2020 is shaping up to be a very big year for Garter Lane Arts Centre with the announcement of two big Artist in Residence Awards supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and Waterford City & County Council. Dee Grant will be returning as Dance Artist in Residence and Deirdre Dwyer returns to her hometown to take up the role of Theatre Artist in Residence.
Speaking recently, both artists said that they were itching to get started.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to live and work in Waterford again,” Theatre Artist in Residence Deirdre Dwyer said. “The focus of the residency will support me in my work, but I know it will also support lots of other artists who are interested in working in the same area.”
A graduate of Waterford’s thriving youth scene of the 90s/00s – notably Waterford Youth Arts, Little Red Kettle and Spraoi – Deirdre’s forte is adapting and directing theatre for young audiences. She also designs sets and costumes for theatre, opera, dance and film and has trained in UCC (BA in English and Drama and Theatre Studies), at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (MA in Theatre Design, Cardiff) and as an apprentice Designer on the Rough Magic SEEDS3 programme. She is also a member of BrokenCrow Theatre Company for whom she has created two shows for children, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower.
“The grant is going to so important for Waterford arts,” Deirdre continued. “Obviously I’m just getting a portion of it because a lot will be going to support an incubator programme for artists who are interested in making work for children in theatre over the summer. This is great because it will be a paid employment opportunity for those artists.”
Deirdre is particularly interested in making theatre for children because she says “they’re the best audience.”
“They are wonderfully honest,” she said. “They will boo you off the stage if you’re terrible or just start talking and eating their snacks but the attention they give when you’re engaging them makes it absolutely worthwhile. Theatre should be for everyone and if you can get children to see more of it, they will really start to feel like it’s for them.”
Choreographer/Independent Dance Artist, Dee Grant returns to Garter Lane as Dance Artist in Residence for 2020 after a bumper year for dance in 2019.
“We had our first ever dance week in December of last year, which was essentially a mini-festival of dance, and that was a huge success,” Dee said. “There were workshops, performances and plenty of opportunities for dancers in the South East to show off what they can do. There was also the National Symposium on Dance, which focused on the development of dance in the South East, which is obviously extremely important.”
Originally from Wexford, Dee graduated from Middlesex University with a BA (Hons) Dance degree in 1993. She’s been bringing professional dance to the fore ever including almost 15 years as Artistic Director of Myriad Dance in Wexford, producing numerous choreographic dance works that were shown nationwide, including Dublin Fringe Festival and Dublin Dance Festivals to mention two. In 2008, she retrained in Somatic Dance Education with Joan Davis, Maya Lila, Wicklow, a practice that was to have profound effect on her current theatrical and community arts engagement.
“The 2020 residency is going to have two elements to it,” Dee said. “One side is about professional development so it’ll be myself working with emerging dance artists, incubating their experience and encouraging them to use the space in Garter Lane. The other side of the residency will bring me back to my old dancing ground, which is choreography. I’m going to be making a piece for Waterford, which will map the body-scape of the county through dance and bodies. It’s a diverse, multi-generational show and I’ll be looking for dancers of all ages to take part.”
Both Dee and Deirdre had special mentions for Sile Penkert, Executive Director of Garter Lane who they say has brought a “vibrant new energy to the city’s arts scene”.
Sile added that the awards had “illustrated a show of confidence in Waterford and the region” from the Arts Council.
“We look forward to the incredible development opportunities afforded by these residencies, not solely for the artists involved but consequently through the programmes they curate and the involvement of artists and participants locally,” Sile said. “2020 is set to be an exciting year with plenty of hard work keeping us all out of mischief.