The Galway International Arts Festival is celebrating 40 years this year. Over those many years the Festival has grownt o become not just the highlight of Galway's cultural and artistic calendar every but also that of Ireland, now recognised as one of the major annual arts festivals in Europe.
The archive of the Galway International Arts Festival resides within the archive collections of the Hardiman Library of NUI Galway. It is an amazing record of how the festival was established and grew to attract not just the best of Irish artists and performers of all kinds, but also the cream of international talent. The collection consists of over thirty-five boxes of manuscripts and documents, comprising some of the first minute books of the Festival committee, correspondence with leading artists, programmes and posters for various events, an expansive photographic collection, press cuttings and of course the famous Galway Arts Festival posters themselves.
The archive of Galway Arts Festival includes a detailed record of administration, productions and events held during the Galway Arts Festival since its inception in 1978. The collection includes records which document the establishment and early years of the Galway Arts Festival and follows its growth and expansion into one of Europe's largest multi-disciplinary arts festivals. In the administrative records there are editions of minutes from Galway Arts Festival committee and management meetings 1980-1982. Financial records from this time also document the income and expenditure of the Galway Arts Festival and the Galway Arts Group as well as detailing levels and requirements of sponsorship for the Galway Arts Festival. The production files include a high volume of excellent quality photographs from full productions and events across all disciplines in the Galway Arts Festival. The photographs are black and white and also colour and cover theatre, comedy, dance, music, literature, visual art, street events and children's events. These images are printed on good quality photographic paper and range in size.
A series of slides also present a visual element to this collection. The Galway Arts Festival archive boasts a large volume of posters and other promotional ephemeral material. This outsize material relates to full productions in the Galway Arts Festival and also publicity material issued by the Galway Arts Festival. The series of press files contain records of local (Galway and West of Ireland) press cuttings of interviews with and features on members of Galway Arts Festival directors and management, reviews of productions and events at the Festival and news on Arts, theatre and culture in general nationwide around Ireland. This series of records is complemented by a series of press releases that document the information given to media at the outset of the Galway Arts Festival. A detailed and comprehensive list of events in various codes including theatre, music, visual art, children's events, literature provide an account of all acts which performed each year at the Galway Arts Festival.
The records reveal just how much the people of Galway, the West and from much further afield have been an active part of the spectacle of the festival. Images of crowded streets and venues across the city show how audiences have been enthralled by all the Festival has to offer for all tastes and interests. The archive also compliments other related local artistic and cultural archives, such as those of Druid Theatre, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, Macnas and many more, building a comprehensive memory of the Arts in Galway for over the past four decades.
A full listing of the Galway Arts Festival archive is available on the Library online catalogue
For any visitors to the Galway International Arts Festival and are curious about this amazing archive collection, please do contact the Archives service for information on access.