Galway 2020 Chairperson and Board Appointments Announced

> Riona Durkan

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Galway 2020 is pleased to announce the appointment of the Chairperson (designate) to the newly formed Galway 2020 company.

We are also delighted to reveal several initial appointments to the Board of Directors and to fill the remaining board positions we have launched an Open Call process.

Find out more about the Open Call for remaining Board positions here



Since securing the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) in July 2016, the Galway 2020 team has been working hard to build the organisation and structures required to deliver this landmark project for the city and county. As outlined in the Galway 2020 Bid Book, a Company Limited by Guarantee (Galway Cultural Development and Activity CLG) has been incorporated with its clearly defined function being the delivery of the ECOC in Galway in 2020, as well as ensuring that a strong legacy follows from the designation. The Company has registered the trading name ‘Galway 2020’.

The company’s intention is to provide a governance and management structure that is an exemplar of best practice in corporate governance, not for profit, truly representative of wide interests, transparent, independent, effective, and accountable at every level.

One of the key initial tasks for the company is the establishment of the Board of Directors. The Board is responsible for the strategic direction, leadership and governance of the organisation. Directors will need to have the ability to balance a strategic view of key decisions with a specialist or expert perspective, while being committed to the principle of collective decision making that underpins the Board’s role.

The Board of Directors will make many of the important decisions regarding the governance of the company, one of the first of which will be the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer, following an open international competition. Interviews of candidates shortlisted for the post will be held in early April, with final interviews planned for early May.

Board Appointments

In line with the governance strategy set out in the ‘Making Waves’ bid book, Galway 2020 has recently made a number of key board appointments, and today launches a public Open Call for expressions of interest in Board positions.

As regards initial board appointments, Mr Brendan McGrath, Chief Executive of Galway City Council and Mr Kevin Kelly, Chief Executive of Galway County Council, were early appointees to the Board to reflect the significant commitment from both local authorities to the project, and both bring significant and extensive public sector management experience to the organisation.

Joining Mr McGrath & Mr Kelly, Galway 2020 is delighted to announce the appointment of Ms Aideen McGinley as a Director and Chairperson designate of the Board. A national trustee for Northern Ireland on the BBC Trust, she has 37 years local and central government experience in Northern Ireland being the first woman CEO in NI local government and subsequently the first woman Permanent Secretary in central government when she took up post, on devolution, to create the first Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and then moved to the Department of Employment and Learning where she was responsible for further and higher education, employment and skills .

Reflecting her interest in regeneration she took up a secondment in 2009 as CEO of ILEX, the urban Regeneration Company for Derry-Londonderry, where she was instrumental in developing the £400m, 10-year regeneration plan , building the symbolic peace bridge and successfully securing the inaugural UK City Of Culture title 2013 for the city.

Aideen has a particular experience of effective stakeholder engagement across a range of interests and sectors from urban and rural regeneration , social entrepreneurship and Creativity, to women and leadership development.

She has been involved in a variety of roles in the non-profit sector, which coupled with her public and private sector experience and her ability to create integrated policy and delivery on the ground,has been recognised in her award of an OBE and an honorary degree from the University of Ulster .

She is an associate of Future search Associates, Co Chair of the Carnegie UK Trust initiative on the measurement of well being in N Ireland and a member of the mayoral commission for creativity in Liverpool. In addition, she is a jury member for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s UK City of Culture Selection Panel.

Galway 2020 is delighted that Aideen has joined the Board as Chair designate and are certain that her experience and skill set match her perfectly for the role.

Commenting on the role , she said that ‘it is both a privilege and a pleasure to have been asked to chair Galway 2020. I watched with awe the bid process , shared the joy of winning, and now can be a part of the delivery of the best European Capital of Culture ever. I have seen at first hand the transformative power of culture which, coupled with the creativity of the artists and the passion of the people, will ensure we will indeed make waves  here and on farther shores in 2020 and beyond’.

As stated in Making Waves, it was intended that two Board members would have a background in European cultural projects, with particular expertise and experience in previous ECOC cities. In this regard, Ms Claire McColgan and Ms Catherine Cullen have been appointed to the board, having regard to their significant experience and highly relevant skills sets. Both were visitors to Galway during the ECOC bidding phase and brought the benefit of their experience to this stage of the process.

Claire McColgan is Director of Culture for Liverpool City Council. Claire first came to work for the City of Liverpool in 2000 to develop the public participation programme for the Capital of Culture bid cited as the reason for Liverpool’s success.  She invented and managed the groundbreaking Creative Communities programme which engaged thousands of residents in the Capital of Culture programme and, in 2006, was made Executive Producer of Liverpool’s 2008 European Capital of Culture with responsibility for major events (including the opening and closing ceremonies), public participation and community engagement. She was appointed as Director of Culture in 2009 and is responsible for Legacy, Major Events, City Halls, Liverpool Film Office, Cruise Liner Terminal, Tourism and Cultural Policy for the City of Liverpool.

As a producer, between 2009 and 2016, she has produced, amongst other civic and international events, the acclaimed National Battle of the Atlantic Commemoration in 2013, Liverpool International Music Festival winner of UK Festival Awards Best Festival 2015 for Emerging Talent, two Royal de Luxe shows in the city with a combined audience of 1.8m one of which (Giant Spectacular: Memories of August 1914) won Visit England’s Gold Award for Tourism Event of the Year 2016 and Three Queens One Magnificent City which won Liverpool City Region Large Tourism Event of the Year 2016. Claire was instrumental in putting culture at the heart of Liverpool City Regions Devolution Deal and is currently working towards delivering National Armed Forces Day 2017 and Summer of Love (a season of events and performances marking the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love).

Claire represented the UK Local government in a UK Brazilian Cultural Policy Exchange funded by the Ministry of Culture in Brazil and the DCMS and is supporting Panama City in their 2019 programme. She is an expert in cultural regeneration of place and advises other cities on this nationally and internationally. She also advises other cities in their bids to be European Capital of Culture, their delivery and their legacy planning. She was a Director on the Board of Derry/Londonderry City of Culture programme and is currently an advisor for the Local Government Association and Arts Council England on culture good practice.

Catherine Cullen has created, managed or supervised cultural projects and events based on her experiences with different cultures and artistic activities over the last 30 years. After several years in journalism, editing and publishing, she became Editor in Chief of LIBER, the first European cultural supplement issued by Le Monde, El Pais, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The Times Literary Supplement and l’Indice, presided by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. She was also an advisor to the French Presidency for the implementation of the Universal Academy of Cultures.

Catherine was Deputy Mayor for Culture for the City of Lille, France, from 2001 to 2014. In this capacity, she was responsible for the cultural policy of Lille, and for Lille 2004, European Capital of Culture. In 2008, she also became councillor in charge of Culture for the Métropole Européenne de Lille (MEL). For three years (2012-2015), Catherine Cullen was Chair of the Culture Committee of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and is presently its Special Advisor. The Culture Committee is dedicated to promoting the role of culture in sustainable development through a global Agenda 21 for Culture. She is also an independent international consultant in culture and sustainable development, a subject she teaches at the Political Science Institute in Lille. In 2016 she became a member of the UNESCO International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) Panel of Experts.

In line with the recommendation from the ECOC Selection Panel, the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional and Gaeltacht Affairs was also invited to provide a nominee to the Board, and has recently nominated Mr Declan McGonagle to the position. Declan has had a distinguished career in many cultural roles. In 1984 he was appointed Director of Exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London and, in 1986, returned to Derry to run expanded visual arts/education and public art programmes for Derry City Council.

He was the first Director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin [1990 – 2001] and created an international exhibition programme, a National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art and award winning Education and Community Access and Engagement programmes. He was shortlisted for the Tate Gallery’s Turner Prize [1987] for ‘making the Orchard Gallery an international centre for art’ .

He served on the Turner Prize Jury in 1993, and has served as external examiner in a number of UK third level institutions in Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester and London. He served as Chair of the inaugural Council of National Cultural Institutions [1999 – 2001], in Ireland. He has been a Contributing Editor of Artforum [New York] since 1992 and a member of the editorial panel of ‘Engage’, London.

Declan has served as a member of the Contemporary Art Museums Committee of the International Council of Museums [Unesco, 1999 – 2001]. He was Irish Commissioner for the 1993 Venice and the 1994 Sao Paulo Biennales and has served on several Boards and Irish Government Cultural bodies. He was a member of the Steering Group for the preparation of the Irish Government’s first National Cultural Policy [2015 – 2016]

He has been a mentor on the Clore Foundation’s Leadership Programme [London] and was Chair of the Board of the Liverpool Biennial [2002 – 2008], and also served as Chair and then member of the Interim Board of the Culture Company for Derry/Londonderry UK City of Culture [2010 – 2013], and was Director of the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, from 2008 –2015.

Remaining Board Vacancies – Open Call Launched 

In addition to the six directors appointed, it is expected that there will be one appointee invited from among the elected membership of each local authority – the sitting Mayor of Galway City Council & sitting Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council – to ensure an appropriate connection with the democratically elected Council members.

Therefore, a maximum of seven Board vacancies currently exist, which will be filled using a skills-based approach.

In order to ensure appropriate representation from among the cultural sector, which is absolutely fundamental to the successful delivery of Galway’s ECOC, it is intended to constitute a Cultural Forum, the membership of which will be wide-ranging and open, from which nominees to the Board may be made.

In addition, the company has today launched an Open Call to invite expressions of interest in Board membership from suitably qualified individuals. This Call seeks individuals with experience in one or more of the following areas, having regard also to gender, diversity, and age balance:

  • Arts & Culture
  • Finance / Audit & Governance
  • Legal
  • Broadcasting and digital media
  • Business leadership
  • Education and Youth
  • Irish language
  • Community engagement
  • Tourism
  • New technologies
  • Philanthropy and fund raising
  • Evaluation

Board appointments will be skills & experience based, and should the open call process not yield candidates with the required skills and experience, the company reserves the right to make direct appointments of appropriately qualified individuals.

Board membership will be drawn from across the city, county and all Ireland, although a connection to Galway would be an advantage.

Full application details are available here http://galway2020.ie/en/news/open-call-for-board-positions-launched/and the closing date for applications is Thursday 13th April at 4pm.



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