Local groups pledge support

ROCKY Horror could lead the Dunamaise Arts Centre on the rocky road to financial recovery, with a sing-a-long version of the camp ‘70s cinema classic being lined up as part of the centre’s fundraising activities in the coming months.

ROCKY Horror could lead the Dunamaise Arts Centre on the rocky road to financial recovery, with a sing-a-long version of the camp ‘70s cinema classic being lined up as part of the centre’s fundraising activities in the coming months.

At last week’s public meeting, chairman of the Dunamaise’s board of directors, Mr Louis Brennan announced that a number of events have been arranged in an attempt to clear the centre’s €24,000 deficit. Future plans already underway include a fundraising sing-a-long production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in conjunction with Portlaoise Musical Society on October 13, a Christmas auction in conjunction with Laois Tourism on November 6 in Portlaoise Heritage Hotel and a bag packing day at Dunnes Stores on November 23/24 in conjunction with Laois School of Music.

The audience last week, which included representatives of many local arts, drama and music groups, were invited to contribute suggestions as to how the Dunamaise can best turn its fortunes around. Among the suggestions made was the possibilty of selling off seats with personalised brass name plates, and exploring the avenues of philanthropy, charitable status, and lottery funding.

The centre’s volunteer programme was also launched, encouraging all supporters of the arts to donate a bit of time and effort. There are also three vacancies to be filled on the board of directors, in the areas of legal, financial and managerial.

Many local groups offered their services during the meeting, promising to do their bit to support a theatre which has hosted many of their shows over the years.

Orla McCrory of Chatterbox and Francis Harney of The Harney School of Speech and Drama said that they were planning a speech and drama initiative across schools and they offered to donate the proceeds of the first year to the Dunamaise.

Tim Keane, of the Portlaoise Panto Group, said that his group would like to “put our shoulder to the wheel” and they are willing to do whatever’s necessary to help. His colleague, Noel Tuohy added: “The public want to see idiots like me making a fool of myself on stage.”

“Because you do it so well,” retorted Mr Louis Brennan.

PJ Phelan of Portlaoise Comhaltas also promised that his group would do whatever they could to help and many speakers in the crowd praised the wonderful facilities available at the Dunamaise. Other ideas proposed included tapping into the St Patrick’s Day parade, and starting up a ‘Green cinema’ to promote environmental awareness.

“It’s very gratifying to hear all this feedback,” said board member, Mr Michael Turley. “All you have to do is ask, there’s a lot of pent up willingness to help here.”

Fellow board member, Mr Arthur Lapin praised the “generosity of spirit” on display and said that the board need to find “a champion for the Dunamaise”, not just in Portlaoise but in all the surrounding towns.

If anyone is interested in volunteering at the Dunamaise, they can email volunteer@dunamaise.ie or call 05786 63355.