Eugene Downes Appointed as Director of Kilkenny Arts Festival
Kilkenny Arts Festival has announced the appointment of Eugene Downes as Festival Director, a position which he will take up mid-October 2013.
Eugene Downes served from 2007–12 as Chief Executive of Culture Ireland, creating a new model for the promotion and advancement of Irish arts worldwide. In that role he also planned and led Imagine Ireland, a year-long festival of Irish arts across the US in 2011. From 2000–07 he acted as an international arts consultant, advising the Irish Government on strategy and curating and producing arts events across Europe, Asia and South America. Previous experience included the Irish Foreign Service, a spell as Cultural Attaché in Russia and as a music and opera broadcaster on RTÉ Lyric FM. Eugene is a Board member of Druid and the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA), co-chairing its annual Congress in New York in 2012. He has also served on the Boards of the Abbey Theatre, the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Irish Theatre Institute, Rough Magic and the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, and as a member of the Export Trade Council, the National Forum on Europe and the Council of National Cultural Institutions.
Downes’s appointment comes following the announcement in early July that current Festival Director Rosemary Collier would take up the role of Executive Director with Opera Theatre Company following the 2013 festival.
Remarking on his new role Eugene Downes commented: ‘From its beginning forty years ago, Kilkenny Arts Festival has always had a sense of world-class artistic standards. Kilkenny’s unique combination of graceful medieval cityscape, intimate scale, warm welcome and marvellous historic venues create a very special festival for audiences and artists alike. I’m excited, and honoured, to be asked to lead the Festival at a time of real potential to enhance both its artistic programme and its reputation at home and abroad.’
Speaking of the appointment, Kilkenny Arts Festival chairperson, Emer Foley said, ‘The Board of the festival is delighted to have appointed someone of the calibre of Eugene Downes to the role of Festival Director. The festival has developed enormously under the tenure of Rosemary Collier and the festival has seen unprecedented growth in the last two years. She will be sorely missed and we wish her all the best in her new role. It is an exciting time for the festival and there are significant opportunities ahead. We are very much looking forward to Eugene, with his wealth of experience working in the arts both in Ireland and abroad, leading the festival through this next stage of development.’
The 40th Kilkenny Arts Festival, which finished on 18 August, saw increased numbers attending events during this ten-day celebration. The Festival attracted more than 30,000 visitors for an eclectic line-up of events which featured world premieres with the Crash Ensemble and junk ensemble, the return of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, performances by four time grammy award winner Dawn Upshaw, a city-wide arts project with the UK artist Bob & Roberta Smith, readings with Ron Rash, Kevin Barry, Colm Toibin and a number of sold-out music shows in venues as diverse as the Set Theatre to St. Canice’s Cathedral.
Kilkenny Arts Festival is core funded by the Arts Council and supported by Fáilte Ireland and Kilkenny Local Authorities.