An academy of pride for Cork

An academy of pride for Cork
The Cork Academy of Music celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Music House, North Monastery, Cork. From left, Billy O’Callaghan, manager, The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Mick Finn and Bob Seward, founder of the Academy. Picture Dan Linehan

EVERYONE associated with the Cork Academy of Music over the past 25 years can take a bow.

Since it was founded in 1994, it has been extraordinarily successful as a tool for social inclusion. It has catered for more than 2,000 students, many of them from working class areas of Cork city, using a holistic approach to education, allowing students to take control of their lives, improve their self-esteem and demonstrate their abilities in music.

It is instructive to listen to founder and chairman of the academy, Bob Seward, who is acknowledged to be one of Cork’s outstanding citizens. With typical modesty, he says: “We never realised at the foundation of the academy in 1994, how successful it would become.”

In fact, many of the academy’s students have gone on to study music at third level, and the number progressing to it continues to grow.

It is remarkable to reflect that participants in academy programmes range from 8 to 80 years!

All ability levels and musical styles are catered for, in both formal and informal settings.

There are full time and part time courses and outreach programmes. Daytime courses are non-fee-paying and no points are required.

Courses catering for young adults aged 16 to 35 include two full time Local Training Initiatives at levels 4 and 5 which run for a duration of 44 weeks from October. Depending on the applicant’s personal circumstances, they may be entitled to a training allowance.

For long term unemployed adults, aged 21 and over, there is a full time Community Employment Scheme which runs for 52 weeks.

For people looking to return to education, who need a more flexible course that suits their lifestyle and family commitments, there is a part time Back To Education Initiative that runs for 30 weeks.

There are many other courses catering for groups, such as an age-friendly course and an inclusive music awareness group that caters for people with intellectual disabilities and autism.

Academy outreach programmes in partnership with Music Generation Cork City also provide access to music to over 500 children in 8 locations across cork city including 6 primary schools and 2 community Hub settings.

Manager of the Cork Academy, Billy O’Callaghan pointed out they engage with over 700 students every week.

The Academy’s work is supported by the Cork Education and Training Board, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and Cork City Council. All of these can be proud of the work that is being done by the academy, its teachers and their pupils.

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