Thursday 20 June 2019

Arts event to shine light on trafficking

Sorcha Crowley

International artists from the worlds of music, poetry, visual art and dance are descending on Sligo next month to highlight the plight of modern day slaves.

US Dancer/choreographer Sarah Bannon has joined forces with anti-human trafficking charity Invisible Traffick to create the inaugural Soilsigh Arts event.

It will be held over the first weekend in September (1-2) and will feature performers from all over the world.

Sarah got the idea to organise the event after visiting the Invisible Traffick promo day at City Hall last year.

"It's such a big issue, human trafficking, even here in Ireland. I just knew that I wanted to help in some way," Sarah told this newspaper.

Invisible Traffick Ireland Director Mary McSharry mentioned she needed volunteers for fundraisers and that was what sparked an idea in Sarah's head.

"I just thought, 'I know a way!' I'm so passionate about the arts and I know that the arts are so powerful to open people's eyes to see things in ways they may never have done before," she said.

Sarah, who moved here with her Sligo husband Seamus over a year ago, is using what she knows best to highlight trafficking: working with dancers, artists and musicians.

"It started with a huge impossible dream and we just whittled it down to what we thought was realistic and doable.

"Now it really is an amazing thing that has come about because we have six dancers, a musician, two visual artists coming from around the world freely offering their time and talents.

"To see this event come together in less than a year's time is a miracle!" laughs the mother-of-two, including a newborn.

Soilsigh (which is Irish for illuminate) will take place over two days. It will include three performances over the two days, along with an art exhibition displaying the work of Sarah Beth Little and Liza Asheichyk (Belarus) and other artists who have donated works for the exhibition in The Factory.

Sarah put the word out among her contacts from college, other arts and dance festivals.

"We all help each other and they all came on board, especially for such a good cause and to raise awareness of human trafficking," she said.

Two visual artists are from Ireland and the rest are from the States (Chicago, New York, Kansas City, Tulsa Oklahoma, Belarus, Germany and the Middle East.

The two-hour performance features dances that have been created specifically for this event along with music and poetry.

Sarah credits The Factory performance space for agreeing to host her event: "As soon as they heard about my idea they were very eager to open their space up to us," she said.

It's a walk of faith for Sarah, who knows she is doing the right thing and "hoping that other people come along."

Sarah, who has previously staged dance festivals in Pennsylvania, is also open to working with other charities to highlight other issues in the future.

Follow @Soilsighireland on social media to see behind the scenes and learn more about the artists travelling to Sligo for this event.

Free tickets available through Donations accepted on the night.

Sligo Champion