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What makes a European Capital of Culture?
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What makes a European Capital of Culture?

Limerick 2020

Callum Lee

Managing Director

Callum leads the BOP team, its portfolio and strategic partnerships. His cultural and creative industries expertise is founded on leading analytical research and policy formulation in the UK and internationally.

Callum Lee - Managing Director  | BOP Consulting

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Limerick Arts Office


Projects Sectors

This week, our partners in Limerick will find out whether they have been successful in gaining the status of European Capital of Culture (ECoC) in 2020. We were fortunate to work with them to develop a cultural strategy framework to support their bid.

National City for Culture in 2014, there is a real appetite from local people for culture and its role in future of the city. Of course, there are exciting plans for developing culture and growing the creative industries in the city. But more than this, this is a great opportunity to re-examine and re-imagine what kind of place it is, to the different people who both live there and visit.

Their early concept of multiplicity got to the heart of examining what Limerick in 2016 is about. It looked at the city as an interconnected place; inclusive and generous. It responded to the fact that Limerick is in the eye of the beholder; it is different places to different people. Citizens are seen as “curators of their own lived experience, navigating the daily realities of life in a way which is both unique and familiar to them.”

These different realities and experiences are all connected to a sense of place and multiple ways of Belonging, their chosen term for Limerick 2020. This belonging of citizens could be to “their families, their real and virtual communities, their schools, university, and workplace, Limerick, Europe. And to find new ways of belonging and share that sense of belonging.”

The Limerick 2020 programme will explore this belonging in creative ways over the coming years, including using food and inter-cultural exchange of ideas, developing young filmmakers, as well as the international gathering of musicians, bands and choirs.

Culture as part of a new lifeblood

Limerick sees itself as being in a “rebuilding” stage for the future, with a growing population, many of whom are welcomed from across Europe and beyond. Culture is a part of the new lifeblood of Limerick, with people across the city now recognising it as a way to drive positive change. We worked with the bid partners to look at the roles that they would need to play to allow culture to play its full role in the change. We believe they are a helpful guide to any place or organisation thinking about what more it can do around culture, even in times of austerity:

  • Advocate: Consolidating and valuing the role of culture in Limerick in a local, national and European context

  • Broker: Connecting people, organisations and opportunities through culture

  • Innovator: Successfully developing new ways of working, new business opportunities and supporting growth

  • Supporter: Continuing to create sustainable support, resources and investment in the cultural sector

  • Promoter: Finding new and interesting ways to showcase, host or promote culture in Limerick, identifying exciting ways for Limerick’s city, towns and villages to “be the venue”

  • Reflector: Reviewing, monitoring, analysing and critiquing the cultural strategy

It was great for us to be a small part of the development process for Limerick 2020 and its Belonging programme. The whole process has been a galvanising one for the city from the start. Regardless of whether Limerick gains the status of ECoC, the city has a plan and ambition around culture. They are looking outwards and connecting with Europe and beyond; they are re-imagining and building the city with culture at its heart.

We cross our fingers for our friends in Ireland to gain this exciting opportunity to renew their place in Europe, whilst reflect on how the UK will probably not have the same opportunity again.

You can download the full strategy framework below.

– Gregg Hutchings, Senior Consultant

This Cultural Strategy Framework 2016-2030 for Limerick City and County Council sets out a clear vision and ambition that allows us to strategically plan effectively​ and look to the future.

Project Report

Limerick Cultural Strategy – A Framework 2016-2030

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Related Projects

Strategy and Policy Design

Callum Lee - Managing Director  | BOP Consulting

Callum Lee

Managing Director