John Stephenson

John Stephenson will be in conversation with Mannix Flynn on Saturday 8th September at 8pm.

John Stephenson was Programme Director of A Sense of Ireland, a major festival of the Irish arts held throughout London in the Spring of 1980. Previously he had run the Project Arts Centre in Dublin, and among his later work were ‘An Doras Feasa’ in 1991, commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising; the Féile Bríde in Kildare; and the formation of the St. Patricks Day Festival in Dublin in 1996. His visionary plans for Ireland’s 2000 celebration seeded the many Bealtaine, Lúnasadh and Samhain festivals around Ireland today. He has also variously worked as a film & video producer, web content designer, political activist, arts consultant, critic and writer.

A Sense of Ireland was a groundbreaking expression of the
contemporary Irish arts on an international stage.

Hundreds of practitioners from all over the island- writers, musicians,
visual artists,designers, photographers, film makers, actors, singers and dancers –
took part in more than 40 venues around London: Seamus Heaney at the
Roundhouse, The Chieftains and Planxty at the Albert Hall, the Abbey
Theatre at the Old Vic, the Irish Ballet Company at Sadlers Wells,
Kilkenny Design at Somerset House, the RTE Symphony Orchestra in
the Royal Festival Hall and the first Season of Irish Films ever mounted outside
of Ireland was put on at the National Film Theatre.

The range was broad and deep:

Seamus Ennis at the Battersea Arts Centre, Louis Stewart at Ronnie
Scotts, The Dubliners at Wembley, De Danaan and Christy Moore at
the Camden Centre, the Ulster Orchestra at St John’s, John O’Conor at the
Wigmore Hall, Rory Gallagher at the Lyceum, the Project Company
with Gabriel Byrne at the Royal Court, a comprehensive programme
of poets and writers at the Poetry Society and of traditional musicians
in community venues, architecture, photography, book and cartoon
exhibitions while Action Space / Drill Hall was dedicated to creative and
documentary responses to the war in Northern Ireland, then at a
critical pass… and an unsigned U2 played support act in the Acklam

Running throughout, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, was a
sociological exhibition and series of political seminars about the current
state of Ireland, while Action Space / Drill Hall was dedicated to creative
and documentary responses to the war in Northern Ireland.