Gerri Moriarty

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Gerri has worked in many international contexts including Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, New Zealand, Japan and Turkey.

Gerri has spent several years working in East Africa – in Uganda, Eritrea and Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, she worked with Adugna, a young people’s contemporary and Ethiopian dance company founded by Royston Maldoom and Mags Byrne and supported by the Gemini Trust. Gerri trained the company in community theatre and Forum Theatre techniques and helped them to deliver projects throughout the country. One of the most challenging of these involved using theatre as a training tool with members of the Ethiopian Police Service. Members of the company have gone on from strength to strength and two of its choreographers will be working at Sadler’s Wells in London this year.

In 2005, she worked for the British Council in Oman, exploring the theme of leadership using drama techniques with an all-female group of trainee teachers.  Participants were very enthusiastic about the potential of drama in teaching and learning and used the opportunity to develop a range of approaches for the class-room.

 In 2002, Gerri worked in Malta on a collaborative project between women from three domestic abuse refuges in Malta, the Maltese Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and the British Council. Participants created and performed a piece of theatre which examined the challenges women faced in having the abuse they faced taken seriously by the police, their neighbours and their families.

Uncovering Belfast’s History 2008 

The Prisoners’  Exercise Circle in the former Crumlin Road Gaol provided a gloomy and evocative setting for two recent performances of ‘My Dear Mary’, a dramatised account of the 1907 Belfast Dock Strike. Several of the key events of the strike took place in the streets surrounding the Gaol, and the audience sees them through the eyes of two women trade union activists of the time, Mary McCarthy and Mary Galway.

The letters they write each other are fictional but the turbulent history they describe is not. Jim Larkin’s call to the women at Gallagher’s cigarette factory to join a union and fight for better wages and conditions, the brief unity agreed between Protestant and Catholic workers, the reading of the Riot Act and subsequent bayonet charge on the Falls Road build up a vivid picture of a city under siege.

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Crumlin Rd, DSDNI (Department of Social Development)

Old Age and Youth: Breaking the Stereotypes

‘ The Bench’, the play Gerri wrote with  older people over the age of 70, is now being performed in a completely different context. Gerri is working with Northern Ireland’s Opportunity Youth and the cast of her play ‘The Bench’, to deliver an intergenerational project for young people, encouraging them to explore stereotyped views of old age.

‘The initial reaction of the young people to the characters in the play is that they are ‘a bit boring ‘, ‘quaint’, ‘pensioners who can’t be annoyed’. After having seen the play, however, the young people describe their elders differently.   ‘Good fun, interesting stories’, ‘ can’t keep still for a minute’, ‘ approachable’.

The young people will work with Gerri and some members of the cast of the Bench to make a short film as part of the project.

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Performing 'the Bench'. Photo Gerri Moriarty

From 2008-2010, Gerri worked to support LARC (Liverpool Arts Regeneration Consortium) with its evaluation development programme in North Liverpool. This aims to provide robust evidence of the social impact of cultural projects that address regeneration issues and to build long-term evaluation capacity in the area.

Her hope is that this project, supported through LARC’s overall Liverpool Thrive Programme will help to highlight the considerable strengths of cultural organisations, who are able to experiment to with innovative and imaginative approaches which are often later adapted by other sectors. They can and do act as the research and development wing of social and cultural change.  The programme should also help them reflect more deeply on their work, articulate their achievements more clearly and define new challenges for the decade ahead.


Supporting Strategic Development through Evaluation

 

Art Locates Me (ALM) is a digital arts project working with young people across Cumbria, as part of Connexions Cumbria. Gerri worked with visual artist Simon McKeown on an evaluation of the first phase of this exciting initiative,  with the aim of identifying its impact on youth workers, youth leaders and artists and helping ALM decide how best to develop the organisation in the long term.

Gerri says ‘It is great to work with an innovative organisation that really understands how to get the most out of an external evaluation.’

Sara Domville Maguire - Creative Director, Art Locates Me says: 

"Gerri Moriarty’s evaluation report has provided invaluable insights into both the strengths and weaknesses of Art Locates Me, enabling myself and the steering group to develop an effective and informed strategy for the future of the project. The breadth and depth of the report reflects Gerri's knowledge and experience of the community arts sector and her commitment to promoting good practice within the arts."

 

Strategic Work in the Criminal Justice System

LARC, 

Gerri has been working with Cheshire Dance and TiPP (The Theatre in Prison and Probation Centre) on a proposal for ' The Bridge', a major strategic arts programme with the Offender Management Services. 

With the advice  of senior members of the North West Offender Management Service and Pathways Boards and guidance  from Government Office North West and Arts Council England North West, the team have produced a detailed paper which will be used as the basis of a feasibility study, funding applications and an operational plan.  

The paper illustrates the important contribution the performing arts make to the personal and social growth and physical and mental well-being of individual offenders and groups of offenders and hence to the effective management of offenders, but argues that there is an urgent need to make the work of arts organisations more effective, sustainable and replicable throughout the criminal justice system.  

Adam Holloway, Business Director of Cheshire Dance says ' I have worked with Gerri on 2 projects now, setting her near impossible tasks each time.  Not only has she risen to the challenge on both occasions but did so far beyond my expectations in terms of her breadth and depth of inquiry.  She brings with her a phenomenal ability to cut through the even the most raging of debates, homing in on the pivotal issues and then seamlessly offering up clear pathways for thinking to move forward. 

Observing her at work, she does this with a great sensitivity to all stakeholders and a lightness of touch that ensures individuals’ retain their sense of ownership.  I have learnt a great deal from working with her and hope to continue well into the future.  In the meantime, here at Cheshire Dance, we have set up our own, albeit informal Gerri Moriarty appreciation society.’

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innovator, artist, trainer, consultant and storyteller