The development of ‘Brand Galway’ and undertaking a review of major venues in the city to ensure a sucessful bid for the European Capital of Culture in 2020 are just some of the economic initiatives that are being promoted and funded in the Galway City Council draft Budget 2014.
City Manager Brendan McGrath confirmed this week that driving the socio-economic development of the city is an integral part of one of the key corporate priorities of the local authority. An important element of this is marketing and development of ‘Brand Galway’ “that recognises and is inclusive of the entirety of the city and region’s strengths such as hi-tech clusters, a learning city, and arts and culture”.
The funding of initiatives to bring the arts and culture sector even closer together also features heavily in the budget’s economic actions. Mr McGrath confirmed that €20,000 has been set aside in 2014 for Galway’s bid for the European City of Culture 2020 and that consideration may also be given to ring-fencing some of the council’s marketing fund towards it.
“We want the bid to be successful,” said Mr McGrath who added that the reason Galway’s bid was unsuccessful in 2005 was due to the fact that there was a shortage of visual arts space and the size of the city’s venues. It is understood that a review of the usage of large venues such as Leisureland and the Black Box will be undertaken next year and that the council are expecting to increase funding for arts venues in the near future.
“A bid for 2020 would require sustainability to be at the heart of it. Economically that is going to be a major challenge but it is of huge benefit to the city,” said Mr McGrath, before adding that spending on arts and culture by the council could come to around €4 million next year.
Leisureland has recently been under the spotlight with the council stating that the facility suffered a loss last year of more than €620,000. Budget 2014 is to increase its support of Leisureland with provision of €100,000 being made. There is also funding of €50,000 for the Art House Cinema, the continuation of funding for Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe with €50,000, ongoing provision for arts grants (€375,000 ), and the development of a new public art trail (€20,000 ). Other recreation and amenity funding includes: Roof replacement on Renmore Recreation Centre (€60,000 ); further expansion of allotment sites, particulary on the east side of the city, for example Doughiska (€33,000 ); special parks projects (€30,000 ); grant to Galway Mountain Rescue (€2,500 ); and matching funding for the provision of exercise equipment for the elderly (€7,000 ).
Other economic actions in Budget 2014 include: Securing ‘Purple Flag’ status in areas of Galway City to galvanise the night time economy to increase partnership working and improve performance on safety, crime reduction, and cleanliness; the preparation of an economic strategy for Galway City in conjuction with Galway County Council; develop and commence the implementation of an integrated marketing programme to promote Galway city economically in all its facets; and advise and assist in relation to the forthcoming application under the Strategic Infrastructure Act for the expansion of Galway Port.
Galway City Council also plans to match funding of €200,000 in respect of housing aid, adaptation, and mobility aid grants and to provide funding, similar to 2013, for planned maintenance, response maintenance, and refurbishment of voids to a total value of €2.15 million. The National Transport Authority grant for regional cities is to continue and will include Dangan Greenway, wayfinding, bus network, bus stop upgrade, cycle network, cycle signage, pedestrian improvements, and Merlin Park Hospital bus access. Galway City Council is to provide up to €8.5 million from its own resources for regional roads, public lighting, and road safety iniatives. The Promenade in Salthill is to benefit from much needed improvements, with the council providing €25,000 for the work. A three year process to have Galway designated Ireland’s Floral City is to receive €30,000 to improve the approaches into the city. There will be a roll-out of new solar-powered compactor bins in the city next year which has been given funding of €30,000.
It is also planned for the city council chamber to undergo refurbishment to the tune of €150,000 to accommodate three additional councillors.