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Image / Editorial

The Irish arts festivals that are adapting with online performances and revised formats


by Megan Burns
13th Jul 2020
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The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating to Ireland’s arts and culture organisations, but many are determined to still deliver something to their audiences, and are moving things online instead. 


Summer is the peak time for arts festivals around the country, the perfect chance for people to enjoy the immense creative talent on our island. Unfortunately, because of the Covid-19 crisis, festivals have had to be cancelled for people’s safety.

However, a number of festival organisers are determined to showcase their talented participants, even if people cannot gather together in person, and have devised online schedules as an alternative. It may not be exactly the same as being there, but it’s still a wonderful chance to experience the best Ireland’s culture scene has to offer. Here are some that are offering an online event.

Kilkenny Arts Festival 

Due to run from August 6-16, this festival always has something for everyone, combining theatre, music, film, spoken word, visual arts and family events. It has been announced that the festival will not take place this year, however the organisers have promised that plans are underway to present a number of events this year, in different ways. Some of the acts that were scheduled to perform have also been rescheduled to next year.

Festival Director Olga Barry said: “We are so disappointed to announce that Kilkenny Arts Festival, as we know and love it, will not happen in its 47th year this summer. Kilkenny Arts Festival has always been about the remarkable combination and warmth of artists and audiences coming together in our gorgeous city.

“While we continue to work with our wonderful artists and partners in devising new ways to bring the arts into all our lives in these challenging times, we are particularly looking forward to the future when we can all be together again, in summertime in the Marble City.”

The programme for this adapted event has not yet been released, but keep an eye on their social channels to be the first to know when they do.

Galway International Arts Festival 

Another multi-disciplinary festival that draws attendees from across the country, the Galway International Arts Festival should currently be in full swing, due to run from July 12-25. Its programme usually includes circus performances, talks, music, dance, theatre and street art, and sees artists from across the world come to Galway.

As the event has been cancelled this year, the festival is planning to present a special programme of events in the autumn, will full details to be announced soon.

Galway International Arts Festival’s CEO John Crumlish and artistic director Paul Fahyare said: “We are now working to bring audiences a programme of events this Autumn and will announce details very soon. Our work has always been about bringing people together, artists and audiences, to celebrate great art, and we hope it won’t be too long before we are all back together to do so again.”

Earagail Arts Festival

A bilingual arts festival that usually takes place across the county of Donegal in July, Earagail Arts Festival has adapted to the circumstances of the pandemic. Festival director Paul Brown was adamant that they needed some way to support their artists and still present the festival, so they have planned how it could be transformed into an online programme.

The result is Srutháin, meaning little streams, and is described as a condensed 18 day line-up of online and radio performances, interactive arts, masterclasses and nomadic popup theatre. The first events started on July 9, and will run until July 26. You can catch up on any events that you missed, as they are still available to watch on the festival’s website for free.

The organisers say: “These select events are only part of our commitment to artists in 2020 and we have much more to come, in new international and local commissions, ongoing works behind the scenes and some, yet to be announced surprises, which we will keep you updated on throughout the rest of the year.

“What we have all learnt during this period of lockdown and isolation is that artists and arts organisations have been core to keeping us entertained, informed and inspired throughout these exceptional times through virtual, broadcast and online performances and projects.”

Wexford Festival Opera

Wexford Festival Opera have announced that they will be moving their planned programme for this year to 2021. However, they are also presenting an online festival, ‘Waiting for Shakespeare …The Festival in the air’. It will run from October 11-18 and will consist of a series of online performances.

Artistic director Rosetta Cucchi and chief executive David McLoughlin said: “The indomitable spirit of Wexford Opera lives on, even in these uncertain and challenging times. This year’s Festival aims to build on our pioneering digital initiatives in recent years to present an exciting and varied programme of events, safely and at no charge to our audiences across Ireland and around the world.”

Dublin Theatre Festival 

Due to take place from September 24 to October 11, Dublin Theatre Festival has acknowledged that its planned programme will not be possible due to social distancing measures. They have been reimagining their programme, and expect to announce details of this new event in August.

The organisers say: “Dublin Theatre Festival has a responsibility, as a strategic organisation, to be one of the leaders in rebuilding Irish theatre. We believe that the values of imagination, civility and solidarity that we cherish in theatre will also be essential in renewing Irish society.

“We are determined to emerge from this time, changed and stronger, continuing to be a key platform to show Irish theatre to the world and to bring the best of international work to Dublin.”

Featured image: Dublin Theatre Festival


Read more: Margaret Atwood imagines aliens intervening due to the pandemic in her latest short story

Read more: PhotoIreland Festival: Irish photography you can view from the comfort of your own couch

Read more: Our favourite cafés and bakeries around Ireland to try on your summer staycation

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