Judging the impact of Limerick’s City of Culture

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Heather Maitland and Anna Walsh deliver a presentation on the social impact study they will carry out on City of Culture. Picture: Sean Curtin Photo
THE full impact of City of Culture on Limerick should be known by May, when two studies will be published.

THE full impact of City of Culture on Limerick should be known by May, when two studies will be published.

Commissioned by City of Culture, a social impact study will be carried out by Theatre Forum and a leading academic from Warwick University, while an economic analysis of the year will be conducted by Grant Thornton.

Theatre Forum is the representative association for theatre and the performing arts in Ireland and an expert in the field of audience trends for the performing arts.

Anna Walsh of the body and Heather Maitland, an academic and arts consultant, delivered a presentation on the nature of the social impact study to a meeting of the pillars of City of Culture last week.

Ms Walsh said the study would seek to measure “what has happened in the lives of Limerick citizens and what has changed” as a result of City of Culture events in 2014.

The study will take the objectives set out at the start of the year by City of Culture and measure their impact using a methodology “borrowed from urban regeneration and social renewal” projects. Ms Walsh said a study of this scope had not previously been carried out to analyse a cultural project.

They also explained that a local co-ordinator and ten researchers would shortly be hired to carry out that social impact study.

The ‘citizen researchers’ will be nominated by a mixture of community groups and arts institutions in the city.

“We have engaged Theatre Forum, who are going to conduct a social impact study, using a very interesting methodology where the local researchers are being empowered to lead it, so it is a novel and successful way of doing it,” said Mike Fitzpatrick, director of City of Culture.

Arts officer Sheila Deegan explained that both the social and economic studies “will be sharing information” between them.

Mr Fitzpatrick hopes to feed the results of the studies into the bid for European Capital of Culture in 2020, which he is leading and a document for which must be finished by October.

“That is why we are working now and the social and economic impact studies will help as well, so we are not working in a vacuum and we are gathering stuff and we will have to start racing.”