Magill People Feb 1982
The season of Irish Conntemporary Arts at the Third Eye Centre in Glassgow has been causing quite a row, even before its actual opening. The rumpus conncerns the fact that two of the performance artists, Alistair MacLennan and Nigel Rolfe, appear nude during their preesentations. One Glasgow councillor, Bill Aitken, has taken exception to the shows, or rather to what he thinks the shows will be, since he has not actually seen them yet.
"I suppose they call this sort of thing art. I call it drivel, and obscene drivel at that."
The Glasgow paper the Evening Times had the scheduled performances of the Irish artists on its front page under the heading, "Fury Over Nude Men Show." Fact is that both McLennan and Rolfe have been doing this kind of work at regular intervals on the Irish arts scene ,without any fuss whattsoever. Perhaps the key to Scottish indignation was to be found in the remark conntained in the same Evening Times report, which expresssed incredulity at the fact that "members of the public, including women and chilldren, will be allowed to attend the shows for free." Now porn is one thing, but porn for free, that really goes against the Scottish grain.
The Irish Theatre Commpany has become a casualty of the Arts Council's financial problems. With their annual subsidy increased by only 2.4 per cent in 1982, the Arts Council has, in real terms, been left with approxiimately 20 per cent less funds.
This was the precipatory factor, according to Arthur Lappin, Theatrical Officer of the Arts Council, in instigatting a reassessment of the cost effectiveness of maintaining the ITC. Last year's grant to the ITC from the Arts Counncil was £278,000 and this year's figure would have been in excess of £400,000. The lTC's only other source of revenue, apart from the Arts Council grant, is box office returns which alone would not maintain the company.
In the last three years the ITC took 11 productions on 13 tours, during which time they gave 80 weeks of perrformance. Of those 80 weeks, 7 were in Northern Ireland and 22 were in Dublin, which means that 51 weeks of tourring were done around the major and minor provincial centres. The Arts Council acknowledge the work done by the ITC but feel that they can make a better use of their funds if, rather than subsidissing one full-time company throughout the year, they concentrate . on aiding inndividual independent producction companies which are willling to tour outside their base. It is hoped that such companies will be able to raise some of their own funcis, thus lessening their dependenncy on an Arts Council grant.
Whatever' about gestures of largesse to charity organisations, the former Minister for "Poverty, Mary Flaherty TD, isn't developping a habit of generosity. Dinning out in the Trocadero Restaurant in Dublin with her current companion, Lord Mayor Alexis Fitzgerald, they appeared at the back of the queue (state car and driver, at a cost of £38,000 per annum waited outside). In the best democratic tradition, the waiter immediately got them a table and they jumped the queue.
After a modest £ 18 dinner for two, the Lord Mayor left on the table an adequate but not outstanding tip of "£2. Before leaving the table, the Minister for Poverty thought better of Alexis's genorisity. She grabbed the two quid, gave one to Alexis and pocketed the other. The waiiter and several other, nonnministerial, diners were amazed.
This week, millions of potential British human beings will be imported into the country. Anne Connolly of the Dublin Well Woman Centre is going to Birminggham to collect a complete, filled, human sperm bank, and there are some 20 Irish couples eagerly awaiting this particular arrival.
The Well Woman Clinic has, for the past year, been offering an Artificial Insemiination referral service for Irish couples who want to have children but can't beecause of the husband's inferrtility. However, referral invollved the expensive and not very effective process of travelling to Birmingham for insemination. According to Ms. Connolly, "We've referrred about 50 couples, but we have no pregnancies as yet." The problem is that travel so upsets a woman's menstrual cycle that she is unlikely to be ovulating on schedule on arrival in Birmingham.
The new sperm bank at the Dublin clinic will elimiinate that problem and it will also cut down the cost of innsemination from £160 to £25. As the clinic runs out of sperm from, say, dark haired, blue eyed, large framed donors, they will top up suppplies from the Birmingham clinic, which, incidentally, is stocking up on donations from Irish men living in Birrmingham to meet the new Irish demand.
It could be an attempt to give the acoustics of the National Concert Hall a real test, or it could just be that Tamsin Music wants to give jazz fans a treat - anyway, Buddy Rich is coming to town next month.
Tamsin have arranged for Mr. Rich and his orchestra to play the NCH on March 2 at 8 pm, ticket prices ranging from £3 to £9.
Rich is 64 and has been in one or another area of show business for 62 of those years. He began touring the Vaudeville circuit in his parents' act, developed a cerrtain touch with a drumstick and formed his own band in 1946. He's been playing big band jazz most of the time since. In his day he played with most of the greats, inncluding Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.
Rich is still as energetic as ever and if the mood is right he's pure magic. He played the old Carlton cinema in Dublin a few years back and as well as providing excellent music the man's joking and his pyrotechnics were a show in themself. At one point, while Rich was waiting for a drumstick which he'd thrown high in the air to make its way back to his upraised hand, an overhead light burst with spot-on timing, as if it was part of the show. May well have been.
Independent film maker Joe Comerford is showing his latest film, Travellers, at the Berlin Film Festival, on February 11 as part of the festival's established "fringe" event, the International Forum of Young Cinema. The Forum section of the fesstival was established in 1971, and this is the first time an Irish director has been innvited to participate.
Travellers, which was first screened at the Cork Film Festival last autumn, was parrtially financed by the British Film Institute - fortuitously enough for Comerford beecause otherwise the organisers of the Berlin Festival mightn't have seen the film in the first place. (Apparently, the fesstival organiser, visit several countries, including Britain but not Ireland, in search of suitable films.)
RTE presen ter Marian Richardson (A nois is A ris, Bosco), who did some of the research on the film, is travellling to Berlin with Comerford to help promote and, hopeefully, sell Travellers and also meet the kind of people who might be prepared to finance his next film (which is, as yet, nothing more than a title, Stormy and the Model, and will be, according to Marian Richardson, "about travelllers").