CULTURE NIGHT returns to the streets of Limerick for the fourth year in a row this year, the initiative encouraging local cultural institutions and bodies to throw open the doors of their venues and invite the public inside to see their wares - all entirely free.
Culture Night, a nationwide event that drew half a million people out onto the streets of participating cities last year, has been particularly successful in Limerick city - and county, to a lesser extent - where cultural institutions have reported an increase in the numbers of visitors to their centres, while the physical number of venues and organisations has increased year on year to a record high in 2011, with 26 distinct institutions involved.
Sheila Deegan, Limerick City Council Arts Officer, is hugely enthusiastic about Culture Night, which takes place from 5pm this Friday around Limerick. While hundreds took to the streets last year to experience and engage with the city’s many cultural institutions, who threw open their doors to the public for free between the hours of 5pm and 10pm, Sheila is hopeful that similar numbers will make the effort to discover their city’s rich cultural tapestry this Friday.
“It has been really successful, but I don’t want to be complacent about it, I think it is really important that people continue to support it, because it is something that people can experience for themselves,” explains Sheila.
“The amount of people that say ‘I have never been there, I must go to that’ - the reward is in just making the effort to go. ‘What will you see?’ is the tagline and that is exactly the question, you just don’t know what you are going to encounter, which is nice.”
Of the 25 institutions taking part, some have joined Culture Night for the first time, including the University of Limerick, the Limerick Writers Centre at the Frank McCourt museum and a tour of the North Munster Masonic Lodge.
You can literally, as Sheila explains, “walk the walls of Limerick at 5pm, then go to King John’s Castle and hear about the history, go to Limerick Printmakers and print a tote bag or take a tango Lesson or a drawing class or visit the museum in Thomond Park”.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Jim Long, who says he “loves Culture Night”, is encouraging citizens to come out in force.
“It is great to see families coming out together to experience the treasure of events that have been organised,” he says.
“It is important to recognise what is in our doorstep and to appreciate our heritage and our culture. Often it is hard to find the time to support and enjoy the artists and organisations in the City but Culture Night is the time to go out there and share in the rich and diverse culture that exists here in Limerick,” he adds.
Some really colourful events are set to take place this year; following from the success of their ‘Poetry Depot’ project in the Milk Market last year, where the SpiritStore had poets on hand to write poems ‘on the spot’ for a line of willing participants - this year the group are to take to the Red Viking bus that will travel around Limerick, going from spot to spot.
Indeed, Thomas Street will be lit up by a dash of red vibrancy, as Limerick Tango - who have been organising Argentine Tango classes in Limerick in the city since 2006 - will host two free 60 minute introductions to tango.
In the Belltable, authors Peter and Natasha Murtagh will read from their new book Buen Camino, which will be followed by a screening of Emilio Estevez’s powerful film ‘The Way’, documenting the life-changing abilities of the Camino de Santiago, while music will follow afterward with Karen Underwood and her jazz band.
Children’s workshops will take place in Limerick City Library, the Hunt Museum and Limerick Printmakers - the latter of which is always a popular draw, and this year visitors will get a chance to see the Printmakers new - albeit temporary - home on Sarsfield Street, with silkscreen printing taking place for both adults and children. The Hunt Museum will host workshops, tours and live music in its decorated halls.
For more see www.culturenight.ie.