Galway’s European Capital of Culture 2020 will allow the City and County to come together as never before, according to new CEO Hannah Kiely.
“It will bring the City and County together in a reimagining of what culture is about. Culture crosses everything from landscape to music, sports, arts and the way we live. It is part of everyday life,” said the newly appointed CEO.
She added, “The bid was for both the City and County and both are on board. As part of the process, board meetings will be held in both the City and County and we will be engaging with communities right across Galway. It is a huge county but it is magic.”
Business leader Ms Kiely has been involved in business in Galway for over 25 years and has worked in the arts and culture areas. She is also a keen painter and writer, having a Degree in Fine Art from GMIT, a degree in Archaeology from NUI Galway and qualifications in corporate governance. She is the former CEO of HC Financial Advisers and a former President of Galway Chamber.
Ms Kiely took up the Galway 2020 job last week and described it as a “once in a lifetime opportunity”. “This is like the job I’ve been waiting for all my life. It is a cross between my head, which has always been in business, to my heart, which has always been about culture and arts. It is an amazing job, an amazing opportunity for Galway.”
With one million visitors expected to visit Galway throughout 2020, Ms Kiely is aware that there are concerns about infrastructure. “It is a big concern and this was part of the whole bidding process that looked at how this was going to be handled.” She explained that elements of this comes under the Cultural Strategy for the City and County.
In terms of capacity, she added that they have engaged with nine regional counties along the western seaboard.
“The amount of people that will be coming and going is a big challenge. We’ve engaged with these counties as partners in this whole process so 2020 can become an experience as part of the whole experience of the West.”
She also added that a lot of the events staged for the year will take place outside of the main events like Galway International Arts Festival and the Galway Races. “We won’t be competing with big events. Our plan is to enhance what’s there and to expand it across the County and to our regional partners.”
Part of the legacy of hosting the European Capital of Culture in 2020 is to build a structure that will go beyond that year.
“There are a lot of fantastic practitioners in the City and County who are involved in the arts and culture for a long time.
“There is also a wave of young people coming up and groups that need to be brought on and given the chance to be whatever they can be.
“This is our window out to Europe and out to the world and we need to give these organisations the ability and opportunity to grow and blossom.”
She added, “I see myself as an enabler. A part of the job is to put a structure in place to enable all aspects of the bid.”
One of her first priorities is to get Galway 2020 back out there and reignite the enthusiasm that was evident across the City and County during the whole bid process. “
We’ve had a fantastic group here keeping the place going but we are now putting a team together. We are also looking for a new premises, a bigger one as the team will grow substantially. The key for now is getting back out there and reengaging with people.”
The next announcement expected from the team is the appointment of a Creative Director. This appointment will be announced in July. 2020 is also currently recruiting for an Operations Director and a Communications Director.
See galway2020.ie for updates.