Chairperson of the Aisling Children's Arts Festival Shirley Humpston with Molly Kane (Overall Winner last year, with her drawing) and Cllr Seamus Butler with this year's Festival Brochure.
Shirley Humpston is the Chairperson of the Aisling Children's Arts Festival.
She had a chat with Aisling Festival correspondent, Seán Farrell, who asked her some questions about her and the festival itself.
How did you first get involved with the Aisling Children's Arts Festival?
I first got involved with the Aisling Children's Festival when I volunteered to become a committee member five years ago.
When my children were young, they used to love attending the Open Day and workshops and looked forward to the Festival every year so I thought it would be good to give some of my time to a fantastic event.
The Festival is turning 20 years old this year. Where do you see the Festival in the next 20 years?
I think the Festival has great potential and will grow in strength and size over the coming years.
In this day and age where everything is ‘screen’ driven, I think it is important to keep the traditional arts & crafts that are at the heart of the Aisling Festival.
For the person who does not know much about the festival, could you describe what sort of workshops, shows and exhibitionswill take place?
The Aisling Festival comprises a week full of theatre shows, a free open day for all, and workshops at various venues in and around Co Longford.
The workshops are creative art, music and dance.
Does the Festival rely on sponsors for money or does the county council provide funding?
The Festival committee spend quite a lot of time on annual grant applications which we need in order for the Festival to survive.
We receive statutory funding from the Arts Council, HSE, LCRL and Longford County Council.
There is no guarantee of funding, which means we can only plan the festival within a single calendar year.
We also rely on local business sponsorship, which we are very grateful for.
Did you have a background in arts or culture before getting involved with the festival?
No, I do not have a background in Arts & Culture, although I have a great love for Art. I have an extensive background in business and I currently work in a secondary school in Longford. This experience helped with the marketing side of the Festival.
How long are you involved with the Aisling Children's Arts Festival?
I am a committee member for the past five years.
What keeps you motivated?
Myself and all the committee members are always looking for new ideas for the Festival – new committee members are always welcome.
Because of the size and population, is funding an issue?
Yes, we are always aware of the finances, it is an integral part of the Festival.
Last year was a hard year for the Festival after our funding was cut.
Thankfully, this year we received our funding but we are always mindful of this.
In order for the festival to survive, we would need a permanent investor or backer as funding is not guaranteed.
The Aisling Festival committee are a fantastic group of people who give their time freely to bring this Festival to Longford each year.
The committee members work so hard, are committed and full of ideas.
Without this wonderful group of people the festival would not survive! When you see the festival come to fruition each year, it is worth all the hard work.
Are there any plans for the future?
The Future is bright and we are always planning ahead, I think the Festival will go from strength to strength!
Do you think Arts and Culture should be promoted in the county?
Yes I think Arts & Culture are very much part of Longford, with Aisling Festival, Cruthú, Backstage Theatre and BYT and the Backstage Adult Group. Longford is alive with Arts & Culture!
Where do you see Co Longford in 10 years time?
Longford has great potential with a huge pool of talent. The only way forward for Longford is to grow and develop; Arts & Culture will play a part in this growth over the coming years.
Is the future bright in Co Longford in terms Arts and Culture?
Yes. The Future is Very Bright in terms of Arts & Culture in Longford…and the best is yet to come!
Is there any one from Co Longford to lookout for in the coming years?
Longford is full of super talented young people. Luke Casserly is a Longford native who had a lead role in an Aisling production and is now a Director and Playright receiving rave reviews for his play ‘Efficacy 84’ at the Dublin Fringe Festival.
Lorna Quinn, another past participant of Aisling and BYT is currently treading the boards of the Gate Theatre.
Backstage Youth Theatre run very successful theatre productions and Pantos each year. Longford is also full of musical talent...I am sure there are many more people to watch out for in the coming years!
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