Charity Night for Hawk’s Well
The Hawk’s Well Theatre is delighted to host Kieran Quinn’s next two theme nights on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st of January. The theme this time round is Nashville – Music from The Grand Ole Opry. The Grand Ole Opry is Nashville’s most famous music show and over the years has hosted stars such as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Garth Brooks, Bill Monroe and the Dixie Chicks. This, the 14th instalment in the series of Kieran Quinn’s now famous themed nights, will feature the best of country, old-time and bluegrass, performed by the cream of Sligo’s musical talent. As always, many of Sligo's finest musicians will combine to bring the audience their favourite pieces of music from these particular genres. Previous performers include Sandy Kelly, Cathy Jordan, Tabby Callaghan, Steve Wickham, Joe Hunt, Seamie O'Dowd, Rackhouse Pilfer and the list goes on and on. These inspirational theme nights are now legendary and have become the hottest tickets in town.
Proceeds from these theme nights will go towards funding the Hawk’s Well Theatre which is a registered charity. Public funding makes up an average of 35% of the theatre’s income and to survive the theatre relies on ticket sales and memberships and donations from friends and corporate friends.
Marie O’Byrne, Director of the Hawk’s Well Theatre said “We are really privileged that Kieran has chosen to support the Hawk’s Well and the work we do here by dedicating these wonderful January theme nights to the theatre. It is almost always difficult to make ends meet in the landscape of the arts and this contribution will go a long way towards making budgetary pressures that little bit easier.”
Since 1982 the Hawk’s Well has been at the cultural heart of Sligo and has enlivened, entertained and amused the people of the region. The theatre is firmly rooted as a social and cultural hub in the North West. The Hawk’s Well team are passionate about the arts and enjoy creating new work and presenting a vibrant and diverse programme to inspire and entertain audiences. Over 50,000 people came to Hawk’s Well to watch a show or take part in a workshop last year. Few people realise that the theatre is a registered charity. Public funding only makes up an average of 35% of the theatre’s income and core funding has been significantly reduced over the past number of years.
Over the last few years the theatre has become known as a producing venue and shows produced at the theatre have toured extensively. The award-winning The Man in the Woman’s Shoes was originally commissioned by the Hawk's Well Theatre with Sligo County Council Arts Service for the Bealtaine Festival in 2012. The play toured to the Irish Arts Center in New York last year and returned to the Peacock stage for a 3 week run in April where it celebrated its 100th performance. It returns to the Hawk's Well for one night only prior to its debut run in London in April 2016. In May 2014 the premiere of The Second Coming took place at the Hawk’s Well Theatre where over two nights, audiences were spellbound by this spectacular show which beautifully fuses traditional Irish music, song and dance with aerial circus, theatre, narrative and film. This co-production from Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre and Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo then moved to Limerick as part of the Limerick City of Culture Programme before going to Glasgow’s Celtic Connections Festival in January 2015. It toured Germany for three weeks in October and November where the production was a resounding success and received fantastic reviews.
Other productions from the theatre in 2015 include the successful community event Sligo Sings. This ambitious project celebrated the joy of singing and the Hawk’s Well initiated and funded the training of 6 choirs from some of the busiest workplaces in the Sligo community over two months. A huge number of workplace friendships grew out of this initiative and the project resulted in a spectacular performance at the theatre in front of a sold out audience . Another success for the theatre was the Virtual Trad Orchestra, an innovative and ground breaking traditional music initiative which digitally brought together musicians from all over the world, to perform the ballad ‘The Salley Gardens’ as part of the theatre’s Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann celebrations. Participants uploaded their musical contribution to the internet and the Hawk’s Well curated all the submissions into one spectacular collaborative performance featuring Maura O’Connell. The live performance took place in two iconic locations; in the intimate surroundings of the Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo and to thousands who gathered at the outdoor Gig Rig stage in St. Stephens Street, Sligo.
The theatre has also celebrated the careers of local musicians and writers and this year honoured the work of writer Brian Leyden, musician Donal ‘Dude’ McLynn, Cathy Jordan from Dervish and Sligo’s Sandy Kelly.
52,000 customers came through the doors of the theatre in 2015 and the theatre hosted 400 events – over 260 shows and many workshops and courses. 720 professional musicians were paid by the theatre in 2015 and 2145 local people performed on stage. The theatre has 5 full time staff and 24 part-time staff.
In 2015 the theatre was supported by the Arts Council to recruit a fundraiser to continue the work it does developing and supporting Ireland’s theatre artists and musicians and to play a vital role in the social and culture life of Sligo. Jane Parsons is now employed as a full time Fundraiser at the theatre.
Individuals and couples can support the theatre by becoming Friends and taking out membership of the theatre (membership options range from €90 to €300 per year) or by making a donation. A corporate friends scheme was launched earlier this year. Companies can support the theatre by becoming corporate friends and in return receive complimentary tickets and invitations to events. There are plenty of sponsorship opportunities for various events available to corporates also. This source of private funding is becoming increasingly important to help the theatre grow and flourish.
Marie O’Byrne, Director of the theatre added
“The major focus for 2016 will be on fundraising for the improvement of the building itself. The theatre is nearly 35 years old and major work is required to bring the theatre to a standard which is deserved for both staff and customers. Accessibility for our customers is a huge issue in this building and rectifying this will be one of our primary aims for 2016 and beyond.”
Kieran Quinn announced that the proceeds from his next theme nights would go to the theatre and commented:
“The Hawk’s Well is such a valuable resource for our town, and I am thrilled that we as representatives of the musical community in Sligo can show our support for it in this way. I would ask and encourage others to do the same.”