Derry’s City of Culture has well and truly begun today with the launch of a stellar programme of artistic and cultural events to rival any major city in the world.
Scores of reporters, TV crews and photographers gathered at a specially constructed marquee in Ebrington for the official unveiling of events. A plethora of local personalities, celebrities and politicians were also on hand, all smiling widely and clearly delighted to witness history in the making.
Opening proceedings was Martin Bradley, Chair of Culture Company, followed by the city’s Mayor, Colr Kevin Campbell who described today as a “very historic day for the city and another milestone in our journey towards 2013.”
He continued: “This is an opportunity for top class acts and talent to come into the city - they will learn from us and we will learn from them.”
Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of Culture Company then took to the stage amid rapturous applause to outline some of the key events for next year’s celebrations.
Ms McCarthy said that speaking today was “an absolute joy and pleasure”.
“Every place has its time. A moment of magic where energies converge and the extraordinary becomes possible. Today, Derry/Londonderry 2013 is launching the richest cultural programme ever assembled on the island of Ireland for the first UK City of Culture,” she said.
From January to December 2013, art and event and spectacle will spill out of every corner. The whole city is the canvas. There are hundreds of free events, thousands of tickets and endless ways to participate. This is one party where everyone is invited.”
Among the highlights of next year’s festivities are The Return of Colmcille and Lumiere, which will paint pictures of this city, just as the images collected from the BT Portrait of a City project will also paint the untold stories of a city and its people.”
Cultural Programmers Gareth Stewart and Clare McDermott shared some of the thoughts of 2013’s contributing artists.
Derry artist Willie Doherty hopes that “presenting these works in the city in 2013 will contribute to a dialogue between the present and our knowledge and understanding of the past.”
World-renowned choreographer Hofesh Schechter promises to “give the musicians and dancers from Derry a sense of what’s out there, what it is to be part of a huge show, part of something that is dance and music and nothing else.”
The Director of the Tate, Nicolas Serota, says he is “delighted that Turner Prize 2013 will be shown for the first time outside of England”, while another celebrated home-grown artist, sculptor Maurice Harron, adds: “The excitement of this year is not in what is prepared, but it is in what is unknown, what will be discovered.”
As festivities continue here at Ebrington with chat, musical performances and a palpable sense of excitement about the months to come, all are in agreement that today is one huge success.