#Alltogethernow: celebrating the power of the collective
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” – Sofia Loren, Actress, 82.
There’s strength in numbers, camaraderie in a collective and encouragement in engagement. This summer, the Bealtaine Festival celebrates people power in Ireland’s older generation through performance, proclamations and praise.
Throughout the month of May, the annual celebration returns for its 22nd year with events hosted nationwide to promote activity in the arts and creativity as we age. Bealtaine, the world’s first national celebration of creativity in older age, is run by Age & Opportunity, an organisation that promotes active and engaged living as we get older.
This year’s theme All together now, involves events featuring some of Ireland’s leading artists and creatives including:
The Dawn Chorus – This is a countrywide choral event presented with the Association of Irish Composers where older people sing at dawn. This year’s festival includes four new commissioned choral works by composer Sean Doherty based on the poetry of Paula Meehan. The new works can be used by choirs on the event day, 7th May, and downloaded here: http://www.aoic.ie/festivals_events_initiatives/dawn_chorus/
Dance residency – Mary Nunan Bealtaine 2017 dance artist in residence, is developing a new piece of work entitled The Movement, a piece commissioned by the festival which considers activism as a theme. The choreographer will premiere the work on 11th May at an event in Limerick City Gallery of Art
Rebel Yell – This event celebrates the strength of the collective in Limerick City Gallery of Art, with an evening of readings, music and dance celebrating the work of Maeve Kelly. Maeve excelled in raising awareness for victimised women in society through her work in the city and the founding of Adapt House, a refuge for women. Kelly’s books include A Life of Her Own, penned in her 40s, and the ground-breaking Orange Horses. Hosted by writer Susan McKay, Rebel Yell on May 11th, will feature readings and performances of Maeve’s work, music, as well as a newly commissioned dance work by Mary Nunan.
The Beauty of It – Brought to you in association with Poetry Ireland and the International Literature Festival Dublin, this event is a celebration of words and music. Taking place on the 25th of May in Poetry Ireland, four new choral compositions by composer Sean Doherty which have developed as a response to four poems from Paula Meehan’s new anthology Geomantic, will be performed with the Association of Irish Choirs (Cumann Naisiúnta na gCor). Writer Vincent Woods and poet Eva Bourke will read from their new anthology FERMATA, which celebrates the connection between music and poetry. http://bealtaine.ie/events_list/1/172
Archiving Activism – A Project by Breda Burns in partnership with Sligo and Mayo Arts’ Offices, this commission gets right to the heart of this year’s collectivism theme. Breda’s sound and radio-based work will create an archive of the vanguards of the arts community. Programmes will be broadcast locally and an exhibition will run in Sligo and Mayo in conjunction with the event. http://bealtaine.ie/events_list/1/99
How Far We Have Travelled – This event is a chaired discussion on the 27th of May featuring some of Ireland’s top female broadcasters and journalists. The phrase ‘How far we have travelled’ was coined by the late Mary Holland of the Irish Times and featured speakers at the Smock Alley event include Emily O’Reilly, the European Ombudsman, journalists Ann Marie Hourihane and Susan McKay, and producer Betty Purcell. Each will discuss their own careers in the Irish media. Kitty Holland, daughter of Mary, will chair the discussion. http://bealtaine.ie/events_list/1/328
Visual Artists Residency – Vivienne Dick, Kevin Gaffney and Kathy Prendergast take up residency in the stunning surroundings of Cow Lane Studio’s in Wexford from the 7th to the 20th of May. The aim of this unique project is to explore the art practices of the individual and the group as they work collectively under one roof. http://bealtaine.ie/events_list/1/125
Creaking – This dynamic play by Noelle Brown Productions tours seven venues nationwide throughout the Bealtaine Festival from the 5th to the 26th of May. Creaking exploring themes of ageing and bodies with older participants and features Geraldine Plunkett among its impressive acting ensemble. http://bealtaine.ie/events_list/1/332
Launching the programme, Dr Tara Byrne, Bealtaine Director, said the growth and success of the Bealtaine Festival year-on-year showed the importance of the arts in our lives and especially in relation to our wellbeing as we get older, as well as a showcase for the incredible talent and commitment of mature artists in Ireland.
“Bealtaine is a truly unique festival in providing a rich and varied programme of collaborative events and workshops specifically designed to reach out to, and focus on, all of us as we grow older,” she said. “Its growth in recent years to over 3,000 events involving up to 100,000 people in towns and villages throughout the country, is a testament to the demand for such an inclusive a festival as Bealtaine.
“The people who participate like our artists and community groups and our many partners such as arts centres, libraries, theatres, galleries, art and cultural institutions are absolutely key to the festival’s success. It is this ‘all together now’ approach that continues to strengthen the event and nurture creativity in people of an older age.”
The vast array of events can be viewed on the festival website http://bealtaine.ie/events_list. The Bealtaine Festival is an Age & Opportunity initiative, funded by the Arts & Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon.