Monday, 10 December 2012

Living on Petty Cash

Above all else that has come of the recession, a communal isolation in Dublin culture has been one of the most damaging consequences. A superficial glance at the city’s nightlife will deceptively portray otherwise – club promoters incessantly infiltrate social media and public broadcast with reminders of their existence, and any online event guide will be brimming with suggestions for your forthcoming week. So there’s always something happening or somewhere to be, right? Probably, but it comes at a price. 

Behind the sponsorship and the commission of mainstream Dub culture, there’s an ever-present reminder of austerity. In the unspoken nature of the recession’s frugal reality, much of the communication that formerly depended on having a disposable income has dissipated, breeding isolation on the social panorama.

Meanwhile, social networks have been forming a new era of disparate communication. In connecting everyone instantaneously, they’ve also extinguished the irreplaceable light of human interaction and engagement.

Cue PETTYCASH, the new arts collective organised by Niamh Beirne and Oisin McKenna. It is a response to the current scarcity of open creative spaces and free culture events that invite the fusion of creative disciplines, things that have been palpably absent in many mainstream events. So how did PETTYCASH start, and what do the organisers ideally hope to achieve?

PETTYCASH is a new live literature and visual arts collective who will be hosting a monthly showcase night in The Little Green.  It started as a response to limited engagement among young people and young artists in Dublin in spoken word and performance poetry.  Niamh and I went to college together and both had varying involvement in the spoken word scene in Dublin, but always found it to be a little bit insular, dated, and reluctant to engage in the most popular means of artistic distribution and marketing that young people most frequently engage with.  We thought this was a problem.  So we wanted to create a young, playful brand, that appealed to young people by marketing itself more like a clubnight than a literary arts night.  We wanted to have artists of different backgrounds involved (especially visual artists, but also theatre makers, musicians etc.) to get a bunch of people in a room together who otherwise may not have met, providing a fun, engaging and informal environment for them to enjoy some art, and hopefully have conversations that they would not otherwise have had, hopefully leading to new projects.’ 

PETTYCASH’S inaugural showcase night, Dole Queue, will be launching this Wednesday 12th December and the set up looks uniquely appealing. The line-up promises a group of performers, poets and visual artists, who will all be showcasing art around the theme of the dole queue.  
It’s going to be a super casual and informal environment that hopefully people will feel really at ease in.  There will also be free chocolate coins.

When asked what they anticipated most from this Wednesday night, Oisin McKenna speaks about the unique collaborative atmosphere that they hope to create with Dole Queue. 
I think what I’m most happy about is the broadly varying kinds of artists we have involved.  We have visual artists from fine art, graphic design and animation backgrounds, and performers who come from backgrounds as varied as broadcasting, journalism and theatre, as well as more conventional poets.   The whole thing we really wanted to do with the night, is getting lots of people talking and collaborating that otherwise have not, and I think this is a line-up that could really accommodate that.’

With some projects like Supafast and Block T starting up in recent years, there seems to be promise in social events that gravitate around more than just music. Block T in Smithfield have established itself as a centre of alternative arts, though exhibitions and performance hosting, while smaller venues like Supa fast serve as valuable creative spaces for independent projects. With this in mind, do you think there's a growing interest in events like Dole Queue, which serve as a platform for the arts in Dublin?

Yeah totally! I think people get tired of the same conventional exhibitions, films screenings, club nights etc, and irrespective of the quality of the art on show, people are always looking for a different place to view it and a different way to consume it.  Places like Supafast and Block T are amazing, because they provide a really social atmosphere in which to consume the art, and that sets up a perfect platform for collaboration.  That’s kind of what we want to do.’

The Little Green café, located on 13 High Street, Dublin 8, will be venue for Dole Queue. Are they excited about pettycash?
The Little Green is the base venue for a collective called Emergence, who run a bunch of brilliant clubnights and other events throughout town.  It’s been recently renovated (it was formerly U) to bring together a gallery space as well as a café/bar.  And it’s fucking beautiful, a really lovely space.  They’re really excited about PETTYCASH! They’ve been really supportive and have had really great input into the kind of night we want to run.’

Is this the first time they’ve hosted a spoken-word and visual arts style collective like this?
Obviously they’ve had plenty of visual arts events, but I think this the first time they’ve combined it with poetry.  Though they did have a handful of plays and performance related events on at their former location on Little Green Street.

Any final words on pettycash, especially to anyone who might be interested in stalling it over next Wednesday? 
We think it’s going to be really special and that we’re offering something that’s not available at the moment.  Right now it’s just Niamh, myself and a bunch of our extremely talented friends.  But the most important thing we want to do is meet new people and new artists. So if anyone enjoys the night or likes to sound of what we do, please please please get in touch, we badly want to hear from you.  Don’t worry, we’re sound.’

DOLE QUEUE launches at 8pm this Wednesday at the Little Green Café, 13 High Street, Dublin 8. Admission is, of course, free.
PETTYCASH are also on Facebook, sure have a look see.

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