‘Major figure’ to lead Limerick’s City of Culture

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

AN announcement regarding the identity of the person tasked with running Limerick’s City of Culture programme in 2014 is expected to be made in a matter of weeks.

AN announcement regarding the identity of the person tasked with running Limerick’s City of Culture programme in 2014 is expected to be made in a matter of weeks.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan TD declared at the gala opening of the Lime Tree Theatre in Mary Immaculate College recently that a “major figure” would be appointed “in a few weeks”.

The cultural designation, which will be modelled on Derry’s stint as UK City of Culture in 2013, is intended to shine a light on Limerick at a time when the local authorities will be amalgamated and was a brainchild of the arts minister’s.

He admitted it would be a “challenge” to run, but stressed that it would “brand the city in a very positive way”.

The Limerick Leader understands that a person has been approached to head-up a board that will run the year of events in 2014.

An independent company is to be established to run the year long programme of cultural events, but sources have admitted that funding is unlikely to be hugely significant, with Limerick expected to work within the confines of “current funding” from state bodies.

Kieran Lehane, director of service in the new amalgamated joint local authority with responsibility for arts, culture and sport, said the person asked to head up the board would be of “national and international standing”.

“We hope to have a terrific offering over the year and have strong participation from all of those who are interested in being involved, we will certainly be facilitating that,” promised Mr Lehane.

City arts officer Sheila Deegan, who has been involved in the process since its formation, explained that a board would be established to run the year of events and confirmed that a specific person had been approached to be the chairman of that body.

She said the make-up of such a body would be modelled on the structure being used in Derry, which includes those from cultural, business and community groupings.

With regard to funding, Ms Deegan said a meeting was due to take place with the arts minister in the coming weeks.

“We have to make a presentation to the minister in two weeks time,” she explained.

“It will be based on current funding and possibly getting other funding to lean towards Limerick from other departments. It will be similar to the way they are doing it in Derry. It will be clever boxing,” she added.

Addressing the level of disquiet among arts organisations locally who claim they have not been approached since the City of Culture designation was launched in July, the arts officer stressed that the process would be “inclusive”.

“Absolutely. They will be part of the process. The reality is there is no point in asking people to dream up ideas and then not be able to back it up, so until we can understand what we are asking people to do, or be involved in, we will wait to do that,” she explained.