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Dublin: 10 °C Sunday 20 October, 2019

Galway 2020 boss steps down just a few months after creative director resigned

Hannah Kiely is the latest to step down from a project that has faced criticism.

The winning Galway bid celebrating its announcement in 2016
The winning Galway bid celebrating its announcement in 2016
Image: Leah Farrell/

THE HEAD OF the company set up to oversee Galway’s European Capital of Culture programme has stepped down, amidst criticisms and other resignations in the project.

Hannah Kiely has resigned from her position as chief executive before Galway 2020 announces the first phase of its €12.7 million cultural programme.

Her resignation follows that of creative director Chris Baldwin in May, who stepped down after less than a year in the job. 

In a statement, Galway 2020 said that he conformation of this funding provides its partners on the programme with “clarity and certainty” which will enable them to begin developing their content to mark its capital of culture status.

“Supporting and promoting the arts and culture community is what Galway 2020 is all about,” it said.

Concerns have been raised about the preparations for Galway 2020 – which will see the west of Ireland city share the status with Rijeka in Croatia.

The arts community sought answers to its concerns last month, with fourteen local organisations seeking clarity on 10 “practically and mutual important issues” such as funding commitments, sponsorship and fundraising support, the Connacht Tribune reported.

Speaking in the Seanad earlier this year, local senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh raised a number of concerns about how the project was being run. 

He said: “One has to be very responsible with the money which is being spent. In my mind, it raises questions as to whether we have the proper governance and oversight in respect of the money which is being spent.

How much will be spent on projects and the arts in the town? What legacy will it leave?
We are told that what is to occur is not a festival, but many involved in the arts in Galway believe it is just a festival for one year and that we will not see a major legacy afterwards. What will be left behind? Many artists are telling me that they have significant problems in finding arts spaces. For example, they cannot find places in which to exhibit in the city, and cannot find places to perform.

Outgoing chief executive Hannah Kiely said she was “very proud of the work undertaken” by she and her team in the past year.

Galway 2020 has made two new additions to its team, with Mark O’Donnell its new chief operations officer and Pearse Doherty its head of production.

Doherty will lead the production of the cultural programme, having already produced large-scale events such as Electric Picnic and the recent Ed Sheeran gigs.

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Sean Murray

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