150 people to perform a high-wire walk across the River Corrib

Credit: Emilija Jefremova

The Arts Council has awarded a once-off grant for an artistic spectacle involving 150 people from all walks of life performing a high-wire walk across the River Corrib.

Galway Community Circus was the recipient of an Arts Council Open Call for funding “innovative and one-off projects,” this Tuesday.

A grant of €171,150 was awarded for the spectacle named LifeLine. The event will be free to view for the public on 16 July and will see newcomers walk across a tightrope suspended over the River Corrib and Claddagh basin. A professional performance will also take place on the day.

The spectacle is seen as a work of art, displaying “hope, strength, and resilience,” and is encouraging 150 people new to the art of funambulism (tightrope walking) to face their fears and complete the feat across one of Ireland’s most iconic waterways.

Galway’s River Corrib is the fastest flowing city river in Europe and safety harnesses will be used to protect the public performers.

Credit: Emilija Jefremova

Encouraging people to overcome fears is a big motivation behind this event, according to a spokesperson for Galway Community Circus, Alexandra Stewart.

“It’s like a spectacle of solidarity and hopes you know, promoting more open discourse around the topic of mental health and how these sorts of activities can help that.”

“We have had stories from participants and how it helped their anxiety. Once you get on the wire, it’s just you and the wire, you’re on it, you have to focus and believe in yourself. It’s just really amazing how it can transform someone’s mindset to believing in themselves,” she said.

Ms Stewart goes on to say how much this means to the small team at Galway Community Circus and the circus industry as a whole.

“It’s something we’ve never gotten to do on this scale before. Getting the Open Call was huge for us because we’ve always had these really ambitious dreams. The circus industry hasn’t received this sort of funding before and we haven’t so it’s huge for us.”

This year is the 20th anniversary of Galway Community Circus, which focuses on high-quality productions, artistic excellence, and innovation. The non-profit is currently working with 600 young people from Galway and wider afield with the aim of maximizing personal potential.

Credit: Emilija Jefremova

The charity also aims to give youth a different option to sports and other more common activities around Ireland. Funambulism is an art form that’s usually passed down through families, the hope now is to change this pattern, according to Ms Steward.

“This art form is usually passed down from family to family and the thought was to bring this art to everyday people, people who can use it as a tool for creativity. That’s sort of the basis behind it and it’s great to have a spectacle on this scale come to Galway.”

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