Galway has fired the first shots in the contest for European Capital of Culture designation in 2020 with the appointment of an NUI Galway
team to prepare its bid.
Limerick, and possibly Waterford, Kilkenny and Sligo, may be competitors for the international designation when it returns to Ireland in six years' time.
However, Galway aims to be “not only in the race, but best placed”, the city’s chief executive Brendan McGrath has pledged, despite the “daunting” €20 million budget required to host it.
Galway lost out to Cork for the European designation in 2005, with lack of a sufficiently large performance space to match Cork’s Opera House being one of the key factors.
However, the criteria have "shifted", according to Dr Patrick Collins, economic geographer and lead consultant in the NUIG team.
‘Inclusive and creative’
One of these criteria – the importance of a “legacy” – does not necessarily relate to physical infrastructure, he said.
The European title is now held by two countries annually, and Croatia will share it with Ireland in 2020.
The initial bid must be submitted within 10 months of the call for submissions, and final selection takes place in late 2015.
The NUIG team, which also includes political scientist Prof Kevin Leyden and communications consultant Gwen O'Sullivan, was appointed by public tender.
It has promised extensive consultation with the arts and cultural community, with business interests and the public which will be “inclusive, transparent and creative”, according to Prof Leyden.
Galway city and county hosted 104 festivals in 2012, with more than 1,200 “creative industries” in its environs, Dr Collins said.