Take a Bow, Galway Arts Festival 2012

Oh, what a brilliant few weeks it has been. On behalf of all the GAF 2012 team, thank you so very much for your enduring support. Not only has it been another incredibly successful year, we have broken records for attendance across the board. A staggering 30,000 people turned out to see the fantastic Absolut Festival Gallery and a truly phenomenal 160,000 people attended the festival over two weeks. What can we say only a huge and heartfelt thanks. What an inspiration it is to see that despite everything – or perhaps because of it – a real love of the arts still exists in this country.

Over the course of the festival, various teams have been working away to ensure that events and experiences were captured for everyone to enjoy, now and always. GAF TV have been working especially hard, the fruits of which you can check out on their YouTube channel here, where you can enjoy highlights from this year’s festival, like this wonderful look at Macnas’s This Thunderous Heart:

While the two weeks in July when the festival takes place are GAF’s primary focus, work on the festival takes place all year round. For breaking news, exclusive content and to keep in the loop about next year’s preparations, not to mention enjoying the fruits of festivals past including this year’s, be sure to check out our website http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/, our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/galwayartsfestival and our Twitter feed https://twitter.com/galwayartsfest/ Over the next few days, we’ll be posting highlights of 2012, which you won’t want to miss.

All that remains is for us to say one final word of thanks to the people of Galway, all our sponsors, our fantastic performers, our volunteers and all of you who supported GAF 2012 in your thousands. Here’s to a record breaking 2013. We’ll leave you with a few exclusive images from this year’s magnificent festival, taken by Colm Hogan. Until next time.

Macnas turn the streets of Galway into a wonderland with This Thunderous Heart.

Artistic Director Paul Fahy basks in the fantastic setting of the Absolut Festival Gallery, which welcomed an amazing 30,000 people through its doors during the 2 weeks of the festival.

Spain’s Kamchatka perform their unique brand of street theatre for delighted on-lookers during GAF 2012.

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GAF’s First Thought Talks: Mary Robinson in conversation with Fintan O’Toole

First Thought Talks is a fresh addition to GAF, bringing great minds to Galway for a series of talks, lectures and events to stimulate and explore the nature of creativity. The full line up is available from http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/ but for now, we’re going to focus on what will be a meeting of two great Irish minds: former Irish president Mary Robinson in conversation with the assistant editor of the Irish Times,  Fintan O’Toole, which takes place on Friday July 27th at 6.30pm in the Town Hall Theatre.

Few can truly claim to have changed the political landscape of their country but Mary Robinson did just that when in 1990, after a career as a barrister, academic and campaigner, she became Ireland’s first female president, changing forever the role of women in Irish public life. In 1997, she became the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a position she held until 2002. Since then, Mary has continued to campaign for human rights and environmental protection, chairing the International Institute for Environment and Development and establishing the Council of Women World Leaders. A visionary, an advocate and a truly wise, powerful woman, Mary Robinson has earned herself a place in Irish and international history.

Fintan O’Toole has been named among the top 300 British intellectuals, although he is very much Irish, having been born in Dublin and now working as the assistant editor of the Irish Times. In recent years, he has been vocal in his condemnation of Ireland’s political system, reform for which he outlines in his 2010 bestseller, A New Republic. Fintan has written extensively on history, politics and the arts. His conversation with Mary is sure to be riveting and one of the major highlights of GAF 2012.  One not to be missed.

Think Differently: The Trailblazery presents Trailblaze at Galway Arts Festival

Trailblaze is a unique event, taking place at NUI Galway’s Aula Maxima at 8.30pm on Saturday July 28th . If you’ve ever longed to make your corner of the world that little bit better but had no idea of how to begin, then Trailblaze might just provide the inspiration and guidance you’re looking for.  Showcasing ideas, action and creativity, Trailblaze brings together a group of social pioneers including activists, musicians, educators, social entrepreneurs, provocateurs and artists from all kinds of backgrounds and persuasions. For a flavour of what to expect, take a look at the profiles below:

Trailblazer's Dylan HaskinsDublin born Dylan Haskins may only be twenty five but he has packed a great deal into his young years. Dylan unsuccessfully ran for office in the 2011 general election but his campaign attracted huge national and international attention. It wasn’t the first time Dylan had turned heads. A few years earlier, his former home became known as the Hideaway House, a venue for intimate music gigs and Dylan’s label Hideaway Records, which released the debut album of the band Heathers, whose single I Remember When has since become synonymous with Bord Failte advertising. In the past, Dylan has worked closely with the Project Arts Centre to develop a number of exhibitions and debates. He also finds the time to broadcast on the likes of RTÉ’s Arena.

Colm O’Gorman is the executive director of Amnesty International, Ireland. A survivor of clerical sex abuse, Colm spoke out about his experiences and went on to form the charity One in Four, which supports women and men who have been sexually abused or who have been the victims of sexual violence. Colm continues to campaign tirelessly for the rights of those abused by the Catholic Church and for the protection of human rights internationally. He has also served in the Seanad.

Sunny Jacobs is an incredible woman. After spending seventeen years in jail for a crime she did not commit, she found the strength to forgive and to forge a new life for herself in the West of Ireland. In 1976, Sunny and her partner were wrongly implicated in the murder of two policemen. Like Sunny, Jesse Tafero was sentenced to death. He subsequently died in a horrific botched execution. By the time Sunny’s conviction was overturned, her little children were fully fledged adults who barely remembered her while her parents had died in a tragic airplane crash. Instead of riling against the cruelty of those who robbed her of so many precious years, Sunny forgave those who wrongly imprisoned her, wrote a book about her experiences and began campaigning to eradicate the death penalty, a cause she continues to fight for to this day.

Dylan, Colm and Sunny are just a few of the inspiring people featured in the Trailblazery’s Trailblaze, which is sure to be a very special event. For more info on it and everything GAF related, check out http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/

Watch It: GAF TV

A GAF TV screenshot of the Misterman set.

With so much packed into the two weeks of Galway Arts Festival every single year, keeping track and preserving all those special moments is a mammoth task. Thankfully, GAF TV have been doing a stellar job of capturing the magic on film and now, for your viewing pleasure, the GAF archive is available online.

If there’s anything you’ve missed or a favourite festival memory you’d like to relive, then spend some quality time flicking through the gems on http://gaftv.ie/ For this year’s latest GAF TV reports, including an exclusive interview with Chic’s legendary Nile Rodgers, check out http://www.youtube.com/galwayartsfest or click on the clips below, featuring comedian and star of RTÉ’s the Savage Eye Dave McSavage, artist David Mach whose exhibition Precious Light is taking the festival by storm and Michael Kaeshammer, one of Canada’s brightest musical exports.

For more of GAF TV and all things festival related, check out http://galwayartsfestival.com/

GAF’s First Thought Talks

What is creativity? How do you develop it – or can you? Is it something innate, something inside us all or just the chosen few? This year’s First Thought Talks will probe the nature of creativity, something we all covet (how parents glow when they’re told their little one is creative!) but something that can be hard to make time for or cultivate in our hectic world. Alas without creativity human kind would never have progressed and culture as we know it would most likely be non-existent. Creativity and everything that flows from it is something to be fostered, explored and cherished.

First Thought Talks will see some of the biggest names from the Irish cultural landscape and beyond discuss the nature of creativity as they see it. Interviewees will include Ireland’s first female president, Mary Robinson (in conversation with Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times), Tom Murphy and Garry Hynes, John Mahoney, Nile Rodgers and adventurer Caroline Casey among many, many others. First Thought Talks will also encompass Backstage at the Festival, which will see the likes of  Propeller, the Crash Ensemble and Julian Gough among others discussing their work.

First Thought Talks are simply unmissable for anyone with an inquiring mind or an iota of creativity in their soul (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?). Whether it is an interview, panel discussion or lecture, you’re sure to find something to fire your imagination so don’t miss out on these unique events. You can get more info and all First Thought Talks tickets here: http://galwayartsfestival.com/

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