City council gets look ahead at Galway 2020 programme as funding improves

Galway daily news Call for further transparency on Galway 2020 finances

A sneak peek at the programme for Galway 2020, which has been branded as “one of the biggest cultural events in the world”, was revealed to the city council this week.

The new Creative Director for Galway 2020, Helen Marriage, gave a presentation on some of the work that can be expected next year from groups such Galway Community Circus, Druid Theatre Galway and Macnas.

She said that Galway 2020 will follow the Celtic Calendar to bring a distinctly Irish feel to this very European festival.

The Irish language will also be a big part of the programme she said, both as an important language here in the Gaeltacht and as a European minority language.

Some of the potential headline events include innovate community sports events, international partnerships with other cities, and a massive events turning the entire city into an art gallery.

The full programme of events confirmed so far will be released this September, and the year of the Capital of Culture will have a launch ceremony next February.

Chief Executive Patricia Philbin also gave a quick run down on the financial situation of the project after several councillors expressed concerns about a lack of that manner of information in the presentation.

Between the two of them they laid out a project that is in a much more secure positions and possessing a clearer vision than has been feared in recent times.

The councillors were informed that they were embarking on an Irish language program along with a schools program among other things.

Councillor John Connolly welcomed the presentation by Helen Marriage, noting that up until now the programme “hasn’t grasped the imagination of the public”.

He said that rather that waiting for September to talk about what’s coming up there is a need to start pushing the programme now.

The Fianna Fáil councillor was cautious about whether there was “enough funds to do what we want” and that Galway wasn’t promising something it couldn’t deliver.

Councillor Collette Connolly echoed his concern, asking if there is guaranteed funding for the projects which have had deals signed.

Helen Marriage said that they “We’re not proposing to put anything into the programme in September that we can’t pay for”.

To that Patricia Philbin added that if a contract has been signed then the money is there for it.

Fine Gael Councillor Eddie Hoare declared said that he hoped the GAA would be involved in the event as it can reach a lot of kids.

He added that while much of the coverage of Galway 2020 so far has been negative, it has been an “honest assessment” of an organisation that has difficulties with its finances.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Alan Cheevers expressed his desire to see representatives from Galway 2020 to reach out to different nationalities.

Around 24 percent of people who live in Galway come from a country other than Ireland.

Councillor Cheevers said that there are more than 42 different nationalities living in Doughiska, and that international cultural events like Africa Day are always a huge hit.

Cllr. Noel Larkin advocated that it was time to look forward and not back, adding that Galway 2020 would “put us on the world stage”.

In response to questions about the state of the accounts Patricia Philbin said that the finances for 2018 have been audited and will be released shortly, and she added that she would try to circulate more of the internal auditing they perform to councillors.

Galway 2020 funding

To date, Galway 2020 has been assigned €25m in state funding from different Irish State bodies.

The lion’s share of the funding is coming from the government which is delivering €15 million, while the city and county councils are delivering another €10 million.

Galway city council is contributing €6 million, and the county council has announced that it is adding another €2 million to the €2 million it initially put in.

Patricia Philbin said they are also going EU’s Melina Mercouri Prize which is worth €1.5 million, and the EU is providing another €500k directly to projects that are part of Galway 2020.

While it is not technically not guaranteed that the prize will go to Galway 2020, Patricia Philbin said that it has never not been awarded to a Capital of Culture.

One area where significant progress has been made is in the raising of money from the private sector.

The city council was told that there is €4.5 million in private sponsorship, trusts, or in-kind contributions which have either already been settled or are in negotiation.

She added that they will continue fundraising throughout this year, and right to the end of December 2020 and use that to fund new projects as the money becomes available.

Chief Executive Brendan McGrath claimed there will be a “bricks and mortar” legacy from Galway 2020.

He stated that the event was poised to bring in significant amounts of money while maintaining that any organisation in receipt of public money should be open to scrutiny.

For every €1 invested in the European Capital of Culture a dividend of €7 is produced for the city Brendan McGrath said, adding that this has been true of every city.

He doubled down on this declaring that tourist numbers from other capital of cultures grew from 10% to 25% in subsequent years and that for every 65-70 sustained visitors, one job was created in the local community.

The CEO concluded by saying that Galway 2020 is well on its way to achieving a “permanent and lasting legacy”.