Friday 10 June 2022

Engaging in the Arts at Uillinn: A young person’s perspective.

The Uillinn Arts Centre offers workshops/classes in art, dance, and theatre for young people; having these types of resources are very important for the wellbeing of local youth. For a lot of people who aren’t involved in sports it is difficult to find a place outside school to meet with and engage with people with the same interests, even though schools often have drama and art clubs, I feel that people want something not associated with school, especially because school can be negative place with exams and pressure. It is hard to be in a creative mind space in a school environment. For people who are home schooled being part of the Uillinn has positive benefits too. Giving them the opportunity to be an individual and develop their creativity through drama, the arts or dance.

Uillinn has become a welcoming home to me these past few years” - MICH, 18

I joined the Rusty Frog Youth Theatre Group when I was 15 and being home-schooled. Home-schooling can unfortunately have a negative reputation but mainstream school doesn’t suit everyone, particularly those who are more creative.
In 2020, my normal became everyone’s normal and suddenly everyone was taught ‘at home’. Suddenly people couldn’t meet up with friends. Then it became more important than ever to have a close group. During the Covid Pandemic the Rusty Frog Youth Theatre went on zoom. Although it couldn’t replace meeting in person, I still looked forward to it each week. We managed to adapt to the circumstances and did two performances over zoom, one of which we performed live and the other we filmed beforehand and edited. It was challenging but fun getting used to performing in a very different way.

“the art centre gave me a place to explore more of the dance world” - Hetty, 17

I am 18 now and looking back on the last 3 years joining the Rusty Frog at the Uillinn exposed me to a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have ever been a part of e.g., being part of the Guerrilluinn Youth Rep Committee, mixing music for the production of ‘Deano’, designing the poster for my last performance with the Uillinn ‘Box of Frogs’ and writing a monologue for a play that I went on to perform for the audition that got me into the drama course I’ll be starting in September. I even had the opportunity to take part in auditions for the National Youth Theatre. Since then, I have studied art at college and with the RBGE. I am very lucky to have been involved in theatre at the Uillinn and in the words of Se├ín O'Casey, 'All the worlds a stage and most of us are desperately under rehearsed.’

“The Uillinn provides an integral creative space as here is a lack of artistic infrastructure in the west cork area. being a member of the rusty frog youth theatre has helped me boost my self-esteem and made me a more outgoing and confident individual” - padraig, 18


The remit of Uillinn Youth Arts Committee is primarily to inform and advise on the development of Uillinn’s children and young people's programming.
The current membership formed in September 2021. There are 7 members representing Uillinn Young DancersRusty Frog Youth TheatreDraw Mind Matters and Creative Schools programmes all programmes that take place at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre.
Dance: Hetty Gazzaniga & Amy Jennings, Creative Schools: Lucia Madajczak, Youth Theatre: Padraig Harrington & Charlie DeLacey, Draw Mind Matters: Mich Maguire & Hannah O’Driscoll.
With an age range from 14 to 18 years old, they proudly represent the diversity in our community with representation from LGBTQI+ community, young people living with disability and learning difficulties, and wide socioeconomic and cultural background.
Approximately four meetings take place each year (4 already in 2022, so more this year as this group have high ambition). Meetings are 2 hours long and include creative explorations and administrational tasks. At meetings and through their WhatApp group they are learning about the programme, residencies, exhibitions and the Centres management is integral. Volunteering and supporting at events is encouraged. 
Uillinn Youth Arts Committee are currently seeking funding to lead a research residency at Uillinn and public art project in the town with a view to increasing the number of young people engaged in Arts and arts programme.