In 2020, the Cúirt International Festival of Literature broke new ground when it became the first literary festival in the world to be a completely digital event, opening the much-loved Galwegian literary bash to a brand-new audiences, with thousands of people tuning in from 30 countries and six continents

Earlier this year, due to ongoing Covid restrictions, they repeated the formula again, to considerable acclaim - talks from both years can still be viewed on Cuirt's popular YouTube channel.

Here are the top 5 lessons the Cúirt team have learned over the last 2 years...

1. Everyone is tired of Zoom

In 2021, live audiences totaled nearly 5,000 viewers during the week of the festival. Cúirt streamed each event through their YouTube Channel and the programme has remained available to watch on demand. This has given Cúirt’s audience the flexibility to catch up on events of interest to them, in their own time. The 2021 festival events have over 27,000 views online to date.

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2. Nothing beats a real-life conversation

Under government guidelines we were able to bring authors from all over Ireland to Galway for real life conversations. To give our digital festival a sense of home we broadcast 12 events from the Town Hall Theatre featuring 37 authors and moderators along with our pre-recorded events. It gave our audience a chance to feel like they were in the room with us and could interact in the chat box and ask authors questions. For most of our authors and moderators, it was the first time they had left the house in months and gave them a chance to share a space and ideas safely in real time.

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3. Accessibility is Everything

Cúirt 2021 saw 4770 registered tickets across 32 events. Going digital has opened the festival up to a broader audience, particularly people who wouldn’t have been able to attend previously due to distance, cost, time, as well as physical and mental health concerns. Cúirt is, as a festival, committed to creating a space in which the broadest audience is empowered to engage with books and reading. The digital festivals have operated with Pay-What-You-Can ticketing system. Though Cúirt remains reliant on your support to make the festival a success and to support their artists, they feel strongly that no one should be excluded from the enjoyment books, reading and live events can provide.

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4. Words Bring Us Together

In a time where we have felt so separate we knew how important it was to programme innovative and essential conversations for our audiences. It was important for us to try and represent as much of what makes up the brilliant and diverse Irish literature landscape The 2021 programme reflected the diversity of our changing world and the wealth of international and Irish writing talent that we’ve been lucky enough to read this past year. Many of the events looked at how we connect with ourselves and our landscape (even if it’s just 5km), and how we stay connected with each other.

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5. EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS

Your support will help Cúirt reach a wider audience and broader and more diverse communities, from all backgrounds. Now PayPal is making it easy for you to think of Cúirt this autumn as they begin to build an artistic programme for the 2022 Festival! For the month of September, Cúirt has been chosen as PayPal Giving Fund's featured charity. Set Cúirt as your favorite charity, and every time you make an online purchase with PayPal, you’ll have the opportunity to donate €1 to help Cúirt shine a spotlight on new stories that honour the diversity and commonality of human experience.

Donate to the Cúirt International Festival of Literature with PayPal here.