Echo Echo Festival shortlisted for national award!

We’re delighted that Echo Echo has been recognised in the shortlist for the annual #Emcees Awards for Excellence in Fundraising alongside some very well known arts organisations!

Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement has been shortlisted in the Best Campaign Under £100k category for its campaign to produce a fifth edition of the international festival in an increasingly challenging funding environment for many arts organisations and artists working in the province.

Featuring the work of over 50 artists from near and far across 30 events, the 2017 edition of the festival was supported by such a wide variety of funding partners including Arts Council NI, The National Lottery, and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Local supporters last year included Cultúrlann Uí Chánain, City Cabs, the Sandwich Company, Bennigans and zoocreative.

National support came from the Irish Department of Culture, Dance Ireland, Dance Resource Base Belfast, An Lab Dingle, Firkin Crane Cork, The Dock Carrick-on-Shannon and Galway Dance Project – who supported an ambitious all-island artist bursary programme.

Trusts and foundation festival supporters in 2017 included the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Esmé Mitchell Trust and the Foyle Foundation who have recognised the value of the work, particularly in reaching out to new audiences in primary and secondary schools around the northwest.

Other elements of the Echo Echo Festival fundraising mix came from new and existing audiences, participants, volunteers and supporters through Festival passes and ticket sales, and some very kind charitable donations.

Huge thanks again to everyone involved in the Festival in 2017 and we now look forward to a sixth edition of the Festival in November 2018.

You can view the full #Emcees Awards shortlist here. Winners will be announced on 1st May.

 

Images from Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement 2017

 

Echo Echo Festival 2017 – what they said…

“I most certainly will return to Echo Echo in the future. It is such a unique event in the dance world – I can’t think of another place that is so inclusive, and takes such care in how it communicates its vision of dance.” Artist Feedback

“I loved the wholesome and caring feeling of the whole festival. I appreciated the inclusivity, it is actually a quite rare thing. I also loved the fact we got to work and learn with artists whose performances we saw. It made both the performances and the classes more meaningful and resourceful.” Artist Bursary Programme Feedback

“Thanks for today. It was a wonderful experience this morning. The way the performers adapted to the spontaneous participation of some of our pupils was truly magical. I wish we had it videoed. A young man with severe learning difficulties said to me during the show, ‘This is amazing’.” Principal, Ardnashee School

“Amazing. Great performances from all around the world in bite-size pieces. As always exceptional. You would get it nowhere else in the North West.” Audience feedback on Short Works

“Lovely! First time ever watching something like this. The kids loved it, the dancing and singing and music were all fantastic! Not a peep!” Audience feedback on Mini-a-Tour

“A jewel! A Masterpiece! All literature, art, poetry…..danced! So beautiful, tender, magnificent, I don’t think I have ever seen anything so good!” Audience feedback on Voices/Echo Echo

 

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New projects for 2018/19 at Echo Echo Studios

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Contact Festival Bucharest – image by Alina Usurelu

Echo Echo begins a new term this weekend with huge uncertainty hanging over the arts sector again this year due to continued funding cutbacks. Despite this ongoing additional pressure, the confirmed programme of work planned by Echo Echo for the year ahead is one of our busiest ever.

Company artists have already worked in Germany, Sweden, Finland and Ukraine this year and further international projects by Steve Batts in Holland at the Lorentz Institute and Contact Bucharest Festival in Romania in June will be followed by Echo Echo Ensemble Artists touring in Sweden in September.

Kelly Quigley, Ayeha Mailey and Esther Alleyne in The Cove
Kelly Quigley, Ayeha Mailey and Esther Alleyne in The Cove

International guests from all around Europe will arrive in the city for the first Echo Echo Contact Improvisation Festival in Derry in May; and for the sixth international Festival of Dance and Movement in November – the Festival has already shown work of over 200 artists from home and abroad. A fifth Festival Open Call will open for entries soon after receiving over 400 applications from around the world to date!

Echo-Echo-Contact-Festival-2018

Nationally, Echo Echo ensemble artists continue to connect their work and the company to artists all around Ireland – Ayesha Mailey’s ACES project at Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast through 2018, a Contact Workshop tour of Ireland with Zoe Ramsey and Tonya Sheina next week, acclaimed clown Joe Dieffenbacher working with local artists later in April, the third Festival Artist Bursary programme in November, and an all-Ireland tour of the winter-themed production for younger audiences Lost in Frost in December. Echo Echo is collaborating with Warwick University, Queen’s University, Big Telly Theatre and Bbeyond Belfast on the TIME project which will be shown in early 2019.

Kelly Quigley in LOST IN FROST. Image by Living Witness.
Kelly Quigley in LOST IN FROST – image by Living Witness

Locally, the company will continue working in partnership with fantastic groups at Tuned In Project, Strabane Community Project, Praxis Care, Cedar Foundation, Causeway and Glens Council, and Claudy-Comber PS (to name but a very few) on a series of participation and performance projects over the coming year. An ongoing programme of artist residencies and music events are hosted at Echo Echo Studios on a regular basis by local and visiting artists and musicians.

LAVA-Dansproduktion workshop at Echo Echo Festival - image by Living Witness
LAVA-Dansproduktion workshop at Echo Echo Festival – image by Living Witness

Interested in finding out more or getting involved? Have a look at our website listings for new term information with a range of upcoming classes and events for all ages and abilities.

Five years in Waterloo House!

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It’s incredible that Echo Echo moved into its new premises in Magazine Street five years ago this weekend!

March 2013 was in the first quarter of City of Culture year and our new studios project was both the culmination of years of development work, planning and fundraising; and the beginning of a new period in the company’s long history. Finally a space to call home after two decades!

Waterloo House was in poor condition after lying empty for a few years, and Echo Echo’s refurbishment project breathed new life into this wonderful old construction built into the fabric of the City Walls – one of only four buildings in the city with direct access to the historic monument.

This project is a perfect example of the potential of arts led regeneration – the whole Waterloo Street / Magazine Street conservation area has benefited from the much improved visual impact and increased footfall; more local, national and international visitors for projects like Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement; and new neighbours and businesses like The Scullery Cafe, Brickwork restuarant and lounge, and In Your Space Circus.

Five years on and it has not been easy to sustain the charity, our building project remains to be signed off despite our best efforts, and the lowest arts funding budget in these islands has been cut in five successive years.

Echo Echo has done brilliantly to survive this period despite many challenges. We’ve been supported by so many local people and partners through their regular attendance and advocacy, and by our core funders Arts Council NI and Derry City and Strabane District Council as well as the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and a long list of other partners and supporters. And a big thanks again to all of our capital funders and the individuals involved.

Here are a few photos to remind you of the transformation over the last 5 and half years!

Before:

 

During:

After:

 

 

“This has been an amazing project to be part of”

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Echo Echo recently completed a wonderful dance project in partnership with the two Donemana primary schools: St Patrick’s PS and Donemana PS.

Echo Echo Associate Artistic Director, Ayesha Mailey, developed and produced the programme along with Echo Echo ensemble artist Zoe Ramsey and Ronan McKee from Play Percussion.

The artist-teachers worked with the pupils from both primary schools over a 16 week programme from September to February. The children learned new dance and movement skills and African ‘djembe’ drumming leading to a closing performance for family members at Echo Echo Studios!

We asked the teachers involved to give us some feedback on their project highlights:

“A few of my class were very quiet and nervous about the project at first. They now relish the weekly lessons and are performing with gusto! Thank you!”

 

“This has been an amazing project to be part of. The development in good relations and community spirit has been very evident – I would love to see it continue!”

 

“This is an invaluable part of our school curriculum which is increasingly difficult to deliver in austere times. Echo Echo has provided a safe learning environment where pupils could freely express through dance.”

 

“The children have grown in confidence and enthusiasm for the arts. All children mixed freely and have reclaimed friendships forged at playgroup before they entered their separate schools. Continue to provide opportunities of this nature please!”

 

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All of the pupils from the two schools involved had a chance to reflect on the project last week and gave us some feedback comments.

We asked the children what they enjoyed about the project. Making new friends was the top answer! In addition they told us:

“I enjoyed standing out from the crowd.”

 

“I enjoyed learning new dances and having fun. I really really enjoyed performing in front of everyone. It was a great experience.”

 

“I enjoyed the breathing exercises and getting ready for the performance.”

 

“I enjoyed most performing at Echo Echo, the theatre was amazing, all the lights and curtains.”

 

“I enjoyed everyone teaching me to have enough courage to show everyone my dancing skills, meeting other children and making new friends.”

 

It was great to have so many parents and family members at Echo Echo Studios for the closing performance! We collected a few comments from them too:

“It was wonderful to watch.”

 

“It was excellent. Very well organised and the children performed brilliantly.”

 

“Boys and girls were super. Just fantastic. I really enjoyed seeing my child shine.”

Performance (9)Performance (11)

Big thanks to Derry and Strabane District Council for funding this project through the 2017/18 Good Relations programme. Thanks to Pauline O’Neill at Council and to Arts Officer John Kerr for joining us at the performance event. Thanks also to a generous gift from Give Inc Giving Circle which helped make the project possible, and to Arts Council NI – Echo Echo’s principal funder.

Finally, a very big thank you to all the pupils, teachers, parents, artists and staff involved!

 

Echo Echo regularly works with schools on a wide range of dance/movement participation and performance programmes. If your school is interested in finding out more please contact us.

 

 

 

 

New work in progress by Gemma Walker and Tonya Sheina

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We’re delighted to welcome Gemma Walker back to Echo Echo Studios to begin development of a new project after an artistic research residency during 2017 and two fantastic Makeyuppers performances in the Studios last December.

Gemma will be working with Tonya Sheina of Echo Echo Ensemble to develop a new production from their research collaboration last year:

In May of last year Tonya and I were able to work together for 3 weeks exploring movement with text thanks to Individual Artists funding through Arts Council NI. We unearthed some very interesting material through this process and so have continued developing a new piece of work. What I love about it is that it is about many things and nothing in particular. It is about our relationship with fear and how it is an ‘ancient and otherworldly’ feeling. It is about memory and imagination. It is partly autobiographical and deeply personal but also universal. It is about the ghosts we carry with us and how we can sometimes be ghosts in our own lives.

The other day we mapped out all of the material and now have a first draft of a script! It’s starting to feel like a real show and we cannot wait to share it later this year.

Keep an eye on the Echo Echo website for performance details coming soon…

If you are interested in the Residency Programme at Echo Echo Studios please get in touch by email.

 

 

 

Invitation to NOW AT ONCE at Echo Echo Studios

Now At Once e-invite

Dearest you,

You are warmly invited to the premiere of my new piece

Now At Once

23rd and 24th of February 2018 at 20.00

at Echo Echo Studios, Hangmans Bastion, Magazine street, Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

     http://echoechodance.com/whatson/now-at-once-my-johansson

Now At Once is about letting the body speak, the perishability of movement, about the urgency to move and the fluidity that is there once the noise is filtered through. It’s about everyday decisions and the larger ones which help form our path. It’s about speaking through the noise and deeply listening to the silence. The perishability of the daily encounters that influence our decisions and the speaking in, of and with silence, filtering through the noise and letting the body be heard, silently, without words, perishable- now at once.

Now At Once is a collaboration with sound and light designer Barry Davis. Produced and supported by Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company.

It would be lovely to see you, should you have the time and feel like seeing something!

Warmest wishes,

My Johansson

 

*****

For further information on Echo Echo’s Residency Programme – click here.

Echo Echo is supported by Arts Council NI and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Echo Echo End of Year Review

As the year comes to an end we would like to thank everyone who has supported Echo Echo during 2017!

It has been another challenging year for the arts in this part of the world: the absence of a regional government and apparent lack of political interest in the arts is deeply concerning; wider economic and political developments have a direct effect on Echo Echo and the people and organisations we work with; further arts funding cuts to the minuscule arts budget here have been extremely difficult to manage, and made both short-term and longer-term planning even more difficult.

Despite this the company has had another successful year in terms of the quality and diversity of our artistic programme, continuing to develop the new Studios and Festival, and supporting local, national and international artists in different ways. Some selected photo highlights from the past year are listed below, but we could have chosen from dozens of other collaborations, performances and events that took place!

This work would not be possible without the support of our audiences and participants, collaborating artists and organisations, funders and partners – thank you for all that you do for the company.

Looking forward to 2018 we have some very interesting projects already confirmed including the first Echo Echo Contact Improvisation Festival in May; Echo Echo Ensemble tour to Sweden in September; Body Wisdom in the Community – a project in partnership with local community groups in Derry and Strabane; research projects in collaboration with Leiden University, Queen’s University and Warwick University; continued local participation projects including Donemana primary schools and Pennyburn Youth Club; and a sixth edition of Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement in November 2018 – to name but a few!

Finally, a big thank you to all of our current and outgoing Board members, to our core staff team, and to the Echo Echo Ensemble who put incredible creative energy, time and devotion into everything we do throughout the year.

Best wishes from all the team for a Happy Christmas and see you in 2018!

Ailbe Beirne, Company Manager

**********

Kelly Quigley, Ayeha Mailey and Esther Alleyne in The Cove
Kelly Quigley, Ayesha Mailey and Esther Alleyne in The Cove – Tour of Ireland including 12 performances in Derry, Belfast, Galway, Thurles, Limerick, Dublin.
Kelly Quigley in Lost in Frost
Kelly Quigley in Lost in Frost – Mayor’s Christmas Event performances in Derry and Strabane
Old Bob's Tale by Steve Batts at Tocht Festival, Tralee
Old Bob’s Tale by Steve Batts at Tocht Festival, Tralee, April 2017
Tonya Sheina at TIDES Launch, Ebrington
Tonya Sheina at TIDES Launch Event, Ebrington – pic by Mickey Rooney
waldorf and cannon album launch - pic by Mickey Rooney
Waldorf and Cannon album launch at Echo Echo Studios, January 2017 – pic by Mickey Rooney
LAVA-Dansproduktion workshop - image by Living Witness
LAVA-Dansproduktion workshop at Echo Echo Festival – image by Living Witness
Magical performances of Fallen from the Moon by Mini-a-tour at Echo Echo Festival
Magical performances of Fallen from the Moon by Mini-a-tour at Echo Echo Festival
Youth Dance Workshop with Voices Dance at Echo Echo Festival
Youth Dance Workshop with Voices Dance at Echo Echo Festival
Velvet Alibi close Echo Echo Festival in style
Velvet Alibi close Echo Echo Festival in style, November 2017
Embodying Landscape Workshop 4
Beaver Farm Workshops for Kids and Adults (Russia), summer 2017 – image by Alexey Dybovskiy
Bubble Workshop with Karen Cassidy at Echo Echo Summer Scheme
Bubble Workshop with Karen Cassidy at Echo Echo Summer Scheme
This is How we Fly in concert at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin
This is How we Fly in concert at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, November 2017
Inna Aslamova from Belarus at Echo Echo Festival Open Call
Inna Aslamova from Belarus at Echo Echo Festival Open Call
Company Development Week at Echo Echo Studios
Company Development Week at Echo Echo Studios, September 2017
Zoe Ramsey in LUXe Sound of Light Festival - December 2017
Zoe Ramsey in LUXe Sound of Light Festival, December 2017 (pic courtesy What’s On Derry Strabane)
Sunset from Echo Echo Studios
Sunset from Echo Echo Studios

 

Thank you! #EchoEchoFest

Festival 2017 Group Photo by Living Witness Productions
Festival 2017 Group Photo by Living Witness Productions

As the dust settles on a fabulous fifth edition of Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement, we would like to say thank you to everyone who made the festival a wonderful success this year!

Thanks to all of the companies and artists involved! Sasha Soshnikova and Sergei Golvnea of Voices Dance; Rohan Armstrong and Meilana Gillard; Ayesha Mailey, Kelly Quigley, Zoe Ramsey, Tonya Sheina of Echo Echo Ensemble; Virginia Negru; Nasrine Kheltent; Inna Aslamova; Hilde Ingeborg Sandvold; Anastasia Brouzioti, Yiannis Tsigkris of Alma Libre; Lior Lazarof, Timea Laza, Sharon Barbakov; Bjorn Richter of RichterMeyerMarx; Hannah Rogerson and Pieter Visser of Tea Time Company; Siobhán Ní Dhuinnín and Isabella Oberlander; Sibéal Davitt and Kristyn Fontanella; Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Seán Mac Erlaine, Nic Gareiss and Petter Berndalen of This is How we Fly; Julia Tokareva and Alexander Bondarev of Mini-A-Tour; Benno Voorham and Abdalla Omari of LAVA-Dansproduktion; Sophie Ammann, Rosanne Briens, Erin O’Reilly and Tom Dupont of Junebug Company; Anthony McCann, Fionnuala Kennedy and Steven Hadley; and Velvet Alibi – Anna Nolan, Rohan Armstrong, Meilana Gillard, Mike Barkley, Neil Burns, Tom Evans, Joseph Leighton, Paul Fox, Kelly Quigley, James Anderson, Curtis Cunningham, Caroline Crumlish, Abby Oliveira – for an incredible closing concert!

Thank you to our principal Festival funders: Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the National Lottery, and Derry City and Strabane District Council – special mentions for Gilly Campbell and team at ACNI and to Colin Coyle, Jacqueline Whoriskey, Stephen Gillespie and team at Council; thanks to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Gillian Goode for their ongoing support; thanks to Foyle Foundation for supporting this fifth edition; thanks to the Esmé Mitchell Trust for supporting the 2017 primary schools outreach programme; and thanks to our Festival Friends advertisers – City Cabs, Bennigans Bar, The Sandwich Company, Imbolc Festival and zoocreative.

Thanks to Department of Culture Heritage and Gaeltacht and Aoife O’Sullivan at DCHG for support with the Festival All-Ireland Outreach and Bursary Programme; and thanks to our venue partners and staff at Dance Ireland, Dance Resource Base, Firkin Crane, Galway Dance Project, An Lab Dingle, The Dock Arts Centre, and Theatre NI.

Big thanks to our bursary recipients this year for their wonderful presence and engagement: Sonya Swarte, Gerard Kelly, Amanda Doherty, Sarah Jane Murphy, Natasha Bourke, Marco Novara, Catherine Donnelly, Aliina Lindroos, Orlaith Ní Chearra and Maria Svensson. Keep in touch!

Special thanks to Cultúrlann Uí Chánain and staff for their creative engagement and support for the Tradition and Beyond event, especially Peter O’Doherty, Eibhlín Ní Dhochartaigh and Gerry Tracey. Thanks to Aine and all the staff at The Playhouse.

Thanks to our local venue and outreach partners and all of their staff and teachers: Derry Craft Village, Ardnashee School & College, Holy Cross College Strabane, Donemana PS, St Patrick’s PS Donemana, Audrey Begley and St Cecilia’s College, Sevenoaks Care Home, Groarty Integrated PS, Rosemount PS, Good Shepherd PS, Fiona Pender and Thornhill College, Nadine Hegarty and Fireworks Dance.

Thanks to James and Diane King, Carmel Mulrine, Gerry McGoldrick, Seamus Kennedy and staff at Abbey B&B.

Thanks to Eamon McGinley at Elisha McCallion MP’s ofice for invaluable support with the increasingly challenging visa process this year. Thanks also to Paul Brown at Earagail Arts Festival.

Huge thanks to BBC Radio Foyle & Ulster for sterling support again this year – to Michael Bradley, Conor McCay, Mark Patterson, Marie-Louise Muir, and special mention for Stephen McCauley who recorded an edition of Soundscapes at the Festival (Listen Again here). And thanks also to our many followers on social media channels for the likes, shares, posts, tweets, reviews and comments – #muchappreciated!

Special thanks to all of the artists and companies for use of their images and video in Festival promotional materials. And thanks to Ciaran Harley at zoocreative for the beautiful Festival artwork derived from an image of Junebug Company by Charles Mugel.

Thanks so much to all of the Festival volunteers including Olek Wójcik, Karen Cassidy, Leeann Toland, John Butler, Bernadette Sheils, and Virginia Negru from Contact Festival Bucharest.

Thanks to our directors Margo Harkin, Cath McBride, Paul Johnston, Deirdre Gillespie for volunteering during many Festival events and for their ongoing support and vital advocacy throughout the year!

Thanks to the Echo Echo team: our staff – Steve Batts, Anna Nolan, Barry Davis and Ailbe Beirne; our support team this year – Ciaran Harley and zoocreative, Brian Fisher, Simon Alleyne and Living Witness Productions, Darren Owens, JP Conaghan; and big thanks as always to the Echo Echo Ensemble – Ayesha Mailey, Kelly Quigley, Zoe Ramsey and Tonya Sheina!

Finally, thanks to you – our audiences, colleagues, friends and family for your continued support!

 

Short Works programme at Echo Echo Festival

ShortWorks

Echo Echo Festival Open Call has proven to be a real success over the last few years. From 2014-16 over 200 artists and companies applied to be part of the Festival programme and more than 30 were invited to perform at the international festival in Derry-Londonderry. Many artists have followed up their application or participation with artistic residencies at Echo Echo Studios.

In 2017 we have received an incredible 190 Open Call applications from all around the world. A huge thank you to everyone who submitted proposals – we have been unable to provide feedback to all applicants but if you are very keen to receive some feedback please get in touch again and we will aim to get back to you early in 2018.

Echo Echo Artistic Director, Steve Batts:

“This year we are very happy to again present a programme of short works selected through an “Open Call” process. We received 190 proposals from all over the world and I dedicated two weeks to watching video links for each proposal. The process of selecting works to invite is always very demanding but it is also wonderful to focus strongly on the process for some days. Just as in previous years my overwhelming feeling was of great gratitude for the opportunity to see the work of so many people. This year we have invited artists from or based in Ireland, Hungary, Greece, Denmark, Netherlands, Israel, Belarus, Belgium and Germany. The eight pieces which I invited are varied in style but they all seemed to me to come from a deep generosity of spirit.”

 

The Short Works programme will be presented at Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement on Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th November. The running order will vary each night in order to give artists the maximum possibility to see the work of others.

Short Works Programme 2017

Nasrine Kheltent – Belgium

Inna Aslamova – Belarus

Hilde I. Sandvold – Denmark

Anastasia Brouzioti/Alma Libre – Greece

Lior Lazaroff – Hungary/Israel

Bjorn Richter/Richter-Meyer-Marx – Germany

Tea Time Company/Pieter Visser & Hannah Rogerson – Netherlands/Ireland

Siobhán Ní Dhuinnín – Ireland

Total running time for the evening will be approximately two hours including an interval.

We very much look forward to sharing the work of all of the artists and companies involved with Echo Echo Festival audiences.

 

Feedback on previous Echo Echo Short Works evenings has always been of the highest quality!

Was fantastic to see such a variety of performances from across the world. A real experience and treat.

“Mesmerising, invigorating performances. Dance and movement at its finest. Bravo!!”

“Exhilarating, spine tingling, never imagined so many words could be left unsaid”

“Absolutely blown away, such depth and beauty. The diversity was apparent yet the pieces all had a common connecting point of love”

“Fantastic to see such talented performers and such a varied programme. Well done one and all for a fantastic evening of dance.”

 

Tickets for the 2017 Short Works evenings are on sale now.

 

Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement is supported by Arts Council NI, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Foyle Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Echo Echo Chairperson’s Report

ECHO ECHO AGM – 3 OCTOBER 2017

CHAIRPERSON’S REPORT

A warm welcome to everyone to the Annual General Meeting – especially to Board member Deirdre Gillespie on her first AGM.

It’s been a very challenging year for the company in many respects – in terms of its economic survival, its work practices and its creative development. Both Steve and Ailbe have flagged up more than once that they have very real concerns for the future of the company.

Every organisation is affected by what is happening on the wider political scene and most particularly at our local government level. It’s an understatement therefore to record that it’s been a challenging year generally for the arts – with continued grant funding cuts as a result of austerity measures, the total breakdown of regional government – which remains deadlocked and on top of these crippling local uncertainties we have the added uncertainty of the impact of Brexit.

The lack of funding for projects and the continued reliance on voluntary projects, voluntary time and the goodwill of ensemble and staff means that the year was often more about survival than development. In spite of all this – given the core and programming resources available, the year was an undoubted success in terms of the artistic programme produced.  That the company more or less broke even is a real credit to the vision, artistic commitment and hard work of Artistic Director Steve Batts, to each of the Ensemble members from Associate Director Ayesha, to Kelly, Zoe and Tonya and to Barry the Technical Manager – and to the solid, sheer hard graft and calm creative management of Ailbe – very ably supported by Anna Nolan. Echo Echo is a small team that punches far above its weight in terms of its creative and managerial achievements.

That said – real threats to the sustainability of the company remain – but just let’s remind ourselves of the achievements of this past year.

FESTIVAL

The fourth Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement took place in November 2016 with an expanded programme of performances, classes and events including Chico & Shoko (from Japan), Rosemary Lee (from England – returning to Derry after making the seven-screen film installation Without here in 2012-13), Mary Nunan (Ireland), Ockham’s Razor (an award-winning circus theatre from England that wowed audiences at Foyle Arena), new work for children by Zoe Ramsey and Tonya Sheina, and new work by Leilani Weis and company from Barcelona.

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Tipping Point by Ockham’s Razor

Audience numbers rose significantly with over 1,500 watching and taking part over the two-week event. The Festival reached out to many venues and spaces throughout the North West, some for the first time, and helped create the feeling of a city-wide event. Venues included the Craft Village, The Playtrail, Foyle Arena, the Ulster University, St. Columb’s Park. A notable highlight was the visit of Japanese artists Chico, Shoko and Ichi-go to Donemana Primary School for a cross-community workshop and performance!

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Chico Katsube, Shoko Kashima & Ichi-go Miura in Donemana

The Festival commissioned Kelly Quigley to make an evening programme of new work with Echo Echo Ensemble. ‘Fractals’ was co-funded through a crowdfunding campaign that was supported by over 60 local people and businesses.

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Zoe Ramsey and Ayesha Mailey in Fractals by Kelly Quigley

Institutional support for the Festival grew with the Irish Government funding a workshop tour of Ireland to promote north-south co-operation.  Bursaries were offered to six artists from the island to come to Derry for a Symposium led by Steve Batts and to engage with a range Festival activities.

NEW WORK

THE COVE ALL- ISLAND TOUR: The company was pleased to tour a new iteration of its original work The Cove by Steve Batts and Dan Shipsides to theatre venues around Ireland in Spring 2017. It was Echo Echo’s first all-island tour for 10 years since Consequences in 2007! The tour was challenging in terms of audience development but very worthwhile in terms of development of the work and the company ensemble. This tour of the Cove welcomed Maria Svensson for the first time and reopened connections with several Irish theatres. Further international interest in The Cove has been expressed – with possible invitations to Romania in 2018.

Tonya Sheina in The Cove (image by Living Witness)
Tonya Sheina in The Cove (image by Living Witness)

IN TALL GRASS: Since 2013, resources for making new work have all but disappeared so it was encouraging to receive a Small Grant from ACNI to research and develop a new piece with Alessandra Celesia in the summer of 2016. After around 4 weeks of studio time, In Tall Grass emerged as a very personal and deeply moving documentary theatre piece that received some of the best feedback from audiences the company has ever received. So far the company has been unable to source funding to produce and tour the work. Producing new work by the company remains a clear strategic objective.

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Ayesha Mailey in In Tall Grass 

LOST IN FROST: The Ensemble, along with Barry (Technical Manager,) offered another week-long run of their original winter-themed fairy tale in December 2016 which received great praise and has been chosen as Mayor’s Christmas Event for December 2017 with performances in Derry and Strabane.

Lost in Frost schools performances
Lost in Frost schools performances

PARTICIPATION PROJECTS

As in previous years, Echo Echo offered a very wide and engaging programme of participation events at Echo Echo Studios and in the community – there were dozens of projects ranging from single sessions to more intensive long-term programmes and classes.

Echo Echo Kids Class - image by Patrick Duddy Photography
Echo Echo Kids Class – image by Patrick Duddy Photography

The Moving Schools programme continued throughout the year with regular projects in Donemana primary schools, and in schools across Derry from Groarty to Newbuildings, from Good Shepherd to Fountain. These projects were supported by Derry Strabane Council Good Relations Fund, the Department for Communities, and the Give Inc Giving circle.

Body Wisdom continued throughout 2016/17. The group created a new large-scale ensemble work (20 performers) with Echo Echo Ensemble and Echo Echo Kids participants titled Walk By in June 2016. The Body Wisdom ensemble took part fully in Echo Echo Festival and weekly sessions were ongoing throughout the year.

Walk By ensemble - image by Living Witness
Walk By ensemble – image by Living Witness

An outreach programme in autumn 2016 in partnership with the Acorn Fund and Waterside Women’s Centre engaged older people living in care settings. This project will be further developed in 2017-18 with funding secured from ACNI Arts and Older People programme.

Artist Residencies: Echo Echo Studios supported a growing range of artist residencies by local and international artists, music events and collaborations with Celtronic and Radio Ulster, and studio hires by individual artists and visiting companies. International projects with Italy Contact Festival, Moldovan company Voices. Projects in Russia also took place – to name but a few.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith live at Celtronic / Echo Echo
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith live at Celtronic / Echo Echo

FUNDERS THANKS

Thanks should go to ACNI for continued core and programming support; to Derry & Strabane District Council for funding through the Venue Fund, the Festival Fund and Good Relations; and to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation – which has recently renewed their funding agreement with the company.

BOARD / STAFF / ENSEMBLE THANKS

Grateful thanks are due to two outgoing directors – to Sinead Devine, after 20 years of dedicated service since the company arrived in Derry and to Matthew Jennings for nearly a decade of committed service on the board.

Echo Echo directors, staff and artists
L-R Steve Batts, Kelly Quigley, Barry Davis, Marie Manktelow, Tonya Sheina, Ailbe Beirne, Majella Biernat, Ayesha Mailey, John McCartney, Sinead Devine, Margo Harkin, Dennis Golden

Thanks are also due to the current and new directors – Cath Mc Bride, Paul Johnston and Deirdre Gillespie for their continued voluntary support and advocacy – which are absolutely vital to the company’s continuing work. A strategic review of the company was conducted with members of the Board and the staff recently and we will hear about that in their report.

A special thanks to all of the current ensemble members – Ayesha Mailey, Kelly Quigley, Zoe Ramsey, Tonya Sheina – and to outgoing ensemble artist Janie Doherty, and to all of the artists who have given their time and goodwill so generously to the company.

And last, but not least, a very grateful thanks for the excellent work of the staff team – Anna Nolan, Barry Davis, Ailbe Beirne and Steve Batts.

Margo Harkin

Chairperson