Drogheda Arts Festival: Louth County Council
Drogheda Arts Festival was the brainchild of Drogheda Borough Council Arts Officer, Rosemary Collier, and she programmed and managed its first incarnation in 2004.
Since then, the Festival has grown and developed, becoming the largest multi-disciplinary arts festival in the north-east, as well as the largest between Dublin and Belfast. The relationship between the Arts Service of Louth County Council and the arts community in Drogheda has been crucial to the success of the initiative, as has the annual financial contribution by The Arts Council.
Drogheda Arts Festival‘s programme is based heavily on commissioning and premièring new work. Upstate Theatre Company’s “The Far Side”, which went on to garner many positive reviews at the 2013 Dublin Fringe Festival, was a Drogheda Arts Festival commission. Similarly, Calipo Theatre Company’s Pineapple, written by Philip McMahon lit up the 2012 Dublin Theatre Festival. Louth Contemporary Music Society has ensured that composers such as Terry Riley, Alexander Knaifel and Sofia Gubaidulina have been present at Drogheda Arts Festival for the world premières of their specially- commissioned work . Exhibitions created specifically for the Festival by both Droichead Arts Centre and Highlanes Gallery have toured to other visual arts venues, and the net effect of these commissions, premières, and touring has been to establish Drogheda Arts Festival as a power- house for cultural innovation in the region.
The partnership between the Arts Service and the arts community in Drogheda sees all the Festival’s financial management, payments and fundraising undertaken by the Arts Service, with the experience, expertise, and enthusiasm of individuals and companies such as Calipo Theatre Company, Nexus Arts, External Sounds, Upstate, Highlanes and Droichead Arts Centre providing the artistic programming and marketing . Through this arrangement, the Festival manages not to employ dedicated staff, thus ensuring the resources available go into the programme itself, ensuring a higher than normal proportion of the overall budgets goes into artists’ pockets. The Festival utilises all the dedicated arts spaces in the town, as well as programming events and interventions into shops, derelict buildings, car parks, streets, museums and stately houses.
Drogheda Arts Festival stretches herself in a languid fashion across five days around the May Bank Holiday each year, and has become a harbinger of summer in Louth and Meath. Long may it continue!