Fingal Independent

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Seamus Ennis is a 'virtual' success


Deirdre Roche at the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre in Naul

Deirdre Roche at the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre in Naul

Deirdre Roche at the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre in Naul


There is no doubt that the pandemic has hit the arts hard, but the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre in Naul has managed to seize new opportunities to make it grow and thrive despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

A re-imagining of how the centre operates has resulted in artists reaching new audiences and the continued success of the popular venue.

Deirdre Roche, director of the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre, explains how the centre has met the challenge of COVID-19: 'I won't say it hasn't been challenging - what we typically have done in the past is provide live events, but we're a small and mighty little team here and we don't shy away from challenges, I think we've risen to it.

'The arts centre section is closed at the moment; in the summer time under the restrictions we were able to open up and use our courtyard area for safe, socially distanced workshops, but under current restrictions we can't hold live events, we can't hold cinema or theatre or anything like that.'

She says: 'Effectively, we have a virtual venue, so we have taken the Seamus Ennis Centre online, so throughout the course of the last several months we have created monthly Zoom singing sessions, which have been phenomenal, and they've actually allowed us to bring what we do to a global audience.

'So it's not all bad news. Of course it's challenging for us being shut down, we miss all our patrons because we're known for our very personal interaction with people who come through the door.'

Deirdre explains that while there's undoubtedly a certain 'electricity' to live performances, the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre has endeavoured to recreate that experience online, and to provide work and support for artists throughout the pandemic.

The centre has also ensured that other artists remain in the limelight, as Deirdre explains: 'We've been very focused on keeping artists in the public eye, so we created for example a series called 'Open to Art', where every week we showcased the work of visual artists. And as I said, we've had our singing sessions where we'd feature a guest singer.'

Deirdre welcomes increased funding this year from the Arts Council, as well as the continued support of Fingal County Council, which enables the centre to continue supporting artists and to keep bringing events and arts experiences to new audiences.

Budget 2021, she believes, has been kind to the arts, but credit must go to all the patrons who have supported the Seamus Arts Centre in this difficult time:

'We'd also like to acknowledge the support we received from our patrons. When we originally had to cancel events many of the patrons decided to donate the cost of their ticket price to the centre so that we could continue to operate and support the arts. We've also had people ringing and giving donations, and we genuinely appreciate that too.'

COVID-19 has dealt a devastating blow to the arts, but the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre continues to shine and looks forward to the day when it can once again welcome audiences into the venue for live music.