Fitzpatrick eager to move Limerick City of Culture project on

Interim head says controversies have ‘galvanised’ Limerick artistic community

The interim head of Limerick City of Culture has said he is not a healer of the past but a manager for the future.

Mike Fitzpatrick, head of the Limerick School of Art and Design has been appointed to lead the embattled programme, which has been shaken by a number of high profile resignations.

The move to bring stability to the project follows the resignation of chief executive Patricia Ryan and artistic director Karl Wallace, along with two of the programming team.

In a statement yesterday Mr Wallace described the appointment as “welcome news” for the programme.


Mr Fitzpatrick, who is widely respected in the artistic community nationally and internationally, is director of Eva International Biennial and a former director/curator of Limerick City Gallery of Art, curating over 80 exhibitions. As an artist himself, he has staged many solo exhibitions and was on the board of directors of the Belltable Arts Centre.

Speaking at yesterday’s press conference, where his appointment was announced, Mr Fitzpatrick said he was intent on driving the City of Culture project forward and insisted he had no “interest in healing the past”.

No healer
"I am not here as a healer. I am here to do a job and my job is running the City of Culture organisation," he said.

Mr Fitzpatrick, whose appointment has been widely welcomed, has admitted the project got off to a difficult start but insists that out of the controversies has grown “a galvanised artistic community” intent on moving forward.

The appointment was welcomed by Karl Wallace who resigned from his post on the eve of the launch, and by former international programmer Jo Mangan and former commissioning and legacy programmer Maeve McGrath, who also withdrew their services.

The former artistic director also welcomed reports that Limerick City arts officer Sheila Deegan is expected to become more involved in City of Culture at a senior level.

Speaking about the interim appointment, board chairman Pat Cox said Limerick Institute of Technology through its own governance procedures had "fully cleared the secondment".

Controversy surrounding Ms Ryan's appointment as chief executive of the board of City of Culture failed to abate after it emerged the €120,000 contract had not been advertised. As the interim head of City Culture role is across the public sector there was no obligation to advertise it, it was stated.

However Mr Cox said any future appointments such as those to fill the roles of chief executive or artistic director, would be advertised.

The board also confirmed it would nominate three new directors to represent the arts and culture community of Limerick. One would be drawn from the chairpersons of the Pillar Groups of Limerick City of Culture, established in February 2013; the second will be appointed on the advice of the Pillar Groups.

The third appointment is reserved for Mr Fitzpatrick on completion of his role as interim head of City of Culture.

In addition, following meetings with the elected representatives of Limerick City and County Council, it was agreed to appoint the mayor and chairperson, or their representatives, of the respective authorities to the board.

The board has also elevated one of its members, Tim O’Connor, to the new position of vice chairman.