Dublin Fringe Festival has completely reimagined its annual arts showcase to enable its 2020 event to go ahead. With support from core funders the Arts Council and Dublin City Council and principal patron Ballymore, the festival is preparing to blaze a trail with this year’s event, which runs from September 5-20.
Although the festival has had to abandon its familiar format, it has drawn on its trademark ingenuity and come up with fresh ways for artists and audiences to connect. Its Dublin Fringe Festival: Pilot Light Edition will present a series of performances and artistic interventions, which will be taking place across Dublin, as well as on the internet and the airwaves.
Final details of the festival programme won’t be revealed until August, but it is expected to include outdoor performances, solo art adventures and site-specific shows for small audiences. These event formats have been developed to ensure the festival follows social distancing and safe working guidelines. The festival is ready to make a safe return to live performance if Ireland’s phased reopening continues according to government plans, but also has back-up plans in case they are needed.
Alongside this, there is FRINGE LAB, a programme of creativity by 50 artists that runs from July to December this year. Dublin Fringe is providing support to these artists through mentorship and masterclass opportunities, as well as residencies and development bursaries.
“Dublin Fringe is about discovery. There is a spirit of invention in the organisation’s DNA,” explains Dublin Fringe Festival Director Ruth McGowan. “We’re making a different kind of festival this year, but staying true to our core mission: artform development and talent development. We are doing this by offering artists the opportunity to lead, to innovate, to adapt and create within the new parameters. We are undertaking this work with care, humility and rigorous adherence to government guidelines.”
There is an even greater sense of purpose to this year’s festival, she says. “After so much time spent apart, we are all longing for shared experience. The ideas artists have been dreaming up propose innovative new ways to have them, together and safely. We’re committed to supporting their visions as they bring the cultural life of the city back out in to the light.”
At the 2019 festival Ballymore co-presented a new award, giving the prize winners the opportunity to perform at the new home of English National Ballet, which is located at Ballymore’s London City Island development, in east London. Both the festival and Ballymore are excited to be continuing their collaboration. Sean Mulryan, Chairman and Group Chief Executive of Ballymore, says: “At Ballymore, we look to be creative in everything we do and it was the extraordinary talent of so many creative, emerging artists and top talent that attracted Ballymore to partner with Dublin Fringe in 2019.”
He continues: “Despite the ongoing uncertainty, I am certain that Dublin Fringe’s determination to deliver interesting solutions to the challenge we face will result in a version of the festival that will be truly unique. Ballymore is proud to partner with the ever-creative Dublin Fringe in creating a festival to remember in 2020.”