We’ve had this dream for the last year to create a unique transmedia story-telling project around the Oscar Wilde children’s short stories. We’re a small team but in our midst we have an extremely talented composer Michael Gallen who writes a lot of the music for our projects in radio, television and online. Its Michael’s haunting track in our new audio podcast series The Family of Things. So it started as an idea of story-telling, reading the stories, sound illustrating them via our very talented audio editor Amy Millar and then building a website and digital application around the project. Michael immediately heard the stories as a new music composition. So the dream idea was to bring together high quality sound illustrated readings, with documentary story-telling about the backstory of Wilde, a new music suite based on the five stories and ideally a performance with an orchestra. We immediately began mapping things out and talked to RTÉ Lyric fm who are our collaborative broadcasting partner on many arts projects. RTÉ Lyric fm, in the person of Eoin Brady and Olga Buckley, got the vision and supported it. We began to map applications for funding and then realised the stories should have a strong visual realisation and brought in the established artist Felicity Clear who is a friend and colleague. Now the idea was sound, story, music and visuals. It was truly transmedia with the endgame being not just broadcasting but live performances, a recording and also a digital humanities entity, a website and a mobile application.
Our first attempt at funding, for the music side of the project, via the Arts Council was refused. We worked for months on the project and brought it through the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Sound & Vision Fund for the broadcasting components and again first time through that fund it was refused. We didn’t give up. We worked on it again and re-submitted through the BAI, taking its feedback on board, and we also bid for arts funding via Dublin City Council for the creative artistic aspects not covered by broadcasting, particularly the visual artist. In January our hard work began to pay off we got funding via the BAI (albeit less than we requested) and we got funding via DCC (again less than the bid). The project Wilde Stories is now live we’re beginning to make it happen and we can’t express our appreciation enough to the funding bodies who have supported it and we will deliver something amazing for everyone involved. The funding is still not sufficient to achieve the full scale of what we’re trying to do particularly in building a digital humanities via a website and a digital app and as such we’re moving to crowd-sourcing on those aspects and fully anchor the project.
It has already been nearly a year. We’ve released a Michael Gallen reading of The Happy Prince and a bilingual (Irish & English) e book of that story as part of our exploration but the broadcast versions will have a far better known Irish actor voice reading (although Michael’s one is charming!). We tell this story not just to say ‘isn’t it great we got funding’ but more to say the lesson is ‘don’t give up, believe in your ability to do something original and don’t accept rejection, just learn from it’.
I hope we can share elements of the project by May but it will be a long journey of creative blood, sweat and tears to finish it. Michael says the music composition is one year’s work. He is 27 and naturally sees this as a moment to make a difference, to leave a mark. For us the intention is to play with the Wilde legacy, to re-interpret it today as Irish creatives and as a collaboration of Irish artists particularly the unique coming together of Michael Gallen and Felicity Clear. Under our Dublin City Council arts funding we will have a live installation of the work for the public in Dublin City and we hope to build a Wilde day of celebration around it.
Share this story if you’d like to be part of bringing Wilde, and the legacy of Wilde’s art, back home and then through the joys of online and mobile to send that story across the world again.