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No Stopover in October

Our website has been quiet of late, though not for want to things to share…

Since the lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions, we have been playing catch-up, re-connecting with many of our long-term partners, and developing new projects with new clients. Here are some of the highlights…

Irish Youth Foundation Transitions Project

This project has facilitated us to continue working with some of our old friends from St. James’s Primary School. These young people have now moved on to secondary school, and we have the rare opportunity to continue the journey with them, and hopefully help them make a successful transition to the extra stresses and strains of the secondary system. The Irish Youth Foundation supported our proposal to deliver a mixture of drumming and wellness activities, and so far, the sessions have been very positive. This project has also been an opportunity to reconnect with Bernadette Larkin, a community worker we first worked with many, many years ago back in the old Fatima Mansions complex – another circle completes itself…

Killinarden Youth Samba Network Project

We have been working with a network of three primary schools in the Killinarden area of Tallaght to develop drumming projects with each school, but also to support them to work together to create a 60 piece samba ’orchestra’ to represent the area. As well as delivering the drumming workshops, we have taken on the task of resourcing instruments for the groups – not an easy task in the current logistics climate, but we are working with our friends in Contemporanea (SP) to have the best of equipment delivered directly to Dublin.

St. James’s Hospital OT Project

This project partners Masamba with the Occupational Therapy Dept. of the hospital, delivering weekly workshops on the in-patient wards. It is definitely a more relaxed project than we are used to, and we concentrating on hand drums and small percussion in a drum-circle format. This is somewhat of a new departure for us, but so far, so good…

Other workshops

In addition to the larger projects we are working on, we managed to squeeze in another few workshops in October. Simeon is back in Marino College, working with three groups of enthusiastic first years towards a Christmas performance. we delivered a workshop and performance in Castle Park School, Dalkey for a mid-month Hallowe’en event;

We retunred to Beneavin de la Salle College in Finglas for two full days of workshops with students there as part of their arts week.

Our own weekly community band rehearsals continue every Wednesday, and we have been working away on a couple of new pieces. It is the first time we have had the luxury of working on new material in some time, so it’s all very exciting. The group also got out to perform for the Dublin Marathon and for the Hallowe’en celebrations in North Wall/Sheriff Street.

Child in the City Conference

At the very start of the month, we partnered with some of the young drummers from St. James’s Primary School, to deliver two performances as part of the international Child in the City Conference. This event brought together delegates from 27 countries to discuss how our cities can be made more child friendly – something our younger drumers are passionate about, as they are living in the middle of a city themselves. The performances were scheduled for both the beginning and the end of the conference and incorporated a parade though the historic Dublin Castle campus. Both performances were very well received and the children received high praise for their efforts, as well as gifts and goodie bags!

Masamba HQ/ St. James’s School Hall

We have also been working with St. James’s Primary School to improve the conditions in the school hall. It is a great space, but we are hoping to make it even better by upgrading the heating system, repairing broken lights and refurbishing the stage lighting and sound so that the space can be used for theatrical productions in the future. This work won’t happen overnight, but already small jobs have been successfully completed, and the place is starting to feel more like home…

Music Capital Scheme/NEIC Community Grants

One of the outcomes of the pandemic, and the burst of activity immediately afterwards was that we discovered that we really needed to get our instrument stocks back up to scratch. The attrition on samba instruments is quite high – between street parades, transport to gigs, and inexperienced musicians playing in workshops hardly, a week goes by where something isn’t damaged or written off completely. Between the two grant agencies above, we built up an impressive fund to buy new instruments and refurbish damaged ones, which is very welcome. As well as actual instruments, the funding has been used to buy accessories such as drum cases, spare drumskins, sticks and straps – all the things that keep the show on the road. Despite supply-chain issues, we have been relatively lucky in getting almost everything we need, with the remainder on the way.

Fundraising Season

Funding deadlines pop up right throughout the year, but October sees a cluster of deadlines all coming in quick succession. Most importantly, we have been invited to apply for an extension of our funding from the Community Services Programme. This is our core funding, providing the majority of our wage bill, and without it, we would have to seriously scale back our activities. Both the Board and staff had to work hard over several weeks to complete this important application, and we should learn of the outcomes next month – fingers crossed!

So, all in all it has been a busy and rewarding month in the Masamba camp – roll on November’s adventures!

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