MOMENTUM 2021 ARTS FESTIVAL
AN INITIATIVE OF THE GREEN BELT PROJECT
and artist Declan Gorman
Undertaken with the support of Fingal County Council under the Infrastructure Public Art Programme: (Co-Productions Strand) with additional support from Creative Fingal and Fingal Events.
In 2019, theatre artist Declan Gorman began a process of research and meetings with community and educational interests in the Lusk-Rush-Skerries area to explore options for an innovative public performance project. The aim was to engage with individuals and groups in the area to collaborate with the artist in re-imagining their own home area, its history, landscape and contemporary social life through drama, dance and song.
Arising from this, The Green Belt Arts Initiative was established at a public meeting in August 2020 at the Millbank Theatre in Rush. Scheduled between the end of the first and the beginning of the second waves of Covid 19, this meeting saw 24 interested individuals take part in a “Town Hall” presentation and conversation about aspects of the heritage of Rush and Lusk, from farming to fishing, from hidden women’s histories to the advent of inward migration.
Support was pledged by core partners The Millbank Theatre in Rush and Power Drama School in Lusk. In time, additional local groups committed their support, including Lusk Action Group and Rush Tourism.
Immediately after the Millbank meeting, however, Level 3 movement restrictions were introduced nationally, and Declan proposed moving the project online. 15 people met via Zoom over the following 4 months on a weekly basis, discussing local history, customs and social change, exploring these themes in guided creative exercises that ranged from fiction writing to improvised performances and singing. In January the group reconvened continuing weekly meetings on Zoom, right up the lifting of restriction in June.
They began working towards a public art event that would take place in due course, when the pandemic would eventually abate and public assembly and community celebrations be possible again.
A decision was made to create a core trilogy of short plays for evocative outdoor locations along a walking route in the Ballustree area, stretching from the remaining ruin of the Kenure House portico in St. Catherine’s Estate, to the Martello Tower at Dumanagh Promontory. These would be performed over two evenings in August 2021. Additional monologues and pop-up scenes would take place in the afternoons of the same days in the old town centres of Lusk and Rush.
The idea continued to grow in scale and ambition and with the additional support of Creative Fingal, Acting Up Early Years Arts and Lusk Heritage Group, a one-off community arts festival called Momentum 2021 was dreamed up for the two towns, to take place on 14th and 15th August.
Momentum 2021 Arts Festival is the child of The Green Belt Arts Initiative but it has its own independent steering committee and identity. It includes the Grasshoppers Early Years Corner at the Hub in Lusk, an exhibition of photos, videos and memorabilia by Lusk Heritage Group; a short play about a local footballing legend.
At the heart of Momentum 2021 are the 3 major performances (Green Belt Trilogy; If these Lusk streets could talk; If these Rush streets could talk) that have emerged from 18 months of research and development; 12 months of creative conversation and dreaming and 3 months of intensive production planning on The Green Belt Initiative, led by Declan Gorman and involving the voluntary team of local artists and activists listed below.
15 people between the ages of 18 and 70 began this journey in August 2020. On August 14th and 15th over 100 community performers and offstage volunteers will take part in the public art event, with dozens more involved in the wider Momentum 2021 festivities. The age range of the performers is from 8 to 68+. The project is inclusive with performers and volunteers of diverse ethnic, gender and ability backgrounds.
The key elements of THE GREEN BELT INITIATIVE are:
THE GREEN BELT TRILOGY – three short, original plays by local writers David O’Neill, Shezzi Coady and Declan Gorman, to be staged at points along a guided hike from Kenure Demesne to Drumanagh. The plays are:
- Xs and Os by David O’Neill – in the year 2000 a separated couple meet under the ruin of the Kenure House portico to contemplate a failed relationship and a changed landscape. Ghosts of recent past civilizations hover around.
- Heart of Glass by Shezzi Coady – 1985. The evening before the Live Aid concert. Three teenage girls step out of the glasshouse where they work, to talk of local troubles and dream of pop stars.
- Andromeda by Declan Gorman. 2021. A young woman comes by evening to Drumanagh to recall a traumatic incident at sea. Her story is told in word, movement, song, sign and the sounds of wind and sea.
IF THESE LUSK STREETS COULD TALK: Ten interconnected pop-up scenes and monologues along a guided town walk starting at the Bandstand in Lusk. Various authors.
IF THESE RUSH STREETS COULD TALK: Ten interconnected pop-up scenes and monologues along a guided town walk starting at the Millbank Theatre in Rush, bookended by a prologue and epilogue. Various Authors.
The members of The Green Belt Arts Initiative are:
Michael O’Sullivan; Shezzi Coady; David O’Neill; Shay Dempsey; Loraine Power, Sabrina Morris, Ailbhe Noonan; Alan White; Lesley Craig; Sharon Casey; Martina Bergin and Cliodhan Noonan.
Michael Coffey and Daniel O’Brien took part in the Research Phase (Aug – Dec 2020)
The group was convened by Declan Gorman
The Green Belt Arts Initiative is fully funded by Fingal County Council, under Infrastructure II (Co-Productions)
Momentum 2021 is funded by Creative Fingal
Grasshoppers Corner is supported by Fingal County Council Events
Full list of all performers and volunteers to be published in due course