The Gaff is a resource for community and voluntary arts in Limerick, situated in the Tate Clothing Factory in the city centre
The Gaff is a community arts resource, working across all networks connecting artists and community groups across the Midwest
The Gaff is a resource for community and voluntary arts in Limerick, situated in the Tate Clothing Factory in the city centre where it has a 35-year lease, facilitating a direct connection between artists, communities and the wider public.
The venue was opened in 2014 and has since become an important hub for the performing arts community in Limerick. In addition to hosting performances, The Gaff also provides rehearsal space and technical support for local artists and theatre companies.
“The Gaff is a community arts resource, we work across all networks connecting artists and community groups across the Midwest through creative communities Midwest,” Maeve McGrath, TravFest Producer, The Gaff explained.
She continued, “What’s really important to us is that we facilitate lots of programs with artists and communities and getting the message out there about various different projects from exhibitions film projects theatre projects audio sharing.”
The Gaff takes its name from, and pays homage to, a popular playhouse which entertained the working people of Limerick for almost a hundred years.
The original Gaff was a small theatre located at Charlotte Quay, Limerick and opened by the Courtney family in September 1821. Know officially as ʻCourtneyʼs Theatreʼ and later ʻCourtneyʼs Harp Theatreʼ and ʻCourtneyʼs Showʼ, the building was soon christened ʻthe Gaffʼ by its patrons and was known by that name for nearly a hundred years.
Limerick’s designation as the first National City of Culture in 2014, presented Theatre and performing arts in with an unprecedented opportunity to build on the legacies presented through that year’s activity. The success of the numerous theatre productions staged as part of the City Of Culture programme, reinforced the theatre sector as one of Limerick’s strongest cultural assets.
“The Gaff came about in 2013, it was the Limerick theatre and performance Hub at the time and Limerick City of Culture was going on in 2014 and it was a space for people to create the Pigtown fling took place through for the Limerick city of culture through the Gaff and from there our direction changed quite significantly into Community work,” Said Maeve.
The Gaff supports the creation of work through the building, but also supports people in producing work and freelance project managers as well as helping out in the community.
“We would often go into schools to work but we also go to Moyross and Southhill and work with the various EDPs in Limerick city and in the county,” said Maeve.
Willzee, TravFest Creative Director explained how he go involved in the project and how his nerves early on were settled having met some of the team, “I was a participant in a course called the Future Filmmakers course, and that was a couple of years back, and I guess on first embarking on the course it was kind of a little bit nerve-wracking because I was going to touch base for film but I didn’t really know much about it.
“I think after getting into the course and just meeting the likes of Monica and other members of the Gaff and the local creative view partnerships and stuff it was just like heaven because Monica was so down to earth that it just made it like it took it from the school realm if that makes sense and it was able to put it into more of like this is a workshop and this is what you put in you get out.”
Thomas Casey O’Halloran spoke about the impact The Gaff has had on him and his peers in helping give them the “confidence to show that we can perform songs” but has also helped him in other ways by giving people a voice.
He said, “I did two-week film course with the Gaff and with Willzee and Monica, from there on I ended up doing workshops with Willzee MVP basically writing songs and giving us the confidence to show that we can perform songs and stuff like that.”
The musical artist “learned an awful lot” during his course which he says impacted his life, “It was literally the best couple of months of my life in the workshops, and it’s been a great thing that I got involved in because I suffer a lot with mental health, and this helps me big time with that and it’s like I would give advice to anyone that has any hesitation about it, just come give it a try and you never know what happens.”
Community is very-much a big part of the Gaff’s mission, and Maeve McGrath introduces one of the projects, TravFest saying the group finished 2022 with the festival, “it’s a Traveller Wellness Festival,” she says.
Willzee explained how members of the Gaff sat down to ask “what can we do for the Traveller community”, asking what it would take to “bring life back into our forgotten indigenous community”.
He said, “For us, I think it was well-being and creativity was something that kind of kept coming up and it was just so in our face because it’s not uncommonly known that The Travelers of the traveling Community will be great storytellers and that back in history they would have been known as kind of The story keepers of Ireland in a sense, so we were thrashing back ideas, back and forth for a while and we ended up coming up with a six month strategic plan to facilitate different types of workshops that would be incorporated with likes of creativity but also with the well-being for the traveling Community.”
Through projects such as this as well as the community outreach, the Gaff aims to inspire the community through the arts.
About Social Enterprise Limerick
Learning Hub Limerick is a member of Social Enterprise Limerick, a practitioners’ network of Social Enterprises in Limerick City. The overall objective of Social Enterprise Limerick is to provide a local platform for social enterprises to meet, network, share their experiences and learn from each other. The network encourages collaboration and the sharing of resources to help members to advance their community, social and/or environmental goals and is involved in a range of training, development and promotional activities.
In 2022, Social Enterprise Limerick was approved for funding under the ARISE programme, which is a Dormant Accounts funded initiative for the promotion of Social Enterprise. The ARISE funding was utilised to develop a range of promotional materials for network members and to highlight the activities of the SEL network, with a particular focus on the development of digital media/video content.
Social Enterprise Limerick was initiated by Paul Partnership under the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (known as SICAP). SICAP provides social inclusion support to individuals and community organisations and is co-funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of Rural and Community Development and the European Union.
For more information on the SEL ARISE project contact Michael Gleeson, Social Enterprise Officer at PAUL Partnership or visit www.socialenterpriselimerick.ie #SocialEnterpriseLimerick