Thursday, July 11, 2019

Jamie Dower, Spraoi, MEP Grace O’Sullivan, Mayor of Waterford City & County Cllr John Partt and Mick Leahy, Spraoi, at the launch of Spraoi 2019, “All at Sea”. Photo: Joe Evans.

THE creative minds behind Spraoi gave the public a taster of what is to come on the August Bank Holiday Weekend last Friday at the launch of the programme for this year’s festival.

Spraoi studios welcomed performers, volunteers and festival stakeholders ahead of its 27th edition, with this year’s theme being ‘All at Sea’.

Grace O’Sullivan was on hand for one of her first functions since being elected to the European Parliament and she stressed the importance of having a topical theme celebrating maritime life and the importance of maintaining it. .

Festival Director TV Honan told the Waterford News & Star that they face a manic month but spirits are high, with all determined to put on a show to entertain the people of Waterford and those from further afield who will visit the city.

“The morale and energy of everyone at Spraoi is very high at the moment and we really do feel that we have a fantastic programme of events for people this year,” he said.

“We can’t wait for the opening day and this year on the first night we will have a new event with five international brass bands, including City of Waterford Brass performing in different locations before making their way through the streets and performing as one massed band in John Roberts’ Square. It’ll be a great start to the weekend.”

City and County Mayor John Pratt told the gathering that the festival brings joy to thousands, many of whom travel to Waterford for it, and transforms the city streets into an imaginative wonderland.

“Hundreds of people from all walks of life contribute time, talent and money to make Spraoi one of the finest examples of arts participation anywhere. Spraoi brings people together and gives them a shared vision of where we live and love.

“But its community roots mask the sheer professionalism of the Spraoi organisation. This magnificent studio complex is the only one of its kind in Ireland. Each year artists from home and abroad visit here to create new work. If effect – this is Ireland’s Research and Development Centre for street arts. That is no small achievement for a Waterford company.”

TV Honan also touched upon the economic importance of the event, adding that it marries providing the people of Waterford with an artistic outlet and attracting people to support local businesses as they enjoy themselves across the three days.

Representatives from street festivals across Europe also travel to the city to scout the next generation of Irish talent, potentially giving them further opportunities to perform abroad.

“We were recently named the Best Tourist Attraction at the Waterford Business Awards and we’re hoping to increase and spread further the economic impact upon the city centre this year,” said TV. “We really want people from across County Waterford to come in because we know there are still some people who haven’t seen or been to Spraoi but we see it as an event which represents all of Waterford culturally.”

To view the full festival programme, visit www.spraoi.com.

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