The Beat is Back!

Michelle Heffernan Reports

Picture yourself sipping a cool craft beer, watching the sun set on the Old French Church, tapping your foot and nodding your head to the finest Irish original music. Well, you won’t have to wait too much longer to enjoy just that!

Artbeat is just around the corner and will run from June 2nd through to August 18th you can spend your long summer Saturday evenings kicking back to great food, drink and live music at Bailey’s New Street. Ahead of the new season, we caught up with Artbeat Director Ciara O’Connell of Central Arts to chat about a sizzling summer music programme and the thriving arts scene here in Waterford.”If the sun is shining, there’s no better place than it,” said Ciara, excitedly describing the magic of Artbeat.
“People will stumble upon a beautiful music setting and a warm welcoming atmosphere in one of the most historically beautiful areas of Waterford.”
Ciara and her husband John O’Connell founded Central Arts in 2014, a not-for-profit arts organisation which runs music, film, theatre and arts events focused on community involvement and participation. Over the past four years, Ciara and John have taken over Artbeat and grown it from a single show to a summer long series of free live music events.

Artbeat will run in the heart of old Waterford from June 2nd through to August 18th. Photo: T1 Photography

Artbeat will run in the heart of old Waterford from June 2nd through to August 18th. Photo: T1 Photography

“Artbeat has actually been around for 12 years,” Ciara explained, “it used to be an hour of music with just a PA. Since we took it over it has become a host of shows, running every weekend from 4pm to 11pm at Bailey’s New Street.” Funded by the Arts Council, the Viking Triangle and Waterford City & County Council, Artbeat focuses specifically on showcasing the best in emerging Irish music talent, and giving breakthrough artists a platform on which to perform and progress.
“We focus on including as much local acts as we can, like Gerry Kane or Chimpanbee and we pair these with more national emerging acts like TBRex. There is a wonderful networking scene created for musicians and bands, and everyone has a very supportive attitude towards one another – a lot of bands have gone to agents just from getting the opportunity to talk to other musicians.”

In line with the Central Arts ethos, Ciara and John not only want to support these emerging artists, but to also bring their creativity out into the community.
“We want to showcase all this talent to the people of Waterford. We offer them the best of emerging music talent, all for free.”
Central Arts collaborates with every variety of artists, and Artbeat’s line-up reflects their all inclusive approach.
“When it comes to the line-up, we don’t focus on one genre,” Ciara explained. “We’ll have everything from trad to rock to folk music. The event is about emerging Irish music and we give all musicians a chance.” Indeed, one difference between Artbeat and any other regular music event is the absence of cover material. “All the music at Artbeat is original,” said Ciara.

Alt pop group AEMak performing at last year's Artbeat

Alt pop group AEMak performing at last year's Artbeat

However, complementary to Artbeat, Waterford City & County Council is also running ‘Summer in the City,’ Ciara explained.
Alongside Artbeat at Baileys Music, there will be live music Friday and Saturday afternoons in John Roberts Square, where families can sing and dance along to covers of their favourite tunes. Both events will be encompass family entertainment as well as sing and dance, with face painting, print making etc on offer at both Artbeat and Summer in the CityCiara and John are delighted with the progress of Artbeat, and hope to extend the festival even further in the future.
“The first time we ran it there was about 10 people at a gig,” Ciara says, “and last summer we had almost 400 on some nights, so it has grown phenomenally. But we would like to incorporate other parts of the city, so hopefully in the future we can work to growing it to other parts of the town, and offer even more complementary styles of music.” With home grown food, drink, music and laughter, Artbeat certainly promises the best of summer vibes. Will Ciara and John get to partake in any revelry themselves? “I’m actually really looking forward to getting down there with my family,” Ciara beamed. “Of course I work at the gigs, but towards the end all the team bring their families and we all sit down and enjoy the fruits of our labour. Its such a warm welcoming atmosphere at Artbeat; everyone knows each other, and even if they don’t, they know each other by the time they’re leaving!”

Artbeat takes place every Saturday at Bailey’s New Street with live music between 4pm and 11pm with food and drink served by both the Munster Bar and the Reg Bar.
Thanks to Central Arts, Waterford City & County Council, the Arts Council and Viking Triangle, I for one know where my Summer Saturdays will be spent. And I hope to see you there!

For more information on Artbeat or to submit an application to play at the event contact Ciara or John on or call in to Central Arts, 123A Parade Quay, Waterford.

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