Artists, people young and old and community representatives came together in St. Brigid’s College on Friday to discuss how they can get involved in next year’s City of Culture celebrations.
The event was organised by Greater Shantallow Area Partnership (GSAP) in partnership with the Culture Company.
Two months ago, representatives from GSAP consulted with virtually every age group in the Greater Shantallow area and asked them what they would like to see happen in their area during Derry’s year as City of Culture.
The GSAP team received thousands of responses and suggestions. Friday’s event was a culmination of all the information and it’s expected that the organisation will publish a five year action plan for the Greater Shantallow area next month.
Ciara Ferguson, GSAP Project Manager, described the event as a success and praised the local community for getting involved.
“The local community came to us and asked us to help them to become more involved with Derry’s preparations for City of Culture next year.
“We spent the last two months listening to what everyone had to say. The results of which are diverse, exciting and impressive.
“The suggestions from the community cover the arts, sports and many other things.
“The Greater Shantallow community are really enthusiastic about the City of Culture year.
“I think that this is the start of a fantastic partnership between GSAP, the local community and the Culture Company.”
Culture Company Chief Executive Shona McCarthy thanked the people of the Greater Shantallow area for their input and said that without their help Derry would stand no chance of realising the vision that is City of Culture 2013.
“I just want to thank everyone who is involved with this scheme.
“The Culture Company can’t do this on it’s own - we need people like you standing beside us.
“I think that the work the people here have done is top class. I have no doubt that what GSAP have done will be rolled out throughout not just Derry but the rest of Northern Ireland.
“They have really taken the bull by the horns and have embraced the whole concept of the City of Culture.”
She added: “I can also tell you, with a bit of insider knowledge, that the work that’s going on behind the scenes at the Culture Company is second to none.
“We are all determined to deliver for Derry and leaving a legacy that could run to 2030.
“We’ll be making a few big announcements in terms of what people can expect to see next year in May. I for one am excited and I have no doubt that now we are getting the help and support that we need from places like the Northern Ireland Executive that we can make next year a massive success for the city.”
Joseph Hutahaean is a trained community worker but after funding was withdrawn for his position in North Belfast he lost his job.
Joseph, originally from Moss Park, attended Friday’s event to see how he might get involved in his local community.
“I think full credit has to go to GSAP for organising this event and engaging with the community - in my experience it’s the only way to get things done.
“It’s because of such events that statutory bodies develop trust with an area and I have no doubt that the future regeneration of the Greater Shantallow area will be very exciting.
“Engaging with the community is of the ultimate importance and I think that virtually every voice has been heard in this consultation process. Fair play to everyone involved, they have done a great job.”
Tommy Long, originally from Carnhill, is a local artist. Since returning home to Derry he has transformed his bedroom into an art studio.
Tommy’s work is extremely impressive and it focuses on the working class people of Derry. He takes photos using a digital camera but then represents them on a canvass.
“I think that the talent and ability in this area is brilliant. I also think that an event such as this one gives everyone from every part of the community a voice and it gives them the chance to put their case forward.
“As an artist I would love to see a dedicated art course set up in the area. It would offer the people living here the chance to learn about all the different techniques. It would be such a positive move and I would even put myself forward to help out.”
Tommy is currently working on several large scale paintings and will exhibit some of his work in Dublin in October.
“I am really looking forward to exhibiting my work in Dublin but my dream would be to showcase some of my work in my hometown.”
Local archaeologist enthusiast, George Cairns, said that he would like to see a place dedicated the history of the Greater Shantallow area.
“A museum like building would be great. We have some fantastic history and artefacts here so it would be nice if they could stay here and tourists could come to the area to find out more.”
Ciara Ferguson finished off by saying that GSAP are still keen to hear suggestions on what the people of the area would like to see happen in the next few years.
“If anyone wants to get in touch they should drop into to our office or telephone the team to tell them their suggestions. It’s through community involvement that we can make this work and I know that with the community behind us this project is going to be a massive success.”
For further information on the project telephone Greater Shantallow Community Partnership on 028 7135 8787.