When Dublin’s bid for the European Capital of Culture 2020 was unsuccessful last November, there was a tidy wodge of money left without a purpose.

In its 2016 budget, Dublin City Council had already set aside €1 million for the 2020 bid. At the time Dublin lost out, it was unsure what the money would be pumped back into.

The city’s arts office says it’s now decided where it’ll go.

One idea from the 2020 bid book is set to be implemented in the coming weeks and months.

According to Dublin City Arts Officer Ray Yeates, some big cultural institutions will team up with local neighbourhoods for a series of different projects.

The seven big institutions are: the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), the National Gallery, the Abbey Theatre, the National Concert Hall, the National Museum, the National Library and the Chester Beatty Library.

Each city council area — there are five of them — has one or two of those institutions to work with, in “National Cultural Neighbourhood Project” groups.

Says Yeates: “Each group developed a purpose, more or less each purpose says ‘We’re going to help to create a high-quality cultural programme or initiative in this area involving the museum or the national cultural institution in the area.”

Initially, €600,000 will be made available for projects across the five areas, with a project manager to be appointed by tender.

Project coordinator Iseult Byrne says that since November, the DCC’s arts office and libraries have been talking about how best to spend the money set aside for the 2020 bid.

“The hope has been not to rush into specific projects,” she says. “Rather to spend some time to develop new thinking, or the cross-pollination and new relationships that could be established that would have a longer legacy than if one was focusing directly on just a project.”

The Central area will collaborate with the National Library of Ireland, while the South Central will collaborate with the National Concert Hall and the Chester Beatty Library.

The South East area is to work with the National Gallery, while the North West area is to collaborate with the National Museum and the Abbey Theatre. The North Central area will work with IMMA.

Coming Soon

The arts office isn’t saying, yet, what projects will be put on. But they should be open to those who live in the different areas.

Yeates says the hope is that everything, from arts and educational projects, to projects that local people would actually engage in, will  feature. “There’s also a big consultation going on in each area so that local people actually have a role in directing the project” he says.

Yeates says he’s hopeful that some neighbourhood projects will be intercultural so that they’ll broaden the reach of the arts office.

“We’re a couple of weeks away from naming them,” he says. “All of the stakeholders have to be passionate about them, but you would really hope that they are great new examples of the way local people can become involved in cultural projects.”

In the coming weeks, councillors will hear what’s on offer and the projects are due to be named and announced in June.

Cónal Thomas is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer.

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