A vibrant programme that is “edgy, urban and contemporary” was launched for Limerick’s stint as national City of Culture this Monday, one that chairman Pat Cox said can “unlock and revitalise Limerick’s cultural potential”.
The much anticipated unveiling of the programme took place in Dance Limerick, attended by the lion’s share of the region’s politicians, policy makers and cultural practitioners, all eager to be associated with or get a glimpse at the list of events for 2014 - which artistic director Karl Wallace insisted was initially a preview, with more announcements to follow in due course.
The programme, which features 200 different performances and exhibitions, spanning across all aspects of culture and the arts, will kick off with a large scale New Year’s Eve carnival and run over 12 months across 13 different themes.
Of the 329 locally based groups that applied for funding, 109 were successful, a fact that the programmers hope will leave a lasting legacy in the region.
Viewing the programme, funding of €6m for which was procured from Government, the eye is inevitable drawn to a six night run of Riverdance in the UL Arena, which senior executive producer Julian Erskine said was “the full European touring production”, and would be performed to 2,500 people a night in the University in January.
But the programme also boasts a heady mix of the international, national and local overall - including the NoFit State Circus, an Irish premiere of Faust, the Irish Chamber Orchestra performing in the Milk Market with Ballet Ireland, a ‘People’s Museum’ running throughout the year, a Proms in the Park style event in the summer, renowned flautist James Galway performing in the UCH, the ‘unique music spectacular’ The Pigtown Bus by The Cranberries’ Noel Hogan, the Irish premiere of Fuerza Bruta - an “all standing rave of a show” - Macnas’ Melodica, a food festival in April, a children’s festival during the year, The Tain in association with Dance Limerick, a digital youth media festival and much more.
There is also a sporting element to the programme, with the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics in June promised to be “magical and memorable”, an International Sports Literature Festival to take place in October, the 2014 European Mountain Bike Marathon Championships to take place in June, and a City of Culture Cup u/19s International Invitational Club Football tournament to take place in September.
Mr Cox said the programme aims to “unlock and reveal Limerick’s cultural potential, to turn the city into a year-long national stage, hosting acts, arts and events from the intensely local and community based to international acts which will perform for the first time ever in Ireland”.
“The edgy, urban and contemporary will blend with the traditional to reveal the rich cultural diversity and heritage of the Treaty City. This year will be a chance to shine a light on Limerick and to lift the lid on the best that we have to offer as Ireland’s premier cultural venue in 2014,” he said.
Joining Mr Cox at the launch were ministers Jimmy Deenihan and Michael Noonan, minister of state Jan O’Sullivan and Limerick manager Conn Murray.
Minister Michael Noonan said he looked forward to the wide range of cultural events that would be taking place every week throughout the year, and said that the designation was “a key part of the rebranding of Limerick”.
Karl Wallace said the programme would reflect Limerick’s “rich cultural diversity being an urban and contemporary city”.
“There will be something for everyone, from large outdoor popular concerts to cutting edge arts,” he said.
“Most importantly, we are learning that legacy is essential to our City of Culture and a rich programme of work which provides opportunities for beyond 2014 will take place and be the core of our programme. Exciting international Irish premieres, will sit side by side with local work of the highest standard, solidifying Limerick as both a destination city and also a truly representative City of Culture.”
To see the programme that was announced, visit the website. For more analysis see tomorrow’s Limerick Chronicle and the weekend editions of the Limerick Leader broadsheet.