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Focus on Limerick

of Limerick can feel connected to and proud of this special year, the first ever such designation of an Irish city by an Irish Government. Both Bill Whelan and Paul O’Connell have approached the year with boundless energy and commitment, ambitious for 2014, for what is in it for Limerick and its renewal. So too, the extent of positive engagement and enthusiasm from the arts and sporting communities in Limerick which is a source of great encouragement. Whatever about the publics drive to make the event successful, local Government has also embraced its role in the process. This ‘beginning of a Limerick renaissance’ will coincide with another historic event—the amalgamation of the two local authorities. “This designation of City of Culture has the power to act as a catalyst to bring Limerick City together and to bring the city and county together, so that the sum of their parts will be greater than the whole. Culture, while not a panacea to all problems, can deliver economic and social objectives, improve Limerick’s urban image, assist regeneration and promote social inclusion,” points out Limerick City and County Councils Manager, Conn Murray. The awarding of the status will provide a significant platform in Limerick’s objective of securing European Capital of Culture status in 2020. Limerick Local Authorities will spend €7.4m on arts and culture funding in 2013 with seed funding already injected into the City of Culture project and more pumped into marketing Limerick as an arts destination this year. The 2014 Government spend on City of Culture will be decided in the coming months with private and national funding also becoming available. The programme of events and initiatives— due to be announced later in 2013—is expected to be high quality, encompass a diverse collection of organizations and already there is a lot of informal speculation on what 2014 will bring. Limerick is already home to some superb theatres and venues, RTE Lyric FM, The Irish Chamber Orchestra and The Irish World Music Academy which celebrates its 20th anniversary next year. Bill Whelan has hinted that Riverdance may come to the city, whose mighty River Shannon surely had a part in inspiring it. Paul O’Connell’s involvement suggests a strong 132 | Silicon Valley Global

The newly appointed Limerick City of Culture 2014 Artistic Director, Karl Wallace

sporting flavor. Recently appointed Artistic Director, Karl Wallace, will play a vital role in shaping the programme detail which will build on existing strengths like EVA International, Ireland’s biennial of contemporary art while creating some headline events.

Wallace is up for the challenge “Limerick has one of the best artistic and cultural infrastructures in the countryalthough there is a massive amount of ‘backstage’ work to be done before the curtain goes up on Limerick’s year as City of Culture, the lead players are ready to put on the performance of their lives and redefine what the modern ‘Treaty City’ is all about, “he says. In the words of Pat Cox it will “provide

a new direction for Limerick more than 800 years after its original charter to embody the potential of a city of culture – encompassing art, design, technology and sport in all their myriad interacting and creative forms”. The Irish Technology Leadership Group founded by Limerick man John Hartnett will hold its Global Technology Leaders Conference in Limerick in January 2014. www.limerickcityofculture.ie

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