Local projects to get €3.4m of Limerick City of Culture funding

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Soaring programme: Fidget Feet performing at the launch of Limerick's stint as national City of Culture 2014. Picture: Sean Curtin
LOCAL projects will receive just over €3.4m of the budget allocated by Government for Limerick’s stint as national City of Culture in 2014, the preview programme for which was launched this week.

LOCAL projects will receive just over €3.4m of the budget allocated by Government for Limerick’s stint as national City of Culture in 2014, the preview programme for which was launched this week.

Through two strands of the project, more than half of the €6m allocation will make its way to local groups to present work in 2014.

Karl Wallace, artistic director, explained that the programme is broken down into three strands, “International, Legacy and Commissioning and Made in Limerick”.

Some 109 projects from 329 applications have received funding.

“The thing that is really interesting about the breakdown is that between the Made in Limerick programme and Legacy and Commissioning programme, there is just over e3.4m in support – that is local projects,” he explained.

“I am really delighted that we are doing that. That is going into Limerick – hopefully that will have a huge knock-on effect,” he added, noting that the strength of the proposals received was “a reflection that the city is vibrant and has lots of ideas”.

This is the common theme for the project, as noted repeatedly by chairman Pat Cox, who said Limerick would be “Ireland’s premiere cultural venue in 2014.

“Our programme aims to unlock and to reveal Limerick’s cultural potential and to turn the city into a year long stage, a stage that will host acts, arts and events from the intensely local and community based, to acts that will be the first time ever in Ireland from the international stage,” he said.

Mr Cox referred to the programme, which overall features 200 different performances and exhibitions, spanning all aspects of culture over 12 months and under 13 different themes, as “edgy, urban and contemporary” which he said can “unlock and revitalise Limerick’s cultural potential”.

Mr Wallace noted that the international programme, a flavour of which was unveiled at the launch event, would be “exciting and challenging, because it is going to be new into Limerick and into Ireland”.

“But the impact is really with the local programme, which I think is going to do its own work. The thing that is exciting about it is that it was always there, and really City of Culture is shining a spotlight on it.”

The year will start with a massive New Year’s Eve carnival and includes a substantial performance run of Riverdance at the UL Arena in January.It is hoped that the economic spin off from the year “could be anything up to an additional €100m spend in 2014”, according to Conn Murray. The chief executive of Limerick’s merged local authorities said the year was “an enormous opportunity, because it has given us a platform which we otherwise have to fight for”.

He praised the “enormous support and a shot in the arm from Government in terms of a €6m spend”.

“I believe that the spend effectively in terms of performance and input into the city, can actually be doubled – and that would be our ambition,” he said.

Asked about the economic spin-off for the region, he said: “It is anticipated that it could be anything up to an additional €100m spend in 2014 in Limerick as a consequence of this particular project.”

He also expressed his belief that the budget for the year will hit €12m in direct spending. This will rely heavily on securing private funding from businesses and corporations in the region.

“I would say that the goodwill has been positive but that they were waiting a bit to see what is the product, because we may be asking people to sponsor specific events rather than the entire programme,” said Mr Cox when questioned about securing private funding.

“Now that we have something in hand to bring to them, we hope to be able to reap the reward of that,” he added.