Saturday, May 29, 2021

The team at Garter Lane have been doing trojan work during the various lockdowns to ensure that they come back with a bang.

THE last 14 months has seen an almost 14 month moratorium on creativity, not only in Waterford, but all around the world. However, our arts scene hasn’t lain down and taken its punishment quietly. Just about all of them have been working away behind the scenes, either creating new content for online audiences or improving and rebuilding their offering in preparation for its return in the coming months – bigger and brighter than ever.

Garter Lane, whose Executive Director, Sile Penkert and her team have been extremely busy throughout the last year and more, spoke to the Waterford News & Star this week to pick the top five improvements that arts lovers in Waterford can look forward to when they return to ‘normality’.

“Garter Lane has really used the opportunity of a lockdown to focus our efforts on some exciting developments for the centre,” Sile said enthusiastically. “This is something that we’re actually really excited about and can’t wait for when the public can eventually re-engage with cultural and artistic events and happenings.”

Brand new courtyard

Sile Penkert (Executive Director), Michael Grant and Padraig O’Griofa (Garter Lane Board Members) under the new canopy at the Garter Lane Courtyard

“This is going to make some difference,” Sile said. “It’s funded entirely by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and is going to see a brand new canopy stretching over our courtyard, which will in turn facilitate a number of activities and events, some of which will actually be happening in the coming weeks.”

Sile says that the courtyard has long been a “subject of discussion”.

“We’re delighted to be in a position now to say that’s it’s its own artistic space, in its own right,” Sile said. “We look forward to bringing some really enjoyable and exciting events out into the open.”

High tech streaming equipment

Michael Oates, Richard Collins and Michael Kerwick with the new streaming equipment at Garter Lane.

“We received funding to install new state-of-the-art digital streaming equipment, which in itself is a major step forward for the arts centre,” Sile said. “Our team are mastering the equipment and picking up new skills at a phenomenal rate. This is going to provide Garter Lane with the ability to stream live events, theatre, talks, seminars to its own platforms, and so the possibility of engaging with a very wide and even national audience is now a reality. What became a new world will definitely be the new norm.”

Theatre artist in residence

Deirdre Dwyer and Sile Penkert

“Our theatre artist in residence, Deirdre Dwyer, has been supported by the Arts Council for the second time and we are thrilled that she will continue her ambitious and ground-breaking work at Garter Lane,” Sile said. “Deirdre’s work on the Snow Queen last year was an adaptation of a well known tale, made accessible to children and families through the recording of an audio drama featuring an entire Waterford cast. Episodes were accompanied by beautifully drafted illustrations that families received in the post. Some of the feedback on last year’s projects was so heart-warming and we were thrilled that her work featured in the Irish Times and was carried by the Department of Foreign Affairs, no less. We really look forward to her projects and programme for this coming year.” Check out what Deirdre’s cooking here 

WIT exhibition

“We couldn’t be happier that the ‘re-opening’ is coinciding with Six Degrees of Separation by WIT, which is a vibrant, exciting and “emerging talent” exhibition,” Sile said. “What an absolute joy it has been over the last few weeks to see young artists bringing their work to our gallery, in the knowledge that, this time, it will be seen up close and in person.” More info.

Bursaries and announcements

“Garter Lane has been so happy to be able to assist A Little Room with some funding this year (Arts Council), which means that artists who are taking a residency slot in the Theatre Development Centre can avail of a stipend to ease the financial burden while in a development period,” Sile said. 

“The centre is also thrilled to be part of the newly established SEVN (South East Venues Network) here. We have contributed to our inaugural bursary award which will see an artist in receipt of €9K toward the development of their work.” More details on both of these pieces can be found by going to

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WATERFORD NEWS & STAR: June 14, 1991