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Art group to perform imagined apology from the Taoiseach for the housing crisis

Multi-Story Act 1: The Apology will feature an actor playing the Taoiseach apologising for the failures of the State to address the crisis.

A GROUP OF artists and activists is set to perform a fake apology from the Taoiseach for the housing crisis during a performance tonight.

Multi-Story Act 1: The Apology will premiere online this evening and will be followed by a moderated live discussion.

The position of the Taoiseach will be performed by a woman called Paula, who will open the performance by sharing her own experience of the housing crisis.

“I spent 15 years on a list, waiting to be housed, waiting to be seen, waiting to be heard. I’ve listened to government after government, Taoiseach after Taoiseach, Minister after Minister, make speeches about their plans and ideas for housing in this country. I’ve listened to their empty promises, while we all wait. And we are sick of waiting. So today I am going to be the Taoiseach. I’m going to give you the apology you deserve,” she will say. 

The performance is the first act from ‘Multi-Story – Creative Engagement for Housing Change’, a project by artists Fiona Whelan and Feidlim Cannon, and Housing Action Now (HAN), a group of community workers, researchers, activists and artists concerned about the housing crisis. 

Whelan and Cannon began working with HAN in 2020 and held monthly writing workshops online with their members and other artists to come up with ideas for the performance.

Speaking to The Journal, Whelan said they spoke to many experienced housing activists as well as people who were directly affected by the housing crisis during the workshops.

“We ran all these various different writing workshops with prompts and questions, and really started to build texts and material and conversation, but also, we were really building the solidarity with people who were quite different and had come from quite different experiences related to the housing crisis,” she said. 

She said it was through engaging in these workshops and hearing people’s individual experiences of the housing crisis that the group decided on an apology. 

“It’s a performative apology in which the State publicly acknowledges the failures of the State with regards to housing policy, so we’ve written it as the apology we think the people of Ireland deserve. It’s made up of excerpts and narratives from a whole range of people kind of threaded together into this one moment,” she said.

It’s pulling people with really diverse experiences who may not see themselves as affected by the same housing crisis necessarily, but by threading them all together, you’re showing the reach of it and the different ways that it affects people.

The group are calling on people to attend the performance tonight at 6pm, and will be making it freely available to watch after it finishes. 

“We’re hoping people would send it out on social media and just share it and watch it and let it add to the discourse on housing in a different way,” Whelan said.

“Ultimately, we’re all keen to put an end to the inequalities in housing that exists in this country. I don’t think that we’d say that we hope this artwork would achieve that, but I think we would hope that people would share it and watch it, and then more people might join and continue to create this kind of alliance between the different housing campaigns.”

Those who wish to watch the performance can book a free ticket on Create Ireland’s website.

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