LIMERICK City of Culture director Mike Fitzpatrick is to stay on in his role and will lead Limerick’s bid for European Capital of Culture in 2020, it has been confirmed.
Mr Fitzpatrick, who took on the City of Culture role at the beginning of 2014 after a period of upheaval within the project, will lead a team that has been assembled to work on preparing the complex bid for Limerick.
Mr Fitzpatrick - who is head of school in LIT’s Limerick School of Art and Design - will continue to be seconded within the local authority for the duration of the bid process, which is due for submission to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in October.
He will be joined in the bid team by fellow City of Culture alumnus Sheila Deegan - Limerick city and county arts officer - Helen Creed, Kathy O’Grady and Evelyn Noonan. A stakeholder group led by the local authority and comprising cultural, community, educational, business interests and public representatives, will also be set up to oversee the bid process.
Mr Fitzpatrick said he was “looking forward to the challenge”.
“We’ve had a fantastic 12 months in Limerick and now our aim is to maintain the climate of support for culture that has been achieved in 2014, and grow that support over the next six years to enhance the range, diversity and European dimension of our cultural offering,” he said.
“The bid process is all about widening access and participation in culture, strengthening the capacity of our cultural sector and raising our international profile as a result.
“We’ll have tough competition from other Irish cities but I’m confident that Limerick will put forward a strong and ambitious bid. I’m looking forward to working with the many stakeholders that created a momentum in 2014 including communities, organisations, businesses, educational institutions and the cultural sector, to create the best bid possible.”
Limerick will face strong competition for the 2020 designation - which is to be awarded to one Irish city plus one from Croatia - from Galway, Dublin and a regional clustering of Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny.
Mr Fitzpatrick outlined to Limerick council late last year plans for a “cultural strategic proposal” for 2015-2020, and specifically a new entity, acting under the title “of Limerick Creates” that would aim to deliver a “cohesive, cultural strategy for a planning and delivery system” for the 2020 bid.
Potential actions of the entity would be to produce a “competitive bid” for 2020, achieve a cohesion among the cultural sector, deliver cultural infrastructure developments, resource legacy projects from the year of culture and grow ambition for “world class cultural productions”, he explained.
LIT President Dr Maria Hinfelaar said the institution was “proud to once again see Mike Fitzpatrick, the Head of our world-renowned School of Art and Design, fulfil a lead role” in the bid to attain Capital of Culture status.
“We will support limerick and of course Mike in every way we can,” she said.