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New cultural strategy aims to set Limerick’s cultural rising soaring

New cultural strategy aims to set Limerick’s cultural rising soaring

An ambitious new cultural strategy aims to improve yet again on the renewal of Limerick’s culture over the last decade. Funding of €600,000 for the implementation of the new cultural strategy will be provided by Limerick City and County Council.

The local authority is the first in the country to establish a Strategic Policy Group (SPC) for Cultural Services and a Cultural Services Department in a sign of the confidence and energy in Limerick today. The remit of the SPC will be to advise and assist the council in the formulation, development and review of the policy.

The plans 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’. This report was also accompanied by a pledge from the local authority in the form of €600,000 in annual funding to help implement the new cultural strategy.

Included in the report is 11 recommendations made by the working group. All the recommendations are aimed at the cultural enrichment of Limerick and capitalising on the cultural changes taking place across the City and County that have occurred over the last ten years. Being the National City of Culture in 2014 was a huge boost for the cultural setting of Limerick.

Among the aims of the new cultural 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.

The new cultural strategy 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.  We now have a strategy to work to and it 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. A 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 well-being 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:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. To encourage a greater sense of openness and transparency about funding opportunities by streamlining the process of cultural grants.
  5. The current Cultural Grants process to be moved to the autumn, to better inform budget allocations.
  6. Encourage and facilitate continued dialogue about the development of culture and arts in Limerick
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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.

For more on culture stories  in Limerick click here

For more on cultural services in Limerick click here

 

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 ilovelimerick.com 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.