Spotlight on talent in arts centre
The focus of attention was fixed firmly on local talent in Wexford Arts Centre at the launch of this year's Spotlight initiative which will see three emerging acts receive support from the centre through guest slots, mentoring and provision of performance and rehearsal space.
Speaking to this newspaper about the scheme the CEO of the centre, Elizabeth Whyte, said the initiative proved very successful last year and there are ongoing plans to expand the programme going forward.
A music committee at the arts centre composed of Ms Whyte, Jackie Hayden, Kevin Lawlor and Michael D'Arcy selected the three artists for this year's scheme who include Rachel Grace, Luke Cosgrave and 13-year-old Patricia Lawlor. The scheme is sponsored by PwC who were represented at the launch by Billy Sweetman.
Ms Whyte said the call out for applicants for this year's initiative was made a couple of months ago and there was a great response from Wexford based musicians and songwriters.
'We will support the artists in a number of ways,' she said.
'We will match them for guest and opening slots with touring acts that we have coming in over the year,' she added.
'We will also provide mentoring support and Jackie Hayden has already met each of them.'
Ms Whyte also said that through PwC's support there will be a small stipend available to the artists during the year.
Patricia Lalor is a first year student in Meanscoil Gharman in Enniscorthy and is the youngest artist to earn a place on the Spotlight programme to-date.
She has been playing guitar for around two years but only began performing and writing her own material within the last year.
Some of her influences range from Radiohead, Yellow Days and Bon Iver to Girl in Red.
Luke Cosgrave is a contemporary violinist and songwriter from Ballygarrett.
He began his songwriting and performance career while studying at the Cork School of Music.
His folk rock style features multi-layered guitars and violins and he has shared stages with some of the biggest names in contemporary music including Villagers, Florence and the Machine, the Magic Numbers, John Spillane and the Waterboys,
Following on from the release of his critically acclaimed debut EP, 'The Great Divide', he is currently back in the studio working on new material.
The third Spotlight-selected artist is Rachel Grace who is fast becoming one of the most talked about emerging singer songwriters on the contemporary Irish scene.
The Wexford born artist has self-funded her career to-date but that hasn't stopped her releasing music that brought her widespread praise.
Despite still being in her teens she has already performed guest slots with a number of internationally renowned artists including Wallis Bird, Don Mescall, Larry Kirwan and Deni Bonet.
She won last year's Wexford Has Talent competition and her song 'You Don't Know' received radio play around the country.
In 2015 she released her debut album and last year released an EP called 'Routes' which cemented her reputation as one of Wexford's best singer songwriters.
To hear music and songs created by the Spotlight artists go to www.wexfordartscentre.ie.