Culture Night: ‘People are waking up to the idea that diversity makes for really interesting art’

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Culture Night Dublin will feature over 200 online and offline events, taking place on Friday 18 September.

COVID-19 HAS decimated the arts but the virus has presented opportunities for often overlooked actors to diversify and try new things. 

That’s according to Mark Smith, who has Down syndrome, and who was forced to cancel his show Making a Mark due to Covid-19.

But with Culture Night around the corner, Smith was able to look at other forms of artistic expression and diversify his portfolio.

This Friday, 18 September, he’ll be one of the hundreds of performers taking part in the annual Culture Night event, which is in its 15th year. Covid-19 has meant that most of the events will be taking place online, but there are still some ‘offline’ socially distanced events for those who want to experience art outdoors. 

Culture Night Dublin will feature over 200 online and offline events, taking place on Friday 18 September. With so many online events, people from across the country will be able to dip in and out of the cultural treats across different counties.

On the night, Smith will be giving his own performance of Eavan Boland’s poem Quarantine.

“Things didn’t happen this year with Making a Mark. It’s not on this year sadly. I’m actually okay. I’m going back into my stride now,” he told TheJournal.ie in the run-up to the all-island event.

Artistic director of Run of the Mill Theatre Aisling Byrne, a collaborator of Smith’s, said the pandemic allowed both her and Mark to rest up and think of the future.

“The silver lining is as much as we were disappointed about the tour being cancelled, it gave us a chance to give us a rest. We’re trying to diversify and we are moving into film and we’ve a few plans. Culture Night is allowing us to dip our toes in it.”

Smith also explained how more and more actors with Down syndrome are starting to make their way into mainstream television and film, and that it is something which should be welcomed and celebrated.

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Movies such as Peanut Butter Falcon which is on Netflix, feature actors with Down syndrome, he pointed out.

Smith described how “important” it is for him to see fellow actors with Down syndrome star in Netflix movies. He explained that there are more and more opportunities being created for actors such as him in the last few years. 

Byrne added: “To see visibility in movies like the Peanut Butter Falcon is brilliant.
People are waking up to the idea that diversity makes for really interesting art.

“It’s culture that shows another light and it’s amplifying voices that once you did not hear from.”

Culture Night takes place on Friday, 18 September. TheJournal.ie will bring you more coverage of Culture Night throughout the week – find out more about national event on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. 

Mark Smith.

Mark Smith.

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