Galway 2020 loses its creative director amid ‘confidence crisis’

Chris Baldwin leaves European Capital of Culture organising body ‘by mutual agreement’

Chris Baldwin, who was appointed to the €110,000 post last July, leaves the organisation ‘by mutual agreement’, Galway 2020 said. Photograph: Galway City of Culture 2020

Chris Baldwin, who was appointed to the €110,000 post last July, leaves the organisation ‘by mutual agreement’, Galway 2020 said. Photograph: Galway City of Culture 2020

 

The British theatre director appointed as creative director for Galway’s European Capital of Culture in 2020 has resigned less than a year into his contract.

Chris Baldwin, who was appointed to the post last July, leaves the organisation “by mutual agreement”, according to a Galway 2020 board statement issued on Wednesday.

Mr Baldwin was unavailable for comment, and the Galway 2020 project has declined to say why he is leaving.

The €110,000 creative director post was offered to Mr Baldwin early last summer.

He was previously curator of interdisciplinary performance for Wroclaw, Poland, a 2016 European Capital of Culture.

The director, writer and curator wrote and directed two pieces of work for the 2012 London Olympics. He also worked in Bulgaria and east Germany, taught at a number of European universities, and is best known for his interest in large-scale site-specific performances.

New appointments

Thanking Mr Baldwin for his contribution, the Galway 2020 board said in a statement it had made three new appointments, and would be reviewing the composition of “the cultural leadership required to deliver an exciting and innovative world class programme”.

It said it would make an announcement on this in the “coming weeks”, and said “planning for the next phase” had begun with the appointment of three new cultural producers.

Liz Kelly has been appointed as a hands-on producer with its “Small Towns Big Ideas”project, working with communities throughout Galway county and city, while Kate Howard has been appointed at as visual arts curator.

Craig Flaherty, formerly of Druid Theatre, has been appointed as audience development and programme producer.

The board said the full programme for Galway 2020 would be published later this year, with “an exciting line-up of national and international events”.

Fine Gael councillor Pádraig Conneely, who had called on the Galway city manager on Tuesday to clarify if the creative director had “resigned or was resigning” and referred to a “confidence crisis” with Galway 2020, said he was aware that Mr Baldwin had been “unhappy”.

Cllr Conneely said he understood Mr Baldwin had conveyed this to the 2020 board.

Cllr Conneely, who is chairman of the city council’s strategic policy committee on economic development, arts, culture and tourism, called for “more transparency” on the resignation, and queried whether a severance package had been given to Mr Baldwin.

A post of business engagement director with Galway 2020 is already the subject of possible litigation, Cllr Conneely pointed out.

Themes

Language, landscape and migration were the three themes of Galway’s bid for European Capital of Culture 2020, against competition from Limerick and the Three Sisters cities of Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford.

The advertisement for the post of Galway 2020 creative director in December 2016 stated that the successful appointee would be “responsible for implementing those elements of the programme which were decided prior to this appointment as contained in the final bid book”.

Mayor of Galway Pearce Flannery (FG), who is on the Galway 2020 board, said recently that he was “concerned about progress” in relation to the budget and the position of Galway County Council in paying its full share.

The €45.7 million budget comprises a €15 million payment from national Government, and €12 million promised by the city and county councils.

Another €3.5 million is to be raised from the “region”, €3 million from the EU, and €5.5 million from “other” sources, according to the bid book.