Recent Floods at Hawk’s Well Theatre - Launch of New Renovation Fund
The Hawk’s Well 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.
The flood water has caused a lot of damage. Luckily the theatre is covered by insurance on this occasion. 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.
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 artistic community 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.
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.
Marie O’Byrne, Director of the theatre said:
“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 artists, customers and staff. Accessibility for our customers is a huge issue in this building and rectifying this will be our primary focus this year.”