For two weeks each summer the streets of West Ireland’s capital city, Galway, come alive with music and performances. From July 17-31, over 400 writers, artists, performers and musicians from Australia, Europe and North America, as well as Ireland, invade the city for the Galway Arts Festival. The 28-year-old festival – Ireland’s largest and most prestigious arts festival – is a vital showcase for Irish and as well as international arts. Regarded as one of Europe’s key cultural events, the festival has an attendance of over 100,000 people each year, and provides a significant contribution to the economic, social and cultural life of the west of Ireland. Reflecting the Festival’s commitment to staging ambitious and innovative projects, the 2006 repertoire will include many works by Irish performers and playwrights. Among the most notable is the world premiere of a new play by young up and coming playwright Stuart Carolan, which will be directed by the Tony Award winning artistic director Garry Hynes, of Druid fame. Also of note is the premiere of new work by performer Raymond Keane, working in collaboration with director Veronica Cockburn. Sure to delight its attendants with cutting edge performances that challenge and inspire, the 2006 Festival will also focus on physical theater and spectacle from America and Europe. Among the participants will be Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Under the artistic direction of Jim Vincent, this internationally acclaimed repertoire company will perform new work by Irish choreographer Marguerite Donlon. Over 200 international and Irish musicians will also take part, playing an eclectic mix of folk, rock, blues, jazz, classical as well as traditional and contemporary Irish music, at various venues and spaces throughout the city. If music isn’t your thing you’re sure to find something amusing in the performances by some of Ireland’s leading comics. At the forefront of contemporary Irish culture for much of the past decade, cutting-edge comedy will figure heavily in the festival highlights. And what Irish Arts Festival would be complete without literature? The 2006 Festival literary events will include novelists and playwrights who will be joined by leading cultural and political commentators from around the world in discussion and debate. Included this year will be Palestinian Suad Amiry and England’s Mark Ravenhill. The Festival will also feature a program of visual arts showcasing the work of young emerging Galway artists. The performance-based, video-installed work of Vicki McCormack promises to engage the city in unusual and imaginative ways.
More information on the Galway Arts Festival can be found on the website at www.galwayartsfestival.ie.