Spraoi Artistic Director Mike Leahy says they will “wait and see” what kind of impact All Together Now will have on their festival this year.
ON the week of its 27th birthday, the Spraoi International Street Arts Festival is showing no sign of age, and if anything, is looking more vivacious than ever. Speaking to the Waterford News & Star, Artistic Director Mike Leahy says their key to a long life is “new generations and an ever-expanding team”.
“At the centre of every festival there is a heart – the organ that everyone knows to be Spraoi, but each year with the new artists and performers, the festival continues to revive itself,” Mike said. “One of the most important life forces for the festival in fact is the new generations and new blood that comes through year after year. Spraoi volunteers have multiplied through the years and their children have grown to become volunteers and that has definitely sustained us.”
Mike says that the biggest impetus for Spraoi each year is the passion that they all have for the event.
“We love it,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. We love putting shows on the streets and animating the city. Over the years we’ve developed more and more local and Irish acts, which has helped to keep the show on the road, whilst simultaneously injecting some quality new talent into the arts stream. We’re particularly proud of that actually.”
One of the questions we ask Mike every single year, which he rarely enjoys answering, is what his highlight of the festival will be.
“I think I give you the same answer every year, and that’s because I’m buried up to my neck in it,” he said. “It has to be the parade. There are so many amazing people involved in the parade each year from Rob doing the music, Clare doing the costumes, Nick with the direction and Cináed and the team looking after the construction. In many ways the parade is actually bittersweet because it marks the end of the festival and months and months of intensive work but to see it come off, with everyone doing their thing on the streets and the public enjoying it, it’s a huge personal highlight.”
With the constant evolution of entertainment in Waterford and Ireland, it was pertinent to ask Mike if there would always be a hunger for Spraoi in Waterford.
“I would certainly hope so,” he said. “You can never take Spraoi for granted and we’ve always taken it on a year to year basis. The Arts Council, Waterford City & County Council and the local businesses have always been good to us and you’d have to hope that the public will always be hungry for what we do. I’d like to think that the people of Waterford will always be open to downing tools for one weekend each year and just opening themselves up to all of the amazing art that’s out there. I don’t see how that would ever stop but then again, these are strange days we’re living in!”
On the subject of the All Together Now Festival, which takes place on the same weekend as Spraoi, Mike said that this year would “tell a lot” about the festival’s impact.
“Obviously it’s forcing people to make a decision between the two festivals,” Mike said. “I’d love to go to All Together Now for example. It’s a pity that the two biggest festivals happening in Ireland that weekend are taking place just a few miles from each other. We get on really well with the team from ATN – it’s a fantastic event but obviously it’s not ideal that both events are taking from each other. We’ll have to look at the impact of this year’s event and see what can happen next year.”
THIS year’s parade is called ‘All at Sea’ and will kick off from the usual point in Johnstown at 9:30pm, Sunday, August 4.
More than two thirds of the surface of the earth is covered by ocean, but only a tiny fraction of it has been explored. This deep and mysterious realm is teeming with life and wonders that we can only dream of. That is, until now! A group of intrepid explorers have searched the depths and discovered astonishing things! They have curated a selection of the creatures and phenomena they found, and this is your chance to wonder at the mysteries and marvels they uncovered. A psychedelic creation, unleashed onto the streets and quays of Waterford city.
Beginning at Johnstown, the parade will progress via John’s St., Michael St., Broad St., John Roberts Square and Barronstrand St., and finish on the Quay.
Traffic diversions and restrictions will occur as the parade moves along the route, and there will be absolutely no parking on the route. A special viewing area for those with special needs will be on the roundabout beside the G.P.O on the Quay. There are fixed ambulance points along the route, which stewards will guide you towards, if required.