Over 100 guests attended Saturday’s launch of the ‘Shared Past – Shared Future’ arts project at the Balor Arts Centre in the Butt Hall, Ballybofey (pictured left). The project was officially launched by Mr. Winston Patterson, Board member of the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), and was followed by a theatre performance specially commissioned for the event by Balor Development Community Arts (“Balor DCA”).
The cross-border, cross-community ‘Shared Past – Shared Future’ arts project is a joint initiative between the Balor Community Theatre, Ballybofey and the Ally Arts Centre in Strabane. The IFI, under its Community Based Economic and Social Regeneration (CBESR) Programme, is providing funding of EUR215,064 across the three years of the project.
The ‘Shared Past – Shared Future’ project builds on the success of last summer’s “Crossing Bridges” project, also funded by the IFI. “Crossing Bridges” demonstrated how the arts can be instrumental in helping participants learn new skills and build life-long friendships with others from different backgrounds.
Launching the project, Mr. Winston Patterson, Board member of the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), remarked, “The IFI has great hopes for the ‘Shared Past – Shared Future’ project, and the role it can play in engaging with young people and community groups on a cross-border, cross-community basis, to build lasting friendships and
increase awareness of our shared heritage.”
Mr. Patterson also recorded the Fund’s appreciation for the international donors to the IFI: the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who had made possible the Fund’s support for this project and
The ‘Shared Past – Shared Future’ project will have two main elements, one focussed on highlighting our shared heritage and the other involving a performing arts summer camp for young people in the border
In ‘Highlighting our Shared Heritage’, Balor DCA will explore some of the stories in our shared past such as the Plantation of Ulster, which this year marks its 400th anniversary. The group will commission new
writing and create new works that will introduce these shared cultural references and legends to new audiences. In this way, audiences will be introduced to the concept of reconciliation in an historical context through the arts.
In the ‘Performing Arts Summer Camp for Border Youth’, Balor DCA will focus on the fusion of new relationships among young people on a cross-border and cross-community basis. The four-week performing arts camp has been a great success this summer and will run again in 2010 and 2011. Each year’s group of forty participants will work together to create an artistic product which will then be performed on stage.
Commenting on the launch of the new arts project, John Gallagher, Board member of Balor DCA said: “The Border Youth Summer Camp has already demonstrated the power of the arts to challenge the prejudice and mistrust of the past, and break down the barriers bestowed on young people as a legacy of the Troubles. We are sincerely indebted to
the IFI for their support in making this cross-border project so successful.”