Thursday, May 30, 2013

Looking forward to and back at the Galway Arts Festival

The annual celebration of all things creative and cultural, the Galway Arts Festival, has unveiled its program for 2013, which along with the sun shining high (as of time of writing!) is really marking the beginning of Summer here in the West.

The archive of the Galway Arts Festival, covering 33 boxes of archive material and over 200 posters, is deposited with the Archives and Special Collections Service of the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway. It is a record of the beginings, growth and evolution of the festival, it's events, memories, people and stories.

Galwa Arts Festival Poster 1991
The Galway Arts Festival was first staged in 1978. It was the culmination of the efforts and ideas that grew out of the University College Galway Arts Society. Ollie Jennings became auditor of this society, taking over from Garry Hynes, who became one of the founders of Druid Theatre Company. Under the direction of Ollie Jennings, this group, which included Paraic Breathnach, Marie Mullen and others, went on to become the Galway Arts Society. This new group set out to become a voice for the Arts in Galway and strove to find a permanent home for a dedicated Arts Centre in Galway City. Further to this was the aim of setting up an annual Arts Festival for Galway City. The first Galway Arts Festival was staged from the 6th to the 12th April 1978. It was described by Dickie Byrne in the Galway Advertiser as 'Galway Arts Society's Week of Craic'.

The central venue was one of John Murray's converted antique rooms between Raftery's Store and the old Genoa (Nora Barnacle's) The line-up at this original Galway Arts Festival included readings by John McGahern, Paul Muldoon and John Hewitt, the opening of film by Bob Quinn entitled Poitin, instillations from visual artist James Coleman and puppet theatre from Jay Murphy and Brian Bourke. Following the success of this first Galway Arts Festival, it was expanded in 1979 and received an increased grant from the Arts Council. An additional Festival space was also opened up for use at the old Pro-Cathedral.

The Galway Arts Festival is today one of the most diverse and successful arts festivals anywhere in the world and is a highlight on the Irish Arts calendar. Over the coming months and in the lead up to the Festival we will bring you some highlights, memories and great images from great festivals past and recent.

The above image, being the GAF official poster image for 1991 is just one great image and we hope to bring you many more!

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