LIMERICK has officially launched its public campaign to become European Capital of Culture in 2020.
The bid, which hopes to build on the energy created by City of Culture in 2014, is seeking input from the public to feed into the lengthy process, the first stage of which comes in October, with the lodging of an 80 page document.
As such, the bid team launched a new website and an “identity” behind 2020, which was created with the help of local media organisation Piquant - but bid director Mike Fitzpatrick said the process could be a “phenomenal game-changer for Limerick”, which he admitted was an “underdog” in a competitive process.
“It is a very competitive race, Dublin will have a lot of resources and Galway and the South East will be very, very keen. But Limerick has a real desire and the key to Limerick’s potential for success, is having the desire to win,” he said.
“We have realised the confidence we grew from last year, but also we still have a long way to go. We are certainly not frontrunners, I think we are coming from behind, but look, we like being the underdog, and we can really see a goal ahead of us now,” he added.
Working with community groups and cultural practitioners, the team aim to stage free events across the city and county to provoke a discussion that will “inform the set of values and priorities” that will underpin the bid.
City and county arts officer Sheila Deegan, who is heading up the team with Mr Fitzpatrick, said it was about “re-imagining Limerick” and setting out on a “pathway of change, development, regeneration and engagement”.
Blind Boy Boat Club of the Rubberbandits was on hand at the launch to advocate for his native city, and said: “Limerick should punch its way up and absolutely be Capital of Culture, because what we have here is actual culture.
“As a result of the city being decimated by the recession, we have all these people using empty spaces for galleries, we have wonderful restaurants, Limerick absolutely deserves to be capital of culture.
“Galway might have had culture 15 years ago, but they have turned it into a tourist industry - so they have a parody of culture,” he added, tongue firmly lodged in cheek.
“City of Culture was a huge thing and 2020 can be massive,” he added.