Programme could have represented the ‘darkness’ of Derry better

Derry singer Soak who performed at the launch of the Derry~Londonderry City of Culture  Programme Preview Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 30.5.12
Derry singer Soak who performed at the launch of the Derry~Londonderry City of Culture Programme Preview Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 30.5.12

Be not afeard; the city is full of noises,

Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.

Shakespeare almost said that. It could serve as an intro to the City of Culture.

If slide-guitar roots man Ry Cooder gives us a selection from the Purple Valley, delves into the Buena Vista Social Club and essays Mitt Romney Blues, and Elvis Costello rummages in his back catalogue for Oliver’s Army, Veronica and Good Year For The Roses, I’ll be well happy.

And there’s Primal Scream, Paddy Nash, Johanna Fegan, Soak.

A new play by the radical, unpredictable Sam Shepherd will be a genuine Event.

I have travelled to see the final line-up for every Turner Prize over the past decade, so it’s about time they came to me.

I could have done with a few more rough edges, and a much fuller representation of the darkness that can still envelop Derry. We have deep political and economic problems here which demand political and economic solutions.

To suggest that “culture” can provide a context in which the solutions will come more easily is to misunderstand what culture can do or be expected to do.

More on the rest of the programme next week. And the week after that. And the following week. Etc.

I think it a pity that no reference was made to Garbhan Downey at the launch. The programme unveiled to justified acclaim differed hardly at all from the programme as it stood at the time of Garbhan’s enforced departure as director of communications just a couple of weeks earlier.

It wouldn’t have killed them to give him a mention.