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Rehearsal studio opens in Shannon

ARD Soilse Productions has opened a new theatre-sized production rehearsal studio in the county.
The facility is located in the Stonehall Business Park in Shannon and is 6,000 sq ft in size. According to Ard Soilse director Joe Betts, the studio is still being developed, although it was used for the first time over the Christmas period.
“It was used at Christmas by the Ennis Gospel Choir. We have various people who are supporting us as we get going. So far, I think we’ve spent about €50,000 to €60,000 on it although it could be more. I’m afraid to add it all up,” he told The Clare Champion.
“The studio is designed to allow any event, show or tour to rehearse and perfect its performance and production in a full-scale venue, before it takes to the live stage. As productions become more complex, rehearsal becomes increasingly important and this is an ideal environment for them.”
Joe, who is based in Ennis, runs the company with his father Ian, and it has been operating for a number of years. He says that the rehearsal studio will appeal to a very wide market.
“The idea is that people will be able to come in to prepare for any kind of a show, whether they’re getting ready for an art exhibition or getting ready for a big stage show. They’ll have the chance to rehearse with proper lighting.
“The cost of hiring a theatre can be quite high but this gives them a cheaper space of the same quality. With a theatre, you have to pay a lot of people but here you can cut out some of the overheads. We have been marketing it to different people and we’ve had some positive feedback but people aren’t going to hire it out until they have come here to see it. One positive thing we have is that we are so close to the airport.”
Last year, Ard Soilse Productions became the first Irish entertainment industry company to gain membership of the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association. Joe said it was something very positive for the company.
“It was quite a big thing because this is a worldwide body for engineers. A lot of what we do involves lifting lights, props and sets. We’ve worked for people such as Meatloaf and Coldplay before so it’s important that we can show we can do things right. We had to do a lot of work to get the accreditation.”
With the new facility very close to the airport, he’s hoping that Ireland’s international reputation could help draw some major acts to Clare.
“Ireland is a well-known destination and there’s a reputation for being a bit more laid back, so in theory, there’s a lot of potential here.”

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