Making Waves in 2020

One of the more unusual duties of being the current mayor is a requirement to sit on the Board of the Galway 2020 Company overseeing the governance, operations and implementation of the European Capital of Culture 2020 programme.

It may seem that since the announcement in July 2016 that little has happened. Rather like the swan in the water it appears motionless but much furious paddling is going on out of public view. So it is with 2020. A huge body of work has been undertaken and it will all become apparent in due course.

The Company limited by guarantee (Galway Cultural Development and Activity Company ) commenced formal trading in June 2017. Under the excellent stewardship of the Chairperson Aideen McGinley and the 2020 Chief Executive Ms Hannah Kiely the 2020 team is coming together nicely.

The entire board is now in place. The senior executive positions have in the main all been filled with excellent personnel. The company now boasts some excellent high level appointments such as Creative Director (Chris Baldwin ), Communications Director (Fintan Maher ) and Operations Director (Damien Egan ). This team will primarily drive the 2020 programme and agenda going forward and their brief will certainly be a busy one.

I wish them all well in their endeavours over the coming few years putting together a 2020 year that will long be remembered as Galway’s finest hour.

Galway 2020 has opened its new headquarters at 16 Merchants Road. This wonderfully central location will be the administrative and operational headquarters and will in due course house the box office. This was once the old CK Business Solutions building and was in the past a hive of business activity. It now promises to be an even busier hive for the cultural sector.

The January board meeting held last week was insightful and progressive. The theme of the bid book was ‘Making Waves’ and this theme is central to all board meetings. The question ‘Are we making waves?’ is central to all activity and all plans going forward.

For example one of the idea currently being finalised is one of the flagship programmes: ‘Small Towns – Big Ideas’. (see the What’s The Story page in this week’s Advertiser ) This initiative celebrates Meitheal, an ancient Irish tradition of coming together for a common purpose, working together to achieve a common goal. This is open to any community in Galway who may have an innovative new project and would be interested in working with the Galway 2020 team. Grant funding of between €1000 and €20,000 is available to fund the activity as part of the lead in to Galway 2020. This will I hope have a positive impact across a range of cultural and artistic endeavours and practitioners.

2020 will launch in January with a spectacular opening event. It will continue throughout the year with 23 major events of national and international significance. There will be over 100 events and performances, 41 concerts, three major exhibitions. This list is still in its infancy and growing. There are some excellent initiatives still in progress.

Some other projects already underway are, Ariel Sparks, Music for Galway. BaaBaa, Babóró, Gilgamesh, Monument, Pilgrim, Tulca, Sugán, Symphonic Waves, Wires Crossed, Hope it Rains, InterAction and many more. In addition the ‘Every Child’and the ‘Legacy of Healing’ initiatives certainly capture the imagination.

Space does not permit me to list all if the initiatives or to give detail at this stage, but I do hope I am demonstrating the wonderful wealth of programming, the breadth of its vision and the extent of its diversity.

So in essence the message is one of positivity, progress, and achievement. Galway 2020 is powering along, developing projects and programmes and it will soon be in a position to start making more significant announcements.

At this stage we will be looking to engage with the Galway community at large, with the business sector and with the major stakeholders in Galway. There will be significant commercial and sponsorship opportunities available ultimately leading to a programme that will be a win-win for every single person in the Galway area.

Galway 2020 is a great news story still in its infancy. It is set to grow and grow. For now it is work in progress, important work that will in due course leave a lasting legacy in terms of infrastructure and impact. A legacy that will be felt and enjoyed for many years after the year 2020 itself.

Roll on 2020. It is going to be really special.

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