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Emilie Conway NAVIGATOR Musician in Residence at The Source Arts Centre, Thurles

IMC's 2022 Navigator jazz musician residency programme kicks off next week as jazz singer, composer and disability rights activist Emilie Conway heads to The Source Arts Centre in Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

The 14-day Navigator Jazz Residency programme offers jazz and improvising musicians professionally remunerated time and space to develop and perform work, while building creative and professional relationships in new locations.

Emilie Conway
is an award winning jazz singer, composer and lyricist. Her music is informed by her love of literature, poetry, sound and silence. She blends her own compositions and poetry, with improvised or composed music and her interpretation of familiar and less familiar jazz standards. Frequently compared to Julie London, her diction is spot-on at every tempo and her straight-ahead style appeals to a broad audience.

Emilie is a passionate activist for the equal and equitable participation of disabled people in arts and culture — and creates audio and sensory art tours for the National Gallery of Ireland and the Royal Hibernian Academy. As well, Emilie is an Equality, DIversity, Inclusion consultant for many arts organisations. She is also founder of the DADA (Disabled Artists, Disabled Academics) campaign.

"What this residency means to me? Well, I'm a self-employed disabled artist. Because there are no tailored supports for disabled self-employed artists, we live with zero security and relentless precarity on all sides: making a living self-employed is precarious as it depends not only on being competitively talented but also competitively healthy. If I can compete on talent, I can't compete on health. Having a disability brings obvious precarity and expense. And then the Arts Sector is famous and feared for its precarity. It's like precarity cubed. To survive, I multi-task and over-compensate for my disability living with a lot of health and financial stress. The last two years of the pandemic were hard on us all. I think they were particularly hard on disabled people.

The idea of being supported for two whole weeks to simply focus on my art is like a dream. Honestly I've no idea what that might be like. I've never had the luxury! I'm very curious and excited to see what it brings. My creative work is usually done in snatches of stolen hours so I really can't wait to have the opportunity of two whole weeks to explore and follow ideas through.

I also have a few unfinished projects that I don't require much time but rather require absence of distraction or competing demands. I'm so looking forward to having the luxury of that kind of focus.

Looking at The Source website there's also plenty that interests me - so again, to be supported and have the absence of competing demands to simply attend cultural events, and then go back to the studio with what they might inspire, is a gift.

As my previous work shows, I'm very curious, I love research, discovery and seeing connections. I'm curious to see what I'll learn about Tipperary, its artists, culture, history and how that might inspire my work.

In short, it couldn't come at a better time for me. For me with my particular circumstances, it will be healing, energising and, I hope, productive!"

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