- 20 May 19
Peter McGoran talks to Sarah McBriar, who founded the hugely successful AVA Festival.
Now in its fifth year, AVA Festival is one of the largest dance/electronic events in Ireland. This year's line-up will feature internationally acclaimed acts like Avalon Emerson, Ben Sims, Ben UFO, The Black Madonna and many more. As well as entertaining thousands of music lovers annually, the festival also hosts a conference that has proven crucial for emerging dance and visual artists. It's also brought dance music showcases to places like London, Amsterdam and even Mumbai, giving artists an opportunity to perform in front of new audiences.
Indeed, the impact of AVA can't be overstated.
"Irish dance music in a good place in terms of artists, for sure," says Sarah. "I think that electronic music is very healthy in general. It's become very popular and we're seeing a global community, with the likes of Boiler Room and Resident Advisor, providing support. You see Irish artists gigging all round the UK, Europe and America now. People are able to turn their passion into a career."
Having started in 2014, Sarah put a serious amount of work into making AVA a success. From this, she also tapped into an Irish audience who have a real appetite for electronic music.
"It's definitely in-demand," says Sarah. "People like to party, they like the music. Then what we've seen from that is AVA grow beyond Belfast. We have the festival and conference in Belfast, but we do shows elsewhere. It's a combination of people being really into it at home and us having a strong team behind it, prepared to grow it. I think the conference has also opened up a whole new audience, who are really interested in AVA outside of the festival."
The conference itself is free, open to all ages, and provides lectures, panels, workshops, skills development and networking opportunities for attendees. It's become an important resource for emerging dance artists, as well as visual artists.
"We've got a number of really great events at the conference this year," enthuses Sarah. "We're actually running a few workshops at the conference, which are advising specifically on artists getting funding to support their work.
AVA Festival takes place from May 30- June 1. For more details, go to avafestival.com