Huck set sail for Drop Everything, a jamboree of arts, music, food and culture on a tiny Irish island.

Huck set sail for Drop Everything, a jamboree of arts, music, food and culture on a tiny Irish island.

Tired of festivals with too much going on for anyone to take in and sick of people always saying, ‘I can’t believe you missed this,’ Mary Nally felt it was time to do things differently. Cultural biennial Drop Everything grew out of her desire to slow the experience down, think more carefully about how each piece of the puzzle fitted together and take everyone through the journey as one.

At a glance, it appears much like a conventional festival with bands, talks, art installations and parties but Mary’s approach has created an event unlike any other. It takes place on Inis Oírr, a tiny rock poking out of the ocean, so small it feels like it could be swallowed up by the sea again at any moment. The island is the smallest of the Aran Islands just off Ireland’s West Coast and has a population of under 300. Standing on the island’s western edge, all that stands between you and America are thousands of miles of Atlantic Ocean.

To keep the scale in line with the surroundings and to make sure everyone felt part of the event, Mary restricted entry to only those who had supported the project through crowd-funding, artists and musicians involved, locals and people who had helped make Drop Everything happen in other ways. With no hotels on the island visitors stayed with locals or in tents and just one event going on at any one time, it created a feeling of living through the whole experience together and a sense of unity.

After catching wind of the good vibes from the first edition in 2012, Huck couldn’t wait to check it out this year. The carnival of arts, music, food and culture was an unforgettable experience and highlights included photographer Rich Gilligan‘s ‘Rituals’, super/collider‘s fusion of art and science, and Sougwen Chung‘s mesmerising AV installation. We spoke to organiser Mary for the full craic on Drop Everything.

What exactly do you do?
I don’t exactly know. But I feel like I get to work with great people on great things. I run parties with my friends, for my friends and for others. I work for two Irish festivals – Body&Soul and The Galway International Arts Festival. And I work on and off for a ‘much more than a’restaurant Ard Bia. It’s owned by one of the most creative people I know, Aoibheann MacNamara and we collaborate on lots different elements to the space – exhibitions, parties, cookbooks etc.

Why did you start Drop Everything? What made you think a tiny island off the coast of Ireland would be an epic place for a festival?
I started it because I wanted to have a meeting place every two years, where I invited old friends and some newly discovered talents to take a minute and meet each other. People who work hard at doing what they love. People who are open to new ideas and learning old skills.

I don’t consider Drop Everything to be a festival, for me a festival is more about entertainment where’s DE is about experimentation and discovery. I’d had the bones of the idea for DE when I first went to Inis Oírr and after being there it just felt right. I’ve been to a fair few other small islands off Ireland but DE belongs on Inis Oírr. I think it is an incredibly epic place to consider where you are, experience new art and have a decent conversation with someone you haven’t met before.

How do you hope it will have an impact?
I don’t really think about it. I just hope it makes people slow down for a minute, maybe discover something new and that it creates some lasting memories.

What’s the existing scene like in Ireland for artistic/creative projects like this?
I think there’s a lot of really interesting projects and spaces in Ireland, I’m not so much up on a scene per se but I can see there is definitely some really quality stuff happening here. Studios like South Studio’s and me&him&you in Dublin, venues like Bite Club in Galway and Connellys of Leap in West Cork or festivals in small towns like Borris House Festival of Writing and Phase One Electronic Music Festival in Carrick-on-Shannon. I think because Ireland is small it leans toward lots of crossover and collaborations happening here.

Who’s involved in Drop Everything and what does everyone do?
Síomha Nee is the event producer and she makes sure that everything is in its right place. Pat and Kev look after all our sound, and the music tech rider stuff. Mick is one of our artists but also sorts out anything to do with lighting or projectors. That’s the core crew, then there’s the artists, the collaborators, the islanders, the volunteers, and the people who funded. And I think almost most importantly, the people who just jump in on site and do whatever’s needed in the moment – artists drive for us, journalists light fires, islanders build art installations…. Everyone who turns up has contributed in one way or another to making it all happen, kinda like a beehive.

How can people get involved/show support?
We have a donate button on our website, so if people like what we do they can throw us a few quid to keep the show on the road. Or if they’d like to work with us just drop us a line at: info [at] dropeverything.net

What have been the challenges in bringing Drop Everything to life?
Asking for help.

What have been the major inspirations?
Receiving said help. People’s generosity can be next level sometimes.

What’s the future for Drop Everything?
May 2016. Inis Oírr.

Don’t miss it. When the third edition rolls around, make sure you Drop Everything.

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