Wednesday 17 January 2018

Wexford theatrical group 'barred' from national festival

David Tucker

Members of the chorus on stage during the WLOS production of Chess.
Members of the chorus on stage during the WLOS production of Chess.

FOR the first time in its 50 year history, Wexford Light Opera Society (WLOS) will not be taking part in the annual AIMS awards because it has been stonewalled by the national umbrella organisation which it helped found to nurture amateur musical groups.

The ruling by the AIMS (Association of Irish Musical Societies) executive and its rejection of a subsequent appeal over the late return of an application to take part in the 2015 festival, is causing dismay and disappointment in the town, especially given the top quality show - CHESS The Musical - that WLOS staged this year.

'We're the number one society in the country, but the organisation formed to help amateur groups has stonewalled our application,' said WLOS PRO Pat Lawlor.

'We were a week and a half late with the form.. it's grossly unfair after 50 years' membership. It's terrible after all these years to be given two fingers like this,' said Wexford Mayor and WLOS member Cllr. George Lawlor.

Wexford actress and AIMS stalwart Catherine (Biddy) Walsh said the AIMS awards and the organisation itself were important to the whole of Wexford town. One of the AIMS founder members was Fr. Johnny O'Brien, formerly the musical director with WLOS, and this year AIMS will be celebrating its 50th anniversary at its annual celebrations in Killarney.

'It's a strange decision, but extremely upsetting and hurtful and means we will be excluded for the first time from the AIMS adjudication weekend in June,' she said, 'we haven't finished with this at all.'

'It sort of undermines the whole thing when the number one society in the country is excluded because a change in the way AIMS does it's business,' said Pat Lawlor.

At the heart of the matter is an e-Mail with an 'unheaded' attachment containing the application form which went unnoticed. In the past the applications were sent in the post. When it was realised the application hadn't been attended to in time, it was immediately sent to AIMS, but the body said it was too late since then has refused to relent on the decision.

Pat Lawlor said the applications had to be in six weeks in advance and some others had been submitted late, but their entries had not been excluded.

'The attachment to the e-Mail wasn't headed as a change in procedure. They (AIMS) are supposed to be there to help us. We are members and we pay a membership fee, so you would think they would,' he said.

Asked by this newspaper for a response, AIMS repeated the ruling they had given to WLOS: 'The reason is the non-compliance of the six-week rule when applying for the adjudicator, especially as it occurs at the time of the year when it is a particularly busy time. This rule has been in existence for a long time so it is not new and it was clearly communicated to all societies when membership was renewed.

'We all understand that this will be very disappointing for you in WLOS, but the decision is made and we hope you will accept our decision. We wish you the best of luck with the run of Chess and apologies that it has to be this way.' AIMS said the decision had been made following a long discussion at executive and national council level.

Wexford People

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