City of Culture assessor Phil Redmond has urged people in Derry not to get hung up on the official UK badge and politicise the accolade.
Speaking in Derry yesterday, Mr Redmond - who chaired the Independent Assessment Panel which awarded the designation to the city in 2010 - said he was very impressed with the progress being made in the redevelopment of the city.
In light of recent bomb attacks on the City of Culture building in Derry city centre, Mr Redmond: “The UK designation should be taken as an official badge only - it’s not something people should be concerned with for this particular project.” He said that the designation is about culture, not politics. “It’s about collectively calling yourselves a city of culture.”
“One of the strengths of Derry~Londonderry’s bid in 2010 was that it was a city with a troubled past . . . there is also the reality that no one expects the level of dissident feeling to dissappear because of what someone wrote in a newspaper or said in a speech but this is about culture.” Mr Redmond and a panel of experts were on tour in Derry yesterday, taking in the progress at Ebrington, the Peace Bridge, and other several other key sites in the city. “I’m very impressed by the preparations. The Ebrington and Peace Bridge developments are great examples of what can be achieved. They are symbols of the way things can come together and show the main benefit of the city of culture designation.” The people of Derry, he added, have two things to look forward to in 2013 and beyond. “People will find over the year that they get two things: confidence that the whole thing can be put together and a shared memory for everyone . . . that’s what happened in Liverpool when we were European City of Culture.”
Having just flown in from London where he watched his beloved Liverpool FC lift the club’s first silverware in almost six years, the scouser was delighted to be back in Derry.
“Where else would you rather be after winning the Carling Cup Final at Wembley than Derry~Londonderry, City of Culture?”
Meanwhile , the race to find the UK’s City of Culture for 2017 is to be launched later this year, Britain’s Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced yeterday. Mr Vaizey said: “Next year, Derry-Londonderry will open its doors to new visitors – it could be a real springboard for future economic success.”