Re-imagining the Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival

Dublin Arts and Human Rights festival

The Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival (DAHRF) started on October 16, one more event that this year has adapted to the circumstances of COVID-19. The 2020 version, hosted by Smashing Times and Front Line Defenders, is intended to highlight the extraordinary role that human rights defenders play in Ireland and around the world. It focuses on history but also on the present, where arts and artists are very involved. 

This edition will be held from Friday October 16 to Sunday October 25, in a virtual space that will unite artists, activists, citizens, families and communities. The main topic of the event is “Voices of Hope, Courage and Resilience”, and it aims to link art with civil society, active citizenship and politics. All of this will be done from several interdisciplinary performances based on: screening of films, documentaries, music, theater, dance, poetry, literature, visual and digital art, historical memory, discussions and arts-based workshops. 

DAHRF is a collaborative association, showcasing world-class programming and featuring new and diverse artists and acts. The festival is presented by the Smashing Times International Center for the Arts and Equality and Front Line Defenders, and its artistic curator is Mary Moynihan, writer, theater and film-maker, and Artistic Director of the International Center for the Arts and Human Rights. The human rights curator is Tara Madden, head of operations and public engagement of Front Line Defenders. 

In addition, it is supported by the following organizations, which have collaborated with the cause to offer the best experience ever: Amnesty International Ireland, Fighting Words, Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), the National Women’s Council of Ireland (nWCI) and Trocaire. Also, creative contributors include: John Scott Dance, Poetry Ireland, dlr Mill Theatre, Dundrum,, Company SJ and Trinity College Dublin. 

Besides digitizing the festival format, this year the Smashing Times International Center for the Arts and Equality has launched the “Artists Professional Development programme”. Its main objective is to bring together artists across the world who engage and promote a human rights agenda through their artistic work. It is the perfect opportunity for artists to share their ideas, values, aspirations and arguments on the subject of arts and human rights. These meetings will take place on Wednesday, October 21 and Saturday, October 24, both days at 2 pm.

These are the events that constitute the festival that you still can attend, as they are explained on the website: 


The webinar will focus on the experiences of racism for women in Ireland, the intersection of racism and sexism and how we can collectively build a society free of racism and one that respects diversity.

It is a poetic exploration on the theme of ‘poetry as witness’ and the way in which poetry can preserve memory, provide solace and reflect on the times we are living in. How do poets give voice to their own and other’s experiences; from personal experiences of trauma, to times of conflict experienced by refugees or as a result of a legacy of conflict in Northern Ireland to the loss experienced during the recent pandemic.  The evening features work by extraordinary poets.

For the next Fáilte Amnesty event, they will turn their attention to Poland, where hate fuelled laws and propaganda against LGBTI people continue to lead to violence, harassment and intimidation. 

The President, who campaigned against LGBTI ‘ideology’,   the election has been sworn in for another five years, and now peaceful acts of creative expression are being criminalised. It’s hard to look on at what’s going on, and not want to help.



Front Line Defenders will host a digital and online security panel discussion on the timely topic of ‘Securing Speech: Woman human rights defenders and defamation in the digital space’ exploring themes including online defamation, trolling, and online security arising out of Covid-19.

These documentaries explores the history and culture of the Traveller and Roma communities, and the contemporary issues facing young people and adults in these communities regarding positive mental health and suicide prevention. Ten interviews will be conducted with members of the Traveller and Roma community to inform the development of the new documentary.



This event features an online exclusive interview with three Irish women who are advancing human rights on the world stage as United Nations Special Rapporteurs, presented by Front Line Defenders. These three amazing Irish women currently hold important positions within the UN and will be interviewed about what drives them, the change they want to bring about and how Ireland can play its part on the world stage. 

Presentations from filmmakers and artists on work that has been developed remembering conflicts. The presentations will be followed by panel discussion.  



Aisling Duffy Designs will host two up-cycling workshops on Saturday 24th as part of the Climate and Environment focused day of the festival. She will be showing us how to make face coverings and a patchwork bag using up-cycled fabrics.

The Irish Council For Civil Liberties, Ireland’s leading independent human rights NGO, is hosting an online training course on the right to protest. Interested in how to plan or attend a protest? Wondering how COVID restrictions have affected your right to protest? Do the Black Lives Matter and Climate Strike movements have you wondering how you can get involved and raise your voice for a better future? Legal experts will answer these questions and more! 

Clodagh Kelly and Katie Harrington, hosts of the Climate Queens podcast, will be bringing their much-loved musings and conversation to the Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival. The best pals will be doing what they do best in discussing some of the most important and pressing issues facing our climate crisis today, whilst also providing tips and solutions to introduce into our daily lives.

Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality from Dublin, Ireland and The Dah Theatre Research Centre from Belgrade, Serbia are delighted to co-host a joint event linking two unique festivals across Europe – the Dublin Arts and Human Rights festival running from the 16 to the 25 October 2020 and the Serbia Festival of Arts and Human Rights running from the 23 to the 28 October 2020. This event, titled The Artist Speaks: Festivals Across Borders Creative Conversations in Ireland and Serbia, is a cross-border creative conversation exploring links between the arts and human rights and why artists create work linked to human rights.  The event features discussions with artists from Serbia and Ireland.

Eyes on Extractives Panel Discussion: As more and more of us want to take part in action on climate, what are the kinds of threats facing those human rights defenders already in the struggle to protect our environment? HRDs from home and around the world challenging the damage caused by extractive industries share their stories.



BROKEN – A Palestinian Journey Through International Law, is a compelling documentary about international law and its broken promises, using the example of the 700 km-long wall in the West Bank. Candid testimonies are provided by internationally renowned law experts, judges from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), seasoned diplomats, and the Israeli military officer who, in 2002, commanded the construction of the Wall. In its 2004 Advisory Opinion, the ICJ declared the Wall illegal. Now, 16 years later, the Wall is nearing completion. BROKEN was produced by a former UN Wall monitoring expert.

This event will create a platform for artists to speak about work and projects they are developing or are thinking of developing in the future. A chance to brainstorm, discuss and share ideas, this event highlights the strength and endurance of the arts community, and their extraordinary ability to persevere.

Front Line Defenders are delighted to host an important discussion around BDS & Palestine hosted by Huwaida Arraf who is a Palestinian American activist, lawyer and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian-led organization focused on assisting the Palestinian side of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict using non-violent protests.


Weeklong events: 

This exhibition is part of Trócaire’s Making a Killing campaign which is calling for an international Treaty on Business and Human Rights to help protect communities from such abuse.

This is a story about breaking absolute censorship, with unique footage from an area where the Moroccan authorities have managed to implement a near total media blackout.

This is a new, approx. 20 minute documentary, which focuses on how certain governments are using the health emergency to crackdown on minority groups and civil society space. The film also examines the crisis in the context of business and human rights e.g. ongoing targeting of human rights/environmental activists, fast-tracking of development initiatives which threaten the safety, security, and rights of communities etc. Interviewees include Trócaire staff and partners, and Mary Lawlor, the recently appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders.

Unsilencing Black Voices is a project created to highlight different forms of racism through the lived experience of the black community in Ireland. The aim is to encourage everyone to continuously partake in the ongoing discussions of race.

Emotional Landscapes is one of a number of events presented as part of the Smashing Times Creative Arts for Health and Well-Being hub, Art4Us and Creative Connections for a Brighter Future project – using the arts on a cross-border basis to promote peace, well-being and shared visions for a brighter future for all. Supported by Co-operation with Northern Ireland Funding Scheme 2020 at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Community Foundation for Ireland and Erasmus+. is an non-funded group of theatre makers who create video and written content and provide resources for theatre makers and lovers of live performance in Ireland and throughout the world.’s purpose is to champion for the theatre sector within Ireland and around the world, as well as provide platforms for discussing the issues in Irish and world theatre. produces a live weekly webcast, Stage Door Live, available on YouTube, Periscope/Twitter, and Facebook every Wednesday at 7PM IST. 


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Judit Sadurni

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