City of Culture chief wanted rap lyrics changed

CEO asked for song to be changed because lyrics not in keeping with image organisation wanted

It is understood Karl Wallace, the artistic director who resigned his post this week, referenced artistic licence being challenged at a meeting of one of the festival’s organising “pillar” groups yesterday where he explained why he was stepping down.

It is understood Karl Wallace, the artistic director who resigned his post this week, referenced artistic licence being challenged at a meeting of one of the festival’s organising “pillar” groups yesterday where he explained why he was stepping down.

 

The chief executive of Limerick City of Culture asked that a song recorded for the festival be changed because it contained rap lyrics by teenagers that were not the image the organisation wanted to portray for the year-long event.

The intervention by Patricia Ryan led to objections from those in the artistic community, who felt it would amount to a “muzzling” of young people, who were not being paid, and represented the business end of the organisation interfering in the artistic direction of the festival.

It is understood Karl Wallace, the artistic director who resigned his post this week, referenced artistic licence being challenged at a meeting of one of the festival’s organising “pillar” groups yesterday where he explained why he was stepping down.

The song was written by two young rappers from the Moyross area of the city, Nathan Keane and Calvin McNamara.

They are also part of the Moyross Youth Crew rap group.

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The line Ms Ryan objected to was in a verse that says: “The city’s looking rough when you’re walking on the bridge; It’s the city where we’re tough, there’s no place you’d rather live; Limerick City show your love, shine your light out for these kids; Because when push comes to shove, it’s the city that forgives; See the city’s looking pretty from an aerial view; We carry stories in our hearts and then we share them with you; Forget your tears and fears, raise your glass and say cheers, put your hands in the air for a happy new year.”

Controversial appointment
Ms Ryan, whose appointment as chief executive without the post being advertised caused controversy, wrote an email to a production company involved with the

event.

Her email, seen by The Irish Times, read: “I think the song is great. There is just one small thing that jars and that is the line about ‘the city looks rough’ – it’s really not the image we want to portray – the rest is great, really love it. Sorry to be a pain.” A spokesman for Limerick City of Culture said last night that while the chief executive had questioned the appropriateness of the lyrics, she had subsequently decided against seeking amendments.

“The rap went ahead as it was written, with no alteration.”

Labour Party councillor Tom Shortt said there was a sense in Limerick that art was losing out to public relations because of the direction the City of Culture was taking. “This is all about beds and nights in the hotels. It is kind of a Disneyland-style version of Limerick, instead of a robust, warts and all version of Limerick. It is almost a rebranding exercise.”