The European Commission’s Expert Panel on Capitals of Culture has warned Galway 2020 against ‘losing track’ of the project according to a recently published report.
The panel met with representatives of the board of Galway 2020 and two representatives of Galway city council to discuss progress on delivering the event in Rijeka on June 28 and produced this report from the meeting.
Several key issues were identified at the meeting including concerns over the budget, difficulties in communicating its message with the public, and a lack of leadership in the cultural programme since the departure of Creative Director Chris Baldwin.
According to the report, Galway 2020 is preparing a revised budget of €39.7 million compared with the initial €45.75 million mentioned in the bid book.
This is in case the €6 million contribution originally planned from Galway county council is not delivered in full.
The panel asked why there was a higher budget for the project in 2019 than 2020, and a “dramatic drop of the budget for 2021” when staff contracts would be ending in March 2021, which it was warned put the legacy phase of the project in jeopardy.
According to the 2020 team, the majority of funding from the government will be delivered in 2019 accounting for the funding jump.
The panel also pointed our an apparent “loss of enthusiasm” when it came to communicating the project to stakeholders and the public.
It was pointed out that there were only three upcoming projects announced on the 2020 website which “was not a good signal.”
They advised that the company should take immediate steps to, “Improve communication at all levels and ensure the spirit and the progress of the project is well understood by all diverse stakeholders.”
The delegation from Galway 2020 said that after the bid phase they had to stop and focus efforts on appointing the board, the main team, and review their plans, but were now fully engaged with stakeholders.
They pointed to the Galway 2020 “Creating the Legacy” conference at GMIT in June as something that has allowed for renewed ownership of the project by stakeholders and improved connections with the people they’re trying to reach.
In addition it was said that the company is working on a Communications Strategy to be presented to the panel in November, and that the website has gone out to tender as it needs updating.
Also addressed was how the departure of Creative Director Chris Baldwin would impact on the programme, “In a phase when the programme is supposed to move from conception to implementation without losing its integrity.”
To that end, Martin Hull former CEO of Hull Capital of Culture in the UK, has been brought aboard on a temporary contract to propose a strategy while a new creative leadership team is being put in place.
The panel welcomed the move but insisted on the need to quickly appoint a new leadership team or risk “incurring further delays.”