LIMERICK’s designation as the first national City of Culture in 2014 will help the region through a time of change, the mayor has claimed.
The cultural designation, which will be modelled on Derry’s stint as UK City of Culture in 2013, is intended to shine a light on Limerick at a time when the local authorities will be amalgamated.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Gerry McLoughlin, speaking at the announcement this week, said: “Limerick is changing and we must embrace that change and let culture be one of the ways to unite us during this change”.
The mayor cited Limerick’s strong cultural history and heritage and said these things are “part of our culture, part of who we are, part of what makes us proud to be living in Limerick”.
“This designation as a City of Culture can empower us to tell Limerick’s story in our voices,” he added.
The mayor was joined by councillor Jerome Scanlan, cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council and ministers Michael Noonan, Jan O’Sullivan and Jimmy Deenihan in making the announcement, which the latter said would be of “major economic value to the city”.
Mr Deenihan said that the initiative would help to “regenerate and enhance the image of the city” throughout the year long programme of events, which will have government support, he stressed.
“I am very excited about what is happening here in Limerick and there will be funding available to ensure this project’s success,” he assured a huge crowd, made up primarily of those working in the arts in Limerick.
The minister noted that people would have to “embrace” the initiative both locally and nationally if it was to succeed.
There was little in the way of specific detail presented, but as previously established by sister paper, the Limerick Leader, an independent company is likely to be established to run the year long programme of cultural events in the city.
Mr Noonan said he was “delighted” with the announcement, which he stressed was part of the Regeneration process, which will also see Limerick city and country councils amalgamated in 2014.
“It is not only the body of Limerick that has to be regenerated - in terms of bricks and mortar projects - but also the soul of the city, and the arts speak to the soul,” said the finance minister.
Mr Noonan said that “the most successful cities are those that have creative people working in creative industries” and later stressed his strong belief that Limerick’s designation as national city of culture would be a first step towards a European Capital of Culture award in 2020.
Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan TD acknowledged that there was a “lot of work to be done, and this is day one of an ongoing process, but this is a wonderful opportunity for Limerick”.
Donations and funding will be sought by the company established to manage the year of cultural events, which will invite proposals from the public as well as involving established local and national arts organisations to create a programme of events for 2014.