European City of Culture next step for Derry

The Playhouse chief executive Niall McCaughan. (1506PG63)

The Playhouse chief executive Niall McCaughan. (1506PG63)

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Chief Executive of The Playhouse, Niall McCaughan, argues that the time is now right for Derry to become the European City of Culture.

In this piece, Niall outlines the case for the cultural celebrations of 2013 to be taken to a continental scale for 2023.

“We are now on the last leg of our incredible journey in our City of Culture year; although I have to keep reminding everyone, we have always been a City of Culture.

“At a recent Legacy Conference at the City Hotel, I not for the first time, posed the question to the gathered audience, that Derry should seek the European City of Culture title.

“Unbeknownst to me, the only member of the panel at the conference whom I didn’t know, was from the department of Culture in Westminster.

“After I put my proposal forward, he spoke up and said that he was involved in the European City of Culture selection process and stated that indeed Derry should put its hat in the ring for the culture title.

“The earliest opportunity for a UK city to be put forward for the European City of Culture title is 2023; enough time to build on the great foundations laid in 2013.

“In reality, the foundations go back much further, as Derry has always been a cultural city.

“Recent capital investment, particularly in the last five years, has cemented Derry’s role as the Cultural Capital of the North.

“The 2008 European City of Culture, Liverpool, benefited from investment in excess of £800 million. Now, more than ever, I am convinced that the time is right for a European City of Culture title to be awarded to the city in the near future.

“Unlike in 2006, I feel few would disagree. City of Culture has been a triumph for the city and the region.

“To quote an recent article from the Irish Times, ‘City of Culture 2013 has been legen-Derry to date!’

“For me, the biggest gain has been a renewed pride in our unique, confident, youthful, historic, diverse, challenging and cultural city. UK City of Culture has started this change; let European City of Culture continue this journey for us.”