In Association with Arts in Action, NUI Galway

SAP Lunchtime Series

Arts in Action and Music for Galway: A collaboration that is greater than the sum of its parts

Music for Galway (MfG) was founded in 1981 by a group of people who were very much tied to NUI Galway. Some local, some finding themselves in the West of Ireland having been brought here through their academic work, they all shared a passion for music and had this vision of facilitating music performances at the highest level for Galway audiences on a regular basis.

When Mary McPartlan created the Arts in Action (AiA) programme, she did so out of the same conviction, that of perceiving the essentiality of experiencing artistic practice, the wish of wanting to transmit to the student population a cultural patrimony by ensuring that the university would offer a cultural programme of music, literature, theatre, visual arts of top quality. She was adamant that the programme be varied, challenging, inspiring. She was adamant that it should be presented regularly.

Having two such initiatives running side by side, it was only natural that they would eventually seek each other out. MfG had started to run its own lunchtime series in recent years with the aim of giving Irish-based artists and especially emerging artists a platform, and to facilitate access to a wider audience. MfG was also looking for a way to bring its programme closer to the student population. When MfG approached Mary about the collaboration and the idea to co-curate a certain number of AiA events, Mary being Mary could see the potential straight away. As she had presented primarily traditional music and folk music, the world in which she had connections and expertise, here she felt that by working with MfG she would have a partner that could bring her the same in the world of classical music and so the collaboration came into being. The start was a little slow but we built it up and within one season our concerts were regularly sold out. The audience were a mix of NUI Galway staff, students and MfG audiences – a welcome addition to AiA. When the BA in Music started, a further opportunity to link in presented itself. Working with Dr. Aidan Thomson, MfG brought visiting artists to his lectures for pre-concert talks and workshops.

Mary McPartlan was about the project at hand. She knew what she wanted, and what she wanted was always getting something done. Working with a person like that, and with the team she had put together, was straightforward, lean, to the point. This is the legacy that she has left – this belief in the importance of the arts, her devotion to the cause, bringing people together, cutting through any nonsense, and serenely getting on with her work. May it live on in many more years of collaboration between Arts in Action and Music for Galway.

Anna Lardi, Executive Director Music for Galway

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