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> Niall O'Hara
Galway has moved one step closer to becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2020 by successfully being selected as one of the shortlisted Irish cities to continue in the competition for the title in 2020. This follows on from a highly emotive presentation of the Galway 2020 bid book in Dublin Castle led by project manager Patricia Philbin and ten of her colleagues on Thursday 12th November to the European Capital of Culture selection and adjudication panel of ten judges chaired by Steve Green from the UK.
The European Capital of Culture initiative is the most prestigious European cultural event and the spotlight is now on Ireland, having been chosen as a host country for this opportunity in 2020. The winning region is designated by the European Commission during which it organises an intense and innovative one year programme of cultural events with strong European connections, a mantle Galway is ready to embrace with pride, energy and vigour.
Project Manager Patricia Philbin and her highly motivated team of 13 have worked tirelessly over the past year to make their vision of uniting the city and county of Galway through culture and public engagement, a reality. The team members drove this initiative in partnership with the people of Galway and successfully motivated each and every corner of Galway to “speak out” on their vision for Galway 2020, actively participating in the numerous projects and initiatives that united Galway city and county to make this dream come true. The team highlighted the diverse culture of Galway, focusing on all aspects of the lives of Galwegians, artistic and creatively led, while also focusing on the environment, science, innovation, technology, food, agriculture and sports sectors to rejuvenate Galway for this glorious accolade. Galway people all over the world will celebrate this inspiration inbringing the most westerly point in Europe to it’s centre.
Galway businesses are highly supportive of Galway’s success, backing the 3% rise in commercial rates in the city, which is included in the €76.6 million budget for 2016 passed by Galway City Council on Monday the 9th November. Speaking of their confidence in the Bid, Brendan Mc Grath, CEO of Galway City Council said “we agreed that the 3% increase in Commercial Rates is crucial for the Bid. The rates increase will raise just over €1 million for the City, which is a hugely positive gesture, allowing businesses of Galway City to give their full support to the European Capital of Culture Bid.” Patricia Philbin said: “Galway is absolutely thrilled to have been shortlisted as finalists. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Galway to showcase its wealth of culture to the rest of Europe and the world. This amazing opportunity allows us to bring Galway’s vision of culture to a much greater level. Galway city and county have united and put their heart and soul into this bid. Being shortlisted is richly deserved to a region which has unofficially held the cultural title for many generations. Winning this bid allows Galway on the western periphery of Europe to become more central and showcase our distinctive heritage, culture, arts, people and more importantly our ability to rejuvenate and grow, to our European neighbours. The people of Galway have fought a passionate battle and showed their ingenuity all of which Galway is known for but now we’re ready to get to work and wow Europe with an amazing European Capital of Culture programme of events.”
Galway’s bid is unique in the sense that both Galway City and County Councils have come together, drawing on the city, county and region’s strong rural landscape, Gaeltacht and coastal Islands, alongside the city’s world-class reputation in theatre and festivals which is allied to the unique linguistic and cultural heritage of Connemara, County Galway and the entire Western region. Galway City Council CEO Brendan Mc Grath said “On behalf of the Galway 2020 Bid and on behalf of Galway City Council, I am delighted that the European Capital of Culture jury has shortlisted the Making Waves Bid. By recognising the quality and intention of our bid, the jury has set us on the way to preparing a final bid by next summer with the ultimate designation of Galway as European Capital of Culture 2020. I would like to commend the elected members, the business sector, the cultural community and all those who participated and contributed to our successful initial bid. I would like to particularly pay tribute today the Galway 2020 bid team led by Patricia Philbin who have motivated and inspired a swell of enthusiasm and pride in our city and county to get behind the bid. We now look forward to the challenge set for us today for the final bid submission”. Kevin Kelly CEO of Galway County Council, commented, “This announcement today is the culmination of months of enormous creative outpouring across the City and County and it is wonderful news for the people of Galway.” Complimenting the rigorous work of the Galway 2020 team, he went onto say, “Patricia and her team have done a tremendous job in a short space of time, they have ignited an even greater passion for culture in all its guises across all communities in the City and County, from our offshore islands to the heart of the city and have harnessed the enthusiasm and energy of the people to develop a successful bid. We congratulate all the villages, towns communities, groups and individuals, who have supported and inspired this bid process. Tomorrow we get back to work to harness the next stage of the Galway 2020 bid.” Galway is the epitome of a vibrant, cosmopolitan, and uniquely social European city that celebrates its own distinctive culture alongside international cultural offerings.
Bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture for 2020, grants Galway the opportunity to prosper and develop as a cultural and artistic city and region, which will in turn catapult Galway in ways that will create a plethora of new cultural offerings to serve the city and county socially and economically for decades to come. Winning the 2020 European Capital of Culture title will permeate many synergies for Galway on the western seaboard not to mention tourism opportunities and partnerships with other European cities, in particular the Croatian city yet to be announced, who, alongside Galway, will also hold the title for 2020. In turn it will leave a legacy for future generations which can be built on in terms of quality of life, and the uniqueness of our rich culture.
The Galway 2020 team will continue to battle to bring the vision of Galway as the thriving, vibrant, creative and cultural hub that it is, to be recognised on a European and International stage. Their success is clearly echoed in the many tangible projects and localised Galway 2020 working groups who strived to bring their visions to realities, and they will undoubtedly continue to thrive on Galway’s passion and success. The future is inevitably bright for Galway and the west is certainly awake. CEO of Galway International Arts Festival, John Crumlish said “We are delighted that Galway has made the short list and I would like to thank the bid team for all their hard work and everyone who contributed in helping make this possible. We now look forward to an exciting nine months in which we will need everyone’s help and ideas in making sure Galway becomes European Capital of Culture 2020”.
The process of engagement will continue as the Galway 2020 plan to make Galway the best European Capital of Culture. Please continue to give your opinion, bring forward your ideas and let’s work together to make Galway 2020, the best most innovative and inspiring European Capital of Culture. Log onto www.galway2020.ie or Join the conversation online using the hashtag #Galway2020, #IBACKGALWAY and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
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