One of the largest and most complex Roma festival in the world, mixing in its 4 days representatives of all arts and crafts (from music, dance, theatre, book releases, film, photography to even fashion, street performances and activities within the penitentiary), International Romani Art Festival lends and ear and gives a voice to cultural diversity, gathering thousands of people annualy to celebrate Roma culture and its modern extensions. With 5 completed editions and a 6th in work, IRAF has brought over the years more than 800 artists and artisans, Roma and Roma- inspired, from all over the world. Boban Markovic, Balkan Beat Box, Paco Peña Flamenco Company, Mitsoura, Taraf de Haidouks, Dubioza Kolektiv, DJ Click, KAL, Dunkelbunt, Nadara, Antwerp Gypsy Ska Orkestra – are just a few examples. Flamenco, jazz, rock, punk, hip-hop, electro, alternative, oriental, traditional, all gathered under 2 key elements : Roma culture and open minds.
With a strong international character, the festival has brought in time on its stage numerous resonant names both from Europe and other continents, up to present the following countries having been represented, aside Romania, within IRAF: France, Spain, Serbia, USA,Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Ukraine, Canada, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey,Great Britain, Switzerland.
87 concerts and dance performances, 17 photo and paiting exhibitions, 11 theater performances, 24 film productions presented, 22 fire and modern circus shows, 4 artistic performances within the penitentiary in front of an audience of over 1000 inmates, 12 workshops, 25 days hosting the Roma crafts fair, over 20 informative activities and thousands of informative and awareness materials distributed freely, approximately 250 volunteers, more than 100 governmental and non-governmental institutions involved and the support of over 100 media channels both national and international is added to the sum-up view of IRAF in its 5 editions unfolded so far.
Aside from the recognized artists of the genre it has welcomed IRAF has become gradually also a good launching ramp for young artists in the field, facilitating their access to the national and international market. In fact, IRAF is also that event that has introduced in Romania, through its major impact, the international Roma artistic phenomenon, being the one to have brought for the first time in the country many globally recognized artists of the genre and thus contributing to promoting this sector at a high class level. From the cultural shock of the first edition, through a sustained effort to maintain the high quality standards of the festival, IRAF has grown step by step from an event to a movement, developing itself at the same time into a central meeting and expresssion point in the Roma culture world throughout Europe and not only.
Recognized and awarded at an international level, IRAF has been mentioned by one of the main journalistic institutions of the continent, The Guardian in UK, that sets the festival among the cultural events that offer Romania “a new face”. The festival was organized under the aegis of the Roma Decade 2005-2015 while previous editions have benefited from the high patronage of upper rank state institutions as the Romanian Cultural Institute and the National Council Against Discrimination, and also have unfolded under the aegis of : The European Year for Equality of Chances and the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. IRAF has also been awarded a mention in the Culture section of the Civil Society Gala in 2007 and The National Youth Agency, through the General direction of Youth in Timis has awarded the event with a special prize, recognizing it as one of the best cultural projects involving the youth in Romania in 2008.
The festival was awarded in Prague at the ERSTE Foundation Social Integration Gala 2011, IRAF being the only cultural project to win this international recognition, while the other 36 winning projects (out of a selection of over 1800 major European applicant projects) came strictly from the social sphere.
The year 2011 has also brought other international accomplishments for the project. The artwork (image, posters, etc) of IRAF has been exhibited this spring for 2 weeks at the Viennese Parliament within a large cultural event of the city, as an example of "best practice" within Roma culture work, for its innovative and un-stereotyped vision. In February IRAF was among the only 4 Roma culture festivals
in Europe invited at the first European Roma Culture Seminar in Spain, Caceres, thus recognized among these few events as representative for culture festivals in the Roma world within European space.