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Helium at Baby Culture Night

Mothers and babies in Mullingar chilled out during Culture Night day on 20 September in a specially created Helium Jazz Lounge, as part of the regular Friday morning Baby Café in Riverstown Community Centre, Dalton Park.

Designed with the tiniest of cultural tastes in mind, this event was a collaboration between Helium and Westmeath Community Mothers. Creative play and relaxation to live music in a sensory environment were at the heart of the Helium Jazz Lounge, which was led by Helium’s artistic director, Helene Hugel. Guest artist Niamh O’Connor created an installation piece for the event and Jonathan Wilson provided the music.

Here Niamh O’Connor talks about her approach to the Jazz Lounge:
I wanted to create a booth for that intimate jazz club vibe. And so I built a rigid folding cardboard structure with laths slotted across the top for stability and from which to hang tactile objects (like strings of oversized beads, a gold orb, a huge soft red feather and bells) and on which to drape twinkly lights and fabric across the top. It had to be portable, low enough for babies and toddlers to feel snug, high enough for their adult carer to access and as wide as my car could fit. Sensory stimulation, scale and safety fed into the choices as well as the sourcing or repurposing of cheap and inexpensive materials like card, coloured pencils for pegs, some leftover cork tiles for the floor and vintage knitted cushions for smile appeal. We went for a gold and red theme and so different gold papers and card was sourced to decorate the walls with jazzy dots, with a panel of red felt for some luxe!

Some comments from parents on Helium’s jazz lounge:

‘Thank you so much for a fab morning @ The Jazz session, was really so enjoyable and something different is always good.’

‘Brilliant morning, very enjoyable for both mother and baby.’

‘It was brilliant, all the colours and opportunities to experience music. All of the staff were so gentle and engaging.’

Helium at Baby Culture Night September 2013

Miriam Mulrennan, Westmeath County Council Arts Officer, said of the event: ‘The collaboration between the Jazz Lounge, Helium Children’s Arts and Health and Westmeath Community Mothers is about many things: there is the fun and spontaneous creativity that it encourages, there is also the ‘science bit’ where we know from various studies the importance of music in early education and development for children. The physiology of creativity suggests we should start ‘firing up’ our creative minds as early as possible and it is great to acknowledge programmes like this – where this is happening, and in a fun environment.

Catriona Corcoran from Westmeath Community Mothers commented on the chilled-out jazz theme: ‘Westmeath Community Mothers are delighted to be associated with the Jazz Lounge for Culture Night 2013; babies and their parents love opportunities to sample new experiences. Jazz isn’t usually associated with babies, so maybe it will start a new trend.

This event was part of a national initiative called Baby Culture Night which promotes arts and early year events across Ireland on Culture Night. For a full listing of the events that took place in other counties please see:

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Helium Arts is a registered charity and compliant with the requirements of the Charities Regulator, the national regulatory authority for charities in Ireland


CHY Number: 19236
Registered Charity Number (RCN): 20075200
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