Small Sparks

Call for Artists


Small Sparks is new part of Leitrim County Council’s Spark programme where artists can work with a Leitrim business of any size and function for three weeks. There are no preconditions on what the artist (who may be from any arts discipline) might do, and it is not obligatory to have produced anything by the end of the project - although a materials budget is available if required. 

While the programme allows for short, complete innovative and creative projects to happen, Small Sparks also acts as a feeder programme for Spark, a 6-month artist-in-residence programme developed by Leitrim County Council’s Arts Office and Local Enterprise Office for companies that are interested in collaborating with artists and promoting creativity within their organisation, and artists that are interested in working in different environments. Small Sparks however provides the opportunity for three companies and three artists that wouldn’t normally work together to dip their toe in the water, explore the opportunity, and to see what can be gained from doing so.

For artists, both Spark and Small Sparks provide the opportunity research and develop ideas inspired by the company, its people, and what they do there. For the company, these projects often engender great interest and involvement from management, staff and clients/customers, pointing to different, creative and innovative paths, serving as a catalyst for new thinking.

While the residency lasts for three weeks, this can be taken in one block or spread over a number of months as agreed between the artist and company. In the context of current restrictions, this will be even more flexible than usual and the amount of contact time, either online or in person, will likely be much less than is usually the case.



Rather than postponing or cancelling Small Sparks because of Covid-19, we believe there is there is an even greater imperative to look at things differently now and to explore opportunities to think about new ideas. In that context Small Sparks looks to match companies in Leitrim with highly skilled artists that have a keen interest in what a particular company does, the people who work there, and the public they serve. Throughout the pandemic artists have devised extraordinary projects and programmes that reflect, celebrate, invent or connect. One of the reasons for this is the capacity of artists to interpret and assimilate complex ideas and employ a deep well of skill and experience to explore them in unique ways – skills have proven to be exceptionally valuable these last 12 months. From a practical perspective, much of this year’s Small Sparks programme will be conversations that happen over zoom and ideas and imagery that are emailed over and back between the artist and management and staff. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, this will start to include some level of more conventional contact, but it’s not essential, and if necessary, the entire programme could be conducted under the current restrictions.



Applicants can be from any arts discipline. While some companies may appear suited to one or other artform, neither the arts office nor the companies have any preconceived ideas on what a project might look like or what approach any artist might propose, and as such are entirely open to all artists and ideas.

Bee Park Community Centre, Manorhamilton

The Bee Park Resource Centre in the centre of Manorhamilton offers an excellent environment from which a number of service providers in the areas of Youth, Sport, Disability, Childcare Education, Women, and Men’s Groups work. Our tenants include: National Learning Network; North Leitrim Women’s Centre; North Leitrim Men’s Group; Northwest S.T.O.P; Mayo Sligo Leitrim ETB; Manor Childcare Services; Sean Mc Dermott Boxing Club; and Pulp Friction Gym.The Centre provides Manorhamilton and North Leitrim in general with an integrated focus for Community services and facilities. It is the home for a variety of organisations their staff and Clients offering an excellent environment from which these needs are met.

The Rainbow Ballroom or Romance

The Rainbow Ballroom or Romance is situated in Glenfarne, County Leitrim. The Ballroom was built in 1934 by John McGivern on his return from the USA to his native Leitrim. It was known as McGivern’s Dance Hall, although locally it was referred to as the “Nissan Hut”, as its galvanised iron construction was reminiscent of the British Army huts of the same name. The dancehall was a popular venue for showbands for many years and today the Rainbow Ballroom of Romance still hosts regular concerts and dances. It is also home to a showband memorabilia exhibition, provides hotdesk facilities and caters for a variety of events including weddings. More recently, the development of a virtual reality project provides visitors with a unique experience of a 1950s dancehall.

Rainbow Candles

Rainbow Candles was founded in 1985 by Pete Kern on an old kitchen-table in a farmhouse just outside the picturesque village of Dromahair in Co. Leitrim. After supplying coloured candles to a few shops in the area, the demand for coloured and scented candles grew. The living-room became a workshop with the support of Leitrim Enterprise Office. By 1989 Rainbow Candles was selling nationwide and internationally shortly after. The range of candles included pure beeswax, scented candles in Irish made pottery, pillar, dinner and rainbow-coloured candles, candles in glass such as the Irish Coffee and Guinness. By 1995 Rainbow Candles was employing three people and Pete Kern admitted as a member of the Irish Guild of Master Craftsmen. Fast forward to 2021, Rainbow candles is the biggest supplier of beeswax candles in Ireland and Pete is still loving every second of the candle making process!





Artists wishing to apply for Small Sparks should email Leitrim County Council Arts Office to declare their interest in the programme. Artists who have declared their interest are invited to an on-line site visit where they will have the opportunity to meet with the arts office, management and staff at the three companies, leading to a better understanding of the programme and the company involved. While attendance at the site visit is not essential to make an application, it is strongly advised that applicants do so.

To declare your interest in SPARK, simply emailarts@leitrimcoco.iebefore midnight on Friday 28th May 2021.



The site visit will be over zoom and start with an introduction to the programme, its background and what it hopes to achieve. We will then speak with management at each of the three participating companies, where artists will have the opportunity to ask questions about their operation before concluding with a final Q&A with the arts office.



Following the site visit, artists are invited to propose ideas and approaches for a residency at any of the companies. This document is not a definitive proposal that you would be expected to carry out. Rather, by identifying potential approaches, methodologies or even outcomes, the document provides a vivid insight into your thinking, your understanding of the company, and your capacity to develop an innovative project appropriate to that context. Given that this proposal is only based on a short on-line site visit, while it may serve as a useful starting point, the anticipation is that the residency would differ substantially, if not completely, from this proposal.

This document shouldn’t be sizeable, generally no longer than two A4 pages, but can take any format and can refer to concepts, lines of enquiry, processes for engagement, methodologies for collaboration - and even potential outcomes.

The proposal should be accompanied by a CV and images, recordings etc. of previous work. Proposals should be emailed using the file transfer platform to before midnight onSunday 4th July.



A panel consisting of representatives of the Arts Office and Local Enterprise Office along with external experts will shortlist applications. A maximum of three proposals will be presented to each company for consideration. One or more of those shortlisted will then be invited to meet with the company

Applications will be assessed based on the following criteria

-The quality, innovation and artistic merit of the proposal.
-Understanding of the company and the physical, social and cultural context of the project.
-Previous work and track record (or potential) of the applicant.
-Proven understanding of and ability to collaborate successfully.



-Closing Date for expression of interest:   Friday 28th May
-Online Site Visit: First week in June
-Closing Date for receipt of proposals:  Sunday 4th July
-Residency Period:     July - October
-Artist Fee €2,250.00
-Materials Budget:  €500.00

* Leitrim County Council will provide a materials budget as indicated above to purchase materials and services required to explore ideas. This does not prohibit the company providing further funding or further funding being sought from other sources. Small Sparks may also give rise to a programme that may lead to the longer 6-month Spark Programme which can provide for a materials budget of €5,000.00.



For further information contact: 071 96 21694, or go to


Small Sparks is a project of Leitrim County Council’s Arts Office and Local Enterprise Office and is funded by Leitrim County Council and the Arts Council of Ireland.



  • EU Sturctural Fund
  • European Union