Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

'More art shows input from workers'

Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan pledged more input from those working in the arts after the head of the Limerick City of Culture resigned amid controversy over her appointment

Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan has promised greater input from people working in the arts after the head of the Limerick City of Culture resigned amid controversy over her appointment.

Patricia Ryan, a former adviser to political figure and chairman of the year-long programme Pat Cox, was given the job of chief executive without the position being advertised.

And following the resignation of Karl Wallace as artistic director last week, a heated public meeting in a Limerick hotel on Friday saw matters come to a head with demands for both Ms Ryan and Mr Cox to consider their positions.

Mr Deenihan called for people still involved in the inaugural event to progress in a calm and measured way.

"The people of Limerick expect and deserve a varied programme of events to take place this year. That programme is designed," he said.

"Over 100 events are scheduled to take place in the first quarter. Significant funding is in place. Greater local artistic involvement in the Limerick City of Culture board will be ensured, and a new director will be appointed."

The minister will hold meetings with council chiefs and the City of Culture board in coming days.

About six million euro in funding is understood to be ready for the year-long programme with the Government, local authorities and philanthropists believed to be backing the events.

"Working together, I know that all partners can ensure that the best of Limerick is showcased to a national and international audience this year," Mr Deenihan said.

Mr Cox has previously vowed not to resign as chairman.

Ms Ryan, a native of Limerick, announced her resignation from the 120,000 euro post after days of pressure from some who questioned the manner she was headhunted for the role.

Some local politicians claimed political interference and cronyism due to her links to Mr Cox.

"The speculation and commentary surrounding the events of recent days has regrettably compromised my authority and capacity to continue leading this project," she said.

"It is important that a suitable successor is appointed to lead out on the next important phase and ensure the delivery of the programme and the project which is so vital to the re-branding of Limerick."

Mr Wallace, a former director of Limerick's Belltable Arts Centre, said he stepped down as he felt his role was no longer central to the year-long programme.

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