Artists Vision for Ireland Manifesto’s

Published On 19 April, 2016 | Latest News


Why an Artist’s Vision for Ireland symposium?                                                     March 2016


The original title An Artist’s Vision for Ireland came from actor and Smashing Times founding board member Margaret Toomey. Margaret’s relatives fought in 1916, the Toomey family of Phibsboro Road in Dublin, six of whom were intensely involved in the Rising of 1916; sisters Stasie and Nellie of Cumann na mBan and Margaret of Inghinidhe na hÉireann and their brothers Joe, Sean and Eddie of the Irish Volunteers.  Margaret commented on the fact that so many artists were involved in the Rising and suggested we support a gathering of artists and all those interested in the arts, to come together in 2016 to explore and debate on what vision or possibilities we want for the future.  So the idea of the Artist’s Vision for Ireland symposium was born.


The company had already planned The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of 1916, a new performance inspired by and about the women of 1916 and consisting of original testimony and new Irish writing by Pom Boyd, Mary Moynihan and Peter Sheridan to be offered at Smock Alley Theatre on April 21 at 7.30pm. So we decided to organize An Artist’s Vision for Ireland’ symposium on the same day from 2-6pm at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, during the 100th anniversary year of the Rising.

As part of our work with Smashing Times we came across the Create campaign on arts, health and wellbeing and Clive Parkinson’s draft manifesto on Arts and Health:

‘’Our arts and health is about our voice, here on a street, there in a world. This isn’t slavish instrumentalism, nor impenetrable elitism. This is no formula, no commandments, no 12-point-plan. But this manifesto is a start, a shared vision, made real, connected by our passion and values, changeable, open to disagreement, but a starting point.’’

There were seven signatories to the Irish Proclamation, all men, so we decided to ask seven artists, both women and men, to write out their own draft manifesto inspired by the theme An Artist’s Vision for Ireland. The manifestos is a starting point, creative imaginings from a range of artists from personal reflection, to creative musing to radical political visions for the future and encompassing all art forms and all areas of life.

The original number of seven has grown and we have many manifestos to display, shared ideas from artists including Dr Eric Weitz, Mary Moynihan, Peter Sheridan, Pom Boyd, Jenny Macdonald, Karen Ward and Eimear Burke. We are also holding a Vox Pop both before and during the Artist’s Vision for Ireland Symposium so if you want to share a statement or comment please email

Women were instrumental in achieving Irish freedom both as combatants and activists and pacifists for peace.  We know women’s experiences and stories have been airbrushed from history. Yet this is till happening today. The lack of visibility, equal representation and power for women has to change.  Gender equality has always been at the heart of our work and gender equality will be central to the debate on An Artist’s Vision for Ireland.

Smashing Times wanted to honour Margaret’s idea, an event we all feel passionate about. We wish for the Artist’s Vision for Ireland symposium on April 21 to be an open, shared gathering that belongs to everybody – artists, art supporters and all those interested in using the arts to promote the possibility of a better future for all.  We are open to all ideas, suggestions, contributions and practical engagement.  The end outcome is open, you set out on a journey without knowing your destination, you step into the unknown. So we invite any one who is interested to get involved, to meet, talk, debate, share and enjoy. All are welcome.

Mary Moynihan and Freda Manweiler,

Smashing Times Theatre Company Ltd

An Artist’s Vision for Ireland 2016
Eimear Burke
Druid, Storyteller

An invitation to you. Listen to the voice of Nature and all of her wonders!
It is time to awaken and to learn from the Elements and Nature as our Ancestors did and to know and remember the interconnectedness of the Earth and all her beings. Being deeply rooted in the landscape and the seasons around us calls forth a magical creative process in us; it allows us an artistic, a poetic view of the world which affords us a deeper window into the soul of the Earth. I invite you to listen to the poetry and stories that come from the landscape. I invite you to listen to the voice of Nature, to open yourself to Imbas (Divine inspiration), to receive the Éigse, a poetic conscious awareness of what the Earth offers us.
Observe and listen to the trees, to the plants – they can teach us how to be, how to express ourselves in the different environments we may find ourselves in, how to find our rootedness whether in hostile or fertile soil.
Listen to the wind, observe and listen to the birds, be as the eagle, open your eyes to the overview and to the finest detail, welcome clarity, insight, awareness.
Engage with the world with the fire of determination, purpose, courage, passion and transformation. Allow the spark of creativity to flame within you.
Be as water, go with the flow, and know when to push through or when to meander around an obstacle. Be as water and take the shape of the vessel of your life.
Where there is a balanced and harmonious connection between humans and Nature there can be equality, liberation, and trust among all peoples regardless of gender, creed or colour; there can be justice, co-operation, truth and beauty; there can be freedom from abuse of power.
With this sense of interconnectedness there is an inherent imperative to be responsible for the Earth and her beings, to be of service in an ethical and compassionate way, where diversity is welcome with respectful curiosity. Know that we belong to the Earth, the Earth does not belong to us, we are merely the stewards, the caretakers.
Listen to the wisdom of our Ancestors, the Past along with the Present are the roots for our Future. We are the Ancestors of tomorrow. Let us leave a legacy we can be proud of.
Éist! Éist leis an Éigse!

An Artist’s Vision for Ireland 2016
Bryony May

So here we are, 2016. The Big One. The Important One. The year full of commemoration, history, notable dates, places, people and events.

As an adopted daughter of Fermanagh – in what’s still seen by many south of the border as the Big Bad North – I have spent several years exploring the significance of 2016. For many in the north, it’s all about the Somme and the bloody deaths of thousands of Ulstermen. Of course for others, it’s all about the Easter Rising, the terrible aftermath and the painful birth of a nation. It’s not that long ago since these two events were seen as having separate, distinct and unconnected narratives. One of them ‘belonged’ to you, your family and your community. It kept things neat, tidy and well… pretty simple.

Of course, the truth is that the narratives are connected. Intertwined. Interrelated. It’s not black and white (or green and orange for that matter); it’s messy, complicated and at times painfully difficult to understand.

We need to embrace and celebrate that messiness, that multiplicity of narratives, that complicated tricky way of looking at the world, whether on our doorstep or further afield. And this is what artists do. Present us with challenging, ‘messy’ perspectives. Provoke us to look at people, places, events, concepts and ideas through different lenses. Our artists, whether poets, painters, dancers or musicians, help us make sense of our past, re imagine the present and create a vision for the future. Without them, we’re just black and white….

An Artists Vision for Ireland 2016
Peter Sheridan
Writer, Director
“Her an’ her readin’! That’s more o’ the blasted nonsense that has the house fallin’ down on top of us! What did th’ likes of her, born in a tenement house, want with readin’?”
The lines quoted belong to Captain Boyle and come from act three of Juno and the Paycock. Sean O’Casey knew the power of books and ideas. So did my mother. She had little formal education yet she put great store by it. Perhaps she knew the power of education, because she didn’t have one.
I remember the excitement in our house when it was announced on the radio, in 1967, that secondary school fees were to be abolished.
“Does that mean it’s free from now on?” my mother asked my father.
“That’s what the man is after saying,” Da replied, and he took her for a twirl around the kitchen. That didn’t happen every day. Ma and Da dancing. And whooping. And punching the air.
The announcement meant that all of the children in the Sheridan household would be cherished equally. Sort of. A step in the right direction. The requirement to fill brown envelopes with money had been taken out of the equation. No one of us would be forced out of school because our parents couldn’t afford to send us. That was good. But it wasn’t the whole story. Not then. And not now.
Education is more than just school. Education is dance. Education is drama. Children go through school and it is likely that no one will ever say to them, ‘would you like to dance?’ They may never get an invitation ‘to make up a story and act it out.’
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if every child in Ireland received a quality education. Not just free but challenging, imaginative, playful, musical, dramatic, tactile, heart-warming, funny, empowering. There are children who go through school and never pick up a musical instrument; never blow a whistle or strum a guitar; never get to slap a bongo or beat a big bass drum.
Is it beyond us, having taken a big first step fifty years ago, to take the next one. To make the arts central to education and to ensure that all of the children get the opportunity to express themselves creatively. Not just the privileged but all of the children, irrespective of class, colour, creed, religion or financial status.
We made it free but we didn’t make it all good. Some of it is still bad. Much of it is under-resourced and neglected. In the name of those artists, writers and poets, who in 1916 showed us the best of what we can be, is it too much to provide a quality experience of the arts for all of the children, all of the time, in all of the schools?
I refuse to believe that is beyond us.

An Artist’s Vision for Ireland 2016 – the Indigenous Druidic view
Holistic Manifesto for Ireland
Karen Ward, MA, Counselling
Psychotherapist, Shamanic Therapist and Irish Druid.

In 1916 an elite band of educated men and women fought for the sovereignty of Ireland. The majority of Irish citizens were unaware of what was happening spending their precious time and energy trying merely to survive the difficult times of the early twentieth century. This was a time of a huge shift in roles, from occupied island to free state, from male domination to female emancipation, from land-dwellers to industry and mechanisation.

Ireland had changed irrevocably in the previous decades from a people living close to the land with profound respect for and connect to nature and all her bounty. In ancient times the ones considered for High King or Queen were chosen for their wisdom, valour and leaderships skills by the tribe but ultimately it was the Goddess of the Land, Mother Earth herself who chose the rightful heir. On Tara, it was said that the Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny, moved when the most promising candidate walked by – one who respected the bounty, abundance and generosity of Mother Earth. The successful reign of the new ruler depended on their connection and honouring of the land itself, always regarded as female and ‘mother’. Known from those times as the Goddess Danú or Anú, as the years roled by becoming known as Eríu, Brigid, Cathleen Ní Houlihan, Roísin Dubh and Old Mother Ireland; all personifications of this island as ‘motherland’ of her people.

With the Commemoration of 1916 looming, how far have we had come in the last 100 years? In recent times we let our Government ‘give’ away that hard won fiscal sovereignty to the Germans in the economic downturn. However in the midst of that difficult time, as we floundered, small specks of light began to shine through as we marched for our Land (the property tax), for our Elders (the pension rights), for the element of Water (the Water tax) and last year we marched for Love (the marriage Equality vote). Something began to stir within us, harking back to the old ways yet reborn with a modern twist. No longer do we give our power away lightly to the priest, the politician, the doctor, the lawyer, all traditionally male. Now as a nation with a healthy mix of new citizens from abroad we are slowly coming to a place of knowing who we are and where do we wish to go, as a people. The steps are tentative, but the signs are there. In the recent election a Pagan who is a Councillor from Wexford stood for the People Before Profit Alliance and a Global Nomad travel writer stood for the Green Party. Neither were elected but they were serious candidates and both did well first time out. Our last two female Presidents, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese and incumbent Michael D Higgins have a healthy respect for sovereignty in its truest sense. There has been much emphasis, at last, on the role that women played in the 1916 Easter Rising. To move forward with vision, I feel we need to create new archetypes rather than the staid ones of old. No longer do we need patriarchy nor matriarchy of old but a new honouring of ‘being’ where we see the yin and yang of different yet equal, where there is no competition but respect and we once more embrace the vision of forwarding planning so that our children’s children inherit a land that is sustainable, renewable and cared for. Art and theatre have a major part to play as we explore, grow and develop new ways. So we can take a good hard look at ourselves and the place we have arrived at – one of instant gratification, where teenagers are caught up in a web of unworthiness and struggle to find role models that are confident yet humble, hard workers who value time alone and who can converse easily on mental health, loving consensual sexual relationships and a natural ‘grá’ for the self preservation of mind, body and spirit. Now that’s a country I yearn to live in…

An Artist’s Vision for Ireland 2016
Jenny Macdonald
Writer, Director, Actor, Facilitator

Be brave.
Each of us is creative. Different people create different things. Some creations are called arts. The ones I make are called theatre.
When we create with arts we can use metaphors, and they can help, sometimes heal. They can clarify and they can confirm. This we know.
So let’s try a metaphor for our society: staging a show. It’s not a new one. It’s not original. That’s ok. It works. There is enough to fix. Let’s keep what works.
How do we stage a show? We can rush. And it will work for a moment or two. We will get through one rehearsal or even a whole run. But it won’t travel. Things will be missed; people will be overlooked; sometimes abused. We may not notice while we are making it, but the foundations are already rotting.
So we have to take time. And that is very hard because taking time does not make money. And lots of us don’t have enough of that. It’s still a better path. We do it when we watch theatre. We take time; we gather; we focus. We need to do it in the making of theatre too. And in the living that inspires the making.
Then we have to listen. And we may discover there is more to hear than we thought. Maybe if we listen in the moment, we won’t have to dig so far into the past for all the stories we never heard. We won’t get stuck, bored out of our minds watching and rehearsing the same shows: patriarchy, racism, social inequality. We’ve seen them and we haven’t benefitted from them. So let’s take time to listen and to write some new scripts. It’s not enough to change costumes or lighting.
It will be very uncomfortable. We will need a lot of warm-ups. Body parts may be stretched that have been fixed in position for millennia. But breath will get in. Air. Maybe even light. There is no guarantee as to how good the results will be. We don’t get to control that part. We just have to be brave and try.
There are many things we could try. Many things we could do differently. To start, I suggest we try caring. Caring and admitting that we care. I don’t know yet what that means or what that looks like. But when I pause, when I listen, that is the impulse I hear. If others hear it too, maybe we can start to give it form.
It is hard for anyone to be public about caring. It is deemed simplistic, soft and unintelligent. For women, it is particularly difficult, seen as proof of our womanliness in a world that doesn’t like that much.
That is where the bravery comes in. We have to be very brave to care. So let’s get braver and call it love. Can we be brave enough to love and to create from love? That is not to say we will be liked by, or need to like, everyone. That is not to say we will not reveal darkness. Love is from a deeper place far below the vicissitudes of like and dislike, light and dark. Can we dig deep into the intangible well of love that connects us all? The well below the outworn illusion of hyper-individualism; below that truly unintelligent belief that we can make, create or be anything alone.
Be brave.
And rehearse.

Artists Vision for Ireland 2016
Pom Boyd
Writer Actor

WTF? Manifesto for Women in The Creative Arts.
Honour the WTF? voice inside you whenever you hear it. Never underestimate the desire of the powers that be to silence a dissenting voice. Always look up the magician’s sleeve and behind their back to see how the illusion is being made – unless it is actually a magic show in which case go with the illusion. Men are not more creative, imaginative, or gifted than women.Listen to the inner artistic director curating your work and censoring your out-put, ask yourself what gender it is. Don’t be afraid of the awkwardness of truth but don’t be awkward for the sake of it. Breathing in is as important as breathing out, it doesn’t matter how you create outside in – or – inside out. Go to your biggest secret your overwhelming shame and you will find the wellspring of your creativity, it’s up to you how you use it. Creativity is limitless everyone can be creative but not everyone chooses to live by their creativity. Choosing to make your living from your creativity does not make you special but you will have a special life. Differentiate between your creativity (arts practice) and your career, they are not the same thing. When collaborating with an artistic entity or organisation, be clear who is collaborating with who, what is being given, what is being taken and who gains from it. Gender imbalance is an imbalance, it’s going to topple eventually, in the meantime push it! Anger can be useful but creativity comes from below the fire. Passion will bring you so far after that it’s cold clear self belief. Women are not better behaved or nicer people than men. Nor are they always supportive of other women. Solidarity with yourself is the first step, solidarity with other women is the second step. Solidarity means being generous, being kind, being supportive. It does not mean switching off your critical faculties. In the face of your work being rejected feel it and move on, if the rejection is born
from injustice or inequality be obstinate and make a stand.

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