Covid-19 forces Kilkenny Arts Festival to cancels its August line-up

Kilkenny decision follows calling off of Galway International Arts Festival in July

Kilkenny Arts Festival: The Big Chapel X, which was performed throughout the town of Callan for the 2019 event. Photograph: John D Kelly

Kilkenny Arts Festival: The Big Chapel X, which was performed throughout the town of Callan for the 2019 event. Photograph: John D Kelly

 

Kilkenny Arts Festival, due to run from August 6th until August 16th, will not take place as planned, because of Covid-19 restrictions, the festival announced today, but it will “present a number of events in different ways”, to be announced later.

The decision to call off the event follows publication of the Government’s road map for reopening society and business, and consulting artists and partners. The health and safety of audiences, artists, volunteers and Kilkenny citizens remain its priority, the festival said.

Its director, Olga Barry, said the board and team are “so disappointed Kilkenny Arts Festival, as we know and love it, will not happen in its 47th year this summer. The festival has always been about the remarkable combination and warmth of artists and audiences coming together in our gorgeous city.”

The festival will continue to support artists, she said, and is planning other events this year.

The cancellation came on the same day as the Arts Council’s new advisory group, to combat the severe fallout of the coronavirus crisis for the arts, meets for the first time. The group, comprising experts from the arts, public health, economics and media, will identify ways to deal with the crisis and calculate the scale of the emergency financial package the sector will need.

The Kilkenny decision follows Galway International Arts Festival’s announcement at the weekend that it will not go ahead as planned this July 13th-26th. The Galway festival plans to present a programme of events this autumn, subject to public-health guidelines. Its chief executive, John Crumlish, and artistic director, Paul Fahy, said: “While the festival is a huge part of the summer calendar in Ireland, and has a significant cultural and economic impact, it has no option other than to make this decision.”

Its Big Top concerts have been rescheduled for July 2021, and the festival has urged ticketholders to keep their tickets, “as this will make a huge difference to the festival overall during these difficult and uncertain times”; refunds are also available.