Hiring and firing at the Féile

News from GARBHAN DOWNEY in his regular update on preparations for City of Culture year, 2013

With almost a year-and-a-half to go, many hundred, if not thousands, of event proposals have already been submitted for consideration for 2013. And the Culture Company is this summer beginning to sift these ideas and assess which will fit the pledges set out in the city’s bid, while also starting to work with organisations and individuals to see their plans realised.

As part of that, three new programmers have now joined the CC team: Gareth Stewart, who is, of course, currently co-ordinating the Gasyard Féile; Shauna McNeilly and Claire McDermott. All three are well-known faces in the Derry community arts scene.

Shauna McNeilly has a degree in theatre studies and over ten years’ experience of arts management with the Millennium Forum, the Strule Arts Centre, Omagh, the Nerve Centre and the Glasgowbury Music Festival.

Originally from Rasharkin, Country Antrim, where traditional music is a mainstay of country life, Shauna plays several musical instruments and joined Comhaltas at an early age.

This led on to an educational role at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin where Shauna managed the pilot project of Irish traditional music exams throughout Ireland and the UK.

In her current role as Education and Outreach Officer with the Millennium Forum, Shauna manages the Interact Youth Arts Festival, working with young people from communities across the city to encourage participation in creativity and the arts.

Claire McDermott is a familiar face in the local arts community, having worked as a senior member of staff at the Verbal Arts Centre since 2005.

A native of Greencastle on the shores of Lough Foyle, Claire has a background in community media and digital technology. She is vice-chairperson of local radio station, Inishowen Community Radio FM, and has been both presenter and producer of sports, music, news and talk shows.

She has managed a series of education projects with the Western Education and Library Board and local schools using radio, website and video-conferencing technology to promote new approaches to learning.

Claire is also a founder member of The Up Scene, a community venture to help promote live music in the Inishowen area.