Friday, June 7, 2013

“Hip-hop is risky territory, but so worth it” - Catherine O’Halloran, youth worker


“Wake up! We need to open ourselves up and embrace what is around us" - Catherine O'Halloran, youth worker, Limerick.

Community organisations with a reputation to uphold with the general public, never mind their funders, enter “risky territory” when they agree to fund hip-hop activities.
Many people misunderstand hip-hop to be nothing more than a woman-hating, gangster-led movement dominated by hoodies.
The rewards however can be incredible, according to Catherine O’Halloran, one of the organisers behind one such festival that benefitted from an open-minded approach by its local development company.

“Wake up! We need to open ourselves up and embrace what is around us. When we say hip-hop, we really are talking about youth culture and we should embrace it hip-hop, it’s a really spirited young people’s culture.
“We are challenging perceptions and it was risky territory for the PAUL Partnership because of the notions that hip-hop is gang-related and endorses violence and there is credit due to PAUL for that. They were open from the beginning, and nobody expected our ‘Make A Move’ festival to be as successful as it was. Now other agencies want to get involved in this year’s one. They see the success.
“We need to recognise this art form as legitimate and there is a responsibility on community development agencies and city councils - and their representatives - to give it the same platform that the fine arts get. That’s what I’m pushing for.
“It’s about working with what is, shaping and tailoring it and making sure we’re moving it in a positive direction.
“Supporting hip-hop is a genuine form of community engagement…. Let young people define their culture for themselves and have no shame around it. There’s a huge horse culture around here yet there’s shame attached to it. People should be proud of their culture.
“I’ve seen people who felt disillusioned, disempowered - even oppressed – coming together for hip-hop and they became inspired. It’s a move away for them from the ways they’d normally express their aggression or their frustrations with the world.
“Putting your experiences into words is a very powerful thing, there’s something therapeutic in it and that’s what hip-hop.”
“Agencies and organisations that get behind hip-hop
Not the usual suspects – the councillor, the youth worker, the city mayor, the graffiti artist and the local authority official (Tom Shortt, Catherine O’Halloran, Gerry McLoughlin, DMC and Paul Foley). “This photo shows the level of integration that happened,” says Catherine.
This year’s ‘Make A Move’ festival will be held from July 26-28th and will feature national and international artists. More info: www.makeamove.ie
- Catherine O’Halloran is a youth worker with the Follow Your Dream project based in St. Munchin’s Family Resource Centre in Ballynanty, Limerick. 

Interview by: Allen Meagher.



5 websites about hip-hop used for community development

1)      www.projecthiphop.org/who-we-are/history/
2)      www.indigenoushiphop.com/
3)      www.thehiphopproject.org/site/
4)      www.facebook.com/rossherlihy
5)      www.makeamove.ie

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