Some highlights from 2018…

End of 2018 blog

As we approach the end of another year, and with the benefit of a few day’s rest, it is fitting to look back at the year gone by.

It was definitely a year of ups and downs, which started very much on a downer. For the second time in three years, we had to vacate our rehearsal space. Our landlord, a well-known financial advisor, ex-board member and minor celebrity, let greed get the better of him, and decided to break our lease at the earliest opportunity. The main reason for moving into the Bow Lane West premises, was to gain security of tenure, and to develop an arts and community facility that would support the wider community, as well as ourselves, but it wasn’t to be – in this space at least.

Google keeps track of everything! A lot of people like the picture of our mural from Bow Lane West.

Ironically, we got two pieces of news regarding the property last week. The first was from Google to tell us that the photo on google maps of the front of our building had set a record number of views, as it featured the amazing mural we put on there with the skills and patience of artist Will St. Leger, who worked with members of the Masamba Youth Project to design and paint the mural. The second is that the space hasn’t be rented out to anyone else, so in his hurry to get us out, the financial genius cost himself at least €15,000 – oh well….

While the move cost us time and money, the other real negative was that we are now operating out of four different locations, just to keep the show on the road. This does require some extra time and a lot of planning. At first, it led to a drop-off in numbers at rehearsals, to the point where we even had to cancel a couple of rehearsals, for the first time in years. However, things are now starting to settle down, and becoming more normalised, and in the meantime, we are still on the lookout for a more suitable base of operations – maybe in 2019…..

Our newest recruit Graham Dunne continued his on the job training, and got to the point where he can lead a workshop by himself, if needs be. Graham has also been working away to develop some cavaquinho skills, and we are hoping to be in a position to offer basic cavaquinho workshops in the near future. It will be great to start work on the melodic side of samba, after all these years of just focusing on percussion.

We only really started to use our new van properly in early 2018, after a long search for affordable insurance, and again, it has really come into its own. The fact that we are operating out of four different buildings, in two different counties, would be impossible without the van. Also, we can now confidently quote for work right throughout the country, as we are no longer relying on third-party transport providers. In 2017, as well as working extensively in the Dublin area, we managed to visit Dundalk, Greystones, Carnew, Dunmore East, Cootehill, Monaghan Town, Clongowes Wood College, Limerick, Dunshaughlin, Trim, Ashbourne. The van also greatly facilitated our building move, although we still needed at least four runs in a box van, to get everything sorted – that’s the downside of gathering costumes, instruments, and huge amounts of admin over 20 years!

On the training front, we were delighted to host Serrinha Raiz and Chris Quade Couto for a three-day visit to Ireland in September. The first day was given over to some work with members of our youth project, with the remaining two days dedicated to working with adult samba drummers from all around the country. Chris and Serrinha bring a great balance of skills, knowledge, passion and fun to all of their workshops. We were delighted with the outcome of all the sessions, and feedback from all the participants was extremely positive. 

The other highlight of 2018, was our involvement in the Deep River Rock, ‘Thirst For Better’ campaign. This is a scheme whereby codes are printed on the labels of River Rock water bottles, and each time one is submitted beside our name, we get 20c. Doreen came into het own here, getting us loads of labels from the canteen in the GPO, and Ciara has been tireless on the social media front to promote our campaign. We can report, that at the end of 2018, we currently leading with just short of €400 raised. We will be using the funds raised through this campaign to purchase some new instruments, specifically for use with early years students. We are getting more and more requests to work with this age group, and we are currently working very hard to put together some new games and activities better suited to this age group. The addition of these instruments will assist us to get this process started.

Plans for 2019  

Already, we have at least 30 workshops booked in for January, as well as a couple of interesting gigs on the horizon, but this time of the year, also allows for some longer-term planning. Some of the plans we have for 2019 include:

Our first beginners course in two years, beginning at the end of January

The aforementioned workshops with early years students will begin in mid-January, so we are desperately gathering instruments, and working on workshop plans for that.

A small group of Masamba members travelling to Rio in February 2019, to do some research ahead of carnaval.

We will be hosting the Irish leg of the Bossas 2019 tour, which will see samba experts Mestre Maurao, Gabriel Lopes and JP Courtney delivering a weekend of workshop in Dublin

We are talking with the Brazilian community about organising a carnaval event for the children of Brazilians living in Dublin (and their friends).

Finally (for now), Masamba will celebrate our 25thyear in continuous operation in 2019. We have already kicked around a couple of ideas as to how we can celebrate this milestone, so keep an eye on the website, for further updates.

Credits:

Masamba Community Services Programme is funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development and managed by Pobal.

The mural in Bow Lane West was part funded by a grant from the Dublin Bus Community Spirit Iniative, City of Dublin Youth Service Board and MRCB paints, as well as some of our own earnings.

The purchase of the van was grant aided under the Dormant Accounts Fund, managed by Pobal on behalf of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. Horizon Digital Print provided the decals free of charge.

Chris and Serrinha’s visit was part funded by the Arts Council, Dublin City Council, and our own earnings.

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About Simeon

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