Richard Berry, Anne-Marie Connolly and Elizabeth O’ Sullivan from Cope Skibbereen preparing for concert in Skibb on June 29th. Pic: Ann Minihane

SKIBBEREEN will be alive with the sounds of music this weekend as part of this year’s Irish Performing Arts Festival for people with intellectual disabilities and autism.

Since 2009, COPE Foundation has pioneered and successfully hosted the international Festival, whose patron is President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, and this year’s event which runs from June 27 -30 is set to be bigger and better than ever.

As part of this year’s festival Skibbereen will be hosting a two hour free open air event on Friday, June 29th from noon to 2pm in Field’s Car Park.

This unique event will feature local and international acts performing music and drama and bringing people with a disability and mainstream groups together on one stage.

C103’s Derry O’ Callaghan will be hosting this lunch time event with performances from local groups including the Skibbereen Youth Choir, Comhaltas Skibbereen, Baltimore Choir and Brendan McCarthy & Friends.

People can sway to the sounds of samba courtesy of visiting international disability groups from Hungary and Austria and a local COPE drama group will also perform a sketch so the event is sure to have something for everyone.

Meanwhile also as part of the festival Skibbereen Library are hosting “The Vision & Voice Art Exhibition” from June 19th to 29th.

This exhibition will be officially launched by Lord David Puttman on Wednesday June 27th at 4.30pm.

This  body of work is the result of a series of drama, arts & crafts workshops which took place in Clonakilty and Skibbereen with artists from Cope and a number of other diverse community groups.

The workshops created a positive social experience where each participant was empowered through the life-enriching creative experience.

Marie one of the participants said she loved doing the workshop, “I really enjoyed doing the sewing and meeting the new people”.

Donal said, “I liked doing art in the Clonakilty community hall workshop, it is the painting and bright colours I loved” and Juliette commented, “It was very interesting and I liked using the different paints and pastel colours”.

This is the event’s first time outside of Cork city and it is fitting that it should be in Skibbereen where COPE Foundation opened its first community residential facility outside of Cork city in 1982.

The success of this development subsequently led to the organisation establishing centres in many other towns throughout Cork County.

These events would not be possible without the financial support of Skibbereen Credit Union, Cork County Council, Fields SuperValu, Skibbereen and the generosity of the people of West Cork through various fundraising events.

The Mill Road day service in Skibbereen has recently been reopened and COPE Foundation anticipates that this will become a valuable community resource for the people of Skibbereen.

Over the years a large range of services facilities and expertise has been developed by Cope Foundation to provide the comprehensive service that are available to day, nevertheless the Organisation is determined to ensure that further progress is made in order to comply with national policy direction, and the ever changing needs of people in our care.

For more information visit www.esf2012.eu.