Any day in axis Ballymun is filled with potential. That’s what makes working in the arts and in a community as vibrant as Ballymun so special. For me arts, culture and creativity is about people, about ideas, about synergies and most importantly about listening – really listening.

axis is all about this, about creating a space where people can be entertained, try out new ideas in a safe environment, meet, discuss, and come to the heart of the northside to make magic.

I have had the pleasure of working in Ballymun, with a great staff, community, artists, and a multitude of stakeholders for nearly 12 years now, and I can safely say that no two days in all that time has ever been the same. 2016 is a very special year for us; as well as being the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising (which holds a special resonance for the community with the now departed seven towers named after the proclamation signatories), it’s also our 15th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the first families moving into the Ballymun estate.

To mark this special year we have called our programme ‘Dream Out Loud’ and are inviting everyone to join us and say yes to creativity. This is our campaign to highlight and celebrate the importance of culture and the arts to us all, in our homes, communities, towns and cities.

In reality, this translates into thousands of people visiting our theatre to watch and participate in an array of different events: bands rehearsing in our music studios, over 50 local women joining a new season of our Threads project, our axis Women In Dance programme (this particular project is poised to go citywide), young people taking part in our new youth residencies, mentorships and training programme, a cross-border youth arts project with schools from North Dublin and Omagh… And that’s just for starters. We truly hope our programme this year will highlight axis as a resource available to the city as a whole.

Creative Space - The Men's Collection

axis:Ballymun's 2 year exploration of young men, creativity & mental health

Family is at the heart of any community, and the importance of theatre for young people, for families and in education cannot be underestimated. A character in our recently produced show, Granuaile Pirate Queen, says that ‘with courage you can be whatever you want to be’ – and this message of equality is at the heart of all our work and our firm belief that the arts, culture, and creativity is for all, and that access to this is a fundamental right.

This quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s book of essays ‘A Man without a Country’ says it better than I ever could: ‘Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.’

So let this be our invitation from Ballymun, a welcome, an invite, a chance for all to come to axis and do something new.

We are looking forward to seeing you this year, to help us celebrate.

Mark O'Brien

Mark is Artistic Director / CEO of axis Ballymun. He has previously worked (and still does when time allows) as a theatre director, sound designer, actor and facilitator.

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