Pauline McLynn hosts Hawk’s Well Celebration Night
Sligo born actor and writer Pauline McLynn will host a very special celebration night for the Hawk’s Well Theatre on Saturday 30th of July at 8pm. On this very special night the historic lifespan of Sligo’s local theatre will be celebrated. Opened in January 1982, the idea of a theatre for Sligo was initiated by a group of local drama enthusiasts and thirty-four years later the theatre still stands tall. Hosting over 50,000 visitors each year, and with over 2,000 local people treading its boards annually, this July a selection of its favourite performers and closest friends gather to pay due tribute to the much-loved Sligo theatre. Special guests on the night will include Eamon Morrissey, Michael Harding, Sandy Kelly, Cathy Jordan, Brian Leyden, Kieran Quinn, Mike Nielsen and many more.
Hosted by actor Pauline McLynn, proceeds from the night will go to the theatre’s renovation fund to ensure this vital resource for future generations. The theatre was badly flooded in December just as the popular annual pantomime from Coolera Dramatic Society was about to start. The theatre is actually built on a 19th century culvert (underground water drain) and the extremely heavy rain in December meant that this drain in effect, overflowed and water began to seep up from the ground into the bottom of the auditorium. The show, of course, must go on and staff at the theatre along with members of Coolera Dramatic Society were busy pumping water from the auditorium right up to the opening of the panto. Over Christmas the theatre was flooded a second time with water from the flat roof seeping in through the walls, causing further damage to the carpets in the balcony and back of the auditorium and threatening the sound and lighting desks.
However the theatre will flood again unless major work is undertaken to the foundations. The Hawk’s Well is almost thirty five years old and the building needs a lot of repair work in general also.
Minister for Tourism, Paschal Donohoe recently visited the theatre to discuss the need for capital funding and space, as well as issues such as access and flooding. Thirty-five years in operation has taken its toll on the building. Funding is needed to improve facilities and the appearance of the building. Mobility-impaired patrons must enter around the back of the building and all patrons climb steps to enter the building at the front to then descend steps to get to the box office. Access within the theatre itself is also difficult, with only one position at the back for wheelchair users and no handrail at the sides to help patrons down steps. The theatre have recently looked into installing a rail for this purpose but unfortunately radiators make such an installation impossible so alternative solutions must be found. The 4 full-time, 14 part-time and 10 casual staff are working in cramped conditions with no room to expand and little storage facilities.
Since 1982 the Hawk’s Well has been at the cultural heart of Sligo and has enlivened and entertained the people of the region and beyond. The theatre is firmly rooted as a social and cultural hub in the North West. Over 52,000 customers came through the doors of the theatre in 2015 and the theatre hosted nearly 400 events – over 260 shows and many workshops and courses. 720 professional artists were supported by the theatre in 2015 and 2,145 local people performed onstage.
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. Public funding goes towards funding programming and paying artists and does not cover capital needs and costs.
The theatre has launched a renovation fund to fund the work needed on the building. The renovation fund will enhance the theatre for the whole community and make the Hawk’s Well truly accessible to everyone. To donate to the theatre’s renovation fund and help to secure and renew the theatre for future generations of performers, artists and audiences, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Hawk’s Well on 071 9161518.
Tickets for the celebration night on Saturday 30th are €20 and are available online.