It has been a super busy year for the programme, making things happen in Tuam while planning for what the future of Creative Places Tuam might look like. We are delighted to have supported thirteen individuals, community groups and arts groups via the Taking Root Community Fund, as well as supporting local artists and young people to make art together. The west’s Awake Community Weekend was a big highlight of the year, welcoming thousands of local and visitors alike.
In February, we launched The Match Factory, a residency supporting local artists Jojo Hynes and Midie Corcoran to evolve their own socially engaged practice alongside collaborating with young people to empower and celebrate their creative ideas in Tuam. Midie and Jojo are SparkCatchers and The Match Factory is the space in which their ideas ignite. Later in the year, SparkCatchers and the Creative Youth Committee wowed the town with spectacle & imagination as part of the West’s Awake Community Weekend.
Also in February, we hosted two days of workshops on funding and application writing support as part of the “Work of Art” series. This series offers free of charge support via information clinics, mentoring sessions, application writing supports and general advice and guidance.
In March, Tuam was selected for development funding as part of the Irish Architecture Foundation’s Reimagine Hometown Architect initiative 2023. The funding provided a one-stop shop for bringing the community of Tuam together to explore the use of vacant spaces within the town and build a steering group to affect change, working with architects Niall O’Cleirigh and Helena Mecelmeel. Creative Places Tuam have been proud to support the initiative throughout the year.
March also saw the announcement of the recipients of the Taking Root Community Fund, for individuals, arts groups and community groups that work to make a positive impact in Tuam and its hinterlands. Recipients of the fund included Corrib Kids Coding, Drumadore Drumming School, FUSE Music Collective, Jacqueline McGlynn, Milltown Drama Society, Patricia King-Callaghan and Tuamóg, St Joseph’s Training Services Ability West, The Tome Chanters, Three Rings Arts and Culture Team, Trinity Primary School, Western Traveller and Intercultural Development Centre, Youth Work Tuam, and Youthreach Tuam.
Between February and May, the One Stop Shop Print Club led by visiting artists Aoife Barrett and Kate O’Shea held a number of workshops in Tuam, welcoming 36 members of the Print Club to learn how to print using poster type from the Tuam Herald archive.
In July, the Arts Council announced seven new Creative Places across Ireland. The seven new Creative Places are Enniscorthy, County Wexford; Balbriggan, North County Dublin; MacUíllíam, Tallaght; and Uíbh Ráthaigh, Kerry all for three-year programmes, while Edgeworthstown, County Longford; Ballyconnell, County Cavan; and Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon receive research awards to develop their Creative Places. This brings to a total of 17 the number of Creative Places funded since 2020. This latest funding means that almost 100,000 people in rural Ireland have access to the arts in their own communities for the first time.
The next few months were busily spent planning the West’s Awake Community Weekend – we invited local community groups, creatives and artists of all forms to be part of a showcase of Tuam’s creativity and talent. We were thrilled to welcome home grown musicians, artists, crafters, performers, poets, filmmakers, singers, writers, storytellers, positive disrupters and more, to take part in a two-day festival, across nine venues, in the streets and public spaces. From emerging talents to award winning voices, the weekend was a celebration of creative Tuam, by Tuam, for the West to enjoy, with over 25 events including a live music stage, children’s activities, film screenings, a craft market, exhibitions, poetry readings, tea ceremony, audio walking tours, street performance, Tuam Herald poster type print workshops, music sessions, dancing and much, much more.
We would like to thank the people and town of Tuam for supporting this event. To the West’s Awake Community Weekend working group, all the volunteers, local businesses, artists, musicians, makers, doers and supporters who made it happen – A huge and heartfelt thank you to you all! This event was supported by Creative Places Tuam, Galway County Council Arts Service, The Saw Doctors, Galway Rural Development and the local community.
Keep an eye out for a new public mural on the recently restored old Tuam Library building, Shop Street, which was unveiled in November. The mural is commissioned by The Office of Public Works in partnership with Galway County Arts Office under the Per Cent for Art scheme on behalf of The Department of Social Protection, the new building occupants. A youth advisory group made up of young people from Youthreach Tuam engaged in a consultation process led by local artist Joanna McGlynn. Creative Places Tuam also nominated a local artist to sit on the selection panel to be involved in the decision making process, and supported the selected artist Shane O’Malley, providing a space for him in Tuam Town Hall while he completed the mural. Shane will also continue to work with Youthreach Tuam in 2024 to design and create a mural for the centre.
In October and November, we have been working with our Tuam-based social media support, Megan DeBurca, working on a plan for archiving the project, as well as making sure that all our good work together is visible on the website. We have given the site a bit of a facelift, including making sure that the interactive map is front and centre on the homepage – this is a great place to start if you want to learn more about the project.
We wish to sincerely thank the people of Tuam, the artists and community members who have worked with us, welcomed us, attended workshops and supported the programme. We so look forward to 2024 and seeing what the programme will become – keep an eye on our social media and website for more details!