Galway’s Creative Magic


It’s festival time in Galway. The Film Fleadh came to a close this week, and Galway International Arts Festival launched with a solo exhibition of hyperrealist sculptor Sam Jinks, in a repurposed post office in the heart of Galway city. As the county sinks its teeth into yet another week of bubbling creativity, we at Galway 2020 are reflecting on the powerful role of art in our lives. How can we tap into this power, and ensure that art remains part of the very fabric of everyday life here for years to come? In planning ahead into 2020, these questions have never left our minds. Such questions require a vision, rather than a one-word answer.

After countless Macnas parades and spectacular festival cycles, the people of Galway know a thing or two about making art accessible to all, and accessibility is key in forming a meaningful arts scene. Another key ingredient which can come into conflict with accessibility is risk. The people involved in 2020 recognise that great art calls for a leap of faith. For this reason, the Small Towns Big Ideas programme is both a widely accessible platform for smaller projects and an invitation to take that leap – thinking beyond financial and logistical barriers. Previous projects have ranged from theatre, film, visual arts, dance, music, storytelling and craft. Upcoming endeavours will cover even more ground, while also freeing up art institutions to improve facilities. In supporting existing spaces and inviting new movers and shakers, the vision of a vibrant and sustainable arts community is coming in to sharp focus.


Small Towns Big Ideas will connect creative groups throughout Galway and Europe, as well as other social groups that may have never come into contact before. If we want to make culture meaningful for everyone, we have to consider the social value of art. When socially engaged groups join forces with artists and performers, the work becomes a vessel for change. A fantastical storytelling session can address the very real need for connection across cultural and economic barriers (Telling Stories, Sharing Cultures) for example, or an interactive performance for children with autism (Hear Our Voices) can act as a catalyst in rethinking public and cultural life for the autistic community.


Changes will not be confined to the year of 2020. Wires Crossed is one project whose effects we can expect to see for many years to come – with Galway Community Circus training 400 people in the art of funambulism (wire walking) over the course of four years. The project highlights Galway’s performing arts tradition in a European context, bringing together 12 trainers from different parts of Europe. An exercise in mindfulness and physical endurance (not to mention fun), funambulism is a stark reminder of the importance of balance in mental health. Wires Crossed is perhaps a perfect metaphor for our vision of 2020 – balanced, powerful and far-reaching.


Together with our skilled programme partners, we will seek to deliver an exceptional 2020 cultural calendar that builds on Galway’s strong artistic foundations. It is our hope that these creative strides will have an impact on everyday life across Galway, and ultimately prompt a legacy of arts infrastructure for Galway in the future.

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