Galway Capital of Culture 2020: what to expect

From a celebration of sheep to tightrope walking, Galway promises to deliver over 50 events to thrill

Members of the Galway culture team celebrating their win of the European Capital of Culture for 2020 at the National Concert Hall. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Members of the Galway culture team celebrating their win of the European Capital of Culture for 2020 at the National Concert Hall. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The honours are in and Galway has been named European Capital of Culture 2020.

The city saw off competition from Limerick and the Three Sisters cities of Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford (Dublin was knocked out last year).

So, what did the winning bid look like and what’s planned for 2020 and beyond?

Galway’s theme is “Making Waves – Landscape, Language and Migration” and the proposed budget was €45.75 million. It includes more than 50 projects, including special events from the city stalwarts Macnas, Druid, Galway International Arts Festival, Galway Film Fleadh, Branar and Music for Galway.

Instead of waiting for the decision, Galway already committed funds to a range of cultural projects, some of which have already begun. One of these is Hope it Rains, led by Ríonnach Ní Néill, which will create weather-interactive instruments and words that appear only in wet weather. As well as this, there are more than 500 active volunteers already in place for the projectm which is being managed by Patricia Philbin. Other projects include:

Wires Crossed: a Balancing Act for Europe

Highlighting the importance of mental health while promoting risk-taking and adventure, the project partners, Galway Community Circus and members of Caravan, the European network of youth and social circus schools, will train more than 40 people from across Europe to learn funambulism (tightrope walking) in the run-up to 2020. This will lead to a dramatic gathering and tightrope crossings of the River Corrib, one of the shortest yet fastest rivers in Europe.

Galway Ghost Train: The Speed of Light

Working with the Glasgow public-art supremos NVA, to celebrate the Galway-Clifden railway line, which is now being developed as a 75km cycle greenway, the project will involve hundreds of runners and cyclists wearing wireless-controlled LED light suits.

These are choreographed to create a series of live performances of sound, movement and light on the route, interacting with the cityscape, local landmarks and the coastline. Judging from similar Speed of Light events that NVA have created for Edinburgh, Yokohama and the Ruhr, it promises to be extraordinary and wonderful.

Project Baa Baa!

A mini-festival in June, this one celebrates sheep. Looking at the shared cultural heritage of Europe and North Africa, and with a street feast, exploration of fabric, weaving and knitting, fashion, poetry, folklore, myth and religion, plus the chance to help with the lambing season, it should be lots of fun. The project is produced by the Galway cheesemonger Seamus Sheridan, in association with European Collective of Sheep Farmers and Shepherds.

Hy Brasil

In the run-up to 2020 the children of Galway will imagine Hy Brasil, the mythical island seen off the west coast every seven years, into being. Aided by storytellers, writers and artists, they will look at questions around philosophy, governance, social inclusion and justice, environment, art, culture and legacy. Aimed to showcase the power of teaching through the arts, the results will be facilitated by a team from Poetry Ireland, alongside Danish theatremakers and UK-based environmental artists, but what happens in the end will be entirely up to the children.  

In case you were wondering, the judges were Steve Green (United Kingdom), Jordi Pardo (Spain), Suzana Zilic Fiser (Slovenia), Ulrich Fuchs (Germany), Aiva Rozenberga (Latvia), Pauli Sivonen (Finland), Sylvia Amann (Austria), Cristina Farinha (Portugal), Agnieszka Wlazel (Poland) and Alain Hutchinson (Belgium).

galway2020.ie

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