GIAF – Arts Festival Galway Ireland
The Galway International Arts Festival or the GIAF was founded in the year 1978. It was established as a cultural organization that produces a special arts festival every year in Galway, Ireland. They also produce new work that basically tour both nationally and internationally. All of this in addition to presenting the First Thought Talks, which is a discussion forum. GIAF is entirely managed by John Crumlish, who is also the Chief Executive along with Paul Fahy, who is the Artistic Director. The Galway International Arts Festival maintains a non-profit status and also insists to make 25% of the festival program free for the general public.
The Galway International Arts Festival happens to be of the leading cultural enterprises of Ireland. It has also contributed a significant portion in putting Galway on the map, both as a key cultural tourism destination and a cultural center for arts. This organization has acted and also founded as a kind of seedbed to a big number of various other art organizations in the city.
The GIAF was originally named as The Galway Arts Festival and was founded by University College Galway’s Arts Society. This was done in collaboration with the community activists of Galway Arts Group. The first festival that was organized was described as “Galway Arts Society’s Week of Craic” by the local newspapers. The original budget of Arts Council Funding was Euro 1000. Majority of the artistic events were staged in an arts center, which has become the home for Sheridan’s Cheesemongers.
It was in the year 2014 that they changed the name from The Galway Arts festival to Galway International Arts Festival. This was primarily done to emphasize the diversity of different contributors to the festival. This festival presents and also produces different work in Galway that basically similar to the different work of companies and artists from across the globe. The change in the name also facilitated the vision of the festival more as a producing body that creates work that tour the world.
The arts festival takes place in Galway,, Ireland and lasts for almost 2-weeks. It basically takes place in late July every year. The arts festival produces and presents programs covering various types such as music, theater, opera, virtual arts, discussion, street spectacle, dance, as well as comedy. The attendance for the festival was at its record high in the year 2018. It broke a quarter million for the first time since its inception.
More than 600 artists participated and created in more than 200 events that took place across the duration of the festival. The 41st year of the festival witnessed a new Festival Garden in Eyre Square that offered local food stands and pop-up performances. The Festival Garden also managed to attract 145000 odd people. In the festival of the year 2017, an estimation of 45% from Galway, 37% from outside Ireland and 18% from other parts of Ireland was made.
During the last 7-years of the Galway International Arts Festival, the organization has managed to produce or even co-produce 23 different productions and have also toured various parts of the world, such as Chicago, London, New York, Washington, Sydney, and Hong Kong. These tours also included 4 exhibition commissions. GIAL has developed a relationship with a Dublin-based production company by the name of Landmark Productions. Together they have also produced various works that were either directed or written by Enda Walsh.
In the recent times, Galway International Arts Festival has hosted several music guests in their Big Top tent. This tent erected ever year in the Fisheries Field that is located within the campus of NUI Galway. They also partner with local comedy and music venue Roisin Dubh where they organize some of their events as well. Some of the performances in the music program include Elvis Costello, The National, Philip Glass, Suede, Blondie, St. Vincent, David Byrne, Brodsky Quartet, Bon Iver, and Kronos Quartet.
Some of the performers or artists who have exhibited visual arts are Bill Viola, David Hockney, Patricia Piccinini, Henri Matisse, David Mach, Hughie O’Donoghue, as well as John Gerrard. The Galway International Arts Festival made an announcement in the year 2018 to introduce a new internship program in the visual arts. This was mainly done to train 25 participants to help them be able to engage with different patrons in the galleries in a detailed manner.
Theater and Dance
Enda Walsh, the Irish playwright, has featured in several of the Galway Arts Festival line-ups. The first play that was written by him was Disco Pigs, which was also the first stage role for Cillan Murphy in the festival of the year 1997. Ever since the first play, Walsh has gone on to work with the GIAF to produce various works that range from experimental staged “Rooms” to operas.
His play “Ballyturk” in the year 2014 won the Best Production Award at the Irish Times Theater Awards. At the same time, his play “Misterman” in the year 2011 went on to tour New York City. It also went on to become the New York Times Critics’ Choice for 18 days in a row. John Mahoney, an American actor, was a frequent performer at the festival starting in the year 2000. He has also said that he considers Galway as one of his favorite places in the entire world.
Some of the visiting international dance and theater companies include the Propeller, National Theater, Steppenwolf, The Royal Court, Michael Clark Company, Hofesh Shechter Dance Company, Druid Theater Company, and Fabulous Beast Dance Company.
Beginning in the year 2012, GIAF hosted a series of talks in every festival that revolves around a specific theme. During the year 2018, the festival’s First Thought Talks was all about “Home”, which was opened by President Michael D. Higgins. It was also followed up by 43 different scholars, athletes, scientists, and artists. These people were both from Ireland and abroad. Most of these talks are also recorded that can easily be accessed on the internet.