What a fantastic year we have had! We've asked some of the Council and Arts Team to pick their favourite projects of the year. By no means an easy task as there have been so many amazing projects funded by the Arts Council this year.
Thank you to everyone involved in the Arts on this island. Your dedication and passion inspires us every day!
The stand out project for this year for me must be the visit to the Lorient Festival accompanied by our Chief Minister. It was a great showcase for the Isle of Man with some new attendees - Fynoderee Gin being one!
The potential benefit and future growth for the Isle of Man on matters not only Cultural, but travel and other enterprises, was clear to be seen and, as ever, the Island team was outstanding. The work that goes into the organisation by the whole project team should not be underestimated plus all our performers did an amazing job, showing the talent and versatility of our community.
Special mention should go to Mera Royle who wowed the audiences!
It’s great that IOMAC can play such an important part in helping stage the Manx Pavillion which always proves to be a special attraction.
There’s a huge wealth of musical talent in the Island that spans just about every imaginable genre. There’s not a week goes by and there’s not the opportunity to see a first-class performance by either a solo artist or a band or even, from time to time, something bigger. But once in a while it’s also great to see bands and individuals from off the Island. Of course there are a number of established and occasional festivals here that offer the opportunity to do just that if you are a follower of ‘that’ particular type of music, whatever ‘that’ is. But over the last two years we’ve been very fortunate to have the chance to see and listen to a truly eclectic programme of music, from every corner of the globe, without the expense of travelling off Island or of getting hold of costly festival tickets.
The World Music and Culture Festival that was the brainchild of Dave Mclean at the Centenary Centre and originally came about as a result of funding through the 2018: Year of Our Island initiative. Its first outing that year met with huge acclaim from all who attended the Friday and Saturday evening performances and the many and varied activities of the Free Family Global Celebration that took place during the day on Saturday. Clearly Dave and his team of volunteers had put a massive amount of effort into organising such a triumph.
So it gave me great pleasure to see the Arts Council approve a very modest request for underwriting that enabled the festival to go ahead again this year. With music ranging from Roma Gypsy, through Rajasthan brass, home grown Latin, 11 piece Afrobeat and finishing up with a mix of Balkan, Klezmer and Middle Eastern, I doubt that anyone who’d dug in their pockets for the very reasonably priced tickets was left disappointed. Certainly many memories were made and the festival most emphatically fulfilled its promise to entertain and inspire.
I particularly enjoyed this for the whole community engagement from the youngest to the oldest. It was wonderful to see how the art brought everyone together and the pleasure it gave as people went out and about to search for the wallabies around the island. It was unique project, and IOM Arts Council support for the ground breaking VCR production in particular brought the Wallaby Trail to those who couldn’t go out to enjoy.
The world famous Band of the Grenadier Guards were visiting the Isle of Man to perform at the Tynwald Ceremony and they also kindly agreed to host a workshop for music students from every Island school. The result was a joyous concert giving our talented young musicians the opportunity to play with world class musicians. The band members were generous and encouraging, and it was an inspiring event both for the participants and for those who had the privilege to be in the audience.
Theatrefest is becoming more and more established as an important part of our cultural calendar, and this year Theatrefest combined with “M is for Manx Cat”, an IOM Arts Council supported book to produce a new musical. Combining song, dance, acting, the written word and Manx culture, the work was a tour de force and was so successful it is going “on tour” in 2019. It is not to be missed!
The Lorcan O Mahoney and John Young biographical production looks at a man coming to terms with his depression, the barriers it has built and how he works towards overcoming them. The subject of depression is no laughing matter but Lorcan’s writing and John’s direction gave enough light relief in what, at times became an intensely emotional journey.
The theatre immersion style of the production lent itself to the delivery of the play and having friends and even family in the audience dragged you right in to Lorcan’s world.
This was a trial project with the Isle of Man Airport, which saw musicians play live sets in the bay windows of the airport’s departure lounge. A variety of acts from acoustic guitars, harpists and small pipes through to brass quintets were chosen to test various reactions to travellers and staff throughout the day.
The project was a resounding success, with feedback from all involved being very positive and we will look to replicate this in 2020 with the possibility of expanding to other public areas.
Selling out in less than 48 hours, the inaugural Arts Council lecture was given by Magnum photography Martin Parr. Ahead of his critically acclaimed “Only Human” exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Parr spoke about his life in photography and hosted a Q&A session at the end of the evening. A fascinating evening in the presence of a master of their craft, the lecture will return in 2020 with a new speaker from the creative world.