In your own words, tell us about your project.
The ‘Cheshire House Elastic Band is an all-inclusive Community Band, whose members include people of all abilities playing music together. The Band developed throughout 2018 from 4-5 Residents of Galway Cheshire, Singing, Songwriting, Reciting poetry & playing percussion instruments. From the humble beginnings of these musical get-togethers, the band developed and started playing at events within Galway Cheshire and afterwards at events in Galway City and also at the Sparkchange Regional meeting in Athlone. The Band uses its voice through its music including original poetry and songs to create change in their Community and throughout the world, acting locally thinking globally. The band has found that playing music together has created many friendships and partnerships in the Community Sector with the band now receiving invites to play at local events such as the launch of the 'Make Way' Campaign in Galway. Most recently the band were invited to play at an event for Social Inclusion Week 2019. The band has built a solid base in terms of its ethos and values and is looking forward to further developing its Repertoire, connections in the Community and Resources in terms of new band members and musical instruments.
Why did you do this work?
Band Member Eileen Gormley came up with the band name as she felt it encapsulated what the band wanted to achieve, “We want to expand and reach out to those who wish to hear us and we would like to share a love of music with others, we want to promote inclusiveness”. Band members found that they love to perform together in front of an audience. A Drumming & Songwriting workshop was organised as part of Social Inclusion Week in Oct 2018. Members of the band invited the local Ukelele group & Ballybane Singers Group for an open learning session and wrote a song called "Tapestry of Harmony" together for Social Inclusion on the night. The band performed their first gig outside of Cheshire in January 2019, playing in front of a large multicultural gathering at a Culture Café event in Ard Family Resource Centre, Doughiska, Galway. The Band had a Vision of creating an all-inclusive and all-welcoming band where people of all abilities could bring their giftedness to create music together for the good of band members and others in the Community. In order to realise their vision they were quickly challenged to first explore the values and ethos that they wanted the band to represent.
What was the impact or outcome of your project?
The band joined the Sparkchange project in April 2019, as the band members wanted to develop as a band and use their musical voice to create positive change.
The band performed at the Gold Medal winning Cheshire Garden for Bloom 2019. Band members were interviewed at Bloom, on RTE Radio Morning Ireland programme, They also read an original poem and sang some of their songs on Phoenix FM on their show ‘Access all Areas’, a show which is dedicated to addressing issues which face people with disabilities. The Band performed at the Sparkchange Regional Meeting in Athlone in June 2019.
Cheshire Galway ran an event in collaboration with Ard Family Resource Centre, Foroige as part of Culture Night Sept 2019. At the event Ollie Turner from Galway Bay FM interviewed one of the Cheshire House Elastic Band Members and another person about their disabilities and how they have overcome obstacles to reach their full potential. People from the area including children from the local Merlin College school were present. Cheshire House Elastic Band performed at the event as did the school children and a Moroccan musician.
In September 2019 band members wrote a song for the Make Way day campaign, which is a campaign co-ordinated by ‘The Disability Federation of Ireland’ (DFI) to ‘Make Way’ on our streets for people with disabilities. Band members had 2-3 meetings, discussed the barriers that they had to face every day as they tried to make their way around town and created the ‘Make Way’ Song which was performed at the ‘Make Way Day’ Galway Event in Sept 2019.
Do you have any tips or advice for similar projects?
Flexibility can be a key attribute in creating any Sparkchange project. The reason our band was has the word 'Elastic' in it, is precisely for this reason. Our Band members have all sorts of commitments and time constraints, sometimes our band consists of the big band of 7-8 people, sometimes it is just 2-3 people. This flexibility gives us a greater ability to respond to needs in the Community and also at short notice. We also benefited from building up resources & making connections in the Community Sector, building alliances and strong working links with other Community Groups e.g local Ukelele group. For instance when we organised and performed at an event for Culture night recently, Ard Family Resource Centre provided the venue and supported the event by working with the local community to provide food, and also spread the word about the event in the local area. Foroige assisted with Sound Engineering and some of their service users also got the opportunity to play and sing on the night. Galway City Council were a great support both financially and providing much needed encouragement right throughout the planning phase and for the event itself. As the saying goes "Together we are stronger"
Project members bring their own unique giftedness to create a successful project and its wonderful to create good times and have fun together. The Cheshire House Elastic band weave a tapestry of creativity together. As Band member Eileen Gormley says “We don't just sing and play music, band members have included my poems in our performances. The poems and songs which we include are appropriate to our message of Inclusiveness, Diversity, Genuineness and Personal Experience and Friendship. In both our songs and poetry, we like to express ourselves, have fun and fill the room with energy and light-heartedness”.
Which Sustainable Development Goals does your work link to?
Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Location of Project