We all know that Masamba is mainly about delivering workshops and playing gigs, but behind the scenes there are always other jobs to be done. As we enter our 30th year, our vast experience of working in community music in Ireland is valued by many, and we are often asked to join the critical debate about our work. Recently, we have been involved in a series of conferences, seminars and training events, which have been stimulating, sometimes exciting, and all of which contribute to making us a more efficient and responsive organisation.
Society of Music Educational National Conference
This is a get-together of many of the key players in music eduction from throughout the country, and as always many of the presentations and keynotes were extremely relevant to our work. In addition, Simeon presented some of the finding from his recent PhD to a very receptive audience, in the hallowed halls of Trinity College no less!
Child in the City World Conference, Brussels
Last year, the Masamba Youth Project performed at the Child in the City Conference, when it took place in Dublin Castle. It was our first connection with this worldwide network, which seeks to make our cities into better places where children and learn, play and develop their sense of citizenship. Masamba presented a paper at the Brussels conference, which sought to investigate the pivotal role we play in connecting decision makers with members of local communities. There was a particular focus on some of the work the Masamba adult band and the Masamba Youth Project have done for agencies such as Dublin City Council, ISPCC and Trocaire. As well as the formal presentations, there were plenty of opportunities to network with like-minded innovators from around the world, and we came away with lots of ideas for new projects and partnerships.
SIPTU Biennial Delegate Conference
Every two years, SIPTU, Ireland’s largest trade union, gathers representatives from the many employment sectors it represents together to debate issues and plan for the future. As a members of the National Committee of the Musician’s Union of Ireland, Simeon was asked to attend this year. The Conference took place in Galway over three days, and was extremely stimulating and thought provoking. Highlights included presentations by Mick Lynch of the MTA Union in the UK, and a sidebar presented by by Omar Barghouti of the BDS movement. The high point though was a vote on a motion to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, which was unanimously endorsed by the delegates.
Bridging the Gap: Access and Inclusion to the Arts
This was a half day event hosted by the Arts Council to debate barriers to inclusion in arts activities in Ireland. There was an amazing input from Andrew Ogun, Agent for Change with the Arts Council of Wales, outlining some of the strategies the Welsh Arts Council is developing to eliminate discrimination across the board. It was also heartening to see that many of the presenters were people and organisations that we already work with, demonstrating our own commitment to inclusivity.
Arts & Health Check Up Check In 2023 This event was organised by Rialto, the National body for Arts + Health in Ireland, and took place in the amazing Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing (MISA) on October 25th. As we have been working more and more in the area of using music as a strategy in supporting mental wellbeing, this event was relevant to Masamba, and the day didn’t disappoint, with many interesting presentations, case studies and think-ins. It was also an opportunity to re-connect with arts activists we first met decades ago, when Masamba was just starting out.
Enhancing Social Inclusion - Pobal Gathering 2023
We rounded off our intensive period of conference capers with a flying visit to the Pobal 30th anniversary conference at the Conference Centre Dublin. We weren’t officially attending this event - we were asked to deliver a short energiser activity after lunch for the 750 delegates present. We were rushing between events, and literally made a flying visit and out in less than 90 minutes - most of that time was spent trying to get out of the underground carpark with the drums;-)