Limerick council to draw down extra City of Culture funds

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys with then City of Culture director Mike Fitzpatrick on a visit to Limerick during 2014. Picture: Alan Place
LIMERICK City and County Council has insisted it will not face any drain on resources from extra costs incurred by City of Culture.

LIMERICK City and County Council has insisted it will not face any drain on resources from extra costs incurred by City of Culture.

Top line figures for the year of culture were detailed in a major economic impact assessment of 2014, compiled by Grant Thornton Ireland, and released over a month ago.

The Limerick Leader reported then that the total programme cost was €12m – a €7.5m investment by the State, which was €1.5m more than expected, plus €4.5m in “additional funding”.

Of this, the total direct cost to the company set up to run the year was €10.9m, plus over €1.1m in event specific expenditure, which included in-kind sponsorship and grants and was not covered by Limerick National City of Culture Ltd.

The State provided €6m to the project in funding via the 2014 Budget, and an additional €1.5m - taking its contribution to €7.5m - in December of last year, following a request by the local authority.

Of this, €1.1m has already been drawn down by the council, with a further €400,000 to “be drawn during 2015”, a spokesperson said this week, following reports of a funding shortfall in a national newspaper.

The spokesperson pointed out that City of Culture was an initiative developed by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and that there was a “constant dialogue” between the parties - and other Government departments - during 2014 and “on foot of which it was agreed between the Department and Limerick City and County Council to provide an additional amount of up to €1.5m”.

Sources have stressed that this additional funding was “always on the cards” and that the council “didn’t find itself in the red - there was nothing drawn on council resources”.

A senior council figure told the Limerick Leader last year that “if there are any issues that need to be explored in the overall budgeting factor, obviously we would be looking back to central Government for additional support, because the year has been so successful”, but declined to elaborate further.

According to reports, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht are to conduct a “thorough review” of City of Culture, but no comment was available from Minister Heather Humphrey’s department this week.

The council spokesperson also said that Statutory Financial Statements for the period from incorporation to 31 December 2014 have been approved by the City of Culture board and are in process of finalisation, subject to changes to incorporate Companies Act 2014 modifications.

“These should be available in the next few weeks and filed with CRO in due course,” they said.