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The Action Thread Part Two

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Call for Expressions of Interest: Community Choirs Project 2017 - 2019

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 Call for Expressions of Interest

Community Choirs Project 2017 - 2019

Introduction

The Association of Irish Choirs (AOIC), in partnership with Chamber Choir Ireland (CCI) and Poetry Ireland (PI) plan to produce a large-scale, all-island performance project for adult choirs to culminate in a gala performance in the first half of 2019. The project is now seeking four provincial choirs to work on the creation of a newly commissioned work (made possible through generous funding from the Arts Council of Ireland) by Elaine Agnew to texts from All Through the Night curated by Marie Heaney as well as newly created texts by an Irish poet. AOIC and CCI will work together to bring four project choirs together along with a later call for a massed choir of singers to form the final choral performance component of the project. 

What will the performance be?

A 25-30 minute work for massed choirs, chamber choir (CCI) and two pianos has been commissioned from composer, Elaine Agnew. There will most likely be some other choral works alongside this commissioned work. The final performance will take place at the National Concert Hall, Dublin in the first half of 2019.

Who will take part?

The project is now calling for expressions of interest from choirs interested in taking part as provincial project choirs (four choirs in total). There will also be a later call for a larger massed choir made up of voices from other interested choirs. The project will select four suitable provincial project choirs that are chosen for their artistic suitability to the project as well as their geographic location. The commitment for the four provincial choirs will be more involved as they will be partaking in the creation of the work.  

What is involved?

Choirs who wish to get involved with the project will undertake to sing as part of the live performance in early 2019. Rehearsals/workshops of the commissioned piece and other works will be as follows:

1) Workshop with Elaine Agnew and a poet to take place from September 2017 – April 2018 (2 workshops)

2) Rehearsals of the resulting commissioned work at the choir’s own rehearsal venue from September – December 2018  

3) A workshop/rehearsal with singers from Chamber Choir Ireland from September – December 2018. The time that would be allocated to rehearse during a choir’s own rehearsals would be left to the discretion of each choir.

 

Selection Criteria

Choirs will be selected for the project with various factors in mind including:

·         Geographic location - the project will seek to represent all four provinces on the island of Ireland

·         Artistic – each choir’s experience and ability

·         Availability – the choir’s availability to commit to the project

·         Make-up of the choir – the commission is being scored for SATB voices and so the balance of voice types is important. Male Voice or Female Voice ensembles are also invited to apply and a balance will be created in the selection of choirs.

A selection panel may be formed following receipt of expressions of interest.

Should your choir be interested in taking part please complete the below form and return to the Association of Irish Choirs by email or post by Friday, 22nd September, 2017. Should you have any queries please call the Association of Irish Choirs’ office.

Association of Irish Choirs

University Concert Hall

Foundation Building

University of Limerick

Limerick

Ph: 061 234823

Email: aoic@ul.ie

 

Application form HERE

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Association of Irish Choirs
Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, Ireland. Tel: +353-61-234823 Email: aoic@ul.ie CHY 6626

Design & Development by roomthree.com

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EDUCATION

If education is in a state of emergency, where are the first responders?

September 20 2017 | By: ROXY PHILSON

ADD YOUR NAME

Tell world leaders: ACT NOW for 130 million girls out of school

 
  

Upon visiting the country last month, Malala Yousafzai was painfully correct in calling an education emergency in Nigeria. But we can and should go further. The situation is extreme in Nigeria, but truthfully, there is a global girls’ education emergency.

Right now, it screams in silence. We need to give voice to it before this injustice destroys a generation’s future and sets back progress and peace on many fronts for us all.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for progress on the global education crisis is that while everyone understands its importance, the absence of it isn’t seen on our newsfeeds or reported from live from the scene. It is a slow, relatively quiet, but extreme loss of opportunity.

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Students outside Nyange Secondary School, Kilombero Region, Tanzania. (Photo credit: Sam Vox/ONE)

As a campaigner, I’ve worked on killer diseases like HIV, malaria, pneumococcal disease, and rotavirus. While there is more to be done on these issues, their desperation is easier to convey to the public and politicians alike. Rubbish education systems don’t have a direct body count to compel urgent action.

But the facts should urge for a change: 130 million girls are out of school when they should be in, and half a billion women can’t read or write. Millions more are in school but learning either nothing or little of value, especially considering the realities of the future world of work — and the focus on STEM subjects, in particular.

If the facts don’t shout loud enough, the people and their stories do. One that recently shook me to the core was that of Amina, a 20-year-old woman in northern Nigeria. She is a mother of six who lost her husband to Boko Haram. The question that demands an answer from us all is, who will now educate Amina’s children? Will it be Amina, with the help of her government and an international system that recognises this emergency? Or will it be Boko Haram and their dystopic take on what education means?

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(Photo credit: Sam Vox/ONE)

The population of Nigeria, like that of the rest of Africa, will double over the next generation, having just doubled over the last generation. This youth boom demands investment or a generation that could be powering global economic growth may be lost to anger, frustration, and mass displacement — fuelling conflict, not progress.

If all that seems too much to bear, the good news is that there are mechanisms in search of funding today that can help get these kids an education. The Global Partnership for Education and Education Cannot Wait are ready to scale up, with further funding possible from the World Bank and newly proposed International Financing Facility for Education.

Like too many sectors in development, there’s an acronym soup of initiatives that need stronger alignment and greater accountability through clear, open, real-time data — but it is getting there.

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A student at Nyange Secondary School, Kilombero Region, Tanzania. (Photo credit: Sam Vox/ONE)

Of course, the most important leadership comes from African governments themselves and their ability to prove that taxes paid within a country go to provide decent education for their citizens. Decent education for the next generation is at the heart of every nation’s basic social contract, and at that of the global community. That’s why it was exciting to see President Sall of Senegal and President Macron of France announce today that they will co-host the replenishment for the Global Partnership for Education in Dakar on February 8, 2018. When domestic leadership aligns with international support and focuses on outcomes for Amina and her kids, all our futures improve.

This won’t happen with well-intentioned wishful thinking, nor slightly more money for some small fry fund, or even yet another pilot project. To act on a scale proportionate to the need, education has to take centre stage with innovative solutions scaled and some risks taken. Education must be seen as the pre-eminent issue for the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals — for it is here that the battle for progress and peace for everyone on this planet will really take place. Please help sound the education emergency alarm.

Tell world leaders: ACT NOW for 130 million girls out of school

Dear World Leaders, 130 million girls are out of school - this is a crisis and we need to act. Please fully finance the Global Partnership for Education as part of the solution so it can help millions of girls in the poorest countries get the education they deserve.

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EDUCATION

Leaving no one behind: A dream of empowering students with disabilities

August 29 2017 | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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Join the fight against extreme poverty

 
  

By Thérèse Kafando, General Director of the Center for Integrated Education and Training of the Deaf and Hearing (CEFISE) and partner of Light for the World international disability and development organization

I have always faced challenges because of my gender — from early childhood to adulthood, and even to my current position as head teacher of a successful school.

Growing up as the only girl in my family, I had to prioritize household chores during the day while my five brothers were allowed to study for school. At night, I would study by candlelight or wait for a full moon in order to catch up.

Thérèse Kafando, General Director of the Center for Integrated Education and Training of the Deaf and Hearing (CEFISE). (Photo credit: Light for the World)

Thérèse Kafando, General Director of the Center for Integrated Education and Training of the Deaf and Hearing (CEFISE). (Photo credit: Light for the World)

Because of my sex, many of the men in my community did not believe I could go very far. But my hard work and studies paid off: As I got older, my father accepted that I wanted to focus on my studies and he sold some of our livestock to support me through school and university.

I went on to graduate as a professional teacher and I got offered a job at a public school, where I met my husband and best friend — Abel Kafando — who later founded Center for Integrated Education and Training of the Deaf and Hearing (CEFISE) and became head of the school. I was inspired by Abel’s idea of including children with disabilities, specifically those with hearing impairments, in the classroom.

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Photo credit: CEFISE

I soon learned the shocking reality that 32 million children with disabilities in developing countries are out of school. I also learned how big this problem is in Burkina Faso. Tragically, Abel passed away several years after we met. After the death of my husband, the role of head teacher was passed over to me.

At this time, teachers, especially the men, thought that the school would have to shut down. This challenge made me even more determined to fulfill mine and Abel’s shared dream of creating an environment in which children — regardless of gender, background, or disability — can learn together in the same classroom.

A classroom at CEFISE. (Photo credit: CEFISE)

A classroom at CEFISE. (Photo credit: CEFISE)

I am proud of our success.

Our center in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, now educates 3,800 pupils, including around 500 children with disabilities. Our school has become a reference center for inclusive education in Burkina Faso. We even assist the government in training teachers in sign language and inclusive education. We partner with many organizations, including Light for the World, towards an inclusive society — teaching all children, including kids with disabilities, in regular schools.

It is easier and more cost effective to integrate children with disabilities in mainstream schools than having segregated schools. Inclusive education brings better social, academic, health, and economic outcomes than segregated schools. We make sure to include girls and women with disabilities, as they are almost twice as unlikely to be employed as disabled men. Gender inequality in disability inclusion is something that tends to fade into the background given the problems children with disabilities face in their day-to-day lives. But we can’t allow that!

A school in West Africa teaches students with physical, visual, and light intellectual disabilities alongside deaf and hearing individuals.

 
 

 

The most inspiring story for me at CEFISE is Laeticia’s.

Due to a case of meningitis, she became deaf. Her father brought her to CEFISE to obtain a hearing device, and when we spoke to her, we noticed that she wasn’t doing well psychologically.

We worked with Laeticia and soon her mental health improved significantly. She enjoyed studying and spent every free minute in the library.

Once she graduated, she wanted to go to university, but because of a lack of financial means and a barrier of not being able to afford an interpreter, her future educational path seemed uncertain.

But the local Director of Inclusive Education agreed to award Laeticia a scholarship and she was enrolled in Psychology at the university in Ouagadougou. Now, she is a high school teacher in psychology at CEFISE, which fills me with enormous pride.

These are the sort of success stories that drive me and remind me of how much I love working with children.

Education in developing countries is still not where it should be. However, it’s a basic human right and nobody should be left behind.

Children with disabilities face even more challenges and barriers in their lives, and empowering them is something that’s very close to my heart. Also, treating women and girls the same way as men and boys is a no brainer!

 

I’m proud to say that CEFISE has now developed into a resource center for other schools in Burkina Faso that are enhancing their disability inclusion. Overcoming all kinds of discrimination, especially the double discrimination girls and women with disabilities face, should be the basis of all inclusion projects.

ONE welcomes the contributions of guest bloggers but does not necessarily endorse the views, programs, or organizations highlighted.

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Meet the Kenyan scientist who overcame gender stereotypes to fight malaria

18 August 2016 1:03PM UTC | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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At the vaccination ward, child Joan Medza has her weight taken.

On the vaccination ward, child Joan Medza has her weight taken.

By Katie G. Nelson

Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, Dr. Faith Osier often dreamed of curing the world of deadly diseases like malaria, an illness spread by mosquitos that kills more than 438,000 people every year.

Several decades later, Osier, now 43, is at the forefront of the fight against malaria, spearheading the development of a vaccine that she believes could someday wipe out the disease.

The swaying palm trees and pristine beaches of Kenya’s coastal town of Kilifi is a beach-lover’s paradise. But away from the white-sand beaches and crystal clear water waits a serious and often deadly parasite—one that caused more than 10 percent of all Kilifi residents to fall ill last year.

But Osier believes that number could someday go down to zero.

Osier has worked out of Kilifi for the last 12 years, partnering with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Wellcome Trust, and the Kilifi County Hospital to develop a vaccine for malaria, which is endemic in most parts of Kenya’s coast.

FOsier

Osier first became intrigued by the idea of a vaccine—or more specifically, the ability to develop resistance to malaria—after working in the paediatric ward of the Kilifi County Hospital.

“Malaria is a very big problem, especially for Africa,” says Osier. “What we see in people who live in Africa is that it’s children under the age of 5 who get frequently ill—severely ill—and can die. But in the same areas, the adults seem to be resistant,” she adds. “They don’t seem to become ill or die.”

Aiming to better understand how adults acquire a resistance to malaria, Osier began studying how the body responds to the infection at different stages. Focusing on the role of antibodies— proteins created by the immune system to neutralise harmful substances, like infections—Osier dug into the complexities surrounding the ability to thwart malaria.

“We study people who are being exposed to malaria,” she says. “We look at their blood and their antibody responses and how they are responding. We know that antibodies are very important… and we believe that antibodies hold the key.”

At the vaccination ward, baby Sleiman Hamisi has his weight taken, the data inputted into the database, and then receives a vaccination.

Baby Sleiman Hamisi receives a vaccination.

While the molecular intricacies of proteins, antibodies and antigens might seem like the researcher’s biggest obstacle, Osier’s role as a female researcher in a male-dominated profession often presents an equally steep challenge, she says.

Osier said there have been many points in her career when she felt inhibited simply because she was a woman.

“(As a female) you’re conditioned to believe that (hard skills) are not for you,” she says. “It takes some help to shake that off and to say ‘Look! There’s someone who can do it! If they can, then so can I.’”

“I let my work speak for me,” she says.

But while her climb toward success has provided unique challenges, Osier is quick to add that being a female scientist also has its strengths.

“I bring a lot more compassion to my management and leadership skills and believe that I bring out the best in my team members because of this; in return they give back more than 100 percent,” she says. “That has been key to both my progress and theirs.”

But it’s not only her colleagues who recognise Osier’s work ethic and compassion-based leadership. In 2014, Osier won the Royal Society Pfizer Prize award, one of the most prestigious prizes in African science.

Calling it her “biggest achievement,” Osier says the award “gave me a real sense of satisfaction that with hard work, determination and vision, it was possible to achieve great things.”

At the vaccination ward, baby Sleiman Hamisi has his weight taken, the data inputted into the database, and then receives a vaccination.

At the vaccination ward, baby Sleiman Hamisi has his weight taken, the data inputted into the database.

While hard work and dedication remain the foundation to Osier’s career, the researcher is also quick to credit the role of mentors in her success.

“Mentors are really important. You can’t dream of something you can’t see,” she said.

That’s why it’s so important to expose young girls to “hard skills” like medicine and research, she said

“It’s exposure. It’s making research more visible and specifically targeting women,” she said. “In schools, in public meetings, village meetings… just letting girls see that they can be more than what the community is telling them.”

It’s that same urge to rise above obstacles that will help Osier achieve her ultimate goal: developing a highly effective malaria vaccine that is available, free of charge, to the poorest communities in rural Africa.

“I want women in our African villages to have the opportunity to take their children for vaccination against malaria and be able to move on with malaria behind them,” she says.

But how long will the world wait for a malaria vaccine?

“I’m confident that it will happen in my lifetime,” Osier said.

Dr. Faith Osier is a Kenyan scientist at the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme and Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford.

TAKE ACTION: Tell world leaders to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria!

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GIRLS AND WOMEN

Why women’s movements will accelerate development progress

20 September 2017 3:52PM UTC | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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This post originally appeared on Medium and is written by Erin Hohlfelder, Senior Program Officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Wonder Woman’s box office success. “Woke bae” Justin Trudeau’s 50–50 cabinet. Women’s soccer scoring goals for equal pay. Pink pussy hats in the streets. For many young Westerners, it’s easy to feel like the world has been swept up in a hot new wave of feminism, unlike anything seen in our lifetimes. Suddenly, it’s not just development nerds and gender studies majors who are talking about inequality and intersectionality — our dinner table conversations, political debates, and Twitter feeds are filled with it.

But as much as this might feel like a new or revitalised phenomenon, my day job at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation constantly reminds me that women coming together to push for real change in their communities is far from news — it’s a tale as old as time.

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Nobel Prize Winner Leymah Gbowee

Last year, as our foundation began ramping up a focus on gender equality, our team was tasked with devising a strategy to speed up progress for women and girls across the global south. When we reviewed the research and talked to experts, one message came through resoundingly clear: “Support local women’s organisations and movements.” The more we learned about these groups, the more we understood two truths: they have been driving forces for change, and they have been incredibly under-funded.

Far from the spotlight — often even far from reliable internet connections — women’s groups have been forging and winning impressive campaigns. From Leymah Gbowee and the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace who pushed leaders to the peace table and helped end a decade of civil war, to the Gulabi Gang of Indian activists who don pink saris and fight back against police injustices, and from global Suffragette movements to Jaha Dukureh’s work to energise a new generation of activists working to ban female genital mutilation and cutting, these diverse movements have been at the root of many advancements for women and girls.

These aren’t just anecdotes. Rigorous research in 70 countries over four decades showed that women’s movements were more effective at creating and sustaining policy change, particularly on violence against women, than many other factors including countries’ economic growth and political leadership.

For all this impact, you’d think these women’s groups were rolling in cash. But it turns out the opposite is true — they have been effective despite their budgets, not because of them.

While donor aid for gender issues has grown overall, funding specifically targeted for local women’s organisations remains stuck at less than 2% of the pie. According to a 2013 AWID report, the median annual budget of more than 740 women’s organisations around the world was just $20,000.

It’s not just that they’re under-funded — they are also constantly under threat. We over-use labels like “badass”, but these are the women who are truly on the front lines, often taking big risks to their reputations and their safety to campaign for what they know is right.

That’s why I’m excited and proud that today, our co-chair Melinda Gates announced a new, $20 million portfolio of grants for grassroots campaigners, organisations, and women’s movements. Our grants will support:

  • Women’s funds, including Mama Cash and the Prospera network, which sub-grant to grassroots women’s groups across the global south and help build strategic alliances
  • Specific grassroots organisations that are running targeted campaigns to advance the Sustainable Development Goals and amplifying local women’s voices in the process
  • Online and offline platforms, including the Change.org Foundation and the Amref Advocacy Accelerator, designed to incubate champions, strengthen women’s campaigning skills, and build their networks
  • New academic research led by Laurel Weldon at Purdue University to deepen our understanding of movements’ impacts and strengthen the investment case.

These grants represent a new approach for us, and we’ve learned a lot in the process of developing the portfolio. We stand on the shoulders of the funders who have gone before us; governments like the Netherlands and members of the PAWHR network have been pioneers in this space, developing new ways to channel resources to local groups.

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We also know that we can’t go it alone and need to consider creative approaches. We were thrilled to see Canada announce a new $150 million fund to support local organisations as part of its new feminist foreign policy. We’re so pleased to collaborate with philanthropic partners like the EdelGive Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. And we are excited to build new kinds of partnerships like one with The Points Guy that taps into their network of travel aficionados and will donate up to 5 million airline miles to ensure grassroots activists can travel and have their voices heard.

Women and girls have always been at the core of our foundation’s work, whether in programs for female smallholder farmers or projects to improve women’s access to bank accounts. As we begin to roll out these new grants, we’ll work to ensure that they don’t stand in isolation from our existing work related to gender equality.

In fact, because this commitment sits within the wider $80 million portfolio that Melinda announced at Women Deliver last May, we see support for women’s movements as integrally linked to the investments we’re making to close gender data gaps and support SDG accountability.

Above all, these investment decisions are grounded in a shared belief that women in their communities who are closest to very real challenges are also the most likely to know the right solutions, and the most willing to put everything on the line to fight for them.

We’re standing side by side with them — because ultimately, an equal world is a greater world, and because we believe in women’s power to get us there. This is how equality happens.

ONE welcomes the contributions of guest bloggers but does not necessarily endorse the views, programs, or 

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Rousing encore: 41,000 now avail of Music Generation lessons

Ambitious plan aims to provide musical education for as many young in Ireland as possible

about 24 hours ago
 
 
 
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41,000 students now avail of Music Generation lessons.

 

The old Lynyrd Skynyrd standard Sweet Home Alabama is a rewarding song for aspiring young guitarists to tackle. Built around a basic three-chord structure with ascending and descending bass lines, it is a song that is both clever and simple, easy to play tolerably well, but hard to play exactly right.

In a prefab at St Cronan’s Boys’ National School in Bray, music teacher Tim Doyle plays the guitar solo on a keyboard with his right hand while his pupil Casey Earls traces the bass notes with his left. While they figure it out, other students on guitars are hammering out the three chords in unison.

Casey (10) is the first in his family to play a musical instrument. “I want to be a musician,” he says.

He is not alone. Of the 520 pupils in the school, 162 are learning an instrument through Music Generation, the ambitious scheme set up in 2009 to provide a musical education for as many children in Ireland as possible.

Logical and intuitive

It is universally acknowledged that learning music is good for a child’s development. Music is both logical and intuitive. It demands discipline and patience, yet until Music Generation came on board, provision for it in Irish schools was woeful. Just 1 per cent of Irish secondary school children received tuition.

For generations it was a “Cinderella subject”, says St Cronan’s principal Maeve Tierney.

She estimates just a fifth of the pupils in the school currently learning music would be doing so if Music Generation did not exist. The scheme has made music tuition accessible.

Lessons which would normally cost between €25 and €30 cost €6.50 through Music Generation. Students can borrow instruments or rent them at €30 a year with a view to buying them after three years at a heavily discounted rate.

Lessons are carried out communally rather individually, which creates a group dynamic. “Just to see music in the school makes it more accessible,” explains Mr Doyle. “There is no strangeness to it. Music is now part of life. Children are dying to learn it by the time they get to eight or nine.”

St Cronan’s is one of 40 schools in Wicklow being funded by Music Generation. Wicklow is, in turn, one of 12 existing local authority areas in the country that has set up Music Education Partnerships.

There are now 4,000 students in the county availing of Music Generation, and 41,000 throughout the country. “The numbers will always go up. I don’t see them dropping,” says Music Generation Wicklow manager Ann Catherine Nolan.

Invariably busy

Music Generation is also in secondary schools. At St Kilian’s Community School in Bray, the students gravitate towards a room with the mural of a rock band on the wall. It is invariably busy.

Learning music contributes a huge amount to the self-esteem of students through their teenage years, says teacher Louise O’Sullivan. She cites the example of one autistic student who took up the subject through Music Generation in fifth year.

In the space of a year he went from being socially isolated to playing in front of the entire school at the graduation concert.

Another autistic student, Ben Rowsome (17), has embraced the opportunities of Music Generation. Left-handed, he learned to play on a right-handed guitar. He plays it upside down like Jimi Hendrix used to do, and can also play a left-handed guitar. “Listening to music has helped with my own anxiety a lot,” he says.

Polish-born Veronica Roszczak (15) took up drums. Her teacher rates her as one of the top two or three percussionists he had seen. “That would not have been picked up without Music Generation,” said school principal John Murphy.

Following the success of phase one of Music Generation, phase two is being expanded to include nine new areas: Cavan/Monaghan; Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown; Galway City; Galway County; Kilkenny; Leitrim; Roscommon; Waterford and Wexford.

The expansion could not have happened without, once again, the philanthropic support of U2. Originally it was intended to roll out a pilot scheme nationwide, but in 2008 the crash came and the Government could no longer afford to do it. U2 stepped in with a grant of €5 million, with the Ireland Funds contributing a further €2 million.

Both organisations are providing a further €6.3 million for the second phase on a pro-rata basis, meaning U2 will have donated €9 million to Music Generation over a decade.

It is not just the money itself that is significant but the fact the band has gone public on the donation, something they rarely do. The success of it has made the band “immensely proud”, says guitarist The Edge.

“This is a really important moment for Music Generation. Our ambition is for every child and young person in Ireland to have access to tuition and this next phase of expansion brings us ever closer.”

‘Exceeded all expectations’

Music Generation director Rosaleen Molloy said the original donation was a “once-off, but the success of the programme has exceeded all expectations of everyone involved.”

That success persuaded the donors to fund a second phase. The rest of the funding will come from public funding, some €2.5 million a year over five years.

“Without a shadow of a doubt this is a long-term, lasting initiative,” says Ms Molloy. “What Music Generation has achieved through public-private partnership is actually groundbreaking.

“The history of funding of arts and education projects in Ireland are stop-start. They were only as good as while the money lasts.”

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