Monday, July 16, 2018

The Galway International Arts Festival - An Archive of Stories and Spectacle

Late July in Galway has become synonymous with one thing. For forty years the Galway International Arts Festival has grown to become not just the highlight of Galway's cultural and artistic calendar but also to be one of the largest cultural celebrations in Europe. 

The archive of the Galway International Arts Festival resides within the Hardiman Library of NUI Galway. The GIAF archive is a detailed record of the history and achievements of the festival, as well as an account of its establishment and its growth over many years. It offers a record of how GIAF engaged not just the best of Irish artists and performers of all kinds, but also leading international artists. The archive consists of over thirty-five boxes of manuscripts and documents, comprising some of the first minute books of the Festival committee, correspondence with leading artists, programmes and posters for various events, an expansive photographic collection, press cuttings, and of course the famous Galway Arts Festival posters.

The archive includes a detailed record of administration, productions, and events held during the Galway International Arts Festival since its inception in 1978. Within the administrative records, there are editions of minutes from Galway Arts Festival committee and management meetings 1980-1982. The production files include a large volume of photographs from productions and events across all disciplines in the Galway Arts Festival. The photographs document events across theatre, comedy, dance, music, literature, visual art, street performance, and children's events. The images are also a record of the audiences and experiences of GIAF - those who each year return, witness, enjoy and take part in a celebration of the arts in Galway and which ripples outward into the world. 

The archive also includes a large volume of artist and event posters and other promotional ephemeral material. The series of press files contain records of local (Galway and west of Ireland) press cuttings of interviews and features with artists, members of Galway Arts Festival directors and management, reviews of productions and events at the festival and news on arts, theatre and culture in general nationwide around Ireland. The press files also offer a detailed and comprehensive list of events in various codes including theatre, music, visual art, children's events, literature provide an account of all acts which performed each year at the festival. Hearing the stories of visiting artists as well as local and Irish artists gives an indication of what it meant for a practitioner to have their work as part of the GIAF as well as collecting the many voices and stories of those who make the festival programme a special experience each year.

The records reveal just how the people of Galway, the west of Ireland and from much further afield have been an active part of the spectacle of the festival. Images of crowded streets and venues across the city show how audiences have been enthralled by all the Festival has to offer for all tastes and interests. The archive also compliments other related local artistic and cultural archives, such as those of Druid Theatre Company, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, Macnas and many others, building a comprehensive memory of the Arts in Galway for over the past four decades.

A full listing of the Galway Arts Festival archive is available on the Archives online catalogue

For any visitors to the Galway International Arts Festival and are curious about this amazing archive collection, please contact the Archives service for information on access.