Festival time in Ireland is exhausting. Just finished running a small three day festival in Kinsale and am absolutely wrecked. It had its moments but I found that there was little or no civic pride, sense of community in both the lead up to the event or during the event itself – something that is becoming increasingly prevalent in this country. The festival itself was on the streets of the town and we spent much of our time getting abuse from locals who were unhappy with much of what we did – verbal abuse, threats of pickets, protests and so on. People just didn’t want change. Their routine was interrupted by festivity. They regarded the events as a negative impact on their own lives as opposed to seeing the festival as having a positive impact on their community.
I found it difficult to reconcile. Still do. It just compounded my feeling about the Ireland we live in today (perhaps it is no different anywhere else?). It seems to me that we really do now live in an economy, not a state, a nation, a place of people and once you see yourself as part of an economy then everything becomes measured, fixed and given a monetary value. And through those eyes you shut yourself down to the splendours of the everyday
I found the whole experience very disappointing. Even those that were involved in the organising of the festival only expressed their delight in terms of how well their own business, work was doing, getting on, succeeding. Not that I had a problem with that, on the contrary, I was very pleased that they were doing well but what disappointed me was that I never once heard anyone express delight in the buzz around the town, the laughter, the dancing, the colour, the sound, etc, it was just money, money, money.
Why in our age do we see everything in terms of brand and money? Where has the importance of community, place, civic pride and togetherness gone to? Why have we worked ourselves into a situation where the headline, the photo, the image is more important than the event? Why style over substance when we know that style is empty, vacuous, fleeting, changeable and ultimately unrewarding.
The last few weeks has once again proved to me that we have gone so far down the road of brand and an economically driven ‘arts’ culture that it is imperative that we find a new way. A means to combat what seems to me a slippery slope into a branded empty vessel called Ireland