City of Culture - Busting a gut to deliver

City of Culture media director Garbhan Downey talks about the leaked draft report and what lies ahead...

The City of Culture programme, when it’s published, will herald one of the biggest cultural showcases ever witnessed on these islands.

As yet, however, it’s not finished – and it won’t be until September, at which time we’ll issue our Official Calendar.

And even then, you can be sure there will be changes; last minute additions, surprises, and, undoubtedly, the odd cancellation. Given the size of the project, it would be strange if it were otherwise.

At the end of this month, we will publish a trailer of next year’s highlights. But again, we have to complete many sensitive negotiations before even that can be released.

As board member Ana Leddy said: “What we can confirm is the scale and ambition of the Culture Company to provide a stunning line-up for 2013 and an amazing year.

“There’s a small but very determined bunch of programmers in the City of Culture team and they are busting a gut to deliver the most stunning year. Any city on this island would give their eye teeth to have the opportunity to deliver this.”

And clearly audiences across the water are starting to get excited too. Will Gompertz, the BBC Network Arts Editor, described what he has seen via the various leaks as “very impressive”. And he also suggested that Derry-Londonderry is a lot more organised than Liverpool was at this stage – and look at how terrific the 2008 celebrations turned out there.

But we have to be careful. Our team are working with a huge range of stakeholders to put in place a programme that will reach and involve our entire city community. And we have a long way to go before we complete that task. And while we appreciate the huge interest in the project – and the hunger for information – we also have to be careful and realistic. At this stage, the publication of unofficial or inaccurate information about any project or event could prove unhelpful or, worse again, pose serious risks to the programme.

It could also lead to disappointment from our stakeholders and the wider public if leaked data proves to be unconfirmed or incorrect. And ultimately, it’s the people of Derry who stand to lose out most.