Speech by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, at the launch of the Five Lamps Arts Festival
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Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be here with you to launch this wonderful festival and thank you all very much for coming.
At the outset, may I thank the group of young female Flautists, who provided such beautiful music earlier and who will perform again later this evening. Thank you also to their teacher Ms. Julie Maisel and to the wonderful dancers from the Francesca Arkins Dance School in Sean McDermott Street, who created those lovely lyrical poses (and held them!) as part of this evening’s event. I think a round of applause is well deserved!
We are of course in an area of great cultural and historical significance here in the North Inner City. It has been home to many creative people, provided inspiration to others and continues to produce many talented artists, some of whom will feature in this festival. This is the part of Dublin which was home to, among others, playwrights Sean O’Casey and Brendan Behan, singers Luke Kelly and Stephen Gately and in earlier times sculptor John Henry Foley, who gave Dublin the O’Connell monument and his name to nearby Foley Street.
Jim and Peter Sheridan came from this area as did the poet and playwright Paula Meehan. Many very talented local young artists are currently making their mark in visual arts, theatre, film and literature and some of them will feature in the festival this year. This area of Dublin 1 is also home to the Abbey Theatre, Gate Theatre, The City Gallery, the Hugh Lane and the fine O’Reilly Theatre, located just beside this magnificent Belvedere House.
Particular gratitude must go to the numerous backers of this festival, without whom none of this would be possible. I refer especially to Dublin City Council, NEIC (North East Inner City) The Arts Council of Ireland, Waterways Ireland and Dance Ireland.
Dublin City Council, and most especially Ray Yeates and his team in the Arts Office have been consistent supporters and collaborators with the festival over the years, making many projects and programmes possible.
The partnership that has been formed between the festival and Waterways Ireland for instance, has resulted in imaginative arts projects highlighting the amenity that is the Royal Canal. Likewise the collaboration with Dance Ireland this year has brought exciting and extensive school dance projects to the festival.
To witness an event such as this, which has grown and developed into what it is today, is not only a true sign of the imagination and vision of its founders, but also a testament to its loyal and growing audience. The Five Lamps Arts Festival broadens and extends horizons, it entertains and enthrals – and will continue to engage with the local community, building strong participation in the arts in all its forms and genres.
As is the case with so many of the terrific festivals up and down the country, Five Lamps is run by a dedicated voluntary committee. To Chairman Jack Gilligan, Artistic Director Roisin Lonergan, and to the Festival Board, we are all aware of the many months of preparation that go into making this festival such a success year after year. And of course I must mention the entire compilation and administration of the festival which is undertaken by volunteers each year, including the 2018 festival. I convey our immense gratitude to you all.
A festival such as this is very important in terms of the positive role it plays in the quality of life for individuals and for communities. It showcases the uniqueness of this area of the city and encourages an appreciation of its rich culture and history. It provides a platform for many in the community to celebrate and share their own creative talents, tell their stories and reimagine the future. I know that many of the artists across the festival programme live locally. They are the positive role models and the visible evidence that arts and creativity can enhance and change lives – and open horizons that may have gone unnoticed, let alone unchallenged.
That is what makes this festival so unique. It gives this area an opportunity to celebrate a close community, people and place. The committee has always endeavoured to make the arts accessible to all and this is reflected in the extensive range of cultural events planned.
I will close by quoting the aforementioned Seán O’Casey, who once said “The artist’s life is to be where life is, active life, found in neither ivory tower nor concrete shelter; he must be out listening to everything, looking at everything, and thinking it all out afterward.”
I hope that you all enjoy the festival and I would like to say thank you once again for the kind invitation to open this wonderful event. I wish Roisín, Jack and all the committee and performers the best for the future.