Chairman hopes fest can continue to grow
A relative newcomer in the festival’s history, chairman of the festival, Sean Larkin, came on board to give a hand in 2012 after joining a local choir. Retiring from his day job in Art and Design Education, Sean moved quickly through the ranks and is now one of the driving forces in the organisation’s future.
“It’s been an interesting time. This one [festival] has lasted 30 years and that’s phenomenal. It has taken root.”
Though long established, the chairman admits that the future of the festival is never guaranteed due to funding.
“There have been a number of companies who have been very good to us over the years and continue to support the festival, along with a number of individuals, by just coming to the events,” explains Mr Larkin.
Once solely focused on adult competition, the festival has extended to secondary schools and primary school participation is being developed thanks to workshops.
Along with workshops, this year’s festival will see pop-up performances, and a more accessible range of events for people who would not have a serious interest in competitions.
“What we would like to see is for it to be developed for the next generation.
“At the moment there seems to be an appetite for choirs. The last number of years we’ve seen a lot of interest from adults joining choirs. There is a tradition in Sligo that is remarkable,” notes the chairman.
The chairman estimates that the festival has been worth approximately €15 million to the local economy over the years, with hotels guaranteed a very busy period around the weekend and shops noticing a boost ahead of the festive period.
In a collaborative effort to attract tourists along the Wild Atlantic Way, Sligo International Choral Festival have teamed up with Mayo Choral Festival and Failte Ireland to capitalise on the May and November weekends.
Operating on a voluntary basis, the committee work year-round in order to make the festival an annual success, but still face testing times when it comes to securing funding and participation.
“It isn’t until September, October that choirs get focused and commit, and we need committment in order to base our funding on.”
Mr Larkin says it’s a ‘gamble’ each year whether the festival will be a financial success, but, with more structures being put in place, it is hoped that there will be a more stable outlook for the organisation going forward.
And what next for the hard working committee and organisation?
Well, with the countdown on to the 2018 festival, it’s shoulders to the wheel for what is expected to be a very entertaining weekend of song.
“We’d just like to see it supported and with pop ups and other events happening at a number of locations we hope that people will come out and enjoy all that’s on.”
For more on the Sligo International Choral Festival visit www.sligochoralfest.com.