Speaking to The Munster Express, Derry City Council Arts Officer Brendan McMenamin referred to the (Stg) £20 million in funding Derry received when winning the UK City of Culture bid two years ago, of which £3.5m was spent on marketing.
New tourist-related jobs were created in Derry thanks to winning the bid, which included the construction of new hotels, while the city also received considerable European funding for urban renewal, two words readily familiar to Waterfordians nowadays.
“Community pride and a sense of cohesion are so important,” said Mr McMenamin. “For a city to make a comeback, you need that sense of cohesion but you also need cultural regeneration at the heart of such a bidding process.
“You need to make a city more attractive to live in, you need to make it more attractive to visitors and that in turn, if instigated, leads to fresh investment and new jobs, and thankfully that’s been the case in Derry.”
He added: “You’ve got to talk things up; you’ve got to spread the word through traditional and social media and you’ve got to transmit a positive outward message about the strengths of your city and your region. That’s vital.”
And with hotel occupancy rates currently at 85 per cent, it’s clear that their City of Culture experience has reaped a considerable economic yield, with the renovation of the Guildhall and the construction of the new Peace Bridge forming part of the 2013 legacy.
“Having a brand like Waterford Crystal gives Waterford, as a city, great leverage and tremendous marketing potential,” Brendan McMenamin stated.
At Derry’s industrial peak, 10,000 people alone worked in the linen centre, but it has, just as Waterford is at present, had to forge a new economic identity for itself, with tourism, financial services and the digital economy taking primary focus.
“The creative sector has to be at the core of such a bid,” Mr McMenamin said. “And allied to that you need energy and enthusiasm to engage and energise the community about the process and what it can create.”
If one recalls Cork’s 2005 European Capital of Culture success, the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism (as it was then titled) and Cork City Council injected €13.3m into the project, with the European Commission providing €500,000. Other sponsorship monies brought in €2.9m, leading to a total cash injection of €16,970,000.
Dublin, Galway and Limerick, in addition to the ‘Three Sisters, are also bidding for the 2020 European Capital of Culture.