Despite the economy being in recession and a summer characterised by rain, the Galway Arts Festival managed to enjoy a bumper year, drawing in record crowds for many shows.
Numbers were up again on the 2011 festival with “record breaking crowds” attending the various performances over the festival fortnight.
“We are absolutely delighted with the success of this year’s event,” said GAF chief executive John Crumlish. “This was one of our most ambitious festivals to date and I would like to thank all our audiences, our wonderful artists, and all our sponsors and funders for helping us make the past two weeks so memorable.”
The ABSOLUT Festival Gallery in the Galway Shopping Centre drew more numbers that before to the signature GAF exhibitions.
“Precious Light, by one of Scotland’s leading international visual artists David Mach, was a huge hit with audiences this year with over 2,000 visitors daily,” said GAF artistic director Paul Fahy. “It was wonderful to see such a fantastic response.”
Meanwhile the Macnas Parade attracted crowds in excess of 50,000, despite the rain last Sunday week.
Actors John Mahoney and Rondi Reed, who appeared in The Outgoing Tide, both enjoyed their stay in Galway.
“I loved being back in Galway once again,” said Mr Mahoney. “It was great working so closely with the festival on this show and as always the people of Galway were so warm and welcoming. I just love being part of this great festival.”
The First Thought Talks, a new initiative from the festival featuring a series of interviews and discussions exploring creativity, saw large numbers attend talks with Alex Ross, John Mahoney and Rondi Reid, author Jules Evans, and founder of The Aisling Foundation Caroline Casey.
Former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, was joined in conversation with Fintan O’Toole, as were playwright Tom Murphy and Druid’s Garry Hynes to mark DruidMurphy, while Chic’s Nile Rodgers discussed his life and work with journalist Jim Carroll