Young musicians find what they're looking for with U2
SOON, they will have found what they're looking for.
Young musical talent, starved of the money or opportunity to develop their skills, can look forward to tuning up thanks to the country's biggest band.
A public-private music education partnership, called Music Generation, has been partly funded to the tune of €5m by U2.
Two pilot projects, one in Dublin and one in Donegal, are already proving a huge hit.
In Co Donegal, about 1,000 children a year are learning an instrument or receiving vocal tuition, thanks to the programme.
Hundreds of children in disadvantaged communities in Dublin's north inner city and Ballyfermot are also benefiting.
At Larkin Community College in the city centre, the project led to the introduction of music as a core subject and saw an increase in attendance on the days it was offered.
Now Music Generation is ready to set up music education partnerships in other parts of the country and is seeking applications from interested parties.
The funding will support 12 new programmes between 2011- 2015, with up to €200,000 a year for three years on offer.
U2 were attracted to the project as a way of giving children the opportunity to get involved in music. Ireland's most famous rock band came together during their own school days at Mount Temple Comprehensive on Dublin's northside.
Guitarist The Edge said they considered themselves lucky to have had music in school.
But an Arts Council-funded report some years ago found that only about 1pc of children of second-level age receive tuition in instrumental or vocal performance, compared with 6-8pc in other European countries.
Music education in Ireland has largely been concentrated in urban areas and has proven too expensive for some.
The new partnerships will allow for music education to be offered at an affordable cost or for no charge at all, depending on local circumstances.
Rosaleen Molloy, who heads the programme, said music education should not be a matter of chance or luck.
U2's funding was crucial to a national rollout of the initiative, but the Department of Education is also a key player.
Once a partnership goes through the initial three-year phase, the intention is that the department will sustain it through state funding.
As well as U2's €5m, the Ireland Funds, a philanthropic organisation dedicated to supporting programmes in the arts, culture and education, is raising a further €2m.
Applications must include at least one statutory agency, such as a VEC or local authority.