Be Our Guest
We are delighted to announce the 2018 Bealtaine Festival Theme - Be Our Guest
From 2018 through to 2020, in response to ongoing, international, globally transformative events, Bealtaine will adopt the theme of hospitality, hosting, welcome and generosity, as a broad and multi-layered festival theme. Bealtaine is at its core an arts event which brings people all over Ireland together to share diverse and challenging cultural experiences within the public sphere. As such, although an arts event, we play a critical social role as ‘host’ in being a welcoming space in which people make important social and civic connections through engaging in arts activities. In addition, as a collaborative festival that is delivered all over Ireland with no designated space of its own, Bealtaine is reliant on the hospitality and ‘hosting’ of our national partners, as are our audiences.
However, there are deeper philosophical undertones to the principle of hospitality. That is, conflicting understandings, or disavowals of hospitality are central to current international geo-political crises as a response to mass migration and the enforced global movement of peoples. As we know all too well, mass migration has itself led to conflicted understandings of nation-hood, nation-states, autonomy, identity and responsibility, with often bloody outcomes, as well as great social upheaval. The undertones carried by hospitality are underlined by historical interpretations of the concept, and in the twentieth century, Jacques Derrida’s philosophical work on the Ethics of Hospitality. In Derrida’s work, the concept of hospitality contains paradoxes in relation to how including those welcomed (cultures, societies, migrants) in the spirit of hospitality, necessarily implies others will be rejected and where curiosity in relation to the new or strange co-exists with fear of ‘the other’. Similarly, the person who hosts has a certain power over the person hosted and in that sense hospitality contains within it a hierarchy.
We feel that the dual or multi-level interpretation of hospitality, creates a fertile context for developing engagement and celebration but also challenging and critical arts events.
In short, we feel this concept creates great scope for interpretation amongst our Bealtaine partners and in particular, debates on identity, culture, and understanding. We, therefore, wish to present hospitality as a concept for the strategic programme in 2018, both in the common and more philosophical sense.