Arthur's Day 'about music and talent, not drinking'
THIS year's Arthur's Day will promote Irish talent more than ever before.
The Guinness event, which takes place for the fifth year running on September 26, will feature a line-up of emerging acts as they perform in pubs across the country.
Leading the way are internationally recognised artists Emeli Sande, The Script, Manic Street Preachers and Bobby Womack, who will take part in a programme that boasts over 500 free events.
But according to Stephen O'Kelly, marketing director at Guinness, promoting new acts, such as Bouts and Girl Band, is a key focus this year.
"What Guinness is going to do for the next few years is to connect with Ireland. We've had a recession and there is a lot of creativity out there, but they all need a bit of a start – that's the role we believe Guinness can play for them," he said.
"It was really deliberate to have not just the big international acts that people love, but to give a platform to emerging Irish talent – that's very much the vision."
Mr O'Kelly said that the introduction of the Arthur Guinness Projects in June has also influenced the line-up. The initiative was set up to find and promote Ireland's next generation of singers, writers, artists, actors and culinary experts.
"It's all about people with new ideas, how we can help to transform them into reality with our help and mentorship and funding, so I think Arthur's Day this year is very much in that context," Mr O'Kelly said.
"So we're going to collaborate with publicans and we're going to collaborate with Arthur Guinness applicants to turn local pubs into creative hubs."
Mr O'Kelly also responded to comments by critics such as actor Gabriel Byrne, who feel that the event is a cynical marketing exercise by Diageo.
"It's more about promoting culture and showing the depth of Irish creativity and talent as opposed to anything else," Mr O'Kelly said.
"We plan very carefully to mitigate any irresponsible drinking, we work very closely with the Garda Commissioner to ensure that people can go out and really enjoy the day and get home safely, and we're very committed to that."
He continued: "A lot of planning goes into ensuring there is no abuse of underage people going into outlets or irresponsible drinking.
"Obviously, with any event, you can't plan for complete security but we do everything we can to ensure that doesn't happen. That's not what Arthur's Day is about," Mr O'Kelly added.
Further artists will be announced later this month, while, as always, a number of surprise acts will also turn up in various venues on the night itself to perform.
In addition, there are several ticketed gigs taking place in bars across Dublin, Belfast, Limerick and Cork.