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Dublin Arts & Human Rights Festival 2020

Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival
15 – 24 October 2021

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 present the 2021 Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival showcasing and highlighting 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, International Events & Promotions Coordinator, Front Line Defenders.

This year’s festival is themed Hope, Courage and Resilience: The Story Continues, and celebrates human rights and links 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.

See the full schedule of events here.

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.

Events will take place online and in person, including:

  • 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 presented on the rooftop garden of the Chester Beatty Library;
  • an exhibition of visual artworks and film art pieces presented at dlr Mill Theatre Gallery Sace; and
  • a discussion on human rights, poetry and the environment at the NUI Galway Human Rights Centre.


Key events include:

Stát na mBan

This visual art exhibition showcases works created by artists from across the island of Ireland who have collaborated on the State of the Art: Nation State as Both Violator and Protector of Human Rights project. This project, supported by the Arts Council, which brought together fourteen diverse artists to engage in research on national and international best practice examples of arts and human rights from across Europe, linked to sociological and anthropological standpoints, and a study of ‘art as activism’ from the personal to the political. Artists have met online throughout the year to take part in Artist Exchange Meetings, where they engaged in a variety of tasks and exercises, as well as giving presentations on their own work, work that inspires them, and meeting with representatives of a variety of human rights organisations and government officials, including Front Line Defenders, ICCL, INAR, former Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu and Cllr Carly Bailey.

Stát na mBan will be presented in the dlr Mill Theatre, Dundrum. Hosted by Smashing Times, in partnership with the dlr Mill Theatre. Artwork by Dr Sinead McCann, Hina Khan, Amna Walayat, Noelle McAlinden. 15 – 24 October.

River of Thorns

River of Thorns is a new play, written by Féilim James, directed by Eric Weitz, performed by Michelle Costello, and produced by Mary Moynihan and Freda Manweiler. River of Thorns explores the life of Margaret Kearney Taylor, an Irish woman who set up the Embassy Tearoom in Madrid, Spain, and risked her life by turning her upstairs apartment into a safe house to shelter refugees of World War II.

River of Thorns is presented as part of the ‘State of the Art: Nation State as Both Violator and Protector of Human Rights’ project, funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. It is also part of the ‘Forgotten Voices: Stories of Hope, Courage and Resilience from the Holocaust and WWII’ project, funded by Europe for Citizens.

This unique story will premiere at the Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival, with five performances taking place in the Lecture Theatre of the Chester Beatty. Performances 15, 16, 17, and 20 October. Hosted by Smashing Times.

The Social Life of Misinformation: A Challenge

In the face of a global misinformation crisis, many journalists and scientists have gravitated to fact checking as a solution. Provide the correct counter-information, the theory goes, and those who follow QAnon or far-right extremists, who are spreading false information about elections, refugee populations, or COVID, will start spreading the correct information instead. This roundtable discussion will address the impact misinformation has on social media and in relation to the work of human rights defenders. Hosted online by Front Line Defenders, Tuesday 19 October, 2pm.

Access, Disability and Human Rights – A Global Conversation

Human rights defenders across the globe can include those with disabilities, and they constitute vital voices in the defence of human rights and promotion of inclusivity, equity and justice. Speakers on this panel will share their experiences, explore how the dominant culture of ableism creates challenges, and how assumptions about disability prevents human rights defenders from being fully visible in their work. Hosted online by Front Line Defenders, Thursday 21 October, 1.30pm

Full programme to be announced on Wednesday 15 September.

For further Information

Tel: +353 1 2123750
For more information visit
Twitter: @FrontLineHRD
Instagram: @frontlinedefenders

For further information please contact

Freda Manweiler, Company Manger,
Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality
Coleraine House, Coleraine Street, Dublin 7
Tel: + 353 (0) 1 865 6613 Tel: + 353 (0) 87 221 4245

Front Line Defenders work is supported by Irish Aid. Irish Aid is Ireland's overseas development programme, as funded by the Irish taxpayer.