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Animation Dingle Festival goes fully virtual

How one team pivoted to design a unique — and successful — online event.

What happens when an already strong and established homegrown event goes 100 percent virtual?

The Animation Dingle Festival, founded by Maurice Galway and John Rice of JAM Media, takes place every year in Kerry, but the onset of the pandemic meant that organisers were greeted by a very different landscape in 2021. Instead of rescheduling or postponing the event, the unique Kerry-Dublin team pivoted and adapted to create a wholly virtual festival for this year — and an incredibly successful virtual festival at that.

With a presence on Animation Magazine's list of the 25 top events not to be missed in the world, Animation Dingle and its annual festival of workshops, conferences, screenings and awards, would have a lot to live up to in a digital sphere. And yet by adapting it for 2021, the team achieved 100% customer satisfaction and was able to deliver the very best in animation from Ireland around the globe.

With over 74,000 minutes of film viewed and over 84,000 minutes of live streaming viewed, this totalled 163,000 minutes, or 2,720 hours, of film and live events being viewed by professionals and students in Ireland, UK, US, across Europe and beyond.

One of the festival’s live venues, namely the Phoenix Cinema, has a maximum capacity of 137, with other venues hosting much less than that. By going 100% virtual in 2021 this meant that the festival could go ahead safely and allow the team to engage with its ratio of students and professionals in a way that would not have been possible otherwise.

“Ireland has built a strong reputation internationally as a centre of excellence for animation and I'm proud to continue to honour the work of the growing legion of award-winning Irish animators.” 

- Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment

By utilising online platforms such as Zoom, Cinesend, Issuu and social media, the festival was delivered in a fully digital medium, while still allowing participants to network online and watch the brilliant lineup of guests and speakers.

There was an unexpected but welcome bonus by hosting it completely online, in terms of how easy it was for the organisers to access analytics post-festival. In turn, this will allow the team to make an informed decision as to whether a Virtual Platform will be here to stay or if it is only a stop gap in the current circumstances.

Those already looking forward to next year’s festival can mark their calendars for 2022, with the event scheduled to take place on 11-12 March.

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