City Hall needs €12 to €14 million to secure European Capital of Culture bid

Between €12 to €14 million must be secured by the Galway City Council over the next year, if its bid to be named 2020 European Capital of Culture is to be viewed seriously by the EU.

Funding must be secured from the Government and the EU, while City Hall itself needs to raise at least €5 million. The chief executive of Galway City Council Brendan McGrath said this will see an increase in arts grants, but may lead to “spending choices” having to be made in other areas.

However, Mr McGrath is determined to see the bid succeed as he believes it vital for the artistic and commercial future of Galway. “The City of Culture bid is an investment in our economic future,” he said. “It can regenerate parts of the city, boost tourism, and enhance the presence of Galway internationally. This will be the most important initiative for Galway over the next two years.”

In City Hall on Tuesday, it was announced a team from NUI Galway, led by Dr Patrick Collins, had won the tender to bid on behalf of Galway for the Capital of Culture status.

Mr McGrath said up to €20 million would be needed to fund the entire year of events if Galway’s bid was successful. “We should not be daunted by the cost,” he said. “It’s too important for Galway. The arts sector wants it, the city needs this.”

The budget for the actual bid has yet to be fully assessed, but the council is ahead of schedule in its preparations.

Speaking to the Galway Advertiserm Mr McGrath acknowledged that of the €20 million, City Hall would need show the EU that, once its bid is submitted in early 2015, it had secured, or had access to, funds in the region of €12 to €14 million.

Of that figure, €6 million will be provided by the State, although that has yet to be guaranteed; the EU has pledged €1.5 million; there will be funds available from Galway County Council and Fáilte Ireland; while City Hall will need to contribute between €5 - 6 million.

“This will be a challenge,” Mr McGrath said. “We have to commit to putting money aside and the city council will have to make spending choices. The budget for the arts will have to increase by 12 to 15 per cent. That will happen, but it means have to make changes to other areas.”

The balance, which would be between €6 - 8 million will mostly come through during or after 2020, such as ticket sales, funds from the private sector, stakeholders, and sponsorship. The city and county council is also planning a joint economic strategy for next year, which will take in the 2020 bid.

Mr McGrath was adamant that City Hall was determined to see the 2020 bid succeed and that there was the will at local government and political level to drive it.

“Our intention is to make sure Galway is not just in the race, but is best placed to win the race,” he said. “We are not contemplating failure. We are in it to win.”

One city in Ireland and another in Croatia will hold the European Capital of Culture title, with Galway’s main competitor being Limerick. The final selection will be made towards the end of 2015 and the winning Irish city announced in 2016.


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