The competition for the
Irish city named European Capital of Culture is heating up. In Wicklow we are surrounded by bidders, with Dublin to the North and Wexford to the South (as part of a combined effort with Kilkenny and Waterford) both vying for the title. The other hopefuls are Galway and Limerick. October 17th is the key date, by which each applicant must submit their 'Bid Book'. This submission requires answers to 52 questions across the areas of culture, finance, social engagement, cultural strategy of the city and city infrastructure.
Perhaps the most visible campaigns to be seen
are Galway and Limerick, who both have signage up all over the city, and strong social media presences and video campaigns to support their commitment to achieving the appointment. However, perhaps this impression is because the areas of both Galway and Limerick are more confined than their Eastern counterparts!
Dublin has a proven track record of hosting national festival events on a large scale, and the infrastructure is obviously there. Kilkenny's Arts Festival, Wexford's Festival Opera and Waterford's Spraoi (International Festival of Street Art) have proven international success and sustainability over three key areas of arts and culture. Galway has long since been seen as a cultural hub for the West of Ireland, and boasts an International Arts Festival itself.
Limerick seems to lag behind somewhat in terms of running successful, sustainable festivals at the international level (perhaps with the exception of EVA International) however, its strength is in the successful, large scale programming of City of Culture in 2014. The vision of Karl Wallace was carried out for the most part despite his resignation, and to some degree of success after the initial scandal of Patricia Ryan's appointment to the project. Several City of Culture Legacy projects have been seen so far in 2015, which in some way shows the real success of the year.
The other strength Limerick has is the smaller, niche festivals that
happen around the city, such as theLimerick Literary Festival (formerly Kate O'Brien Weekend) which celebrated its 30th year last year. In addition, Elemental, Behind the Scenes, The Limerick Spring, and Make a Move cover areas such across from Arts and Culture, Film, Politics and Ideas and Hip Hop Culture, to name but a few. A dedication to the cohesion of these smaller events around the county and the programming of large scale events by someone as gifted in the area as Karl Wallace might see a surprise win by Limerick for 2020. The only question, is can they get out of their own way to achieve it?