Susan Kirby

What is your career background?

I joined St. Patricks Festival in 2007 as Marketing & Communications Director and then moved to the position of CEO, I role I have been in since 2009. I have over 15 years experience in the arts and events industry and, before I joined here I was the Marketing & Communications Director at The Gaiety Theatre in Dublin.

Tell us about the planning that goes into the St Patricks Festival?

A small team of us work on the festival year round, we already have some long-range planning in place for 2015 and 2016, but inevitably the build into a festival will be frenetic no matter how long you have been able to plan. The festival has a creative director year round, and a small programming team who join the team a few months out to produce the festival programme. Our creative director Susanna Lagan is fabulous and will be visiting Irish and International festivals throughout the year, meeting with pageant companies, makers, builders and performers working on various elements for the big event. She works on the festival parade of course but also the wider programme. We are all big believers in the power and the importance of the arts in our lives and in our humble opinions none more so than those that are free and readily available to large audiences on the streets - so we are very proud of the incredible quality?of street theatre and performance involved in the festival. In the last number of years we have been developing an incredible initiative - I LOVE MY CITY - which is really coming into its own now with artists and performances from a variety of disciplines including literature, music, film, song, spoken word, photography and visual art that will be presented throughout the Festival some of the city's most beautiful buildings and some incredible found spaces.

What is your day to day like?

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No two days are the same, which is one reason why I enjoy the job so much. There are two distinct phases though; festival phase which is really full on and filled with meetings with the team and other festival stakeholders to discuss and agree plans for the festival. I also deal with a lot of national and international press at the time of the festival. After a festival it is still very busy with a lot of reporting and de-briefing.? Planning for the following year starts again straight away. The long-range phase involves travelling to see work and shows, arranging funding, sponsorship and income projections for future festivals and representing the festival within both the arts and tourism industries, so it's busy but at a different pace.

What can we look forward to for the 2014 celebrations?

In all honestly there is something for everyone as part of the festival in 2014 so I would recommend a smorgasbord approach. Plan a day in the city and squeeze in everything from a visit to the museum, to catch a festival performance, to a free gig on St. Stephens Green with Jerry Fish.? Round it all off at the Enchanted Banquet; an amazing celebration of Irish food and performance.

What is your favourite part of your job?

Working with an incredible team of people who all come together to make take over the city in an epic celebration, and the sense of achievement and pride that that brings.

What is your favourite part of the festival itself?

Truly, there are so many! From the big outdoor ?take over the city? moments to the smaller more intimate happenings that can be really special, so I couldn't isolate one part, it is the festival and the sum of its parts!

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Have you been to any other amazing festivals anywhere else in the world?

There are a lot of amazing festivals in Ireland and Dublin of course but one of my top festival cities would be Sydney - so many incredible festivals, the city, the people and the weather all make for some excellent extravaganzas!

Photography by Ailbhe O'Donnell.

Shot in the gorgeous new Lolly & Cooks cafe in Grand Canal Dock.

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