Call to streamline arts funding in Limerick to allow for events with 'real impact'

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Cllr Joe Leddin believes a number of festival events could cluster around the Crescent area, as what happened when a street party took place in the summer of 2016 for the Capital of Culture judges vis

Cllr Leddin believes a number of festival events could cluster around the Crescent area, as what happened when a street party took place in the summer of 2016 for the Capital of Culture judges visit

INSTEAD of inviting funding bids for small scale festivals, Limerick City and County Council should streamline its processes to allow for events with “real impact".

That’s according to Labour councillor Joe Leddin, who spoke at the local authority’s cultural committee meeting.

During a debate on strategic priorities for investment in arts projects, the City West member complained that for too long the council has given funding to small scale events “which have no visibility”.

He called on the authority to put a funding call out for festivals around just two themes: New Year’s Eve, and a summer event, looking at a festival in June, July or August.

“We have all sorts of proposals. I’m all for new festivals, but they must have some footprint and visibility,” Cllr Leddin said, “we have spent money on events which have had no visibility. We have funded events which have not shown the ability to have any positive economic impact. There is nothing on in June, July or August. We need to make a decision.”

Cllr James Collins, Fianna Fail, countered there are very few festivals in Limerick in the autumn time.

Cllr Leddin was told by director of service Caroline Curley that there was not yet funds in place for New Year’s Eve celebrations, curtailed this year due to the weather.

In terms of new festivals, Cllr Leddin suggested a cluster of events up around the Crescent area of the city, as what happened when the European Capital of Culture bid team visited.

With just days to go to Limerick’s annual St Patrick’s Day Parade when the committee met, Keith Bogue, who sits as a sectoral interest member on the cultural committee, said planning for the 2019 event must begin in earnest now.

“This is the only way we will be able to persuade more Limerick creatives to take part. We need to make far more of an effort to get Limerick people working and participating in it,” he added.

Sheila Deegan pointed out Fidget Feet was taking part in the 2018 parade, and the cultural department was working with 25 local groups on this year’s spectacular.

Cllr Collins seconded the request – and said that the cultural department’s request for money last month from metropolitan councillors was “farcical” in its timing.

Separately, Limerick City and County Council is putting in place a cultural and creativity strategic policy, in place from this year to 2022.

The scheme is tasked with enabling creativity in every community.

Six priority areas for Limerick were identified, including helping children and young people, fostering creative and cultural innovation and placing a focus on film and gaming.

“These priorities along with those of the Limerick Cultural Strategy and other key areas of investment and effort by Limerick City and County Council over the next five years,” said cultural and arts officer Sheila Deegan.

Concern was raised in the meeting that the fact a focus was being placed on film and gaming could disproportionately benefit Troy Studios, which has more financial might than most local arts groups.

Ms Deegan said filming and gaming is one of just five pillars – and equal weight will be given to each.