Arts festival 2010 gave welcome €20 million boost to local economy
By Declan Varley
Galway business received a €20 million boost from this year’s Arts Festival, organisers revealed this week as the curtain fell on what was a successful event which saw record crowds visit the city during the two weeks.
Seventy-six individual events were staged this year with over 250 performances and the programme had a strong mix of both Irish and international artists with organisers expecting a similar direct economic impact of €19.6 million, on track with 2009, and an estimated 165,000 visitors.
The festival cost €2 million to run and despite a 10 per cent Arts Council cut this year, the quality and standard of the programme was still of a high calibre enjoyed by audiences of all ages and cultures.
Internationally renowned companies Hofesh Shechter Company, Bristol Old Vic, Reginald D Hunter, Matisse visual art exhibition and Rodrigo y Gabriela impressed audiences with their outstanding productions and performances. Box office sales proved more last minute this year but are on target to match 2009 with a strong surge in sales for the duration of the festival and an increase in the uptake of group bookings this year. City hotels and restaurants reported full bookings during the two weeks.
Galway Arts Festival director, Paul Fahy said he was thrilled with the results.
“Presenting such a large scale event in challenging times was a massive undertaking and thankfully proved to be a great boost to the city in so many different ways. We have already received great feedback on the ground and from many of our international visitors. This week ahead is very busy in terms of post production with a huge tidy up underway.
“Sunday, our closing day, saw record crowds at our Absolut Visual Arts Programme and again the message to the city for the need for a major space for the visual arts or a cultural centre couldn't be more evident. Let's hope this is not a distant dream."
This week the festival production team begin the dismantling of the Festival Big Top, the Fairgreen Festival Gallery and final theatre get-outs. The cast and crew from New York Theatre Workshop were the final departures early Monday morning, who were overwhelmed by Galway city, the people, the atmosphere and the standard of the Festival, a common message relayed to organisers by many participating artists.
Several festival directors, which included the Brisbane Festival Director visited the city and left very fulfilled by their festival and Galway experience.
Galway Arts Festival Television (GAFTV), the Festival’s virtual stage captured daily reports on the festival, exclusive interviews, backstage performances and a series of roving reports from journalist Olaf Tyaransen. To catch all the Festival 2010 exclusive interviews visit www.galwayartsfestival.com/gaftv
Filmmakers arrived from all over Ireland and abroad to create the arts festivals’ ‘virtual stage’. ‘In a way its like a digital Woodstock,” according to project director Justin McCarthy.