NUI Galway Honorary Doctorates for GIAF CEO and Artistic Director

23 November 2017

Galway International Arts Festival CEO John Crumlish and Artistic Director Paul Fahy have been conferred with Honorary Doctorates from NUI Galway in recognition of their work in transforming Galway International Arts Festival.

Galway International Arts Festival an event of international significance - NUI Galway

NUI Galway said that Galway International Arts Festival had become an event that has international significance, impact and reach, having made an exceptional contribution to the culture, economy and intellectual life of Galway and Ireland. It said it is leading the development of new forms of art in Ireland and globally and, through the development of a major partnership with NUI Galway since 2012, has created new opportunities for artists and producers to build successful and sustainable careers in the west of Ireland.

In his citation at the ceremony on Wednesday, 22 November, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway, Patrick Lonergan said that, rather than decry the lack of suitable facilities in Galway, Galway International Arts Festival had overcome perceived limitations and created something iconic.

Mr Crumlish and Mr Fahy had demonstrated that Galway is a place that thrives on the transformation of potential weaknesses into lasting strengths, he said.

“Under the leadership of Paul and John, the Galway Arts Festival has doubled in size, so that it now has an annual attendance of over 200,000 and an economic impact on the local economy of €30 million – all the while producing major new works by such artists as Enda Walsh, Hughie O’Donoghue, Olwen Fouéré, and John Gerrard.”

Professor Lonergan said that the addition of the word ‘international’ to the Galway Arts Festival title in 2014 was not aspirational, rather an accurate descriptor of the festival’s newfound global reach and impact.

“Under the leadership of Paul and John, Galway has now transformed itself from being a place that mostly receives new work to being a place that premieres it. Plays that have been created in Galway during the last seven years have since been seen in the Barbican in London; in St. Ann’s Warehouse and the Irish Arts Center, New York; at the National Theatres of Ireland and Britain; and in Washington, Edinburgh, Adelaide, Perth and Sydney. This is an astonishing achievement – all the more so given that it has been accomplished during the worst global recession in more than 80 years.

Honorary Doctorates fitting for two who have done so much for the business of making art

“On a day when we celebrate the graduation of postgraduate students – many of them with MA degrees in the creative arts – it is particularly fitting that we honour two people who have done so much, and have so much that they still plan to do, for the business of making art, as well as the art of doing business.

“John Crumlish and Paul Fahy show us that a small place like Galway can have international importance. They show us that dreaming and doing do not just co-exist but complement each other. They show us that our disadvantages can be transformed into strengths. And they show us that our challenges might just have been put there to bring the best out in us.”

Professor Lonergan said that Mr Crumlish, who has served widely in Irish arts and community organisations, has also brought exceptional strategic insight, as well as a firm belief in the value of this country’s arts and culture.

And, he said, Mr Fahy, who has been Artistic Director of Galway International Arts Festival since 2005 and worked extensively across the Irish arts sector while continuing to work as a practising artist, is rare in being able to think artistically while programming art that is created by others.

“That trait explains why so many leading artists – such as the actors Cillian Murphy and John Mahony, among others – keep coming back to Galway. They know that their work will be respected, understood, and promoted to an audience that will take a chance, not because they know the artist, but because they trust Paul’s judgment. And those artists also come back because know that they will be looked after by an Artistic Director who will be unfailingly supportive of them, as indeed he is of all of the people he works with.”

John Crumlish

NUI Galway President Jim Browne presenting an Honorary Doctorate of the Arts to Galway International Arts Festival CEO John Crumlish.

John Crumlish is the CEO of Galway International Arts Festival. In his time as CEO, he has overseen its development into one of Ireland’s best known cultural enterprises. In addition to presenting an annual festival with an attendance of over 200,000 and an economic impact on the local economy of €29.5 million, the organisation has developed into a significant producer of new Irish theatre that tours nationally and internationally.

A native of Carndonagh, Co. Donegal, he attended Carndonagh Community School, graduated from NUI Galway with a BA in Psychology, has an MA in Adult and Continuing Education from the University of Ulster and an MBS in Business Practice from the Irish Management Institute/University College Cork.

Following a period teaching in Northern Ireland, he became closely associated with both Galway Arts Festival and Macnas in the 1990s, playing a number of different roles in their development and growth during that time.

He served as a member of the Arts Council from 2006 until 2011, a member of the Fáilte Ireland West Forum (2010-2013); a member of the Project Board of The Gathering (2012-2013) and served as chair of the successful Galway European Capital of Culture 2020 bid committee.

He was named a Galway Person of the Year in 2013 and was made a Fellow of the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) in 2016.

Paul Fahy

NUI Galway President Jim Browne presenting an Honorary Doctorate of Arts to Galway International Arts Festival Artistic Director Paul Fahy.

Paul Fahy is the Artistic Director of Galway International Arts Festival [GIAF] a position he has held since 2005. Prior to this he worked as a freelance arts consultant, publicist and producer from 2000-2005 working with Galway International Arts Festival; Macnas; Baboró; Rough Magic Theatre Company; The Abbey Theatre; The Arts Council of Ireland and with the Irish actor, Cillian Murphy.

He programmed and produced the Cúirt International Festival of Literature, in 1998 and 1999 and was one of the key visual arts curators for Galway Arts Centre from 1990-1999.

He was the Consultant Programme Director with Kilkenny Arts Festival from 1999–2003 for whom he also directed and designed a major street theatre spectacle The Art of the Game.

Since being appointed Artistic Director of GIAF, the festival has become a producing-led festival, forging close creative partnerships with Irish artists and producers most notably Enda Walsh, Hughie O’Donoghue, Olwen Fouéré, John Gerrard and Landmark Productions.

GIAF tours extensively, most recently to the Barbican, London; St. Ann’s Warehouse and Irish Arts Center, New York; Ireland’s National Theatre, the Abbey; and Dublin Theatre Festival all during 2017. The festival has also toured regularly to the National Theatre of Great Britain, London; and to the Next Wave Festival, BAM, New York; Kennedy Center, Washington; Edinburgh Festival Fringe; Adelaide Festival, Perth Festival and Sydney Theatre Company.

Under Fahy’s tenure, GIAF has worked with leading Irish and international visual artists and has designed and built major temporary art galleries in Galway.

Fahy has designed and created four theatre installations with Enda Walsh Room 303, A Girl’s Bedroom and Kitchen [which toured to New York as Rooms in May 2017] and Bathroom.

He studied art at the RTC Galway [now GMIT].