Festival season is not just about bands and DJs playing in muddy fields. From July 4th to July 13th, the open, multidisciplinary festival 10 Days In Dublin will be taking over the city with a plethora of acts ranging from theatre to film, to comedy and spoken word, proving that despite difficulties, the capital’s art scene is still a vibrant, open-minded and exciting platform for young artists with bundles of raw talent. We had a chat with the founders of the festival and some of the participants themselves, all of whom speak of their desire to bring a personal contribution to the Irish art scene and to forge their careers in the heart of Dublin.
Dan Bergin and Rob Kearns, Founders of 10 Days In Dublin
Behind every project there is an idea for innovation and a desire to bring something new to the table. What did you think was missing in the Dublin scene that made you want to start 10 Days In Dublin?
Rob: Before 10 Days in Dublin, I was involved in bringing a lot of shows over to Edinburgh Fringe and I really loved the way that it was such a broad and inclusive festival where anyone could put on anything. It’s the largest arts festival in the world, yet there’s no one at the top deciding who should perform at it, or who shouldn’t. I was a bit frustrated that there was nothing like that in Ireland and Dan was in a similar boat…
Dan: Both Rob and myself had felt for a long time that the Ireland suffers for a kind of ‘over-curated’ culture. On top of that there’s loads of themed festivals with particular angles on work etc. While this means that there’s lots of great stuff going on, it also means that artists have to bend their ideas to someone else, or package themselves up as something they’re not… We wanted to do something different. We wanted to provide an open platform for artists to do whatever they want, without having to fit into some box.
What do you think the success of an open festival such as 10 Days In Dublin says about today’s young Irish art scene?
Dan: I think it points to how much raw talent there is out there just begging to get a chance.
Rob: I think it shows how hungry artists are and also that there’s an artistic demand for people and ideas to be seen and heard on their own terms… Also, aside from all of that, there are shows in this year’s festival that are going to completely blow people away. It’s not just about there being loads of people doing good things – there’s a serious amount of talent out there, which Irish people should be incredibly excited about.
How do you ensure that the quality of the acts remains high, even at such an open festival?
Dan: There is a kind of a bare-minimum you need to be able to do to be part of the festival. Things like getting your marketing details into us on time, or showing an understanding of some of the technical or more admistrative aspects of actually putting an event on. You’d be surprised how many people run a mile when you mention words like ‘insurance’ or ‘contract’. Other than that, we try and keep an open dialogue with every act that comes to us. Nobody wants to make a bad show.
Rob: Either way, who’s to say what is or isn’t of high quality in the arts? Is it about meeting a standard? Or having good reviews? Or having the right person enjoy it? I’ve been to see shows at other festivals which have gotten rave reviews, and I’ve just not enjoyed them. There’s every chance that people are going to hate some shows in our festival. There’s also a large chance that they could love some shows. It’s the same as any other arts festival in the world. Short answer: we don’t worry about that, as we don’t have to.
Are there any strands/genres you’re hoping to add to the festival in the upcoming years?
Dan: Videogames. I absolutely believe videogames can be an art form. Dublin had this fantastic indie gaming scene just starting to emerge with groups like BitSmith, TimeMachine, and BatCat and I’d love to see them become part of 10 Days in Dublin.
Rob: I’d like to think that we could have a separate and exciting dance programme, and that our spoken word programme might split into poetry and storytelling as ‘spoken word’ is probably a bit vague… It might be fun to separate [the work] into where things happen, like “on the street, online, in this venue” or to separate by themes, like “these are shows about love, these are about politics, these are about anger…”.
How would you define the festival’s philosophy?
Dan: The first answer is always ‘Yes’!