Monday 26 September 2016

€150k funding for called-off City of Culture events went to other projects

Barry Duggan

Published 08/09/2015 | 02:30

French group Royal de Luxe at the Limerick City of Culture
French group Royal de Luxe at the Limerick City of Culture

More than €150,000 of public finances was transferred from three Limerick City of Culture 2014 events to other projects - some of which were not exclusive to the year-long celebrations.

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Limerick City of Culture (LCOC) still requires an extra €400,000 of taxpayers' money to meet a funding shortfall after a spend of almost €11m. It has yet to file company accounts for last year.

The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, which provided €7.1m to date to LCOC, has confirmed to the Irish Independent that its Evaluation Unit "is currently conducting an ex post evaluation of the LCOC event". The review is ongoing.

A further €3.4m was raised through sponsorship and donations, leaving a shortfall of €400,000, which LCOC says will be met by the department.

However, no commitment has been forthcoming from Arts Minister Heather Humphreys.

The Irish Independent can reveal that €152,000 was allocated to three projects last year which did not proceed, and the funds were moved elsewhere. The cancelled events were: 'The Shouting Fence/Choral Projects' (€85,000), 'Bring the Happy' (€52,000) and 'Body and Soul' (€15,000). They were among 15 listed events and funded from an initial department allocation of €6m.

A LCOC spokeswoman confirmed that, "for differing reasons, 'The Shouting Fence', 'Bring the Happy' and 'Body and Soul' could not proceed".

An unknown amount of finance allocated to 'The Shouting Fence' was not recouped.

Despite repeated requests, LCOC has refused to state how much was spent on what was billed as the "largest community choral event ever held in Limerick" to take place in the final quarter of 2014. 'The Shouting Fence' required up to 300 singers for the performance - all of whom were to be local volunteers - but few signed up.

It is understood that contractual payments and a booking deposit were paid to performers due to come from the UK.

"A small amount of development funding was used for 'The Shouting Fence'," LCOC stated.

The remaining funds were transferred to three other events which were not originally listed on the commission strand's 15 events for public funding. The three events were Culture Night - an annual event which takes place every September across the country - 'Christmas in Limerick' and 'Limerick Winter Carnival'.

City of Culture organisers would not say how much was spent on the projects but said they received the department's permission to transfer the funds.

Accounts for LCOC had been approved by the board and would be filed shortly, the group added.

Irish Independent

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