Limerick seeking private investment for City of Culture

LESS than €500,000 has been currently allocated to spending and marketing Limerick’s status as European City of Culture in 2014, in comparison to £20m allocated to Derry for this year.

LESS than €500,000 has been currently allocated to spending and marketing Limerick’s status as European City of Culture in 2014, in comparison to £20m allocated to Derry for this year.

The manager of Limerick local authority, Conn Murray, confirmed at a meeting this week that seed funding of €235,000 has been injected into the project, and a further €255,000 for marketing Limerick as an arts destination nationally and internationally.

Mr Murray was responding to criticisms from numerous city councillors about the structure of the City of Culture, which is less than 10 months away.

Labour city councillor Joe Leddin queried what the structure of the Limerick City of Culture is, and asked why certain theatre groups hadn’t been approached regarding their role in the year of culture. “This was announced last July, and there’s been an element of hiatus since then. The clock is ticking,” said Cllr Leddin.

Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon added that he felt the council had been “sidelined” in the running of this year-long festival. “I believe we’ll put up a great show for Limerick, but we need a respectable budget,” said Cllr O’Hanlon. He urged that the mayor should be on the managing committee of the City of Culture.

Labour councillor Orla McLoughlin said this will be a chance for Limerick to re-market itself, adding that it will be from “a low starting base”.

However, the manager for the joint local authority said this will not be the total tranche of funding for the project, as he expects national and private funds will become available in the near future. An announcement on future funding is expected to be made in the coming months.

Mr Murray said the three Freemen who are leading the City of Culture - Paul O’Connell, Pat Cox and Bill Whelan - are doing “exceptional work”, a lot of which has been unseen and they are volunteering their time willingly.

He said the structure would be formally announced when it’s “fully formed”, with the “programme unveiled at an appropriate time”.

He said the council will be provided with “very significant funding” for the City of Culture, amounting to €1m alone this year when all the funding to the various groups in the arts community is collated.

Mr Cox told the Leader last week that pulling off ambitious plans for Limerick City of Culture in 2014 will be a “challenge” but believes that the year can be “the beginning of a Limerick Renaissance”.