'Drama is a tool that enables children to think creatively and to build confidence'
Theatre artist-in-residence Catherine Simon is putting the children of east Galway in the spotlight with an upcoming summer drama camp designed to embrace the multi-cultural population of this growing community.
With residents from Africa, eastern Europe, India and elsewhere, the community may be proud of its ethnic diversity, but according to the artist, young people are not particularly well served by artistic amenities.
"The challenge is how to provide access to the arts for children in a very culturally diverse area," says Ms Simon.
"Drama is a tool of common language that enables children to communicate with each other, think creatively and build confidence."
Running from August 14-18, the camp is the beginning of a longer term programme that will take place in September.
"We've yet to announce details, but the summer camp is just a springboard for something that will be ongoing," she says. "I'm delighted to bring this to children who mightn't otherwise have access to the arts, and I have ambitious plans for the programme in the longer term.
"I see it expanding into a youth theatre that will be a legacy for young people in east Galway, and eventually lead to acting classes for adults too. It will be an inclusive, enriching experience not only for the individuals involved, but for the whole community."
With years of experience as a drama facilitator, playwright, theatre director, actor and lecturer, Ms Simon sees drama classes as important as any subject on the school curriculum for children. "There are so many transferable skills involved, including personal social development, verbal and non-verbal communication, teamwork, group dynamics, language and literacy. These are all valuable tools that help equip young people for life."
The drama summer camp takes place at the ARD Resource Centre, also known as Cumasú Centre in Doughiska, from August 14-18.
The cost for the week is €40 per child, with concessions. Ms Simon assures no child will be turned away. "If somebody can't afford the fee, just talk to us beforehand," she says.
To book, call the ARD Centre on 091-768852, or email firstname.lastname@example.org