Wallace appointed to top City of Culture position in Limerick

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Pat Cox and Bill Whelan, chairman and board member of the City of Culture governing body respectively and below, Karl Wallace, who will take up the role of artistic director in April. Main picture: Sean Curtin
FORMER Belltable artistic director Karl Wallace has been appointed to the same position at the head of City of Culture 2014.

FORMER Belltable artistic director Karl Wallace has been appointed to the same position at the head of City of Culture 2014.

The vastly experienced theatre practitioner will leave his current role as director of Siamsa Tire, National Folk Theatre of Ireland in Tralee, next month to take up the highly coveted role.

Mr Wallace, artistic director of the Belltable for 12 months until September 2007, will take up a two year fixed term contract with an annual salary of €65,000 and will be required to assist in drafting and then implementing the programme for Limerick City of Culture in 2014.

Confirming the appointment this Monday, the Londoner said he was “really excited” about the role, which he overcame strong competition to secure.

“I am really excited about it because there is obviously a wealth of opportunity for all the artists and creative people in the city,” he said. “I see it as a catalyst - there is a lot of work to be done in a short space of time, but it will be work that is ongoing and I hope it will be a legacy project.”

The job description called for an artistic director to “develop and deliver an outstanding programme of national importance and of international interest” and a large number of applications were received.

An interview panel to fill the position was established in recent weeks by City of Culture chairman Pat Cox, who said it would be “led by an external person, so not Limerick city or corporation, because we want a fresh eye and an arm’s length.”

Mr Wallace, who has worked with the country’s top theatres over a near 20 year career, admitted that there would be challenges ahead with the initiative, not least that the city is currently without a funded arts centre as a result of the Belltable’s closure.

“Yes, it is going to be challenging, but I think everybody is committed to that,” he said.

“I have always worked in situations where you cut your cloth to measure, and you find incredible creativity as a result of that. I think there are loads of opportunities to be had as a result of working in an environment where there are still an incredible amount of funded and non-funded arts infrastructural venues and organisations in the city.”

Welcoming the appointment, Mr Cox said the incoming artistic director had a “long record of achievement in devising and implementing cultural events and programmes.”

“His experience will greatly contribute to our collective effort to showcase the creative and diverse personality of Limerick,” added Mr Cox.