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Reflection on the first year of the Limerick City and County Councils Cultural SPC

Eleanor McSherry, Lecturer, Film Scriptwriter and Co-Chair of L.A.C.E.

Reflection on the first year of the Limerick City and County Councils Cultural SPC

From 2016-2018, Limerick Arts and Culture Exchange (L.A.C.E.), along with the Professional Limerick Artists Network (P.L.A.N.), lobbied with some like minded councillors, successfully to get the City and County council, to form a Strategic Policy Committee (S.P.C.) for Culture at the end of 2017. It is the first of its kind in Ireland to have artistic industry representatives on it. Some believe, primarily within the artistic and cultural community in Limerick, that this S.P.C. is the true legacy of the City of Culture 2014.

Keith Bogue (Film Producer), Gerard Keenan (CEO-Irish Chamber Orchestra, Co-Chair L.A.C.E.), Maggie Browne (Visual Artist) and Eleanor McSherry (Lecturer, Film Scriptwriter, Co-Chair L.A.C.E.), are the only artistic industry reps on any SPC in Ireland. They applied, from an open call, to get on the committee and were lucky to have been deemed good multi-disciplinary and qualified candidates.

In one year they have achieved a lot on this Cultural SPC with their councillor colleagues: independent panels for funding, open calls for all council funding, an annual budget of €450000 to €600000, for people working in the arts and cultural industries to be able to afford to stay here to work and most of all they have gotten more openness, transparency and accountability in this area. There have also been issues that have not been resolved, like the film bursary.

There is still much to be done to make the arts in Limerick accessible to all and hopefully this Cultural SPC will be a game changer for the creative industries in Limerick. Other counties have approached members of the SPC to find out how Limerick achieved this unique committee, which is brilliant. For once Limerick is the innovators in this area, breaking new ground!

This week was the last official meeting of the SPC for this council and Eleanor McSherry, one of the lobbyists from the Limerick Arts and Culture Exchange, its current Co-Chair and an artistic representative, and Keith Bogue, Film Producer, both representatives of the arts and culture industy, reflect upon the first ever committee of this kind for Ireland and Limerick.

Eleanor stated that, “We set out to make things better for not only our members but also for Limerick as a whole. I think we have made a fantastic start, working with really engaged cross party councillors who wanted to hear us. In fact they openly encouraged our engagement, which is fantastic. The City of Culture was just the beginning; we need to keep building on it. We have a fantastic artistic and cultural community in Limerick that deserve all our support. This industry brings not only jobs into the county but it also means that talent can afford to stay here. We need people to go to the plays, the films, the events and festivals that take all lot of time and effort to organise. We have to support these people! I hope whomever is next on the SPC will ensure that they remain unbiased, open, transparent and accountable to the community they are there to represent and that they will build on what we have started. It is a real pity the Film Bursary has not been resolved before I leave but I trust the councillors will make sure that our suggestions are taken on board”.

Keith also said “It was an honor to serve on the SPC and to help in the development of the Arts and Cultural community in Limerick City and County. A lot was achieved in the SPC short lifetime and hopefully it will continue in existence when the new council is formed. It was the best attended SPC in the Council and I have to pay tribute to the elected Councillors who put so much effort in to getting the SPC formed and the support they gave to the sectoral representatives. Unfortunately some items didn’t get sorted before we finished, one being The Film Bursary, but The Arts Officer has committed to bring it to the Council prior to the local election. Lastly I would like to thank the other Artist Representatives for their work they done on the SPC on a strictly voluntary basis”.

If you want further information please contact: Eleanor McSherry – [email protected]

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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.