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  • Limerick City Stories: The European Capital of Culture Bid Process and Narratives of Place

    Niamh NicGhabhann, Annmarie Ryan, Stephen Kinsella

    Chapter from the book: Smith, A et al. 2022. Festivals and the City: The Contested Geographies of Urban Events.


    This chapter explores the European Capital of Culture programme, with a specific focus on the bidding period as a period of opportunity and change. Building on previous research by the authors, the chapter explores the dynamics of festivity and city narratives in relation to Limerick’s bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2020. Although the bid was ultimately unsuccessful, the bidding process can be seen as a period during which multiple diverse stakeholders came together to think about the role of culture in the city and region, and the future of the area's unique cultural identity. While the interaction between Capital of Culture projects and urban regeneration has been explored in relation to other cities – Glasgow and Liverpool in particular – this chapter turns attention to the process of the bid preparation, examining issues of narrative and perceived potential. In particular, the essay unpacks the complexities around, and difficulties with, narratives of transformation which position the festive year as an opportunity to redefine the city on an international stage. This emphasis on redefinition and change was evident in the opening paragraphs of the Limerick 2020 bid book, which included the statements that ‘Limerick had been a non-place in Europe for a long time’, and that 'we are ready for a new Limerick’. This chapter identifies, locates, and explores the articulation and circulation of these narratives of city transformation: within the documents produced by the Limerick 2020 bid team; in media coverage of the bid process; and in urban interventions where the Limerick 2020 logos and artworks were embedded in the urban fabric. In considering these narratives in the broader context of Limerick's history, it examines the impact of the time-limited and pressurised context of bidding on stakeholder relationships in sustainable cultural partnerships.

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    NicGhabhann, N et al. 2022. Limerick City Stories: The European Capital of Culture Bid Process and Narratives of Place. In: Smith, A et al (eds.), Festivals and the City. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book64.j

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Published on Aug. 23, 2022