Ireland's traditional and contemporary arts will be celebrated across the United States this year with more than 400 events in 40 states. The move comes with the launch of Imagine Ireland, an unprecedented celebration of Irish arts that will see more than 1,000 artists and producers stage works in 200 cities including New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Philadelphia.
In March 2009, in his speech in New York launching the Ireland-US Strategic Policy Review, Taoiseach Brian Cowen requested that Culture Ireland mount a series of strategic events in the United States. At the White House in March 2010, he announced that this season of Irish arts, Imagine Ireland, would take place in 2011. The Taoiseach also announced the new position of Cultural Ambassador for Ireland which has been filled by actor Gabriel Byrne.
Gabriel has been centrally involved in the development of Imagine Ireland, personally curating a retrospective of Irish film at MoMA and working closely on major projects at the New York Public Library and the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts, amongst others. He unveiled the programme on January 8th in New York’s Lincoln Centre.
Included in Imagine Ireland’s upcoming events this year will be an operatic version of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, national tours by the Abbey Theater and the Druid Theater Company and the Irish film series curated by Gabriel Byrne at the Museum of Modern Art. The series will also include a literature program featuring Irish writers such Colum McCann, Colm Toíbín and Paul Muldoon, dance groups Rex Levitates and the Irish Modern Dance Theater, and a tour by Paddy Moloney and the Chieftains.
At the launch Gabriel Byrne commented on the evolving Irish arts, saying: “The creative Irish mind has always found some of its richest inspiration in America – think today of the music of U2 or the writing of Colum McCann. Think too of the plays of Eugene O’Neill and the films of John Ford, whose film “The Quiet Man” is one of the most memorable and influential responses by an Irish American to the challenge to “imagine Ireland”.
Minister Mary Hanafin, who was also present at the launch in New York spoke of the Government’s support of the new body, saying:“Culture is the means by which most Americans now encounter Ireland. It connects with the deep sense of pride and belonging of more than 40 million Irish-Americans, and also with the many millions of Americans with no Irish ancestry who love great art. The Government has invested in this initiative because arts and culture are vital to Ireland’s recovery, and to the relationship between our two countries. Imagine Ireland celebrates and renews that unique relationship, bringing Irish culture to new audiences across America and connecting with new generations.”
For more information about Imagine Ireland visit www.imagineireland.ie