Galway 2020 cultural capital hires in British consultant to advise it

Move, after resignation of event’s creative director, questioned by leading arts manager

Galway has officially launched its bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2020. Video: Galway 2020

Galway’s 2020 project team has hired in the former head of a British cultural capital on a consultancy basis, following the loss of its creative director almost six weeks ago.

Martin Green, who was chief executive of Hull's British city of culture designation in 2017, has been asked to advise the Galway European city of culture 2020 team over a four-week period.

Mr Green is best known as master of ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics opening and closing events.

He is credited with commissioning film director Danny Boyle to provide the film sequences for the Olympic event which included a stand-in Queen Elizabeth landing by parachute.

Galway 2020: the city beat Dublin, Limerick and the Three Sisters cities of Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford to become European Capital of Culture

Mr Green has been asked to help Galway 2020 to “design and implement” its “new creative strategy”.

The move comes over a month after the project team, with a €46 million budget, faced questions from Galway city councillors after its creative director, Chris Baldwin, resigned less than a year into his contract.

After Mr Baldwin’s exit, the Galway 2020 board said it would be reviewing the composition of “the cultural leadership required to deliver an exciting and innovative world class programme”.

Further clarification

It also appointed three new cultural producers, with a promise of more staff to come. However, Independent TD for Galway West Catherine Connolly has called for further clarification on Mr Baldwin's departure.

If a Connemara man's tractor is stuck in a field, he is not going to ask someone from Dublin to pull him out

Galway Arts Centre managing director Paraic Breathnach has questioned the move to hire in outside expertise, when the city itself has so much of same.

"What is our insecurity here?" Mr Breathnach said, speaking to The Irish Times from Albania.

Chris Baldwin: stepped down as creative director of Galway 2020. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

“If a Connemara man’s tractor is stuck in a field, he is not going to ask someone from Dublin to pull him out,” he said.

“Do we not trust our own educational system, our own accountancy procedures, our own ability to solve our own problems?”


Last month, Mr Breathnach had warned that the city’s reputation for arts and culture could be jeopardised by the 2020 project which he described as a “fiasco in the making”.

The Galway 2020 team met European judges at the second monitoring meeting late last month in Croatia, and the report of this is due out over the summer.

British chair of the selection and monitoring panel Steve Green told Galway's City Tribune last week Galway 2020 needed to adopt a policy of "openness and engagement". He said the organisation needed to "bring people along" with its ambitions.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times