COVID CAPERS

Despite the fact that all of our performances and workshops have been cancelled, we still have plenty to do here in the Masamba camp.

Graham and Greg have been working away generating some new workshop materials. Music files, videos, photos and PDFs have been flying back and forth, along with the usual amount of banter, and we should have some great new elements for our teaching projects, once the current restrictions have been lifted.

We also managed to hold a Board meeting using Zoom, which was a new experience for most of us. As well as catching up, and taking care of the regular business, we used the meeting to adopt a new Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Policy, which is something we’ve aspired to for several months. As our work in the community sector comes under ever greater scrutiny, policies such as this one, along with Child Protection and Health & Safety policies will soon be essential to being acceptable to funders and to take on government contracts.

One other important piece of work was organising our monthly payments run. We are pleased to report that, despite the current financial difficulties created by having no income to speak of, we have paid all of our artists up to date for services rendered. It is a very difficult time for performance artists at the moment, and most of us have almost no work on the horizon. Therefore, we felt it is very important to make sure that we paid anyone with invoices in with us as a priority. Likewise, we must express our thanks to our clients, most of whom have paid promptly, and given us the cashflow achieve this task.

Away from the desk, and despite travel restrictions, we’ve managed to get some physical work done as well. Ironically, no sooner had the COVID 19 restrictions been implemented, than lots of things arrived at the office by courier!

Firstly, a new professional quality marquee arrived from Poptents. Our thinking in getting the marquee made, is that we are often tasked with playing outdoor shows out in the wilds, with no shelter. Having our own marquee allows us to take on these gigs with a little more comfort. We had placed an order for this several weeks before the pandemic hit, but as we were getting it customised with our logos, it took a little time to prepare. Unfortunately, it will take at least two people to set it up, so until we are out of isolation, we can’t show you any photos.

Likewise, we had ordered some new swimsuits to reinvigorate some of our dancers’ costumes. Like most things ordered from the U.S. they took literally weeks to arrive, and arrived after the COVID 19 shutdown, so we’ll have to wait a little longer to see them in action.

As many of you will know, we at Masamba Samba School have had a long and extremely positive relationship with the Contemporanea instrument factory in Sao Paulo. Roberto Guariglia and his team of master builders have done so much for us over the years that we would need an entirely new website just to list it all. We love Contemporanea drums, and use them for both our performance work (because they sound amazing) and education work (because they are as tough as nails!).

Our most recent project with Contemporanea was to design some customised drum heads that would incorporate our special 25th anniversary logo. Perfectionists as always, Contemporanea’s staff sent several different ideas over for us to approve, and finally in February, we settled on a design that incorporated elements of the Irish and Brazilian flags along with our logo. As well as designing and producing these amazing drum skins free of charge, Roberto even paid for the shipping – now, that’s support!

Frustratingly, they sat in the van for a couple of weeks, before we realised that our rehearsal space is within the 2K travel limit, and so we could at least start to get them onto the gigging drums. This was such a satisfying project, because at the end there were some clear visible results. As you’ll see from the photos, the drums now look amazing, especially when teamed up with the wraps we had made by our friends in Horizon Digital Print.

So, despite the restrictions, we have been able to get some work done. Community Arts has always been about innovation and ingenuity, so in that way, COVID 19 is just another challenge to be surmounted.

STAY SAFE EVERYONE!

Masamba’s continued operations are only possible with the generous support of the Community Services Programme, an initiative of the Department of Rural and Community Affairs.

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About Simeon

Masamba Samba School is Ireland's premier Afro-Brasilian music and dance group.
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