Belfast Telegraph

Derry City of Culture team celebrates £12.6m funding windfall

By Brendan McDaid

The team tasked with delivering Londonderry’s year as UK City of Culture said it is ecstatic at receiving a £12.6m funding boost from the Executive.

The Culture Company 2013 said it was completely bowled over at being awarded almost all the money needed to pay for next year’s programme of events.

The massive investment more than doubles the coffers of the company, with the funding pot now standing at around £20m.

The Executive has agreed that the additional funding will be delivered through the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

Around £7.5m will be handed over in the 2012/13 financial year and the remaining £5.1m will be made available from April 2013.

The newly-announced funding will be dedicated entirely to delivering the programme which is expected to attract thousands of visitors to the north west for the year-long celebration of culture.

Some of the cash will be used to shore up the signing of contracts with major artists and major arts projects for 2013.

Details of key events will be announced next month, with the full programme to be revealed in September.

However, it is known that millions will be spent on expanding Derry’s current successful festivals — such as the St Patrick’s Spring Carnival, Halloween Carnival and City of Derry Jazz Band Festival. Other annual fixtures which are expected to benefit from the cash are the Amelia Earhart Festival, the Maiden City Festival and the Gasyard Festival.

These will all come under the umbrella of the UK City of Culture celebrations next year.

Additional projects are providing iPads and other learning resources for local schoolchildren and ensuring access to musical instruments throughout 2013.

The chief executive of Culture Company 2013, Shona McCarthy, told the Telegraph it has created a “groundbreaking” programme for 2013.

“There are major music events, new theatrical commissions, large scale community initiatives and long-term education programmes,” she said.

“It is really well-thought-through and has input frommore than 1,000 individuals and practitioners over the last six months.

“There is much hard work to be carried out but thanks to the commitments given to us by Government, we are in a position to maximise the benefits offered to us by our City of Culture year. 2013 promises to be a defining era in the history of this city. It will be a game-changer.

“We know the tasks that confront us are substantial but they are more than matched by the energy and talents of the people of this city and there are no limits to what we can achieve.”

Ms McCarthy said the job of attracting corporate partners and investment from the private sector for 2013 had just been made a whole lot easier. “This is really brilliant news for the city and for Northern Ireland,” she added.

Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said that the funding confirmation was the Executive making good on a promise in the Programme for Government to support the City of Culture.

She said: “We want to ensure 2013 is a spectacular year for Derry. The impact of this funding boost will be felt right across the North.”

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