IT WAS billed as the ‘largest community choral event ever held in Limerick’ but was all over long before the shouting began.
The Shouting Fence, intended to be a key part of the final quarter of the City of Culture programme, was cancelled because the “commitment wasn’t there” from the public, according to a spokesperson.
The event, which was to feature twelve soloists from The Shout, a UK choir specially formed for the project, required about 300 singers for the performance, all of which were to be local volunteers.
The choral project was billed as a theatrical event, a ‘musical manifesto against the wall in Palestine’, that was to have been held in the Culture Factory over six performances.
However, it was cancelled before it began. The Shouting Fence was to be produced by City of Culture, in association with Music Generation, under the commissioning strand of the year of culture.
City of Culture officials admitted this week that “contractual payments, a booking deposit” was paid to the performers due to come from the UK, which included respected composer Orlando Gough.
A spokesperson said payments in the event of the cancellation of an event - and indeed cancellation because of a low take-up - was “not unusual”.
Sheila Deegan, arts and culture manager for the project - and arts officer for Limerick City and County Council - explained further that the amount handed over was “tiny”.
“It was cancelled unfortunately,” she said. “We did a call-out, but unfortunately it required a body of singers - up to 300 - for six performances and we couldn’t get that commitment.
“When you enter into a discussion with people, no more than in a business transaction, you make commitments, but it is staged commitments and every project we are doing, from the smallest Made in Limerick to Royal de Luxe, has a contract process, and no matter who you deal with, there is always a clause around cancellations.
“A tiny amount to honour the work that had been done [was handed over],” she added.
The large-scale choral project would have seen the audience barricaded between the choirs as an “acoustic battle rages over their heads”. The cancellation of the event now means that the Culture Factory will not be used again for a public event before the end of the year. It was used twice, for Fuerza Bruta in March and No Fit State in June.
City of Culture director Mike Fitzpatrick told the Limerick Leader in March that seven weeks of constant work had taken place to fit out the venue to the massive specifications for Fuerza Bruta, as well as bringing the renowned show to Limerick for its Irish premiere, all at a cost of nearly €400,000.
“The programme that was put in place had a huge integrity around it, and we tried to honour that, but everybody only has a finite amount of resources available to them and in this instance, unfortunately, we didn’t get the response that was required,” said Sheila.
“It is unfortunate and that has not happened [before], but we are planning something for December 27, which we hadn’t originally so there are changes to the programme.”
The final-quarter programme for City of Culture includes over 200 pages of events and projects, including The Unlucky Cabin Boy and On The Wire, two original theatre pieces created especially for the year.