Riverfest: Councillors have been critical of the level of festivals in the city
LIMERICK council’s arts office has been criticised after it emerged it was planning to give arts groups just two weeks to prepare applications for events funding.
At last week’s metropolitan district meeting, arts officer Sheila Deegan disclosed that any group wishing to bid for a chunk of €238,000 to develop events would only have until April 2.
The news prompted anger among councillors, who flatly rejected the plan presented to them, with Fianna Fail’s James Collins saying the deadline was “farcical” and the scheme is “set up to fail”.
Metropolitan councillors have set aside almost a quarter of a million euro from their general municipal allocation – a fund to be used exclusively on city activities – for special events and festivals at times when Limerick is not hosting anything.
Separately, it has also been revealed that Galway – which beat Limerick to the title of European Capital of Culture 2020 – receives €390,000 for 21 festivals, compared to the Treaty City, which gets just €19,000 for five.
Referring to the deadline, Cllr Collins said: “I feel this is insulting to the arts and cultural community. Most people who would be developing these festivals, or would be expected to fill out the paperwork are volunteers.”
He said it would be more appropriate if a few months were given to allow applications to be prepared properly.
“The whole scheme was drafted without the input of councillors, never mind the inclusion of anyone from the arts and cultural community. This is a criticism which has been levelled at the arts office for some time,” Cllr Collins aded.
His party colleague, Cllr Vivienne Crowley added: “Grant applications are complicated. To have them done within two weeks is impossible.”
And Sinn Fein’s councillor Malachy McCreesh added: “We are being presented with this as a fait accompli. We need to sit back and be reasonable here.”
Referring to the fact Galway is receiving more than 20 times in Failte Ireland funding, the former Shannon Development executive Cllr Marian Hurley said: “I’d hazard a guess this is because Galway has a bigger arts team. Failte Ireland also has a very influential wing in Galway.”
In terms of festivals, councillors said that Limerick needs to do more around the Christmas and Halloween holidays.
A food festival was mooted by Sinn Fein’s councillor John Costelloe, similar to the 1997 World Food Festival.
“Limerick is famous for its bacon, and the way it’s cured. It’s unique to this part of the world. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it,” he laughed.