Cultural Freelancers Ireland

The Cultural Freelancers are holding their first meeting of 2014 on Monday morning. These fortnightly meetings began as a result of a session on freelancing at IETM last year. I started attending meetings last September. “Attending meetings” makes it sound like a support group, an arts-equivilant to AA or AlAnon, and in a way that’s exactly what it is! It’s a place to talk about your experiences and hear from people who are experiencing something similar. Sometimes a support group is necessary to help you feel less crazy about working in the arts.

During the problems experienced by Limerick’s City of Culture at the beginning of the year, artists were described as distrusted and undependable, while recent attacks on the Abbey can make it harder to defend a career in the arts. It can feel crazy to be following this career-path. It can be hard to see the value in what you do when the jobs you are doing are low-paid or no-paid, and when people see it as a hobby or a phase that you’ll grow out of. It really helps to talk to people doing the same thing.

The meetings are structured and everyone has to talk about something so there’s an equality in what we give and receive in each meetings. They are also warm and supportive. The group is not competitive or ego-driven and there is a social element and an opportunity to network as well. It’s run entirely by volunteers and is a fantastic resource for anyone working freelance in the cultural sector. It’s an opportunity to talk to like-minded people and feel some validation about your career choice. Your ambitions seem less impossible when you’re sitting next to someone who has done something similar and is willing to tell you all about it. It’s also a great way to start the week because the ideas and support that come out of each meeting mean that you feel energised and ready for the week ahead.

I really can’t recommend it enough! It’s open to freelancers working in theatre, dance, film, visual arts, literature, architecture, circus or traditional arts and there’s generally a good mix of art-forms and experience in each meeting.

To sign-up or find out more you can join the Facebook group or email culturalfreelancersireland@gmail.com

First Fortnight 2014

FirstFortnight14First Fortnight, Ireland’s Mental Health Arts Festival, is almost over but there is still time to catch some great stuff before it ends on Saturday. I think First Fortnight is a fantastic festival and a great reason to venture out on a dark January evening to see some art! In terms of theatre, Dolls at the Project Arts Centre looks at the place of women in society and how they treated by the media. On the flip side, another show from last year’s Fringe Festival, Confusion Boats explores modern masculinity. And one of my favourite shows from the last few years The Year of Magical Wanking is on in Project Arts Centre. Written and performed by Neil Watkins it is a moving and very personal piece of theatre.

You could also catch Happy Clouds in Temple Bar tomorrow afternoon or The Big Gig in the Button Factory tomorrow night. This year First Fortnight is moving outside Dublin with screenings of Silver Linings Playbook in Waterford, Portlaoise, Bray and Newbridge over the next few days.

So go out and see something and support this wonderful festival that is run entirely by volunteers, and help to challenge mental health prejudices! And most importantly, look after your mental health and if you need someone to talk to you, you don’t have to be suicidal to call the Samaritans on 1890 200 091. As it says on their website – “If there’s something troubling you, then get in touch.”

Theatrical New Year’s Resolutions

  1. See more dance
  2. I’m not sure if I saw any dance theatre this year but I heard wonderful things about junk ensemble’s Dusk Ahead and Cois Ceim’s Missing and I was sorry I’d missed them. This year I will make an effort to see more dance shows. I’ve chosen a good time to do it too as Dublin Dances into Spring is starting at the end of this month. This is a collaboration between Irish Modern Dance Theatre, Liz Roche Company and CoisCéim Dance Theatre and involves lots of performances happening in venues around Dublin between January 25th and March 22nd.

  3. See theatre in new places
  4. I would love this to include festivals and venues outside Dublin, such as the Limerick City of Culture performances and the Happy Days festival in Enniskillen but I’d settle for visiting a few new Dublin venues too. I only seem to go to The New Theatre during festivals so I like see more productions there and also at Theatre Upstairs. I’m also hoping to get down to The Lir to see a few of their student productions.

  5. Go to more than just performances.
  6. Working with Theatre Forum, I attended members meetings and Open Space events and really enjoyed seeing the performing arts community coming together to share information and talk about difficulties in the sector. Community is important and useful. Even knowing other people are having the same problems are you can help sometimes. I always learnt something new at these events and came away with a new perspective on some part of the arts world. And as the commemorative year of the Lock-Out ends, it’s worth remembering that there is strength in numbers and we need to stick together!

    This year I also enjoyed the Gate’s World Actors Forum, IETM and coffee mornings in the Fringe offices. They were all good for meeting theatre types informally and see that they’re not so scary after all. The theatre world has a reputation for being a bit clique-y and but generally most people are very friendly and willing to chat. Seriously, I am terrible at networking but even I managed to make a few new friends at events this year.

    On a more intimate scale, I started attending the Cultural Freelancers Meetings at the end of September and found them really useful and invigorating. They are designed to give freelancers a chance to talk about their work and the problems they’re facing with a small group of like-minded individuals.

    All of these meetings helped keep me motivated about working in the arts this year. Often they were also great social events! I intend to go to lots more meetings and gatherings of like-minded souls in 2014.