Make A Move Fest starting this Thursday

580x232xmake_a_move_3_580x232.jpg,qitok=upCPmQxE.pagespeed.ic.3kF1PyLyWtOne of the most unique festivals in the country will take place in Limerick from Thursday this week as the The Make A Move Festival comes to city streets and venues from July 3 to 6.

Now in its third year, the festival of hip-hop and urban culture has a packed programme encompassing music, dance, street art, theatre and more.

smug-mural-limerick-03From street dance to MCing/rapping and graffiti to discussion, Make A Move will showcase work from all around Ireland and abroad but “with a special focus on the work of the emerging talent and skill from Limerick”. The city was left with some spectacular graffiti from visiting artists last year (see example on the right) so here’s hoping we’ll see more of that this year.

There are many highlights on the programme (see here) like gigs and the paint parade. Another one of these is Raymond Scannell’s play, DEEP, an award winning play set in Ireland in the late 80s and 90s. The blurb is: “House Music, Club Culture, Vinyl Obsession. Larry Lehane knows all about them.” The play is part fiction and part documentary with interviews and footage from Sir Henry’s in Cork. The Irish Times describes Larry as “a character who is full of frantic energy and madcap dreaming”. DEEP won an award for Best Male Performer at the Dublin Fringe Festival Awards 2013 and was also nominated for the Spirit of the Fringe award.

The play runs for one night only this Thursday (July 3) at 8 pm at 69 O Connell Street (formerly the Belltable). Tickets from €12 (available here).

See a preview here:

Irish Times journo, Jim Carroll, will host an event called Banter on Friday July 4 at 7.30 pm in Shannon Rowing Club. The topic for discussion will be Limerick City of Culture and its aftermath.

“The big question, though, is what comes next. When the circus leaves town at midnight on December 31, will Limerick cease to be a city of culture? Does a city like Limerick need a city of culture designation to show off its wares? Isn’t culture supposed to be more about bed nights? What will Limerick remember most from and take from 2014′s cultural parade? Will we remember this year in a year solely for reports, spats, costs and inventive use of an old dairy”

Panelists include: City of Culture Director, Mike Fitzpatrick; Arts Council member, theatre practitioner and facilitator with the new Creative Communities Limerick Network, Monica Spencer; senior youth worker and board member of the Make a Move, Catherine O’Halloran and head of the Dept. of Arts Education & Physical Education at Mary Immaculate College, Mike Finneran.

For more information, see

Indie Week Ireland for Limerick in April

ANIMAL FOR INDIE WEEK IRELAND from Piquant on Vimeo. Loving the promo!

There was some good news for music fans last week when it was announced that Indie Week Ireland 2014, a celebration of independent bands and musicians, will take place in Limerick from April 23-26.

After three years in Dublin, the Irish leg of the top Canadian music festival will feature up to 30 bands spread across four of Limerick’s most popular music venues: Dolans, Bourke’s Bar, Cobblestone Joes and The Blind Pig. The strong local music scene, combined with support from Limerick City of Culture 2014, swung it for the Treaty City.

Indie Week Ireland is inviting independent bands from all around the country to throw their hats into the ring. One band will be selected by a panel of judges to win the top prize of flights and accommodation for Indie Week Canada in October 2014, where they will support the festival’s headline act and have the chance to connect with industry professionals from North America.

Leading Armies, who won the Indie Week Ireland competition in 2012, and launched the 2014 event last week.

Leading Armies, who won the Indie Week Ireland competition in 2012, and launched the 2014 event last week.

Bands have until March 15 to apply online via or and the line-up will be selected by music executives at Indie Week Canada. A panel of judges, drawn from the Irish music industry, will select the winning band.

It should be a cracking few days of music and fingers crossed, some local talent will win the competition again.

Limerick Independent Music Committee, a local voluntary group, will run the event. Committee member, Monica Spencer, said: “Locating Indie Week Ireland in Limerick, during Ireland’s inaugural National City of Culture, gives Irish and international bands opportunities for synergy and offers music fans from Limerick and beyond a chance to celebrate this significant, international festival in a city that is hungry for a distinctive music festival.”

For further information on how to apply for the Indie Week Ireland 2014 programme see, or

DeLorean Suite at Dolan’s

406666_10151290025349660_1161085633_nI went to see Limerick band, DeLorean Suite, launch their debut album in Dolan’s recently. It’s a belated review but ‘better late than never’…it’s my blogging motto after all!

DeLorean Suite ticks a lot of boxes—combining soul and R n B on one hand with electronica and dance on the other. The album, Two Lives, is a demonstration of that effortless melting pot and their live performances epitomise their funky, laidback sound.

After an atmospheric warm-up slot from support act, dREA, DeLorean Suite took the stage before an enthusiastic crowd and a packed upstairs in the Dock Road venue.

The core of the group is Jenny McMahon on vocals with Tony Roche on percussion and Graham Conway on keys/production although several prominent guests collaborated on the album including legendary bass player, Chuck Rainey and two members of Beyonce’s touring band, Divinity Roxx (bass) and Kat Rodriguez (saxophone).

The set kicked off with ‘Slow Divide’ and set the scene for the great live energy, leading into ‘By your side’ with its samba-style drums. Songs like ‘Random Touch’ bring electronica to the fore while the star of the show was undoubtedly the catchy ‘Deep Love’. The anthemic number, well known from their previous EP, urged on the crowd.

45159_10151286373909660_1130859526_nIf I had to compare McMahon’s voice to another singer, Sade would spring to mind although it has a contemporary pop aspect to it as well. As for the sound, it wouldn’t be out of place among acts like Moloko or Goldfrapp. It has a soulful quality but the beats and pulsating repetition means that many songs are potential club floor fillers.

The next song, ‘All or nothing’, was more uplifting than the title suggested and that was quickly followed by ‘Two Lives’—the album’s title track with subtle jazz elements and obviously a song very close to McMahon’s heart. The set built up to a lively conclusion with ‘Landslide’, ‘Alone’ (with its lovely brass and strings) and ‘Running Away’. DeLorean Suite brought the house down with an excellent version of ‘Deep Love’ in the encore.

The band has garnered rave reviews for Two Lives from the likes of Hotpress, The Ticket in The Irish Times and various radio outlets. I saw the band a few years back and they seem to be growing in confidence so hopefully, they will tour more widely in the near future.

The album is now available on iTunes as well as in CD format and for more information, see DeLorean Suite’s Facebook page.

New performance at Belltable!!!

shitcreekDon’t get too excited but it’s a comedy of errors called Up Sh*t Creek Without A Paddle and will be starring the board of directors and senior management…if they can be tracked down for comment, that is. And of course, the audience is cast adrift in this mire of effluent too.

In better news, I have a feeling that the garage owner in the laneway behind the venue can cut back on having to work at unsociable hours. Every cloud…

The Limerick Leader reported this week that the company running the arts centre will be liquidated and debts are over €750,000, which is a colossal sum. The bulk of it is owed to the building contractor who carried out major refurbishment works. Worse, money is owed to local arts practitioners who put on shows there in the latter half of 2012. There must have been signs that it was heading for trouble by then so engaging those people was pretty despicable.

G.U.B.U anyone?

Less than two years after it reopened after €1.26 million worth of works (or maybe more?) the Belltable is closed and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Local playwright, Mary Coll, was on Radio One arts show, Arena, the other night talking about it. I’d urge people to listen to the podcast. She said that serious questions need to be asked about this and I agree, along with just about everyone with an interest in the arts in Limerick.

So, what happened? I don’t think there is a single individual or factor in this case but more like several. Responsibility lies with the Belltable’s management and board as well as Limerick City Council. The buck has to stop somewhere and it lands squarely at the feet of the people making the decisions. You could blather on about human nature, collective consciousness, peer pressure, diplomacy et al. It’s always hard to know what’s the right thing to do. But the state of affairs at the Belltable didn’t develop overnight; this slippage has been going on for years and left unchecked. Now that it’s all gone to pot, there’s not much point in blame. All we can do is hope that lessons are learned from the mistakes.

And there’s no point blaming the recession by the way. The economic climate is poor but then again I don’t hear of other regional arts centres closing in these circumstances. Bear in mind that the Belltable was one of Ireland’s first regional arts centres when it opened in 1981. In the Celtic Tiger years a lot of new, multimillion euro facilities were built i.e. the Dunamaise Arts Centre in Portlaoise, An Grianan Theatre in Letterkenny, the Civic Theatre in Dublin and the Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge to name but a few. You’ll note that all of them, and many others like them, are still open for business. It’s not all sunshine and roses but they’re doing their best.

170711121655--IMG_1013Even the dogs on the street know that the Belltable hasn’t been doing all of what it was supposed to be doing. The mission statement and artistic policy on reads as follows:

“A space for arts development, excellent arts provision and social engagement in Limerick and beyond. This is achieved by:

  • Presenting work of calibre across the art forms: Visual Art, Live Performance*, Film and Literature
  • Fostering, developing and nurturing local, national and International arts practitioners and encouraging innovation in their practice
  • Making space and resources available to create new work across the art forms
  • Fostering Partnerships, networks and create debate and dialogues with arts practitioners, local communities and audiences
  • Being a focal point, a vital resource and social space for the arts in Limerick and Beyond

* This includes but is not restricted to: Theatre, Poetry, Circus, Music, Comedy, Dance, Opera, and Traditional Arts.”

Of course, it was fulfilling some of its remit but there was a dearth in some areas. I’ll let you decide how efficiently the Belltable was meeting these goals set out by organisation itself. I wonder how many of the people involved in running the place read and really understood this statement of intent. At no point does it say, “Enduring persistent noise pollution no matter how much it damages the experience of artists and patrons”. Seemingly most of the “debate and dialogues” revolved around getting paid i.e. ‘Where’s the money I’m owed?’ There hasn’t been a public forum to seek audience/practitioners’ views in quite a while.

What now?

The local authority owns the building itself so that cannot be sold. Is someone going to dismantle all usable equipment so these assets can be sold to settle some of the debt? I don’t see how that would be productive in the long term but it is possible. The contractor no doubt has sub-contractors and staff to pay.

According to the Leader’s latest article “Kieran Lehane, director of service with responsibility for arts, culture and sport in Limerick City Council, said this week that the local authority “fully understands the value of the Belltable to the city and to the wider public and also to the various groups that have played there over the years. It is an important asset in the arts infrastructure in the city and City Council is trying to work to resolve the issues with the Belltable as soon as we can.”

Although the sentiment is nice, it’s the same tired line trotted out all the time (I spent three years writing it in local news articles ffs). There has to be a will to address this situation. The city council played a role in allowing these problems to develop, even by maybe taking a hands-off stance. It was one of the main sources of funding and had a responsibility. Now, its arts service and relevant personnel can lead the push for recovery by approaching the Arts Council and asking for help/collaboration etc AND fast.

What happened to the proposal for the new and improved Daghdha Dance Company? There was an invitation for applications for a new director last June and then…nothing! The company’s former home, the extensively refurbished church in St John’s Square, is still sitting there—waiting for activity. That will happen to the Belltable if action isn’t taken. Local companies and audiences will go elsewhere while a top class facility gathers dust and eventually falls asunder.

I’m not a legal expert…

14563018-new-brand-stampI presume a new company needs to be founded to run the Belltable and a new board has to be appointed along with a CEO/Artistic Director. All avenues for funding should be explored but the Belltable is mostly at the mercy of the Arts Council. I hope that authority will be sympathetic and not leave the local audience and arts community without this resource. The form, structure etc will probably change but hopefully, for the better. Also, the City of Culture 2014 committee needs to play a part in this process—a reinvigorated arts centre could be the lasting legacy left by the event?

In the last post I wrote about the Belltable, the playwright, Mike Finn, suggested in a comment that the facility needs to re-open under a new banner as well as a new outlook because “it could be argued that the brand is so badly damaged as to be beyond repair”. Mary Coll also pointed out that the Belltable has met a very “undignified” end.

Maybe there should be a public meeting with all the relevant stakeholders in the Belltable and other interested parties to talk about what can be done and throw around ideas? I think the same drive and enthusiasm that got the Belltable off the ground three decades ago still exists if only it could be harnessed.

To quote Paul Smith in ‘Apply some pressure’: “What happens when you lose everything? You just start again. You start all over again.”

Crusade and other delights for Belltable season

I’ve been meaning to do a post on the Belltable Arts Centre’s autumn line-up so here is a preview of what’s coming. The programme for the next two months includes film, theatre, music and visual art.

Tomorrow, Wednesday August 29, the Belltable Youth Musical Project will preview Crusade. Crusade “is the epic musical story of the ‘Children’s Crusade’ which took place in medieval France in the early part of the 13th century. This factual and remarkable episode in history takes us into the world of medieval France, into the innocence and naivety of blind faith, into the treachery and darkness that lives in the minds of men, as the Crusade explores the power and survival of the human spirit against all odds. It is a journey of hope!”

Crusade is an Irish premiere and has a cast of 30—most of them young actors—and was produced by Richie Ryan (a well known figure in local theatre, who is also the director) and Michael Young. It will run from August 30 to September 8 at 7.30pm nightly.

Film is prevalent with screenings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Cine-Club includes some interesting offerings such as Wes Anderson’s new film, Moonrise Kingdom, and David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel, Cosmopolis and more. There are some tie-ins with Limerick Writers’ Centre with documentaries, Barbaric Genius and We Are Poets as well as three films from the Southern Mediterranean region in association with Access Cinema.

Bottom Dog Theatre Company will do rehearsed readings of four new plays—one on each of the first four Sundays in September. On Saturday 22, Blood in the Alley will present Woman and Scarecrow by Marina Carr. From September 28, Breda Cashe presents a stage version of Mitch Albom’s sob-fest, Tuesdays With Morrie. Surefire Productions is giving Stephen King’s disturbing tome of fan obsession, Misery, an airing from October 4. Fawlty Towers: The Dining Experience is back by popular demand on October 9 and 10.

All the music events are jazz themed to tie in with the Limerick Jazz Festival in September. On September 13, the Joshua Redman Trio will perform and as part of the actual festival, Crisis Point will play on September 30. On Culture Night (September 21), the Belltable will host a jazz photo exhibition, film screening, performance and a talk.

The visual art exhibitions are: Regia, featuring artists, Patrick Corcoran, Carl Doran, Maurice Foley and Laurence Weiner, which runs until October 13. Painter, Magdalena Jitrik’s International Lantern, will run from October 19 until November 24.

It’s good to see that there is a new youth musical project to complement the in-house community theatre project. The Belltable has given the stage over to Limerick Youth Theatre already this season with its successful production of The Miser. Leading local company, Bottom Dog, will do a series of rehearsed readings with new work to the forefront. The emphasis on jazz for September is a good idea too.

I can’t help thinking that the venue is playing it safe by showing a lot of film. Cinema screenings are cheap to run. On the plus side, they seem to be drawing a crowd. The theatre selection errs on the careful side too with three popular literary/TV adaptations. But is it better to be safe than sorry in this economic climate? This programme is obviously trying to strike a balance and I hope it pays dividends in the box office. As always, I would encourage people to attend as many events as they can. Audience support is vital to all branches of the arts.