oLast week I had a change to normal procedure as I was invited to guest host a live art event that happens on the last Wednesday of every month, here in Monaghan Town at the beautiful and historic Markethouse Venue on Park Street. Scroll Down to see more photos from the night.
I’ll tell you all about how that went in a minute but first want to tell you about the group, the Monaghan Arts Network.
Back in 2014 I was invited to a discussion along with a number of people from the local creative community to explore the possibility of an Arts event or happening of some type, as there was a tiny pocket of money from the Monaghan Community Forum available through PeaceIII, if it could be so utilised. As you can imagine the ideas were plentiful and varied, it was however universally decided that a "showcase live event" for existing, emerging and professional creative’s, would provide the broadest opportunity for the existing community across the board. It was to be run by volunteers with minimal costs and its mission was to promote the breath of talent in the county across all genres and help establish and build a sustainable arts audience within the county.
The tiny pot of funding would see us through a couple of months if we did one event a month and that was to be the end of it.
Little did we know that the town and the county was so extensively filled with talent on such a broad scale…the events have been running every month now for 5 years, by volunteers and self funded by audience donations (each month the event is free to encompass all aspects of the community – donations are accepted in lieu of any official ticket cost) and occasionally business sponsored refreshments, and every month the Monaghan Arts Officer makes available the Arts Office in the Markethouse Building, a flurry of activity sees the upper floor converted from gallery space to theatre, along with professional sound and lighting rigs and our very own professional sound engineer.
Each event sees between 4 and 5 acts of all artistic disciplines perform, test new material, give talks, do readings, dance, sing, paint and entertain an average audience of 60plus people of all ages.
For the first two years of the Monaghan Arts Network I was the founding secretary of the group, I stepped on to the stage on two separate occasions over the years to showcase my own work around the time of my solo exhibitions and additionally on occasion I also hosted the event. A couple of years in and as I was getting busier in my own practice and as alongside of that my health was suffering, alas I stepped down from the committee.
This past Wednesday night the 27th of March 2019 was the official 5th birthday of the network. Founding member, ex Chair and Monaghan Community Forum Officer at the time of inception, Dara MacGabhann, gave the audience a brief outline of the networks achievements, not only in the running of the network events themselves, but in all the additional projects that have coincided over the years including the independent production of a showcase cd called “Splitting the stones” featuring musical artists who performed for the network. A wonderful jam packed book of visual arts from showcase participants entitled “Gifts of the Mind” (in which I feature). Two plays written, produced and performed by members of the committee and friends of the network, as part of the 1916 commemoration program for the county and numerous concerts, pop up events, outdoor activities and fundraising for the local community.
I was delighted to be invited back to guest host this special 5th birthday gig and happy to cheer them on when the current successful committee cut their celebration cake during the interval.
I had the pleasure of welcoming the audience last Wednesday and announcing the line up of acts for the night, alongside of Daras great celebration presentation on behalf of the network, we were to enjoy the musical talents of wonderful songstress Amelia McCormack, Visual Artist Eimhin Farrell and the ever brilliant and rockin Bronagh McCabe.
I was delighted to play my part over the years with the development of the Monaghan Arts Network, it has developed into a stalwart cultural calling for the up and coming, and the up and came within our community and with a 5 month waiting list to perform I can only see it go from strength to strength.
If you wish to become a member of the Monaghan Arts Network committee message them directly through their fb page linked below, perhaps you're a Monaghan based creative who wishes to showcase to a local audience…again use the link below.
I enjoyed the chance to catch back up with all the gang, to throw my tuppence worth in again and to enjoy the immense talent on offer on the night as always - thanks for having me folks, see you at the next one where I shall be sitting at the back glass in hand.
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Thanks. xx N.
Contemporary Visual Artist working in mixed media/encaustic based in the drumlins of Co.Monaghan. Ireland.