The RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival committee has elected Joe MacCarrick as its new director.
Joe, who has been involved with the festival since 1986 and most recently held the post of Deputy Director & Promotions on the committee, was elected at the committee's AGM on Monday evening and replaces Billy Nott as Festival Director.
Joe told the Westmeath Independent this week that his appointment as director is a great honour, but added that it also brings with it a burden of responsibility.
"I'm very conscious of the trust placed in me by the committee members," he said yesterday. "I am conscious of the work of my predecessors, especially Billy, who has been a tremendous director for the past ten years."
Joe, who is the fourth director of the festival, also paid tribute to Brendan O'Brien, who was the first director and held the post for 40 years, and Colm Kelly, who held the post for ten years and was the driving force behind the refurbishment of the Dean Crowe Theatre during that time. During Billy Nott's tenure as director, RTÉ came on board as main sponsor, raising the profile of the amateur drama festival.
"Billy has seen tremendous change and modernisation and left us with a festival that is second to none," said Joe this week, adding that he hopes to maintain and build on that.
Joe added that his primary target will be to have a fantastic festival where the groups can come and compete in a fair competition and that patrons and customers will enjoy. "I will continue to be open to new ideas and new members," he said. "I would like to build on the profile of the festival. As the festival gets prominence nationally, so does Athlone. I would like to foster that relationship between the festival and the town."
This year the festival celebrated its 60th anniversary and the committee received an Athlone People of the Year Award in recognition of six decades of dedication and commitment to the festival.
The festival was a huge success this year and in a break with tradition the final night of the festival was held on a stand alone night to mark the 60th anniversary. Up until then the final night was the night the final drama group performed and the winners were announced then. Joe said yesterday, however, that the stand alone final night was such a success this year that it will continue for the 2013 festival. Already the committee is looking forward to the 2013 festival, which begins on May 2 and will see the cream of the crop in amateur drama descend on Athlone for nine nights of performances followed by the final night and awards ceremony on May 11.
The adjudicator for next year's festival is Tony Rushforth, who last judged the festival in 2004,