In the summer of 2020 the Arts Council hosted a series called 'Talking Festivals' which consisted of: six curated festival conversations, four ‘Live and Digital’ discussions for small/mid-scale festivals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic/public health
measures and an International webinar with artists and festival makers about planning in the face of uncertainty and the future landscape for festivals.
This initiative was established to provide a forum for festival makers in Ireland to share information in response to COVID-19 and for the Arts Council to gather intelligence to inform appropriate supports for festivals in the future.
To facilitate a sharing of knowledge between festival makers
To discuss and understand the implications of the challenges associated with COVID-19, such as social distancing restrictions, audience confidence, stakeholder management, financial resilience
To provide the Arts Council with intelligence on how festivals are responding to operational limitations and imagining possible future models of transmission of the arts.
To provide a shared forum for professional support amongst festivals.
We will have detailed intelligence about the challenges and opportunities facing the festivals sector to improve the Arts Council’s knowledge and supports for festivals
To use the learnings from this consultation to inform the Arts Council’s Festival’s Policy
To provide the information and intelligence gathered as a resource for research and reference
50 festival makers took part in a series of curated conversations; six focus groups discussing the challenges and opportunities presented by COVID-19 in their area of festival practice.
Minutes of the Curated Conversation sessions can be found via the links below.
The findings of these conversations informed the live and digital gatherings, a forum open to all arts festivals.
'Live and Digital'
100 Small to mid-scale festivals were invited to discuss the challenges and opportunities of presenting live and digital programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chaired by Ruth McGowan, Director, Dublin Fringe Festival and Lorraine Maye, Director, Cork
Midsummer Festival, the four sessions set out a series of provocations which led to broader discussion.
Minutes of the 'Live and Digital' sessions can be found via the links below.
An essay response from the four 'Live and Digital' discussions by Dr Bernadette Quinn can be found here.
Planning in the face of uncertainty
Reaching beyond national borders, 50 international artists, festival makers and stakeholders from over 10 countries were invited to share/pool their collective experience of dealing with festival making in 2020 and asked how it might be possible to plan
with confidence for 2021. The webinar consisted of five presentations from different country perspectives followed by working group sessions, a general discussion and then summation.
Jo Mangan - Artist/Festival Director (Carlow Arts Festival – Ireland)
Gintare Masteikaite - Festival Director (Baltic Moves Dance Festival – Lithuania)
Maggie Clarke - Director (Xtrax/Without Walls UK)
Ahmed El Attar - Artist/Festival Director (D-Caf – Egypt)
Dani Fecko - Theatre Producer and Touring agent (Fascinator Management – Canada)
Dr Maria O’Brien, Dublin City University (DCU)
Dr Ali Fitzgibbon, Queen’s University, Belfast
Dr Niamh Nic Ghabhann, University of Limerick
Dr Ali Gilmore, University of Manchester
Minutes of the webinar along with reflections and commentary from some of the group facilitators can be found below.
The 'Talking Festivals' series was coordinated and developed by Dr David Teevan, Festivals advisor to the Arts Council.