The Mayor of Derry, councillor Kevin Campbell, said he hopes the business community will “get on board” with the City of Culture year and support efforts to create a truly memorable twelve months with a lasting legacy.
He’s been speaking after attending a major promotional event for Derry-Londonderry 2013 at the House of Lords in London on Tuesday night. The occasion was hosted jointly by Northern Ireland Minister of State Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP and Culture Minister Hon Ed Vaizey MP as part of the British Government’s ongoing support for the inaugural UK City of Culture.
Dozens of politicians, business people and VIPs were present, despite the fact that the event clashed with England’s crucial match with Ukraine in Euro 2012. The guests included the First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness; Hollyoaks producer Phil Redmond, who spearheaded Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2008; Phil Coulter; Derry’s star of ‘The Voice’ Ben Kelly; pianist Ben Kelly; and musician and broadcaster Philip King.
Business leaders there included the Chief Executive of Allstate NI, Bro McFerran; Colm O’Neill, the Chief Executive of BT in Ireland; and Jean Long, managing director of Johnston Press in Ireland.
One of the speakers, David Vaughan, chief executive of the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, declared that Derry would soon be recognised as “one of the world’s great cultural capitals”. He said that – although small by global standards – this legendary city would be living testament that small is beautiful.
During the event, Phil Coulter sang ‘The Town I Love So Well’, and Philip King’s digital musical collaboration between Dingle, Derry and London was featured. A short film previewing the year’s events was shown.
The Mayor said he was delighted to be there to represent the people of the city and district, and also delighted to hear Moira Sinclair of Arts Council England talk of how they’ve committed £750,000 to the project. He said he also thanked film producer Michael Hamlyn for his gesture in supporting the Peace One Day concert.
Mayor Campbell said; “We all have a role to play in ensuring the success of the City of Culture celebrations and I would encourage the business community to follow the lead already shown by others and get on board in a positive manner. The business community from the city was represented at the event and I am confident they will play their part.”
The Northern Ireland Minister, Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP, said throughout what had been an eventful history, Derry had always retained the fortitude, optimism and vibrancy that made it such a special place, whether you regarded it as Londonderry, the Maiden City, or Derry.
“Next year, Derry-Londonderry will make history again,” the minister said, “by becoming the UK’s first ever City of Culture. Our task, working together, is to ensure that it provides a lasting legacy for future generations: culturally, through the many exciting events that are planned for next year; economically, through increased tourism, jobs and regeneration; and in relationships, by bringing people together and building on the huge progress that’s been made in Northern Ireland and throughout these islands over the past two decades.
Mr Swire said Derry~ Londonderry City of Culture 2013 would be a great showcase for the city, for Northern Ireland and for the UK.
Others at the event included Culture Company 2013’s chairman, Martin Bradley and its Chief Executive Shona McCarthy.