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Our mission

Carlow Arts Festival's mission is to promote culture in all its forms.

We aim to foster and promote the growth of the arts including the visual arts, literature, music, dance, architecture and entertainment (including street performance) and to advance education in the arts.

Our strategic priorities

  • Sustained commitment to artistic excellence and artform development.
  • Inclusion and participation as an intrinsic goal, and a commitment to investing in the long-term, often invisible work of participation, collaboration and engagement with our local community.
  • Opening up Carlow physically by using more of Carlow as our stage, and continuing to build on our central commitment of access to great art for everyone.
  • Ensuring our organisation remains fit for purpose by strengthening our partnerships, increasing our financial resilience, growing our fundraising capacity and skills and capabilities in the digital arena.
  • We choose transformative art, diverse perspectives and inclusion for all in the act of discovery.
  • We embrace the world of virtuosic artists to resonate, inspire and collaborate with our community.
  • We champion accessibility while introducing our audiences to new art forms and cutting-edge work.
  • We create a vibrant temporary community that opens horizons: creating space for discovery, delight and disruption.
  • We insist that the arts are for everyone.
  • We value Inclusion, Audacity, Fun, Passion and Preparedness. Our place is Carlow.

Our programming framework

We are now taking a new three-strand approach to artistic programming. This will enable us to better identify and understand the specific needs of the people with whom we are trying to engage. This structured and focused approach offers artists, audiences and our community collaborators multiple access points, or ‘ways in’, to our programme and enables us to facilitate valuable exchanges across these programming strands. This supports us in developing new audiences for our festival by building awareness of our programme throughout the entire year.


Artistic programme

Our Festival offers our audiences access to a kaleidoscopic programme of new and existing works by local, national and international artists. It will provide a critical platform for the presentation of new work by artists supported through our artist development programme, ORIGIN. New works created by our community collaborators as part of ASSEMBLY, our engagement and participation programme, will also feature.

Our festival offers audiences a variety of ways into a rich and diverse programme that traverses artforms, contexts, themes, ideas, cultures, spaces and mediums; reflecting a contemporary Ireland and positioning it within a wider global context. This is essential to how we engage and develop audiences in the long term.


Community engagement

Through our ASSEMBLY programme, we engage a diverse and broad demographic of community collaborators in the creation of new work. Participants from across four key areas of Carlow County (Rathvilly, Graiguecullen, Hacketstown and Tullow) are invited to develop and take part in a variety of arts activities that are delivered on a year-round basis.

The artistic outcomes of these projects are presented in both local community and public spaces outside of the festival period, and as part of our June festival. This encourages people from across the county to visit the Festival HQ site in June and engage with the wider programme. Our volunteer programme also sits within this programming strand and offers our community collaborators an additional way into the festival by committing their time, skills and abilities to the delivery and development of the festival, on a voluntary basis.


Artist development

Our ORIGIN programme supports the development and presentation of new work by artists who make portable and ecologically aware work for unconventional public spaces, whether indoor or outdoor.

Key artforms include dance, street art/performance, spectacle, and cross-disciplinary experimental and/or collaborative works. ORIGIN provides a supportive environment for creative risk-taking. Works nurtured and developed through this programme are platformed as part of our annual June festival.

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Carlow Arts Festival tents


Carlow Arts Festival The Bathers waving

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