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Hawk’s Well & IT Sligo ‘Sligo Sings’ partnership shortlisted for Business to Arts Awards

Hawk’s Well & IT Sligo ‘Sligo Sings’ partnership shortlisted for Business to Arts Awards
18 July, 2016

The Hawk’s Well Theatre and IT Sligo’s partnership for ‘Sligo Sings’ in 2015 has been shortlisted for the 2016 Allianz Business to Arts Awards in the Best Use of Creativity in the Community & Best Creative Staff Engagement categories. According to Business to Arts, the 25th Allianz Business to Arts Awards saw high levels of nominations from cultural events associated with 1916, expanding sponsorship portfolios and long-term partnerships which continue to evolve through diverse activation campaigns. This made judging a challenge, and caused lively and lengthy discussion among the Business to Arts Judging Panel. To be shortlisted for this category is an enormous achievement. The shortlist was announced on Thursday, July 14th and the awards ceremony will take place on Monday 19th September in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.
As part of Sligo Sings 2015 Hawk’s Well Theatre choirmasters developed and nurtured six new amateur choirs, created from the largest and busiest workplaces in Sligo. No experience was needed and it was not a competition. Each of the choir members were fully involved in the development and contributed to the success of their choir. The choirs rehearsed in their workplaces and later performed at the Hawk’s Well Theatre in a major celebration of their achievements. On the evening each choir performed two individual songs and then all 204 choir singers joined together for the final song as one major choir, celebrating the joy of singing together.
Hawk’s Well Theatre’s Sligo Sings initiative in 2015 was planned to break down barriers and hierarchies by creating workplace choirs to celebrate singing in the community. Sligo Sings was the perfect opportunity for the theatre to develop this concept with pre-existing communities such as workplaces as well as establishing mutually beneficial relationships and potential sponsors. The six final participating partners in 2015 were: IT Sligo, Sligo University Hospital, Sligo County Council, HSE, Sligo Volunteer Centre and Department of Social Protection. The Sligo Sings Choir evening took place at the theatre on 29th November 2015. The process of developing each choir was as important as the final performance at the theatre. The feedback received from each choir was amazing. The benefits and physical advantages of singing in a choir such as ‘release of happiness hormones,’ ‘relieving stress’ and ‘creating confidence when performing as a team’ have been well documented and there was certainly evidence of these benefits during the programme.
204 singers in total participated in Sligo Sings. All of the 6 choirs that took part continued to sing together as choirs after the 2015 programme had completed, performing for charity and at corporate events. One of the choirs raised funds from their performances for a workshop at the theatre for profoundly disabled children.
The programme raised the theatre’s corporate engagement profile which resulted in corporate sponsorship for the night and sponsorship pledges for the 2016 programme. Many of the companies that did not participate in the 2015 programme have requested to be included in the Sligo Sings 2016 programme or have become Corporate Friends of the theatre. Having proven the concept in 2015, the theatre plans to develop a more extensive programme for Sligo Sings 2016 which will include workplace and community choirs. The theatre has already secured two key sponsors for the 2016 programme.
IT Sligo is one of Ireland’s most successful third level educational institutions situated within a 72-acre campus in Sligo town. When the theatre approached IT Sligo’s Communication Manager, Austin O'Callaghan about Sligo Sings, he was very enthusiastic about the idea as they had discussed the possibility of a choir within the IT for several years and felt that this programme would be the catalyst needed for its development. IT Sligo were keen to develop activities that included both students and staff. The theatre promoted the programme during the student Clubs & Societies day within IT Sligo as well as within the staff communications outlets and to all retired staff. This was a great success with over 80 people interested in find out more information. The final choir consisted of 50 members including students, staff and retired staff.  IT Sligo’s Communication Manger, Austin O'Callaghan was MC for the event, introducing all the choirmasters and choirs.
The IT Sligo choir continued to grow after the Sligo Sings programme completed, they regularly perform for charity and within the college. At the recent IT Sligo’s Clubs and Societies Awards 2016, the college’s choir was voted Society of the Year.
The relationship between the college and the theatre has continued to grow in 2016. The college’s choir will be part of the 2016 Sligo Sings programme and IT Sligo have agreed to be a key sponsor for the event. Hawk’s Well staff are also developing relationships within departments at the college. Recently Architecture students from IT Sligo have designed a ‘VIP’ type entrance to the Hawk's Well Theatre, Sligo that will be suitable for patrons with reduced mobility, supported by Age Friendly Ireland.

“Collaboration and community engagement are core pillars of what IT Sligo is all about,” said Professor Vincent Cunnane, President of IT Sligo. “The relationship with the Hawk’s Well Theatre during the ‘Sligo Sings’ project was perfectly in tune with that ethos. It proved to be one of the most rewarding highlights of the year for our staff and is the sort of partnership that IT Sligo is keen to develop and nurture.”

Hawk’s Well Theatre will continue their mission to get Sligo singing with Sligo Sings 2016. Most of the choirs from 2015 will participate again and further new choirs will be developed and nurtured by Hawk’s Well choirmasters. To find out more information about Sligo Sings 2016 contact Jane Parsons jane@hawkswell.com

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