Successfully confronting the nested challenges of leadership, digital transformation, new economic models, threats to creative ownership, inclusion and diversity have been conditions of survival for the Galway International Arts Festival. The GIAF has managed to create a sustainable model that promotes the highest standards of creative practice supported by a lean production team. They have solved the conundrum of how to remain based in the necessarily limited Irish market, particularly western Ireland, while also operating at a global level. It is the pivot around which a remarkable regional creative ecosystem has been built and recognised by the designation of Galway as European City of Culture in 2020. Their lean, “pop-up” model solves the global market problem through innovative use of time and space. Bringing the global market to Galway for a fortnight solves the division of labour and scale of the market problem by creating a localised global market for a limited period. The highest creative standards and extended audiences within that scope become mutually supportive. The problem of sustainability is nuanced by using innovative models of co-ordination and cooperation. Despite these impressive achievements, this innovative organisation cannot generalise and scale its model independently, particularly as regards the impact of climate challenges on this peripheral area. The broad challenge: understanding how this strategy can create experiences, products and services that escape the limits of geography under rapidly changing circumstances.

GIAF will directly explore the conditions of success under the twinned challenges of digital and climate adaptation. The laboratory will enable performative research at the absolute edge of current practice. A shared technology stack, built on open-source and open-data principles, underpinned by smart contracts and shared ledgers, will recognise and protect the intangible values of collaboration, insight, empathy and inspiration that contribute to the new experiences that are the core outputs of the creative economy. The GIAF’s institutional design will make value extraction, rent-seeking and monopolisation impossible, and it promotes a high-velocity circulation of ideas and opportunities. Proposed activities will centre on education and skills, innovation clusters, new financial models and platforms, all group around new forms of performance, look to proven successful models of development and entrepreneurship in the world of technology. It will bring these activities, learnings, and models to the cultural and creative industries in a regional environment, while remaining oriented towards wider contexts.