New steering group to develop Derry festivals

Dancing to the Jive Aces as a previous City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival at Da Vincis Hotel. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com.

Dancing to the Jive Aces as a previous City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival at Da Vincis Hotel. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com.

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A new steering group is to be established to take forward the development of festivals and major events across Derry and Strabane.

The local council announced its intention at this week’s meeting of the council’s Business & Culture Committee.

A report presented by Council Strategic Director Stephen Gillespie proposed the setting up of the steering group to facilitate council officers liaising with elected members on the development of festivals and events across the Council area.

Mr Gillespie said this was a vital feature of the local area and a key area of growth.

“The time is right to sit down and look at what we are doing right across the council area,” he said.

The report meanwhile stated: “Within the Derry City and Strabane District Council area there exists a wide range of festivals and events of varying scope and scale. These festivals, delivered in both urban and rural contexts, have demonstrated their potential to deliver economic, social and cultural outcomes by promoting the area as a place to live in, visit and do business in.”

The report states that festivals continues to be “an area of great interest and importance to all our citizens” and “a hugely important component as the region strives to cement our reputation as a key cultural and tourism destination.”

The new group will consist of a number of senior council officers and four elected members - Mickey Cooper (SF), John Boyle (SDLP), Derek Hussey (UUP) and David Ramsey (DUP) and will meet on a monthly basis.

Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue said that the City of Culture year had proven that events were part of the economic driver which compliments the attractions of the city and what it has to offer, adding: “There is a need there for more private investment such as MTV at Ebrington over the summer.”

SDLP Councillor John Boyle said that despite the challenging economic conditions, it was imperative the council try to develop the opportunities that emerged from 2013.