School children in Cavan and Monaghan will have the chance to learn to play musical instruments with a whopping €450,000 shared between the neighbouring counties.
Last Monday was a beautiful day as the funding was announced under the Music Generation programme, an act of philanthropy from U2 and The Ireland Funds over three years. It aims to create increased access to high-quality, subsidised vocal and instrumental tuition for children and young people throughout the region.
Operating on a matched funding basis, Cavan/Monaghan Music Education Partnership (MEP) will generate a further €450,000 locally over the three year period. Music Generation has already seen a huge uptake in music tuition amongst children in counties such as Wicklow. Through communal lessons, the cost is slashed from as high as €30 down to a more manageable €6.50. It also helps them to get access to instruments as students can borrow or rent them at €30 a year, with a view to buying them after three years at a heavily discounted rate.
This constituency is among nine new areas of the country selected for the second phase and it's anticipated that planning and programming will get underway in late 2018.
Music Generation was initiated by Music Network in 2010, and is co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Skills and Local Music Education Partnerships. Already, the programme creates access for more than 41,000 children and young people annually across 12 counties, with Monday’s announcement bringing the total number of areas reached to 21.
Cavan/Monaghan MEP is led by Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB) in partnership with the two county councils and aims to develop a range of affordable and accessible performance music programmes for those under 18.
As government funding for music during the recession vanished, U2 gave €5 million from their last Irish shows in 2009 to kickstart the project which began the following year. In total they've given €9 million to the cause. Sadly guitarist The Edge wasn't at Monday's launch event in Monaghan's Garage Theatre, but he issued a statement saying: “This is a really important moment for Music Generation. Our ambition is for every child and young person in Ireland to have access to tuition and this next phase of expansion brings us ever closer. Huge thanks to both the Government and The Ireland Funds for their ongoing commitment to a programme of which we, as a band, are immensely proud.”
Amongst the politicians and officials who did make it to The Garage was “a very pleased” Cathaoirleach, Paddy McDonald, who, on behalf of Cavan County Council said: “We believe that this investment in performance music education will enrich the lives of young people in our counties and support the ongoing development of arts and cultural services for the good of all citizens.” His Monaghan counterpart Cathy Bennett said they are “enthusiastic about the next steps that we will take as part of Music Generation”.
“We look forward to creating new opportunities for the children and young people of both Monaghan and Cavan to develop their musical creativity”.
John Kearney, CMETB chief executive was “delighted” to have been “awarded this terrific opportunity”.
“We have a rich musical tradition, and a great number of passionate and energised partners are to be thanked for their commitment to ensuring the continuation of this tradition into the future. In preparing our application to participate in Music Generation’s second phase, wide and comprehensive research was undertaken which in turn informed the partnership approach in our submission.”
He thanked Dr Seán McElwain for his research, with assistance from Joanne Brennan, Catríona O’Reilly Somhairle MacConghail, and Paddy Flood.
He also expressed “enormous gratitude” to U2 and other funders.