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Sunday 25 March 2018

€1.8m theatre group sparked drama

Limerick City of Culture 2014: Karl Wallace has quit as Artistic Director.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Karl Wallace has quit as Artistic Director.

Sophie Gorman and Kathryn Hayes

A proposal to bring the internationally renowned street theatre company Royal de Luxe to Limerick has emerged as one of the reasons behind Karl Wallace's decision to resign as artistic director of Limerick City of Culture.

Brian McEnery, a member of the City of Culture board, said the board could not justify a plan by Mr Wallace to book the French company.

It is claimed that the project would have cost as much as €1.8m -- almost one-third of the entire €6m budget allocated for the year-long programme.

However, the Irish Independent understands that while the board vetoed the idea there was significant support for it within the artistic community.

Sources said a Royal de Luxe show would have been a "stand-out event" and could have attracted a global audience.

The company describes itself as being made up of "inventors, stuntmen, poets and scrap-dealers all at once". They claim to be "an iconic, almost mythical, street theatre company -- equal to the Theatre du Soleil for conventional indoor theatre".

Sources familiar with the plan to bring them to Limerick said that the overall bill would have been closer to €1.5m with just €300,000 going to the company.

"The remainder of the money would have gone on local employment to hire technicians, performers, safety personnel and other jobs like that.

"It was an idea. Some people thought it was a great idea but ultimately the decision is up to the board," said the source.

Mr McEnery said that the proposal created "quite an amount of tension".

"If you are building a house, the design team will want a large footprint on the house, they'll want balconies and they'll want atriums, but the client has got to be able to pay for those footprints, balconies and atriums and as a board, for instance... there was has been quite an amount of tension around that issue (Royal de Lux) but we were not in a position to sign off on €1.8m," he said.

He was speaking in response to a question by John Greenwood, chairman of the Professional Limerick Art Network (PLAN), who asked if the City of Culture board intended to honour the programme that has been put together by Mr Wallace.

Irish Independent

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