THE newly appointed director of Limerick City of Culture has said there are “more events to be announced” for the year, but stopped short of confirming French pageantry company Royal de Luxe’s involvement.
Mike Fitzpatrick, who has been named director of the project after an interview process and a period as interim CEO after a number of resignations threatened to derail it, declined to comment directly on Royal de Luxe, who are understood to be lined up to perform on the first weekend of September in the city.
“I am a bit like a very engaged punter, I am very excited by things,” he said.
“My job is to oversee budgetary matters, all the background stuff, rather than directing traffic in terms of production. There are tweaks to be made in the programme and there are more to be announced.”
The head of school in LIT’s Limerick School of Art and Design consulted with president Dr Maria Hinfelaar before applying for the role and after being offered it, and said he had received “fantastic support” from the institution.
Dr Hinfelaar told the Limerick Leader this week that LIT was “delighted” with the appointment.
“Mike has made a real difference to the City of Culture project since his interim appointment in January and we are proud he will continue in this role,” she said.
“We look forward to Mike returning as the Head of School of the Limerick School of Art and Design upon his completion of this role.”
Mr Fitzpatrick will take up the role on a fixed term basis, likely to the end of the year, it is understood. He was one of 17 applicants for the role, a list that was whittled down to five for interviews that took place last Thursday, and was named director late on Friday. He said he was “delighted and honoured to be doing it”.
“I am happy about it. It was a bit fraught - or complicated - to apply for a job that you are doing,” he said.
“It is a really interesting time and there is a great sense amongst people that it is now much more visible and people are beginning to be, I think, a lot more involved in lots of ways.
“The amount of events is affecting a lot more people. We still do need to do a lot more on the visibility,” he admitted.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the work that was done prior to my arrival. We haven’t changed any of the programme, we haven’t changed a lot of the mechanics that were put in.”
“I felt that whether I got the job or not, it was just as important that I at least put myself forward because of the commitment I had made to people. There is a lot of confidence about the project now, which is great.”
The culture chief also revealed that the Crescent Shopping Centre has come on board as a “very significant supporter” of the project.
The Clancourt Group, who own and operate the busy shopping centre, have offered “substantial sponsorship” of the year. “They are in a tiered group as a senior partner, so we are very excited about that. We are very excited about their wish to be involved in it, that is very important for us.”
Communications professional Olivia O’Sullivan, who has worked in Limerick for 22 years, has also been appointed to a PR and marketing role on the project.