Arts shindig loses spotlight to unhappy fringe group

ONE of the country’s best loved arts shindigs, The Galway Arts Festival, was launched last night but the gloss was taken from the event with news that an alternative programme was to be announced by a fringe group unhappy with the official proceedings.

The 2006 GAF features over 400 writers, artists, performers and musicians from around the globe and this 29th GAF is the first under the stewardship of new festival artistic director Paul Fahy.

However, while the calibre and variety of the programme is undeniable, Project 06, a group of Galway-based artists, arts groups and promoters, feel the local element to the programme has suffered and have established an alternative festival to draw attention to the issue.

One of the Project 06 leaders, manager of the Sawdoctors Ollie Jennings, who was one of the original founder-members of the official GAF 29 years ago and director on 12 occasions, said the Project 06 group were enormously supportive of the official festival but were hoping “that the GAF will take note of the quality and quantity of Galway artists that are performing in Project 06 and that they will incorporate a more wide-ranging selection of local artists in future festivals”.

This year’s programme for the GAF includes: a spectacular festival parade; world and national theatrical premieres featuring playwrights Mark Ravenhill and Vincent Woods with Alan Rickman directing West End smash My Name Is Rachel Corrie; a huge musical menu featuring Simple Minds, David Gray and Bell X1, Lambchop, Richard Thompson, The Tiger Lillies, Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill, the New Orleans All Star Party featuring Allen Toussaint and Galway’s ConTempo String Quartet.

There is also a huge programme of literary and visual arts events as well as plenty of family and child-friendly performances and events.

The festival runs from July 17-30 and online booking is available from Friday June 9 on or in person or by phone from Monday June 26 at 091-566577.

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