Limerick’s designation as national city of culture in 2014 will be of “major economic value to the city”, according to arts minister Jimmy Deenihan.
The Kerry TD was speaking at the official launch of the plan for 2014 in the Strand Hotel this Monday, which will see Limerick become the first city of culture in Ireland.
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, with Derry’s stint as UK City of Culture in 2013 cited as a model for its operation.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan TD 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.