Saturday 10 December 2016

Limerick City of Culture needs extra €400,000

Barry Duggan

Published 20/07/2015 | 02:30

Heather Humphreys
Heather Humphreys

THE 2014 Limerick City of Culture project will require an extra €400,000 of taxpayers' money because of a funding shortfall.

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The Irish Independent can reveal that the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht "is conducting a thorough review" of the year-long event.

The Limerick City of Culture (LCOC) project had an initial budget of €10.6m, but the final spend came to €10.9m. Of this, €6m was allocated by the arts department in Budget 2014.

However, on November 25 last, Limerick City and County Council applied to the same department for additional funding of €1.5m for the culture project.

An LCOC spokesperson told the Irish Independent that it was agreed between the department and the council that an additional amount of up to €1.5m would be provided.

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys's department identified savings of €1.1m within the existing LCOC budget. But the remaining €400,000 has yet to be drawn down.

The remaining €3.4m was raised through sponsorship and donations.

Asked where the outstanding finance was coming from, LCOC responded that the local authority and the department "are finalising matters and the remainder will be drawn down in due course".

The arts department said it "is conducting a thorough review of the LCOC which will be available later this year". There was no commitment from the department that the project will receive the €400,000 shortfall.

Last December, at a meeting of Limerick City and County Council, CEO Conn Murray said the authority was "not facing a shortfall" in regard to funding LCOC. No mention was made to councillors about the €1.5m which had been applied for just over three weeks earlier.

The local authority told the Irish Independent that it was agreed between the department and council "to provide an additional amount of up to €1.5m". The council said the remaining sum had yet to be drawn down.

Performance

It has also emerged that the cost of a three-day performance by French company Royal de Luxe - which saw a giant granny puppet visiting several city locations in front of 230,000 people - has spiralled to €1.6m.

Last year, it was reported that the cost of the September weekend event was €1m. This was never disputed by LCOC.

Last December, the council said it cost €1.3m. However, seven months on, LCOC confirmed that it cost €1.6m.

Early last year, the City of Culture project was mired in controversy as the board refused the parade as the projected €1.8m spend was too much.

Karl Wallace, then LCOC artistic director, said it was one reason for his resignation. Chief executive Patricia Ryan stepped down days later.

Explaining the €1.6m cost, LCOC said the original budget, prepared in 2013, was €1.3m, excluding civic costs: "The additional costs were civic costs, such as traffic management, park and ride etc, bringing the final cost to just over €1.6m. As the centrepiece of the year, it was a huge success."

The directors of Limerick City of Culture 2014 Ltd were indemnified against financial liabilities under the company's insurance policy put in place on Christmas Eve, 2013.

Irish Independent

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