Statement from Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture


7 April 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic has left no aspect of our lives untouched. Across the world, communities are doing what is necessary to slow the virus and save lives. This has had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on economic, social and cultural life everywhere. The necessary restrictions put in place in relation to gatherings, social distancing and national and international travel have implications on how organisations can work and means that Galway 2020 must consider the future of our programme.

In response to the unprecedented nature of this crisis, the Board of Galway 2020 has been working in recent days and weeks to make important decisions about the future of our programme.

This work involves close consultation with our stakeholders- the European Commission, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Galway City Council, Galway County Council, sponsors and all of our cultural partners with whom we have worked and with whom we intended to work over the course of this year. We hope this will result in a viable, vibrant but undoubtedly contracted programme of events that will take place later in the year. We have begun the process of communicating with those partners whose projects will not be included in the contracted programme and we are engaging with those partners whose projects, albethey reimagined, we hope will be included.

As part of the enforced contraction of our programme we are implementing a three-week temporary layoff programme for all but a skeleton staff, effective from today. We have also made the very difficult decision to bring to an end our contract with Artichoke. We are very disappointed to have had to make these decisions. Galway 2020 wishes to acknowledge and thank all staff and in particular Creative Director Helen Marriage and the team at Artichoke for their hard work and commitment to Galway 2020. Helen, working with the Galway 2020 team, had curated an extraordinary cultural programme of events, which would have provided many amazing cultural moments and experiences for local people across Galway city and county.

Speaking on behalf of the Board, Chairman, Arthur Lappin, has commented;

“We are mindful of the mission which has underpinned Galway2020 from its inception – to mount a programme that will celebrate the creativity for which Galway is renowned, to engage with communities throughout the City and the County in facilitating a strong and lasting cultural practice, and to lay the foundations for a sustainable legacy for cultural workers and communities long into the future. Circumstances arising from the Coronavirus emergency pose us significant new challenges, financial and temporal, which will inevitably give rise to undesired and painful alterations to our plans. We will exercise our responsibilities in a conscientious and effective manner within the resources and constraints imposed on us. It is important to state that decisions we take now are the only course of action we can responsibly take in the current circumstances. The Board of Galway 2020 will continue to consult with stakeholders in the coming weeks to make longer-term decisions in light of funding and timing constraints and will make a further public statement upon completion of that work”.