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New York 2017 ISPA Congress - Eugene Downes
New York 2017 ISPA Congress

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Eugene Downes

Session 5 | New Audiences: Integrating Migration and Mobility
Thursday, January 12, 2017

Eugene Downes | Moderator

Kilkenny Arts Festival (Ireland)

Artistic Director & CEO
New York 2017 ISPA Congress Committee Member

Eugene Downes is the Artistic and General Director of Kilkenny Arts Festival, the oldest Irish multidisciplinary festival, which this year marked its 42nd edition in Ireland’s intimate medieval city with one of the world’s largest celebrations of JS Bach and a seven-hour Shakespeare co-production with Lincoln Center Festival.  From 2007-12, he served as founding Chief Executive of Culture Ireland, the national body for the promotion and advancement of Irish arts worldwide, and led Imagine Ireland, a year-long celebration of Irish arts in America, with more than 1,200 artists and 500 events across 43 US States.  

From 2000-07, Eugene acted as international arts adviser to the President of Ireland and to the Foreign and Culture Ministries, curating and producing performances across Europe, Asia and South America for more than twenty Presidential Visits, and in 2003-04 authoring a report for the Culture Minister which proposed a new international arts strategy for Ireland.  On 1 May 2004, he acted as Master of Ceremonies for the formal EU enlargement ceremony in Dublin welcoming ten new Member States to the Union in the presence of the European Heads of State and Government.   Eugene served as a member of Ireland’s National Forum on Europe (2001-07) as a delegate of the Irish Labour Party.  Previous experience included the Irish Foreign Service, a spell as Cultural Attaché in Russia and as a music and opera broadcaster on Irish national radio.

Eugene is a Board member of ISPA (co-chairing its New York Congress in 2012), the Royal Hibernian Academy of Art, the American-Irish Historical Society in New York, the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris, Druid Theatre, Theatre Forum and the Irish Landmark Trust.  He has previously served on the Boards of the National Theatre of Ireland, the Royal Irish Academy of Music and Irish Theatre Institute.

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