Council to ‘control’ Culture marketing

Garbhan Downey of Culture Company.
Garbhan Downey of Culture Company.

Derry City Council is poised to take direct control of Culture Company’s marketing operation, it’s been claimed.

The revelation comes as Culture Company - the body tasked with delivering next year’s City of Culture celebrations - prepares to launch its comprehensive programme for 2013 at the end of this month.

It’s believed more than 140 events and projects involving artists from all over the world have already been confirmed.

However, informed sources have revealed that the City Council intends to subsume the Culture Company Marketing and Communications Department, currently headed by Garbhan Downey, into its Strand Road offices.

It’s also believed Culture Company staff have been told to report to Council HQ next week.

Some of the detail is contained in a letter to Culture Company from Council - a copy of which the ‘Journal’ has seen.

Contacted by the Journal yesterday, Garbhan Downey said: “I can confirm that my staff are being ordered to report to Council Offices. The CEO of Culture Company has been advised that the transfer does not include me.”

He added: “I reject entirely any attempted inference that this is somehow a performance-related issue. We had scheduled the full roll-out of our marketing plans for Monday and Council have chosen to pre-empt that.”

Mr Downey declined to comment on claims that Council intended to subsume the total £12.6 million Culture Company budget.

He said he was deeply disappointed at what had transpired.

“Those who know me will realise just how sad I am it has come to this,” he said. “All of us have invested so much in this project. It is particularly disappointing just as everything is in place and we are about to deliver the project.”

Mr. Downey confirmed that his legal advisors were currently seeking clarification on a range of matters.

A spokesperson for Derry City Council told the ‘Journal’ last night: “Derry City Council is the licence holder and is fully accountable for DCAL’s awarded funding of £12.6m.”

The spokesperson explained that it was currently moving from “a phase of planning to implementation. “

“A number of options are being considered by the Council to assist with this implementation process,” she added.

“The Council is currently working with the Culture Company to look at the resources required to successfully deliver the City of Culture programme for 2013.”

Earlier this year, it was revealed that a draft programme of events for 2013 included an appearance by Sir Cliff Richard. Other events include a return of landmark theatre company Field Day, and the Turner Prize and Stirling Prize. Sporting highlights include Ulster’s first rugby match in Derry and visits from La Liga and Premier League football clubs.