FUNDING for Limerick’s stint as national City of Culture in 2014 will not be confirmed until late September or early October, just three months before the programme is due to start.
The revelation has caused huge upset in arts and culture circles in the city, with organisations reliant on confirmation of funding before bookings can be finalised.
The City of Culture team has communicated its hope to participants that funding will be announced “as soon as possible after the Dail reconvenes”.
“We had hoped at this stage that funding would be announced by Minister Deenihan before the Dáil adjourned for its summer break but unfortunately this was not forthcoming,” said an email. “The Dáil reconvenes on the 18th September and we hope that funding will be announced as soon as possible after this date so that we can advance plans for City of Culture.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said “all funding requests for 2014, including for the City of Culture initiative, can only be addressed in the context of the Estimates and Budgetary processes for 2014, which are currently underway”.
Asked if the delay in funding being confirmed would hamper preparations, the spokesperson said: “The Minister does not envisage the public funding timelines as contrary to programme ambitions in any way.”
City officials expressed their hope before the Dail broke up for the summer that funding would be finalised to launch a programme in August.
A well placed source said the delay in funding confirmation was “not the best case scenario to be in”.
“It is something that neither the council or city of culture team would have wanted but it simply reflects the reality of public finances,” said the source.
Several figures involved in planning events have spoken of their frustration at the delay in allocating funding.
“People are annoyed because they have tentatively made bookings and can’t confirm them. We are four months out now, Derry had their funding confirmed two and a half years before their year started,” said one, who did not wish to be named.
Kieran Lehane, director of service for arts, culture and sport, who has a direct role in City of Culture, said that it had been hoped to confirm funding before the last Cabinet meeting and agreed that the fact that this didn’t happen ran counter to what the local authority had hoped.
“The submission has gone into government as requested, and we are still awaiting a response,” he added.