Arts Minister Catherine Martin has sanctioned a “re-imagined” Galway European Capital of Culture programme which will run till next March only and with many performances by 28 projects transferring online.
A “largely digital” version of Macnas street theatre’s planned epic Gilgamesh and a series of outdoor one-act plays by Druid Theatre company are among highlights of the scaled down programme, which had to be paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Galway International Arts Festival will also host a “mirror pavilion” by international artist John Gerrard on the Claddagh in September and in Connemara in October.
However, Ms Martin made no reference to the bid by Music for Galway to reschedule its year-long classical music programme to run throughout 2021.
If it is forced to wrap it up by March 2021, international artists including Chinese composer Tan Dun will be unable to travel and it has argued that State investment of some 800,000 euro in its project will have been largely lost.
Ms Martin said that the revised programme will “now involve a combination of physical performance in compliance with prevailing restrictions and online delivery”.
“Galway 2020 and its dedicated cultural partners, like so many others in the arts and cultural sector, have been deeply impacted by the Covid-19 crisis,”she said, and a revised 2020 programme with “many projects online” would extend it to “additional audiences globally”, she said.
She said that the programme, “which involves more than 350 Irish artists... embraces a range of projects covering theatre, dance, visual art, musical composition and performance, circus and street performance, literature, poetry and film”.
Ms Martin said it “addresses many of the varied sectors of society, including children, youth and older people, Traveller community, people with intellectual and sensory disabilities and hospital patients”.
A Galway 2020 Schools and Small Towns Big Ideas project with a county reach are included, and seven of the 28 projects are solely in the Irish language or fully bi-lingual.
She paid tribute to Galway 2020 and said her announcement followed a commitment on June 16 to give an additional €25m for the arts sector “to support it through this extremely difficult period”.
Ms Martin’s predecessor, Josepha Madigan, had committed to retaining the promised allocation of €15m in Government funding to Galway 2020, while Galway city and county councils had promised €10m.
However, an attempt by Galway city council to secure an additional €2.5m was opposed by Galway city councillors who are due to hear a presentation from Galway 2020 this month.