€600,000 in funding made available by Limerick City and County Council and 11 recommendations in total to ensure culture continues to flourish
The remarkable renewal of Limerick’s culture this decade is to be redoubled after the adoption of an ambitious new strategy, as well as funding of €600,000 for its implementation, by Limerick City and County Council.
In another illustration of the renewed confidence and energy in Limerick today, the local authority has become the first in the country to establish a Strategic Policy Group (SPC) for Cultural Services and a Cultural Services Department. The remit of the SPC will be to advise and assist the council in the formulation, development and review of policy.
The moves came into place this week as the local authority adopted the ‘Report of the Chairperson of the Limerick Culture and Arts Working Group on a proposed new model for cultural services in Limerick City and County’. The report was accompanied by a pledge from the local authority of €600,000 in annual funding towards implementation of the strategy.
Some 11 recommendations of the working group are made in the report. All are aimed at the cultural enrichment of Limerick and capitalising on the cultural spring taking shape across the city and county this decade accelerated by Limerick’s successful National City of Culture designation in 2014.
Among the aims of the new strategy are to place culture at the heart of economic growth and regeneration of Limerick; grow Limerick’s Cultural Capacity by retaining and attracting creative practitioners to live and work in Limerick; grow its physical and human resources, infrastructure and support for staging large scale interventions, performances, festivals and productions; and support and grow innovative and creative collectives in Limerick.
It is also focused on fostering multiple examples of imagination, innovation and integration in Limerick and the use of creative approaches to help citizens and visitors re-imagine Limerick. It will seek to engage citizens through involvement in culture, become a centre for active research and problem-solving in culture that will have local, national and European significance and increase and support the role of the creative industries in Limerick.
Said Working Group Chairman and former mayor Cllr Kieran O'Hanlon: “This report of the Arts and Culture Working Group on the proposed model of Limerick City and County Council for the delivery of Cultural Services is a very significant moment for Limerick. There’s no doubting the influence of culture in economic progression and it’s no coincidence that Limerick’s rise in economic terms over the past three to four years has correlated with the cultural flourishing happening across the city and county over that period. There's great credit due to the Limerick Arts Office in implementing this change and we now have a great strategy to work to which can only mean bigger and better things for culture in Limerick”
Said Josephine Cotter Coughlan, from the Customer Services, Culture and Arts Directorate at Limerick City and County Council: “Particularly over the past three or four years we have raised the platform for cultural interests across the city and county to celebrate what they do and the outcome has been beyond our expectations, with this rich Limerick voice being heard nationally and internationally.
“This new strategy will take this to another level. Critically also we now have funding of €600,000 per annum to help support that strategy and will open calls for proposals to increase and improve the arts and culture offering in Limerick over the coming weeks. Culture is a transformational tool that can embolden the confidence of the city and raise its voice, with a very positive by-product being an improvement in the health and wellbeing of our people as well as a boost in visitor numbers.
“This is a very significant investment by Limerick City and County Council, which is placing culture at the centre of its policies. It is providing the platform for the rest of the city and county to flourish.”
Recommendations of the Working Group:
- To introduce a new structure of oversight and support for Culture and Arts which involves both elected members and representatives of the Cultural Sector. A Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) has been identified as the most practical solution. One third of its membership would be from the sector and would include representatives from LACE and PLAN. The Arts and Culture Working Group is to act as an Interim Committee and proceed to have a call for the allocation of funds. An evaluation committee is to be established to appraise applications for financial assistance
- To support the policy development role of the SPC with a Linkage Group consisting of the many voices of the culture and arts community of Limerick
- To establish a Culture Services Department. The Department will include the following key cultural services Libraries, Museums, Arts and Gallery. This would mean that Limerick City and County Council would be one of the first local authorities to lead on the objective of Creative Ireland programme to establish Culture Departments within Local Government.
- To encourage a greater sense of openness and transparency about funding opportunities by streamlining the process of cultural grants.
- The current Cultural Grants process to be moved to the autumn, to better inform budget allocations.
- Encourage and facilitate continued dialogue about the development of culture and arts in Limerick
- To invest the allocated €600k from Limerick City and County Council on a yearly basis to enable a wider group of organisations to benefit from potential multi annual funding arrangements
- Encourage some “early wins” in terms of festival development by publishing the Festivals and Events Strategy commissioned by Limerick City and County Council and resourcing a capacity building programme
- The proposed Cultural Services Department will work to create a synergy with between City and County for major cultural events – e.g. Riverfest, Christmas Lights Switch On, St. Patrick’s Day – encouraging joint marketing and programming investment
- Introduce a programme of strategic development to encourage excellence and visibility in each municipal and metropolitan district so that each district has a flagship festival.
Consideration is to be given in the longer term to the aligning of cultural, sport and tourism services to build a cultural brand for Limerick as an exciting cultural destination.