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Sunday 21 January 2018

Limerick-based academic to take over the City of Culture festival

Karl Wallace, who resigned as artistic director and Pat Cox, Chair, Limerick City of Culture
Karl Wallace, who resigned as artistic director and Pat Cox, Chair, Limerick City of Culture

LIMERICK-based academic and internationally renowned curator Mike Fitzpatrick is set to take over the City of Culture festival on an interim basis following the resignations of its chief executive Patricia Ryan, and artistic director Karl Wallace.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who is widely respected in the artistic community, is director of EVA International and a former director/curator of Limerick City Gallery of Art.

He was also was on the board of directors of the Belltable Arts Centre.

A press conference is being held at lunchtime in the Clarion Hotel in Limerick by the board of the Limerick National City of Culture 2014.

It is understood that Mr Fitzpatrick, from the Limerick School of Art and Design, is to take over both positions temporarily pending permanent appointments.

The board of Limerick City of Culture has called the press conference to announce “a number of measures undertaken in response to recent matters”.

While not naming anyone, City of Culture chairman Pat Cox yesterday raised the possibility that one person may take over the roles left open by the resignations.

“We need to have a discussion about what is the nature of the post,” Mr Cox said. “Do we want two posts or one? We need to have some discussion about this to get the balance right. I want to hear people out, good people.”

Mr Cox also suggested that board had already agreed in principle to “expand and bring some people in” from the artistic community in Limerick, and was also likely to feature local authority representation within its reshuffled ranks.

Local sources also speculated last night that Sheila Deegan, the arts officer with Limerick City Council, could also be appointed in a senior role.

Mr Wallace said in a statement this afternoon:  “I have worked with Mike already in my capacity as Artistic Director and it was a great pleasure and privilege to do so. We look forward to being able to hand over to Mr. Fitzpatrick and offer him any support we can provide, to ensure the smooth transition of the vibrant programme that our team enjoyed developing and planning.”

"We also welcome the announcement from the Chairman of the board this morning that issues around resources and structures are to be addressed.

"If our resignations have ensured that appropriate organisational and governance structures, as well as experienced professional cultural personnel, as called for by us and subsequently by the arts and cultural community of Limerick, are to be put in place, then this is indeed very welcome news for Limerick City of Culture."

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