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Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival 2021

Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival 2021

Hope, Courage, Resilience: The Story Continues

Friday 15 – Sunday 24 October 2021

10 Days of Arts and Human Rights


Smashing Times and Front Line Defenders in partnership with Amnesty International, Fighting Words, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, National Women’s Council of Ireland, Trócaire, and Poetry Ireland will implement the 2021 Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival to showcase and highlight the extraordinary work of human rights defenders in Ireland and around the world, past and present, and the role of the arts and artists in promoting human rights today. The festival will run for ten days from Friday 15 October to Sunday 24 October 2021. The artistic curator for the festival is Mary Moynihan, Artistic Director, Smashing Times and the human rights curator is Laura O’Leary, Front Line Defenders.

This year’s festival will contain both online and in-person events in line with current Covid-19 guidelines, and will facilitate the opportunity to share, celebrate, remember, explore, provoke and promote the arts for human rights. Join us as we bring together artists, activists, citizens, families, communities and all those interested in using the arts to celebrate and promote human rights and equality for all. The theme of this year’s festival is Hope, Courage and Resilience: The Story Continues, celebrating human rights and linking the arts to civil society, active citizenship and politics through a series of inter-disciplinary performances, film screenings, documentaries, theatre, music, dance, visual and digital art, poetry, literature, historical memory, discussions and arts-based workshops, featuring Irish and international artists and guest speakers celebrating and promoting dignity and respect for all people equally.

Over ten days, the festival brings audiences a mix of artworks that include the very best performances, vibrant dance acts, live music, visual art exhibitions and family fun, combined with stimulating discussion and debate. An assortment of workshops in performance, music, and song-writing are available for all ages as a part of this unique and vibrant festival of culture, arts and equality. The festival is a collaborative partnership showcasing world-class programming and presenting new and diverse artists and acts, with something for everyone to enjoy. Join us for a celebration of the arts and human rights – a festival not to be missed. The festival will bear witness and remember the past, explore the present and celebrate the future linked to equality and rights for all, highlighting the role artists can play in a new society.

Events will take place online and in person. Site specific shows featuring theatre, poetry, literature, song, music and dance presented alongside digital/film projections onto the building walls of Rathfarnham Castle and creative pop-up installation in the grounds of Rathfarnham Castle; Live performances of theatre, dance and music will be presented on the rooftop garden of the Chester Beatty Library; A exhibition of visual artworks and film art pieces will be presented at dlr Mill Theatre Gallery Sace; and a discussion on human rights, poetry and the environment will be held at the NUI Galway Human Rights Centre.


Select Online Events

The full programme of events will be announced on 15 September 2021.


Eascair – The Black Irish Renaissance

Covid created a moment of pause. This pause triggered a lot of social movements, allowing us as a community to reflect internally and on our environment. The response from arts organisations and the Arts Council don’t have the same historical contexts as in other parts of Europe and the UK in terms of the relationship to colonialism. This allowed a jumping off point for artists to have conversations that Ireland has never had before. Conversations we’ve had within ourselves and our communities and while we welcome those organisations and their response and the renewed funding streams and opportunities, as a community we have to make sure that this is not a short-lived situation and ensure we can capitalise on the opportunities made available and grow from this point. Presented by Tobi Balogun as part of the Black Canvas initiative, in collaboration with Create and Smashing Times, Eascair is a showcase of emerging Black/Irish Artists, showcasing new voices and directions within their own work and discussing growth within the Black-Irish Arts industry, with artists such as Favour Odusola, Vithória Escobar, Lucille Aires, Lapree Lala, Kareen Salcede, and Jafaris.

Tuesday 20 October, 7-8pm


Failte Amnesty

This event will introduce Community Sponsorship (CS), a new innovative way for people from Ireland to be able to give support and show solidarity to refugees. So often people want to be able to do something tangible for another person that needs it and Community Sponsorship is an amazing way that people can do this. Amnesty International Ireland Executive Director Colm O’Gorman will be joined by Kevin O’Leary who is from the Irish Red Cross, are one of the Regional Support Organisations who support CS in Ireland; Anna Kierans, who established one of the first Community Sponsorship Groups in Ireland; and Shahera Bourhan, who arrived in Ireland with her family in 2019 through the Community Sponsorship programme. They will talk about their journeys through Community Sponsorship and the difference it has made in their lives.

Monday 18 October, 7-8pm


Connect Your Story and Voice!

In this interactive online workshop, you will learn ways to connect your story to your voice and become a better advocate. Whether you’re a human rights defender, a public speaker or an educator, useful tools are guaranteed during this fun and dynamic workshop. Facilitator Dónal Kearney combines his diverse and varied experience from the worlds of musical performance, vocal pedagogy and international human rights law. A former Research Assistant to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Dónal is also a critically-acclaimed vocalist and a sought-after facilitator who trained with humanitarian organisation Musicians Without Borders. As part of the Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival, this free advocacy workshop will cover the fundamentals of vocal technique and will introduce basic story structure and characterisation to explore the art of audience engagement. Each participant will get the opportunity to apply these tools and approaches to their own life.

Friday 22 October, 5-6.30pm


Online Gallery

The Festival will also see the launch of the Smashing Times Online Centre, which will host a virtual gallery of artworks including visual art, sound art, poetry and film. The artworks presented here will be freely accessible to the public for the duration of the Festival from 15 – 24 October.

These include Sound On!, a creative sound art project presenting experiences of human rights and happiness for and by people with an intellectual disability; The Art of Behaving Badly, an online exhibition of posters by Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous group of artist activists and intersectional feminists who fight for human rights for all people and all genders, and against ethnic and gender stereotypes, homophobia, trans- phobia, war, and income inequality; and Direct Division, an online exhibition of artworks created by children living in direct provision, facilitated by the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman.

Get Involved – Public Call for Stories and Poems inspired by people who have helped Shape Our Lives

We are all formed and shaped by the people who pass through our lives. A key part of The Art of W/Rights is to directly engage the local community through an open call for stories and poems based on the theme ‘people who inspire or have shaped us in some way’. 

This open call is asking members of the public to tell us who has inspired you, a person from the past or present who has inspired or shaped you in some way and who has promoted equality, compassion and rights in your life and the lives of others.

A selection of 100 stories and poems will be displayed in a ‘digital book’ online via the Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality gallery and digital arts platform, set up to promote the arts for equality, human rights and diversity and supported by The Arts Council.

Artists involved in the project will be given the stories and poems to read. A selection of stories, poems, words and themes will inspire the creation of new artworks generating a ‘gathering space’ to celebrate stories of care and compassion and to act as a catalyst to generate creative conversations on visions for a better world.  Stories and poems will be used to create a digital book, to be projected onto the walls of Rathfarnham Castle with a page of the book turning very slowly every few minutes, and live performances taking place in Rathfarnham Castle Park for the annual Dublin Arts and Human Rights festival running from the 15 to the 24 October 2021 and in St Enda’s Park in April 2022. In  keeping with our themes of equality, compassion and rights  and the metaphor of a river (both parks feature ponds and have strong connections with rivers) where we can create a flow of equality, compassion and rights in the wider society,  we are asking all citizens to tell us stories of the people who have helped carry you forward,  to share a story of how you have been formed or shaped by the people who pass through your life. The stories and poems are a celebration of all that is good and kind in the world, a reflection on life and a celebration of connections made, the interconnectedness of people as no person is an island.

The final artworks will tell stories of people in the past and today who shaped society in a positive way and will be a mix of stories of well-known people with an association to South County Dublin as well as a mix of words and stories gathered from the general public through the open call.


How to Submit:

Please submit using the online form.  Submission is free. The submission deadline is Friday 10 September 2021, 5pm.


Oct 15 2021


All Day


Most events are free

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