Theatre group at centre of row set for Limerick City of Culture

Budgetary meeting of the board this week discussed bringing Royal de Luxe to the city

 French Theatre company, Royal De Luxe,  performing street theatre  on the streets of London.   Photograph:  Jim Dyson/Getty Images

French Theatre company, Royal De Luxe, performing street theatre on the streets of London. Photograph: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

 



An internationally renowned street theatre company whose planned booking was at the centre of tensions which led to the resignation of the Limerick City of Culture’s artistic director is now is likely to perform during the festival.

Karl Wallace resigned earlier this month from Limerick City of Culture, and it was claimed that the failure of the City of Culture’s board to sanction funding for the Royal de Luxe group was one of reasons he left.

The board and former chief executive Patricia Ryan were concerned the cost of the French troupe – famous for its giant mechanical puppets – could not be borne without seriously impacting on the City of Culture’s €6 million budget.

Ms Ryan and other board members questioned the spend, which they estimated at €1.8 million, and said it could impact on other events included in the programme which had already been planned with the festival budget.

While there was support for booking Royal de Luxe among the city’s artistic community, another board member, Brian McEnery, said earlier this month the board could not justify a plan by Mr Wallace to book the French company. At the time, Mr McEnery said that the proposal created “quite an amount of tension”.

However, in an indication of a shift in the budgeting focus since Ms Ryan resigned and was replaced by Mike Fitzpatrick, who is now acting as interim head of the festival, the now expanded board is strongly considering bringing the Royal de Luxe to Limerick.

Sources said the theatre group made a presentation to the board earlier this month, and a further budgetary meeting of the board this week also discussed bringing Royal de Luxe to the city.

No final decisions
While no final decisions were taken, it is understood around September or October is seen as at the most likely time, with sources insisting it can be done for a lot less than the initial estimate of €1.8 million.

It is also understood that the booking would be paid out of the €6 million given to the City of Culture by the Government.

The festival itself declined to comment on the proposal.