned to public transport and includes are carpool. There is no merchandise and all food and drinks are served on real plates, cups and glasses.

Performing Arts Forum has the Irish license for the Theatre Green Book in Ireland which will be lauched at the Gathering.

In collaboration with Local Authority Arts Offices nationwide, a number of bursaries were available for arts practitioners based in Ireland to attend the Performing Arts Forum Sligo Gathering.


Tues 28 May, Programmed by Cian O'Brien

Part 1

Artistic freedom and the intersection of art, politics, activism and advocacy.

'All art is, in some way or other, indelibly political because it relates to the workings of the society from which it emerges. Art can represent many things, and to suggest that it should not reflect current social issues or human rights is to concede to censorship.

In Ireland, a healthy tension has always existed between the State and its artists, who are highly dependent on the State for funding and support but who also have a long history of challenging the State on the issues of the time.

The arm's-length principle enshrined in the Arts Act establishes the conditions whereby artists and cultural organisations have the artistic and curatorial independence to create and programme work that challenges ideas and creates debate. For artists to make work that tests the limits of this principle is essential in a democratic society. In a time of great global turmoil, where artists in many other countries are being censored and shut down and organisations are silenced by funders and pressure groups, there is an even greater need to have safe spaces where ideas and vision are cherished, and where bravery defines the work artists create and the audiences they create it for.' Cian O'Brien

Speakers: Louna Sbou, Artistic Director of the Oyoun Cultural Centre, Adam Doyle (Spicebag)

Part 2

The (actual) State of the Performing Arts.

'With Theatre Forum Ireland becoming Performing Arts Forum Ireland, this session is at the heart of the theme for this year's gathering; an opportunity for us to connect. We can't fix everything today, but we have to talk about where we are and where we might be able to go. Collective wisdom is our advantage; the power is in the room.

We invite a gathering of artists to offer provocations on the state of the performing arts in Ireland now. We invite these artists to reflect on the joys and challenges of living as an artist; building and sustaining a career; how we can make space for new ways of thinking and new voices; and to imagine what systemic change might look like when the same ideas and ways of working keep getting reinforced?' Cian O'Brien

Speakers will include: Esosa Ighodoro, Ultan Pringle, Lianne Quigley, Deirdre Dwyer, Lapree Ncube, Lynne Parker. Chair: Julie Kelleher


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