Belfast Telegraph

Fears over Derry ‘culture’ plans

Company reveals concerns on staff levels and funding

By Brendan McDaid

The company tasked with delivering Londonderry's City of Culture programme has vowed to do more with less, after it emerged that it will have 10 times fewer employees than Liverpool when it was the European Capital of Culture.

A draft plan for the City of Culture programme seen by the North West Telegraph reveals there are fears that the company will be “unable to secure all the funding required to achieve its objectives”.

The document outlines a series of risk factors, including fears that the company’s core team of 18 people may not be large enough to deliver the full programme envisaged.

Derry City Council is expected to plough £2.6m into the Culture Company over the coming three years, the draft proposals also reveal.

The Culture Company’s draft corporate plan 2011-2014 states that a further £2.2m is to be awarded by Ilex via the Office of First and Deputy First Ministers and the Department for Social Development.

The Arts Council NI is to give £225,000, and British Telecom a further £99,000.

The report states that Ilex has set aside £10m of capital “which it will devote to supporting the

implementation of City of Culture objectives”. Efforts to secure £14.2m in addition to the £5.2m already obtained from private corporate sponsorship, public sources and ticket sales in the months ahead are now under way.

The company is aiming to leverage a further £3.6m on behalf of other parties in the city, and will also sit on a steering group which will administer a further £1.6m.

The Telegraph has also learned that conferences that are already booked to take place in Derry during 2013 will generate £4m for the city.

The draft states that the company tasked with delivering the city's inaugural year as UK City of Culture in 2013 will be wound up in July 2014, a legacy endowment fund established and outstanding work transferred to Derry City Council at that time.

The document — which is due be made public once finalised — states that the newly formed Culture Company's staffing complement “is considerably smaller than that Liverpool needed to deliver its City of Culture programme (by a factor of 10:1)”.

The document further points out that the local programme will be “on a different scale”, with the team aiming for “maximum impact and reach on limited resources”.

This is identified as one of a series of risk factors outlined in the draft plan.

”The Company proposes a core delivery team of 18 staff. Liverpool (European City of Culture) had c.120 staff. There is a risk that the relatively low levels of staffing may impact the capacity of the Culture Company to deliver the proposed programme of events.”

However the company states it will keep staffing levels under review and take appropriate action if necessary.

They also plans to draw on expertise from employees across various other organisations including Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau, Ilex and Derry City Council, and recently unveiled plans to recruit 3,000 volunteers for its programme in 2013.

Salary costs from this year through until 2014/15 are expected to be in the region of £2.23m gross, plus £69,000 in expenses, out of total company administrative spend of £2.8m.

A central theme of the document is to ensure that those in disadvantaged areas benefit from the City of Culture year so that “no citizen will be left untouched by the cultural opportunities and activities offered during 2013 and beyond”.

Measures are already being taken to develop links with the UK and Ireland and the city’s diaspora throughout the world. Most recently the company bosses received the firm backing of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny at a high profile conference in Dublin at the weekend.

The draft plan states: “The Cultural programme will resist the impulse simply to import external culture to the city during 2013 but will rather mesh and weave together the best of locally-based practise with equally excellent practice from across the world in connections that have true meaning and authenticity.

“It will encourage a substantial ‘made in Derry-Londonderry’ spirit, an inclusive element of the programme providing multiple platforms for unleashing creativity.”

Factfile

A number of risk factors are outlined in the draft plan for the City of Culture programme. They include the time available to create a plan for the year and fears over funding.

On a more positive note, the corporate strategy hopes to see overnight visitors to the city increasing to 223,000 by 2013 — double the levels of 2010.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph