Special Initiatives

In addition to Culture Ireland’s work supporting the promotion of Irish artists, special initiatives and unique opportunities are created for artists operating in all forms of art across the entire network to introduce their work to new audiences and expand their network of contacts.



The festival, entitled SEODA, meaning jewels, includes many of Ireland’s finest artists and companies and covers all art forms from architecture to visual arts. This 5 day festival running from 17-21 March 2021 was an ambitious programme to ensure Irish artists reach audiences worldwide, including the diaspora and new audiences where Irish artists may not have travelled previously. The festival was available free online.

Included in SEODA’s programme was a strong theatre offer with highlights of the Abbey Theatre’s Dear Ireland 2020 Reflections on a Pandemic, Druid Theatre’s production of The Cherry Orchard adapted by Tom Murphy and Solar Bones, based on the award winning novel by Mike McCormack, produced by Rough Magic/ Kilkenny Arts Festival.

For children the festival included the internationally acclaimed The Wolf and Peter by CoisCeim Dance Theatre, The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly by Theatre Lovett and Prime Cut’s production of Removed.

On the film front, as well a select series of film shorts, there was a focus on Cartoon Saloon’s Academy Award nominated Wolfwalkers. An exhibition of the film in the Butler Gallery Kilkenny, accompanied by a performance by Kila, who has been nominated for the Hollywood Music in Media awards as part of the composer team for the film.

The focus on music is wide ranging from traditional music with Martin Hayes, Ireland’s Cultural Ambassador to a diverse programme from the Irish Chamber Orchestra and a special Italian flavour with The Trials of Tenducci by the Irish Baroque Orchestra.

Highlights of the literature events included a tribute to Derek Mahon, led by Stephen Rea produced by TradFest, a special evening from the National Concert Hall curated by Sinead Gleeson and a Cúirt Festival event, presented from Ashford Castle.

The global aspect was enhanced with events from three of the key Irish Cultural Centres abroad, Irish Arts Center, NY, The London Irish Centre, Camden and Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris.

All events were available free to audiences around the world through Culture Ireland’s YouTube channel.

All performing artists were being paid for the online presentation of their work and many of the artists and companies are supported by the Arts Council.


Ireland Performs

Ireland Performs was an initiative by Culture Ireland which was introduced as an immediate response to COVID-19 lockdown in March of 2020 in partnership with Facebook.

Under Ireland Performs, €120,000 was paid to professional Irish artists for the presentation of their work online. A total of 120 online performances were run over a six week period and attracted a global audience of almost 1 million.

The performances delivered by diverse artists presenting from their homes, gardens and local spaces included Moncrieff, Kitt Philippa, Slow Moving Clouds, Felispeaks, Niall de Búrca, Tommy Fleming, Rónán Ó Snodaigh, and Los Paddys. Most of the 120 Ireland Performs events are still available to be viewed through the links below https://events.cultureireland.ie/events/




In 2018, Culture Ireland delivered a programme of Irish artistic activity with special focus on Britain including a range of events across artistic disciplines in high-profile venues, institutions and festivals, building on Ireland’s special history and relationship with its nearest neighbour.

Culture Ireland invested over a million euro in the programme, and events reached a live audience across Britain of over 500,000, playing nearly 300 venues, of which 200 featured Culture Ireland supported projects for the first time. The programme served to re-ignite the interest of British promoters in presenting Irish work. GB18 events were be seen in more than two dozen cities around Britain including, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Channel Islands, Cheltenham, Chester, Dundee, Edinburgh, Fishguard, Glasgow, St. Helen’s, Ipswich, Liverpool, London, Ludlow, Manchester, Paisley, Southampton, Reading, Rye, St. Andrews and Warwick. The programme saw Ireland feature as the focus country at the annual industry showcase event in Scotland as part of Celtic Connections, where six Irish acts presented their work to an audience of 250 programmers/presenters. Other highlights include ‘Imagining Ireland’, a special concert featuring emerging Irish music artists (including Loah and Stephen James Smith) presented by Serious in association with the National Concert Hall Dublin. The initiative also saw 22 Irish Bands (largest Irish delegation ever) perform at The Great Escape, Brighton as part of the Music from Ireland Programme, while the Druid Theatre’s production of ‘Waiting for Godot’, by Samuel Beckett won a Herald Angel Award during its appearance at the Edinburgh International Festival.



Ireland at Venice

The Venice Biennale remains the world’s most important international showcase for contemporary arts and architecture. The annual exhibitions offer a unique opportunity for Ireland to showcase the strength and creativity of the Irish imagination to the world. It is a vital platform for Irish artists, curators and commissioners to gain international profile and to generate opportunities for them to present their work outside of Ireland.

Since 2005, national representation at the international art and architecture exhibitions, la Biennale di Venezia, has been an initiative of Culture Ireland, in partnership with the Arts Council. Both agencies consider the Venice Biennale to be an important opportunity for artists’ development and for Irish curators to work in an international context.

In 2020, the 17th International Architecture Exhibition was postponed due to the global pandemic.

Annex had been selected to present Ireland’s national exhibition that year following an open call by Culture Ireland, in partnership with the Arts Council. They will participate in the 2021 Biennale. Annex is a collective made up of architects — David Capener, Donal Lally, Clare Lyster, artists — Sven Anderson, Alan Butler and urbanist — Fiona McDermott.

Annex will present the exhibition entitled ‘Entanglement’.

“We are excited to explore how design can meaningfully respond to the impact of data infrastructures and networked technologies, the ways by which they are imagined, the spaces they create, and the ways they connect to our habits and desires.”

Ireland’s selected presentation responds to the theme for the Biennale for 2020 set by the curator Hashim Sarkis  “How will we live together?” Under this theme Sarkis calls on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together:  as human beings to connect with one another and with other species across digital and real space; Annex also responds to the curator’s invitation to architects participating in Biennale Architettura 2021 to engage with other professions to deliver their exhibitions.

The Venice Architecture Biennale, which will be run from 22 May to 29 November 2020, remains the most important global platform for the exhibition of architecture involving the public, members of civil society, individuals and institutions.

The Venice Architecture Biennale serves as a global showcase for Irish architecture and offers the opportunity for Irish architects to engage with international audiences.  Ireland at Venice will build on Ireland’s strong presence at the Venice Biennale in 2019 which was curated by Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell of Grafton Architects.


I am Ireland 

The Culture Ireland International Programme for 2016 formed part of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme, a rich diversity of events which ran throughout 2016 to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

The Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme was an inclusive invitation to everyone on the island of Ireland and to the global community to shape and engage in a diverse range of historical, cultural and artistic activities, designed to facilitate reflection, commemoration, celebration, debate and analysis and an active imagining of our future. The programme was divided into seven strands: State Ceremonial, Historical Reflection, An Teanga Bheo, Youth and Imagination, Cultural Expression, Community Participation, and Global and Diaspora.

The Culture Ireland International Programme for 2016 I am Ireland formed part of the Global and Diaspora strand. Inspired by the opening line of Mise Éire, one of P. H. Pearse’s poems, I am Ireland speaks of a contemporary Ireland, of young and established artists, influenced by Ireland’s geographic position, history and cultural journey over the past one hundred years.

Throughout 2016, Irish artists presented in international festivals and venues with a special focus in key territories – United States, Great Britain, Canada and Australia – with which Ireland has strong ties. In many of these places, Irish culture has thrived through the commitment of Irish emigrants to maintaining and enriching our traditions. Irish arts continue to evolve, inspired by the legacy of the past, created by the imagining of our future. The interest in Irish artistic excellence continues to grow internationally and 2016 offered an opportunity to build on Ireland’s cultural connections and share many special and diverse events with audiences around the world.