Yeats Society Sligo has launched a fundraising campaign to secure €100k in funding before September.
Yeats Society Sligo was thriving before the pandemic– the Yeats International Summer School brought together enthusiasts, experts, and writers from across the world to Sligo, and the Yeats Building, managed by the Society as a cultural hub, allowed visitors and locals alike to be inspired with a love of Yeats’ work.
However, sources of revenue for the Yeats Society Sligo have dried up following the closure of the Yeats Building in March 2020, the cancellation of the Yeats Summer School in 2020, and a pared-back online 2021 version of the renowned event.
The Society says that careful financial management of savings has allowed it to continue through months of closures, however, as an organization without core funding, the future of the Society and of Yeats’ legacy in Ireland is in peril.
The Society is now looking to raise €100,000 by September to guarantee its survival and allow it to thrive once again, ensuring the preservation of Yeats' legacy.
According to the Society, which does not receive government funding, the €100k will cover the core costs of heating, light, insurance, maintenance, and key staff from October 2021 to December 2021.
During that time, the Society will be working to enhance visitors’ first-hand experience of Sligo and the centre – masterclasses, poetry afternoon teas, poetry weddings, classes for primary school children, and bespoke weekend tours. Staff are also keen to begin planning for the centenary of Yeats’ Nobel Prize in 1923.
Susan O'Keeffe, the Director of Yeats Society Sligo said the organization had "transformed into a centre for our local community as well as our international visitors" prior to the pandemic.
“We brought our poet to the people, especially for the people of Sligo. We’ve opened our doors to aspiring writers and poets discovering that first spark of literary inspiration.
"Our centre welcomes families who come to relax in the café, explore the gallery and exhibits and enjoy a tour about the Yeats family and Sligo. And of course, we offer a home to academics and enthusiasts where they can study, research, and network at our annual Yeats International Summer School.
“Our building is a place for all of us to explore Yeats’ work and find our connection with Sligo’s greatest poet and to enjoy and appreciate contemporary writers, poets, and visual artists."
About Yeats Society Sligo
Yeats’ poetry has helped shape Ireland as a nation. His words have given hope, inspiration, and comfort, and have told Ireland’s story for over a century.
In 1960, just 21 years after the death of Yeats, the Yeats Society Sligo was founded by the Irish writer's contemporaries to preserve his legacy.
The Society has become a cultural hub at the centre of Sligo, and the Yeats Building houses a huge collection of books and other archive material, available for scholarly research.
The Society runs the Hyde Bridge contemporary art gallery, with 11 exhibitions a year, and the Penny Café, offering coffee roasted in Sligo and good homemade vegetarian food. It also offers space to local community organisations to run cultural events.
One of the major initiatives, wholly managed by Yeats Society Sligo, is the annual Yeats International Summer School. It is now the longest-running literary school in the world, integrating an academic programme of lectures and seminars with poetry readings and cultural events.
The Summer School has welcomed luminaries including Paula Meehan, Eavan Boland, John Montague, Jessica Traynor, John McGahern, Mary Robinson, and Edna O’Brien, and brings attendees from across the globe to Sligo each year.
The Summer School can also lay claim to being where Seamus Heaney met arguably one of his most important champions, the leading American scholar, writer, and critic Helen Vendler, highlighting just how important a cultural touchstone it has been over the last six decades.