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INVITATION TO A JOURNEY_2016_Justine Cooper, Ivonne Kalter, Emma O_Kane_Ros Kavanagh.jpg
Emma O'Kane Bursary


ARTS COUNCIL Collaborative Capacity Building Grant leads to formation of independent bursary in the name of Emma O’Kane
In May 2021, five companies, ten artists and nine arts professionals came together to make a collaborative capacity grant application to the Arts Council of Ireland to develop a self-sustaining  bursary that would embed the unique ethos and practice of the artist Emma O’Kane. It was successful and has enabled this new independent opportunity for artists to become a reality. THANK YOU.


For the record - this is what we wrote: 

Emma O'Kane was unique. An exceptionally gifted artist, she moved effortlessly across artforms and media - as a performer, a choreographer and a participation project leader. Crowned European Dancer of the Year for FAUN in 2010 - THE BALLET RUSE her choreographic collaboration with Muirne Bloomer brought down houses from Electric Picnic to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She was also behind highly inventive participation projects including A LIFE OF PLAY (DDF, 2018). She was passionate, professional and highly articulate about interdisciplinary performance - holding a first- class honours degree in Contemporary Dance Performance (MA) from UL.
Emma brought joy to all she worked with - even amidst the analysis of difficult & dense material - she could capture the energy in a room and introduce light. A consummate team player, as seen by her core contributions to CoisCéim and ANU, she was also fiercely independent and in the forthcoming arc of her career intended to concentrate on her self-authored work with projects including COUNTERFEIT CULTURE in the pipeline.
This capacity building project aims to spotlight her extraordinary skill and ethos and embed her legacy into a new creative development bursary for artists working in a physical language (dance, physical theatre, live art, ISL etc..) - permanently enabling her voice & approach to guide future artists as they develop their practice. It concentrates on three main elements:
SUSTAINABILITY & RELEVANCE - to enable external facilitation to focus the bursary objectives and shape a robust annual opportunity that prioritises unbounded exploration across artform & presentation contexts to build capacity for independent artists' practice in Ireland in the long term
VISION - to embed Emma's legacy into the bursary through a series of 7 filmed physical lectures / visual resources that elucidate her vision & ethos & permanently connect her practice to the bursary. These resources will be widely disseminated via the partners and beyond & will involve the following artists

  • David Bolger in collaboration

  • Pat Kinevane & Jim Culleton

  • Louise Lowe, Lynnette Moran & Niamh McCann

  • Siobhan McDonald

  • Shane O'Reilly

  • 2 resources by independent dance artists (tbc)

INCLUSION - to design a bespoke suite of call out materials to entice applications from underrepresented communities in the professional performing arts
All five partners are committed to maintaining the bursary for at least four years through independent means by providing financial, organisational & other support. This project will not duplicate existing bursary / residency supports but provide an integrated new opportunity for creative experimentation across art forms through a combination of a


  • 4-6 week studio residency with stipend & small research budget

  • 3-5 artist-selected mentorship sessions to share partner skills & knowledge

  • access to other project partner developmental supports & networks 

For over 20 years, Emma O'Kane has been an inspiring, distinctive voice in Ireland's performance landscape - through a varied series of creative development tools, this project will ensure that her legacy remains part of the nation's artistic lexicon.
In doing so, it will create a new partnership between 5 of Ireland's leading performance- makers and their networks across dance, theatre & music - with a common goal to create a new long-term opportunity to uplift independent artists who strive to create work 'outside the box'.
It is a project with the potential to significantly build capacity in

  • interdisciplinary experimentation

  • artistic endeavours that challenge traditional art form norms

  • exploring new ways of sharing knowledge & modes of collaboration between generations and peer to peer

  • equality of opportunity

  • mentoring the future with a sublime voice of the present. 

News Post by BW,  17 November 2021

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