Saturday 25 October 2014

City of Culture job still hasn't been advertised

BARRY DUGGAN and SAM GRIFFIN

Published 23/02/2014 | 02:30

Patricia Ryan
Patricia Ryan

A REPLACEMENT CEO for the controversial Limerick City of Culture year-long project has not been advertised almost two months after former head Patricia Ryan left the role.

And the Sunday Independent can also reveal that the City of Culture has tendered for a marketing and communications firm despite the fact that a State-funded body set up to specifically market the city, including events such as the cultural festival, was established last July.

The 'Limerick Marketing Company', headed by CEO Eoghan Prendergast, who is on a salary of €90,000 – and who is the former division manager at regional development agency Shannon Development, which was axed last year by Minister Leo Varadkar – only held its first board meeting last month.

The festival, which has been allocated €6m of State investment, has just over 10 months to run and is still awaiting more than €5m in funding.

Arts and Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan said a decision on the vacant CEO position following Ms Ryan's departure is "strictly a matter for Limerick City Council and the (City of Culture) board".

A City of Culture spokesperson said the "matter of the CEO's appointment will be discussed at the February meeting of the board of Limerick City of Culture".

However, the next board meeting is not scheduled until the end of this week, meaning the position will not be advertised until next month at the earliest – if at all.

Mike Fitzpatrick, head of the Limerick School of Art and Design, was appointed interim head of the City of Culture project following Ms Ryan's resignation.

In a recent interview with Limerick's Live 95FM, Mr Fitzpatrick said he would not comment on whether he would do the job for the remainder of the year.

Crucially, he said that he did not know if the now single post of Limerick City of Culture CEO/artistic director would be advertised – a contentious issue with Ms Ryan's appointment.

Ms Ryan was forced to resign as CEO after it emerged the position was not put to pubic tender.

The position of artistic director, previously held by Karl Wallace, who also resigned, has now been merged with that of the CEO.

"I have to put the position together first and then present it to the board and take it from there. I honestly haven't had the time to focus on it. The planning for the rest of the year needs to happen. It is a matter for the next board meeting to address. I am tardy, I haven't done the specs for the job. It has been frenetically busy. I haven't been focusing on the rest of the year," Mr Fitzpatrick said.

He added that it was not his decision to stay in his current post.

"We are in the middle of a very complicated phase in the process and I am working through it," he said.

Limerick City of Culture has issued a tender for the "provision of marketing and communication services" despite the establishment of Limerick Marketing Company less than a year ago to promote the city.

It is unclear how much this tender is worth, but only contracts over €50,000 are required to be advertised publicly.

A festival spokesperson said it was always envisaged that City of Culture marketing would be done by external specialists, as this is not an aspect of marketing that the Limerick Marketing Company does.

Sunday Independent

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