Arts, Culture and Media

Kim Mackenzie-Doyle, Institute of Designers Ireland, Carlow

On top of a full time job, Kim has dedicated every spare minute to volunteer for the Irish creative community. She has founded two key initiatives www.whydesign.ie and www.idimindovermatter.ie that highlight challenges within the Irish Design community.

WhyDesign is an initiative that addresses the gender imbalance in the Irish creative sector (female 25:75 male, 11% female creative directors), showcasing inspiring role models from a range of disciplines so that budding young creatives can answer the questions of Parents, Teachers & Guidance Councillors ‘Why Design?’ Offering them case studies and an independent national overview of third-level creative courses. She brought Oscar winning designer Annie Atkins and Emmy Award winning creative Chris Do from America together for the launch on international women’s day. The award winning platform has been praised internationally, gaining world-wide attention as the first of its kind for the creative sector in Ireland.

She has also spent hundreds of hours of her own time developing Mind Over Matter, now in its second year. A platform where 200 top creative professionals donated their expertise on World Mental Health Day to consult with businesses on how Design can add value to their product, app, website, brand or service (and more) with 100% of proceeds going to mental health organisation Aware. The aims of the national initiative are to:

  • Reduce the stigma around mental health in the creative community, where creatives are 25% more likely to experience a mental health issue.
  • Create a platform where leading designers can use their expertise to support the mental health experts Aware,
  • Bring together different creative disciplines and showcase local creatives to the local business community.

Kim’s passion is infectious and it passed on to the many volunteers that joined her in developing and running both initiatives, she continues to donate time as a mentor and serves on the board of the IDI (a volunteer organisation).

Lolo Robinson, Drogheda Comhaltas, Louth

Lolo Robinson has worked tirelessly for many years to foster, nurture and develop traditional culture in County Louth and further afield in her role as Chairperson of Drogheda Comhaltas; in organising Feiseanna in Drogheda and further afield. However it is over the past 6 years in her mission to bring Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann to Drogheda that Lolo has achieved something extraordinary. Lolo was available morning, noon and night, and was tireless in ensuring this success.

Traditional music was in the past very strong in Drogheda town but in the past couple of decades it had died off somewhat. Lolo kept that fire burning through her stewardship of Drogheda Comhaltas and many young people, and adults, developed a love of traditional music, song, language and dance as a result. Her voluntary work in leading the bid to bring Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann to Drogheda has had even more impact. While Lolo will always say that bringing the Fleadh to Drogheda was a team effort it was she who spearheaded the campaign, in particular with Comhaltas headquarters, ensuring that a town not generally recognised as a heartland of traditional music and culture was successful in hosting the biggest festival of Irish culture. The impact of the Fleadh was felt for a long time before it arrived, with huge increases in local people learning traditional music, song and the Gaelic language.

Louise Borre, Galway International Arts Festival, Galway

Louise has many volunteer roles; with Galway International Arts Festival, Louise is a Big Top Team Leader (one of four in a volunteer team of over 600) and Festival Volunteer for many other events. She has been volunteering since her first opportunity at age seven and puts her whole heart into the many organisations with which she volunteers. She has been with Galway International Arts Festival since 2013 volunteering for various events such as theatre shows, comedy gigs, street spectacles and large concerts at the Festival Big Top. She found her home at the Big Top, where both the Volunteer Manager and the venue’s Chief Steward both took notice of her tenacity.

In 2018, two Venue Managers specifically requested Louise as their right-hand volunteer. She was one of only three volunteers to steward at the Festival’s comedy gigs, and one of four promoted to Big Top Team Leader. The responsibilities included managing the venue’s volunteers, catering, uniforms, attendance and any outstanding issues. Cúirt International Festival of Literature which has been running for 33 years. Louise has given great assistance and has been a brilliant team member to Cúirt over the years. Louise has helped with the running of the programme which features poetry, prose, music and spoken word as well as the popular annual series of workshops and talks for children and teenagers, Cúirt Labs.

Louise works part time at Cosáin but continues to volunteer many hours once her shift is done. Cosáin supports people with mental health challenges in identifying and pursuing their own pathways to recovery. Cosáin is peer led by people with their own experience of mental health challenges and recovery. Not only this but Louise also fulfils her volunteer duties in Galway City with Serve the City Galway who mobilise volunteers to serve the practical needs of vulnerable persons in the community and a whole host of other groups including Clifden Arts Festival, Galway Theatre Festival, Galway Housing Action Group, Pieta House, and Cope Galway.