Limerick City of Culture interim CEO hints at “one role” for project

Strong hints: Mike Fitzpatrick in the new Culture Factory in Castletroy. Picture: Alan Place

Strong hints: Mike Fitzpatrick in the new Culture Factory in Castletroy. Picture: Alan Place

  • by Alan Owens

INTERIM CEO of Limerick City of Culture Mike Fitzpatrick strongly intimated this week that his replacement would likely be “one person that combines executive and artistic” roles in the project.

Mr Fitzpatrick was appointed two weeks ago to try to steady the project, which was plunged into disarray after the resignations of the artistic director and chief executive.

Speaking this week, Mr Fitzpatrick said there was a “logic to that” when it was put to him that one appointment might cover both roles.

“Equally there is other logic to very short term contracts to do certain specific things, so I am more worried about that at the moment, and the other one, because it is a slower process, will be resolved,” he said.

“Certainly, yes the view is the one person that combines executive and artistic,” he added.

Mr Fitzpatrick attended a meeting of the board of City of Culture last Friday. The mood of the meeting of the board, broadened to include representatives of the local artistic community including Louise Donlon of the Lime Tree Theatre, was described by insiders as “good” and “positive”.

Mr Fitzpatrick was effectively given carte blanche by chairman Pat Cox to conduct a root and branch review of the project’s structure and how best it should proceed.

“We are running and racing, we have to get that process going, that won’t be an immediate process to get somebody, that is going to take a while,” said Mr Fitzpatrick.

“We have taken a decision of agreeing the beginning of the process, but that will take however long.”

Another meeting of the board, who have seen the pressure lift off them since the interim appointment eased concerns in Limerick at the project’s running, will take place before the end of the month.

In the meantime, senior executive officer with Limerick City Council Paul Foley and arts officer Sheila Deegan have been moved into the operation of City of Culture as part of the CEO’s “management team”.

Elaine O’Connor, who previously worked with Limerick Sports Partnership, was appointed operations manager in November, while four council employees, two co-operative students and two JobBridge employees are also working on it, plus several contract staff.

Asked about the role to be played by the Limerick Marketing Company - headed by Eoghan Prendergast - in the festival, Mr Foley said: “The local authority is playing a central role with the delivery of City of Culture and marketing is being looked at at the moment as well, and the marketing company has been heavily involved.

“We are just looking at the whole situation in terms of the programme’s delivery throughout the year and marketing is part of that.”

Mr Fitzpatrick was also asked about marketing and the lack of City of Culture branding at Riverdance in the UL Arena.

“I am delighted you said that because it is one of the many tasks we have to do and (decide) how do we brand each thing to be City of Culture,” he said.

“Certainly we need to promote like crazy to get the message out. I will absolutely take that criticism and we are going to work hard on addressing it.”




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