by Claire Rose Canavan
I have just arrived back from my trip to Cork, (which I must admit was not as bad as I thought it would be at all- quickest 6 hours of my life!), after attending the All Ireland Performing Arts Conference 2017 (APAC). As I have just started a new role within Audiences NI as Client Relationship Executive, I was really excited to get to the conference I had heard so much about, meet lots of new people and hear from great speakers.
I started my two days with a Theatre NI members meeting- and what a great way to start! The session was very interesting, and very inspiring, as we heard from Hannah Baird on the ‘What Next?‘ project. What Next? describes itself as an organisation which aims to “work collaboratively to build alliances outside of the cultural sector, build relationships with local and national government and engage the public in new and different conversations about the arts.” The strength in the movement comes about as the people who involved with it “voluntarily come together and collectively take action around issues that affect everyone. No one is part of What Next? for their own individual agenda but for the issues and challenges that face us all.” There are currently over 30 chapters across England, Scotland and Wales, and because the talk was so encouraging, we hope to set one up in Northern Ireland soon!
From this, I headed into the main conference where we heard from various artists and theatre makers on their work and how they got there. After this, we headed to Firkin Crane for dinner, networking – and not to forget one of my highlights of the trip, the karaoke!! However, being sensible, I headed home to get an early(ish) night’s sleep and get ready for day two!
Day two was also very interesting. Each speaker based their talk on the theme of ‘Twist or Stick’ or, in other words, to ‘change or remain’. I thoroughly enjoyed the speech from Shona McCarthy who is Chief Executive of Edinburgh Fringe Festival Society. Shona talked about Edinburgh, but also her experience in ‘LegenDerry’ when it was city of culture in 2013. This talk was honest, realistic and inspiring. Shona’s example from the north, humour and positive attitudes towards all her projects was really refreshing to hear and gave me lots to think about on my train home! I would like to thank Theatre Forum IE and Theatre NI for the work they put into organising it and to Ali FitzGibbon the curator. Roll on APAC 2018!