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A Look Back at Inside Outside Festival

This past weekend saw the successful launch of the inaugural Inside Outside Festival curated and delivered by Fermanagh based Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre. Presenting an extensive range of arts performances, participation events, wellbeing workshops and discussion programmes, this highly innovative festival was delivered directly to people via a range of digital platforms.

Born from the need to reimagine an Arts Council of Northern Ireland Rural Needs funded project, the Inside Outside Festival provided unique creative, cultural and participatory experiences. Audience members from Fermangh joined with those from across the island of Ireland, Scotland, England, Chile, America, Germany and Spain.

Artistic Director Dylan Quinn said, “We were delighted to be able to offer a wonderfully diverse programme featuring 5 well being and participation events, 3 social political discussions and 14 performances and exhibitions. This included 4 newly commissioned works specifically for the festival from Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre, Liv O’Donoghue, Helen Sharp and Kat Woods.

The eclectic programme offered something for everyone. Each morning started with a Well Being event, featuring nutritional advice from Hannah Curr Nutrition, Yoga with Jenny Ecke and a Somatic session with Nicola Curry. The participatory ‘Dance on Your Doorstep Challenge’ inspired the spirit of dancing across local communities and beyond, with Devenish Partnership Forum and Jets Cheer Leading getting their members into the Dance Monkey groove. Saturday night was alive with the return of Mirage for one night only with local DJ Aidy Kelly. The virtual dance floor was bouncing as people from across the UK and Ireland danced in their living rooms and collectively in the Zoom nightclub.

In reflecting one of the festival themes ‘From Our Home to Yours.’ two of Fermanagh’s best-known sons provided beautiful intimate poetry readings from their respective homes in London and Dublin, with Adrian Dunbar reading Frank Ormsby and John Kelly reading from his own collection Notions. Friday night saw a magnificent traditional Irish music session with Jim McGrath and family direct from his home in Monea.

Festival Artistic Director Dylan Quinn said “I wanted to try and create a sense of occasion when attending the performances/events. Audiences were directed to the Zoom Theatre lobby to meet before performances, they were then ‘transported’ digitally to the performance event. After each event finished, audience members returned to the Zoom Theatre Lobby to share their appreciation with the artists and engage in discussion. Seeing and interacting with each other before and after each event was fundamental to the success of the festival, both in appreciating the work and in helping to ease feelings of isolation for those living alone, or struggling with the enforced separation from others.’

Dylan added that “Ticket prices were kept to a minimum, with some events offered free of charge, however we wanted to demonstrate a value for the work of the artists involved and felt it was important to contribute by purchasing tickets of £2 for single events or £15 for all festival events”

As a locally devised and curated festival that has achieved national and international reach, Inside Outside was committed to connecting with and highlighting local business by offering some support during these challenging times. Each event was virtually ‘hosted’ by local businesses, helping to raise their profile through the promotion of their associated event alongside their business on various social media platforms.

Reflecting on the festival Dylan commented, “There has been a clear appreciation for the sharing of the collective creative social experience and whilst I had hoped this festival would achieve that, I have to be honest, the need was greater than I had thought and the appreciation for the opportunity greater than I had imagined. I hope we delivered on it and can find a way of continuing to do so in the future. This was a unique festival, offering unique experiences and we are delighted that it started here in Fermanagh.”