President and Sabina Higgins have on every Bloomsday, 16 June, celebrated James Joyce, his work, particularly ‘Ulysses’, and all creative work and artists.
The circumstances this year provided a challenge, but on Bloomsday 2020, President Michael D. Higgins hosted a series of cultural performances highlighting Irish art and creativity and making a call to support artists and performers at a time of crisis.
The Covid-19 crisis has posed a fundamental threat to the arts, as the measures necessary for the containment of the virus have led to the closure of so many sites, venues, museums, theatres, libraries and heritage sites, and have resulted in loss of income for countless workers in the arts.
By hosting cultural performances at Aras an Uachtaráin, President Higgins sought to emphasise the importance of the arts in our lives, and thus the importance of the work artists do, recognising how fortunate we are to have the depth and breadth of Ireland’s talent and creativity.
This Bloomsday 2020 initiative was part of the President’s wider “Samhlaíocht agus An Náisiún / Imagination and the Nation” initiative, highlighting the powerful and transformative role of the arts, creativity and innovation. As one of the three pillars – the others being “Shared Ireland, Shared Island” and “Transformation and Participation” – of President Higgins’ vision for transformation in Ireland, “Samhlaíocht agus An Náisiún / Imagination and the Nation” emphasises the fundamental importance of the cultural space for our democracy and for promotion of creative, independent thought which we will require to build, safeguard and sustain an inclusive future for all.