Galway has become the only Irish city, and one of only five cities in the world, to be designated a UNESCO City of Film. The winning of the title could also prove “enormously beneficial” to the city’s on-going bid to be named European Capital of Culture 2020.
The City of Film title, which was announced in Paris on Sunday night by UNESCO director-general, Irina Bokova, is a permanent status and designation. It also represents an opportunity to expand economic, creative, and artistic opportunities in this field, especially as Galway city and county’s film and TV industry is worth in the region of €72 million to the local economy and employs more than 600 people full-time.
The designation also sees Galway formally joins UNESCO’s 60-strong Creative Cities Network which seeks to develop international cooperation among cities which have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable development. The network includes some 60 cities including Sydney, Seoul, Shanghai, Montreal, Buenos Aires, Berlin, Edinburgh, and Bradford.
The Mayor of Galway Donal Lyons said the UNESCO City of Film title is “will enhance our international status as a creative city and be enormously beneficial to our bid to be named European Capital of Culture 2020”. He added that it promises a “bright future for the production, promotion and appreciation of film in Galway and the west”.
Declan Gibbons, manager of Galway Film Centre, said the designation is “hugely significant for Galway” and it will “open so many opportunities”.
The Cathaoirleach of the Galway County Council, Mary Hoade, thanked UNESCO and pledged the local authority’s “active participation in the creative cities network and reiterate our commitment to the further development and support of the film and audio visual sector in Galway”.
The project was instigated by Alan Hayes, a Galway resident for 25 years, who is also a co-founder of Dublin UNESCO CIty of Literature. The Galway Film Centre, in association with the Galway city and county councils, drove the bid to secure the title. The final submission was delivered in March 2014.
The application went through an evaluation process involving international experts, research centres, universities, and international associations specialising in urban development, culture, and creative industries. Following this process, 63 cities were shortlisted by UNESCO to 50 with 20 making the final selection.
More than 50 organisations were involved in the Galway bid which was co-ordinated by Declan Gibbons, Galway Film Centre; Lelia Doolan, Galway Picture Palace; and Dr Jenny Dagg, NUI Galway. Other key players were Galway County Council Arts Office, Galway City Council Arts Office, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/The Irish Film Board, Galway Film Fleadh, GMIT, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Abú Media, Creative Europe Desk Galway, Cinemobile, Huston School of Film & Digital Media, and numerous local producers and production companies. The archives of the Galway Advertiser were used extensively in preparing the submission bid, drawing on information about filmand TV activity in the region over the last 40 years.