Tf Waterford Gathering Home Page (1050 X 591)

Join us for this landmark event in the performing arts 2023 calendar. Hundreds of artists, arts workers and arts organisation people from arts centres and production companies, festivals and funders are getting together in Waterford’s Theatre Royal and Garter Lane for two days of conversation, provocation, and inspiration.

In the time-honoured tradition of our conference events since 2005, you’ll renew friendships and make new connections. On Tuesday evening, you’ll get to experience a specially curated artistic programme followed by dinner in our oldest city’s Viking Triangle.

On this page you’ll be able to

  • Book your ticket
  • See the schedule
  • Have a look at hotel deals
  • See travel info
  • Find out more about accessibility in the event venues

Book your ticket

We’re delighted to be partnering with Ticketsolve and Crowd Engage to sell our tickets this year. You can still purchase tickets on this link.
Ticket prices:
Non-member €280
Organisation member €140
Freelance artists/arts worker €100
Your ticket includes day sessions, artistic programme, bespoke walking tour, lunch on both days and evening dinner.

Bursaries for independent artists and arts workers
All of these bursaries have now been allocated.
You can find out more here.

Ticketsolve Ticket Bursaries
Ticketsolve is sponsoring 20 ticket bursaries for arts professionals working in fundraising & development, marketing, box office, audience development and ticketing. All of these bursaries have now been allocated. You can find out more about these bursaries over here.

What’s the format?
The event runs over two days (Tuesday 30 and Wednesday 31 May). Your ticket includes day sessions, artistic programme, bespoke walking tour, lunch on both days and evening dinner.

Programme at a glance…

Day 1   Tuesday 30 May – Theatre Royal (TR)
11:00   Green Arts Forum TR Large Room
12:30   Registration and Lunch TR Box Office & Vestibule
14:00   Session: Provocations & Conversations TR Auditorium
17:45   Welcome Reception TR Vestibule
18:15   Artistic Programme Leaving from TR
19:15   Dinner Bishop’s Palace Café

Day 2  Wednesday 31 May – Garter Lane (GL)
09:30   Blaa Blaa Blaa Walk Leaving from outside TR
10:30   Out of the Ordinary/As an nGách VR opera GL Auditorium
Out of the Ordinary/As an nGnách, Irish National Opera’s VR Opera. Hear from Creative Futures Academy
10:50   Let’s talk about…
Production as Gaeilge GL Rehearsal Room
Marketing and data driven decision-making GL Auditorium
Trip to Spraoi Studios
Gather in GL courtyard
12:00   Open mic GL Auditorium
12:20   New Production Models GL Auditorium
13:30   Lunch GL courtyard

A bit more info…

Day 1 Tuesday 30 May at the Theatre Royal

Green Arts Forum11:00 – 13:00 Large Room, City Hall
Hear about the arts and culture sector’s climate action policies as well as Greening Venues and Greener Touring project findings and their relevance to theatres, arts centres, and production companies as well as the latest on the Theatre Green Book. Speakers include: Mary Boland, Lisa Burger, Paddy Dillon, Catríona Fallon, Nicholas Kavanagh, Martin Lindinger, Niall Gomes O’Connell, Mike O’Halloran, Eva Scanlan.

Registration & Lunch
From 12:30 Box Office & Vestibule.
Note:12:30 – 13:00 Theatre for Young Audiences Ireland (TYAI) coffee and info session in the Theatre Royal bar – open to all.13:15 – 13:55 Marketing, comms, and coffee mingle with Ticketsolve in Theatre Royal bar.

Session: Provocations and Conversations
Curated by Ruth McGowan

Programme Note:
Theatre Forum’s Big Gathering offers us a valuable opportunity to zoom out. To talk to each other about why we do what we do so passionately week-in, week-out. To remember the philosophy that informs how we do it. To figure out what’s urgent, what’s important and what’s next for us.

When Theatre Forum invited me to put together this afternoon of conversation and provocation, I started by thinking about the end. I wrote a list of four things I wanted everyone to take away with them on the journey home after this event.

  1. Good questions
  2. Hope
  3. A practical action to take as soon as you get back to the desk
  4. A funny story

The artists and ideas in this afternoon’s packed programme will endeavour to give you all of the above. They’ll talk about defying expectation, about letting the needs of your community lead the way, and about letting go of structures that no longer serve how we want to work now.

We are at our strongest in community, so let’s make this a brave space where we can consider the uncomfortable questions that we don’t yet have the answers for. There is power in looking at our challenges together, through the various new lenses provided by our guest contributors. The goal is that their provocations open up conversations in your place of work, and embolden us all with the certainty that change is possible, essential, and exciting.

Something many of our speakers have in common is that the game-changing projects they will talk about were made possible by a sustained commitment to ideas, to first principles. There was no deus ex machina, no surprise cheque from a billionaire, no lone genius appearing with a fully formed masterwork. They are just dedicated theatre people, like you, who decided to risk the new, disrupt the normal way of things and stick it out until it worked.

They are all here because I find hope and inspiration in their stories. Inspiration isn’t a fuzzy-feeling, ‘nice to have’ – it has a very practical application in our business. Hope is a form of planning (Gloria Steinem’s words, not mine) – we won’t do our best work, or enable the best work of artists without actively cultivating it.

Inspiration is vital, but I’m also a big fan of action. So, I hope you come away from today with a short to-do list of your own – send the email, make the thing, press go, say no, try something new.

And as for the funny story, well, who doesn’t want a funny story to bring back from the work thing they went to in Waterford?

– Ruth McGowan

14:00 Opening address, by Arts Council Director, Maureen Kennelly

Part 1: Provocations
14:15 – 15:00 What type of ancestor would you like to be?
Keynote by anti-disciplinary artist and sustainable innovation expert Adah Parris, followed by a Q &A hosted by writer/ director Maeve Stone on how our everyday behaviour should be informed by understanding that we are creating legacies through our actions.

15:00 – 15:45 Until Everyone Has Crayons, No One Gets Opera.
Alan Lane, Artistic Director of Slung Low reads from his book The Club on the Edge Of Town followed by an interview with Oonagh Murphy, Director of Cultural Philanthropy Foundation about the real life theatre events that inspired his memoir and the cost of trying to do good in a divided world.

15:45 – 16:00 Good Question!
Róisín Stack
Can Boggers Be Radical? And other questions about contemporary theatre beyond the Pale

Trudie Gorman
Dreaming an Accessible Future: How can arts spaces be made more accessible and radically inclusive?

Shauna Harris
What does an Irish actor look like?

16:00 Short coffee break

Part 2: Conversation

16:15 – 16:55  Big Talks
Two facilitated discussions about fresh approaches to connecting shows with their audience

  1. Social Media & Influencer Marketing: Unlocking Future Audiences (20mins)

Josh Bird, Digital Producer at Global Musicals and the mind behind the unstoppable viral marketing campaigns for the smash hit Six The Musical joins Claire Murray, Head of Development & Marketing for Lyric Theatre Belfast in a Q&A about dynamic brand strategy, social media & influencer marketing for theatre.

  1. Disrupting Criticism: Enriching the Critical Conversation (20mins)

Jose Solís, cultural critic and founder of BIPOC Critics Lab will join Ciara L Murphy, academic and author in a Q& A about energising approaches to theatre criticism and what a thriving future landscape might look like.

16:55 – 17:40 Michael R Jackson & Sonya Kelly in conversation
An artist-to-artist conversation between two celebrated playwrights on creative process, queer stories on big stages and how sustained artist support facilitates work of ambition.

Playwright, composer, and lyricist Michael R. Jackson is one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2022. His ground-breaking and beloved Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics Circle winning A Strange Loop received 11 Tony nominations in 2022, and will open at The Barbican in London next month.

Sonya Kelly is a celebrated playwright and writer for film and television. Her award-winning plays have delighted audiences in Ireland and internationally from New York to Brisbane since 2012, including The Wheelchair on My Face, Furniture, Once Upon A Bridge and The Last Return.

17:45 – 18:15 Welcome Reception hosted by WC&CC

Drinks reception by Thin Gin

18:15 – 19:15 Artistic Programme curated by Lynn Cahill Various Viking Triangle locations near Theatre Royal

The Waterford Gathering Artistic Programme is set to be an artistic adventure into the historic Viking Triangle. You’ll follow young musicians from Music Generation Waterford and along the way, you’ll encounter installations from Spraoi, enjoy a dance performance by Rachel Ní Bhraonáin and a street theatre performance from Curious State, before arriving into Christ Church Cathedral for the finale: an opera recital from the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival.

19:15 – 21:00 Dinner
Bishop’s Palace Café

Day 2 Wednesday 31 May at Garter Lane

Departing Theatre Royal : 9:30, 9:35 and 9:45 Blaa Blaa Blaa Walk
A fascinating walk from the Theatre Royal to Garter Lane. Along the way, young guides from Waterford Youth Arts tell tales of Waterford’s past and present. See some ‘Waterford Walls’ and stop off for that all important coffee.

10:30 – 10.50 Out of the Ordinary/As an nGnách, INO’s VR Opera
Hear from James Bingham about the  Irish National Opera world’s first virtual reality community opera, “Out of the Ordinary/As an nGnách,” in collaboration with communities throughout Ireland. The piece was composed by Finola Merivale with a bilingual libretto by Jody O’Neill, and directed by Jo Mangan. More information about this project. Robert Griffin of the Creative Futures Academy explores some of the technologies that make virtual reality community opera and other ground-breaking projects possible.

Experience the opera on a VR headset throughout the morning in Garter Lane’s Gallery space.

Let’s talk about …

10:50 – 11:50 Various spaces, Garter Lane and bus tour

Production Forum in partnership with Ealaín na Gaeltachta A conversation as Gaeilge with live translation to talk about theatre production with panellists Val Ballance, Arts Council; Alan Esslemont, TG4; and Muireann Kelly, Fíbín sa Taibhdhearc, chaired by Rachel Holstead.
Marketing Forum and data driven decision-makingA workshop with Heather Maitland, Katy Raines and Ticketsolve to share expertise about using data to make data-driven marketing decisions and a preview of Theatre Forum’s Audience Insights project tools.
Tour to Spraoi Studios

12:00 – 12:20 Open Mic

12.20 – 13:30 New production models
Jimmy Fay of Belfast’s Lyric Theatre kicks off a discussion with Sara Cregan, Rough Magic; Lynnette Moran, Field Arts and Louise Donlon, Lime Tree Theatre and Belltable about how artists, production companies, hubs, venues, networks and festivals are adapting their approaches and evolving production models. Hooligan Art Community Director Peter Cant talks about the kaleidoscope of dance, drama and song that is BUNKER CABARET.

13:30 – 14:30 Lunch Courtyard
Farewell lunch from Grow HQ, an award-winning café and organic garden in Waterford City, and a working model of a sustainable food system.


The Tower Hotel
€120.00 single occupancy
€130.00 double/twin occupancy
This includes full Irish breakfast and parking
Please call the hotel on 051 862300 quoting reference number #072268 to see if they have any availability.

Dooley’s Hotel
€149.00 single room B&B
€169.00 twin/double rooms B&B
Please call Dooley’s hotel directly on 051 873 531 to see if they have any availability.

Treacy’s Hotel
Bookings can be made by logging on to to see if they have any availability.

Getting to Waterford
By train: There are direct train services from Dublin Heuston and Limerick Junction to Waterford. See Irish Rail for full details.

By bus: Bus Éireann provides services to Waterford from Dublin, Limerick, and Cork.

JJ Kavanagh & Sons runs hourly buses to and from Dublin Airport, also stopping in Dublin City Centre (Heuston Station, Eden Quay, and Red Cow LUAS terminal).

Theatre Royal
This is a wheelchair accessible venue.  A wheelchair accessible restroom is located on the ground floor adjacent to the Box Office. There are two designated disabled public parking spaces on The Mall outside the theatre and further spaces available in Bolton Street Car Park (behind Waterford Crystal).

Garter Lane Theatre
Garter Lane is a wheelchair accessible venue. The ground floor, theatre, foyer, dressing rooms and gallery plus toilets are all wheelchair accessible from the main entrance.

The Tower Hotel
The Tower Hotel is wheelchair accessible.  There are elevators in the hotel and wheelchair access to reception, restaurant, function room & bar.

What about meals?
Your ticket includes lunch on both days, evening dinner and the artistic programme. Lunch on Day 1 is in the Vestibule in Theatre Royal
Evening dinner on Day 1 is the Bishop’s Palace Café
Lunch on Day 2 is in Garter Lane

A range of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free meal options is available.

Teas and coffees are provided and we’d ask you to bring and use your own Keepcup and water bottle if possible.

If you’re looking for a nice flat white or latte, here are some recommended coffee shops:

Near the Theatre Royal
Bishop’s Palace Cafe 
Gallweys Chocolate Cafe
Under the Clock Coffee House

Near Garter Lane
The Granary Cafe
The Stable Yard Food Hall

Useful links
Garter Lane
Theatre Royal
Visit Waterford
Waterford Gallery of Art
Waterford Treasures
Waterford Walls

Image Credit ©'In Circles' by Nean, Waterford Walls.