UK City of Culture 2013: Minister confirms no budget for Derry legacy projects

Derry Image copyright PAcemaker press
Image caption Thousands of people crossed the Peace Bridge in Derry in 2013 for the events held at Ebrington Square

The Culture Minister has confirmed there is no money to pay for UK City of Culture legacy projects in County Londonderry that were promised in 2013.

Thousands flocked to Derry which hosted over 140 events during the year.

Events included the Turner Prize, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and the Royal Ballet's first visit to Northern Ireland for 20 years.

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood said the Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has failed to deliver.

Minister Carál Ní Chuilín announced at an event in 2013, as Derry's year as UK City of Culture was drawing to a close, that she would set up a company to deliver City of Culture legacy programmes and activities.

'Glitzy announcement'

Responding to an Assembly question from Mr Eastwood, the minister admitted she has "no baseline budget to continue provision of additional funding in the North West after 31 March 2015".

"We expressed our doubts about the minister's commitment to Derry's City of Culture legacy at the time," said Mr Eastwood.

"In a glitzy announcement on the legacy she set out her 'strategic direction' which centred around the creation of a dedicated company to deliver cultural-based projects in Derry.

"That company has not been set up and now we're being told it won't be set up.

Image copyright Simon Fallaha
Image caption Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann was a week-long event full of music and dance

"After a series of questions were put to the minister and many months down the line she has finally admitted there will be no delivery by her department on this issue.

"In admitting there is no budget for legacy beyond this month, she seems to be saying that as far as her department is concerned Derry's City of Culture legacy is dead.

"As mayor I was heavily involved in the bid for City of Culture designation for Derry and the most important aspect of that was always legacy.

"Legacy was key to the entire process.

"Sadly the minister has not grasped the importance of that legacy for Derry as she has clearly not made it a priority in her budget."

'Grossly unfair'

Image copyright bbc
Image caption Caral Ni Chuilin said at the time that Derry had been transformed by its year as UK City of Culture

Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: "I have publicly announced my department's commitment to building on the success of City of Culture and tackling social and economic challenges across the Derry, Strabane, Coleraine, Limavady and Dungiven areas.

"Criticism aimed at me and my department in relation to City of Culture Legacy funding is without substance or merit and is grossly unfair.

"I secured additional funding of £1m resource and £2.8m capital as part of the October monitoring round to maximise ongoing development of a social and economic legacy from City of Culture.

"An additional £250,000 was allocated in January monitoring. Therefore, for the 15 month period, January 2014 to March 2015, the executive has allocated more than six million in additional funding for the north west to support City of Culture legacy and the development of innovative approaches to economic and social challenges.

"So I and my department are delivering on the City of Culture legacy, and while I no longer believe there is a requirement to establish a limited company for this purpose, my north west office, which was established last year, is bringing forward a range of projects which will maintain momentum in the community, cultural and creative sectors across the region."

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