U2 backs €1m boost for Laois music

More than 4,000 children and young people in Laois will now have access to music and vocal tution for the next three years thanks to a €1 million injection of funds into music programmes under a scheme backed by the rock group U2.

More than 4,000 children and young people in Laois will now have access to music and vocal tution for the next three years thanks to a €1 million injection of funds into music programmes under a scheme backed by the rock group U2.

Music Generation has awarded €5000,000 to Laois in the second round of music education partnerships which were announced this week at a presentation to Laois county councillors. This money will be matched by Laois County Council, Laois VEC, Laois Partnership, the Department of Social Protection, schools and community groups and student fees over the next three years bringing a total of €1 million which will be available for tution.

Nuala Kelly from the Laois School of Music who spearheaded the Laois application and made the presentation to councillors.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for Laois. It was a tough application and is an endorsment of the Laois arts office and of the success of the School of Music. We are very proud of this achievement,” she said.

Music Generation is Ireland’s National Music Education Programme. It helps children and young people access vocal and instrumental tuition in their own locality. It is funded by U2 and The Ireland Funds.

Music Generation director Rosaleen Molloy said that she was “hugely impressed” with Laois’ application. “It really builds on the success of the developmental work that has been done over the past ten years with Laois County Council and the School of Music. The funding will be able to bridge gaps that had been identified and will really expand the schoice that children in Laois will have.”

Laois Arts Officer, Muireann Ni Chonaill, expressed her delight at Laois being selected for Music Generation. “We are delighted to have been selected for Round 2 of Music Generation. It will bring greater musical richness to the county.”

This huge investment will provide funding for new music schools and courses, including creating an instrument bank for schools and youth and community groups across the county; choral development in schools; facilitating a Laois School of Rock; starting the Stampede Drumming Project, and expanding The Music Box, for children with special needs. This particular course has already started and currently has 27 children enrolled. Other programmes provided with the funding are an iniative to revive uileann pipes, as well as adding two new programme elements to Laois School of Music - brass and harp.

The scheme will provide subsidised tutition for children and young people up to the age of 18 and there will also be access for those who can’t afford regular music lessons.

Nuala Kelly said: “Our absolute aim is that as many people as possible are included with as little cost as possible.”

At Monday’s presentation to county councillors, County Manager Peter Carey along with a number of others praised Nuala and her team for their hard work. He said that “it was an excellent application and very professional.

It is a fantastic boost for the youth of the county, and we have to keep challenging ourselves to be innovative”.

Cllr Mary Sweeney said that the partnership showed “the strenght and value of what is available through the Laois School of Music, while Cllr James Deegan said that Laois wil be “getting back to the glory days of yesteryear when every town had some form of a marching band.” Nuala Kelly added that schools across the county need to be pro-active with the programme. “Groups in rural areas need to ensure they have the numbers for tutition, its up to the communities”.