A PROPOSED festival of the electric arts, music, gaming and new media could bring 10,000 people to Limerick in its first year and eventually grow to the scale of the Edinburgh Fringe festival.
Members of Limerick City and County Council’s Cultural committee heard a presentation from CWB, the Limerick company that has had a role in the Electric Picnic Festival, on how a new event could be created in the lead-up to St Patrick’s day which would generate more than €2 million in revenue.
But some members of the committee expressed caution about sanctioning a council spend of €205,000 on the project, which amounts to almost half the budget for the arts and culture for the entire year.
The company was outlining their proposal for LEAF (Limerick Electronic Arts Festival) and the findings of a study which was funded to the tune of €5,000 by the council.
The study was undertaken by CWB in response to a call from the local authority for ideas for a major new festival for Limerick.
Paul Boland and Joe Clarke, partners in CWB along with business associate Laura Buckley, outlined the proposal which would see LEAF grow from a two day start-up on the weekend before the St Patrick’s and the Band festival.
Mr Clarke told the meeting that the timing of the festival aims to catch people arriving in Ireland for the Patrick’s Day festivities.
“The Average US tourist stays for nine nights but not in Limerick. They come here and they move on to Galway, to Dublin because there’s nothing for them. With this festival, we can become the opening act of St Patrick’s festival and Dublin the closing act”.
The proposal envisaged that he festival would grow in duration and visitor numbers year-on-year until it leads up to St Patrick’s weekend itself.
The plan suggests using available city venues such as the Cleeve’s site for big gigs and events with smaller ‘pop up’ events also featuring.
Ms Buckley explained that “electronic arts are everything from Ed Sheerin to Super Mario – music videos – virtual reality – gaming. We have 4,000 students studying electronic media in Limerick. We want LImerick to be able to ride the electronics entertainment wave which is the growth field of the future”.
Metropolitan councillor, Jerry O’Dea (FF) said:” We’re in January now – it’s a big ask to have something on this scale by March and you want us to put up 50 per cent of the money – that’s a big ask”.
Cllr James Collins (FF) expressed concerns about the projected numbers. “What are the acts? You’ve given us a sample schedule for year one and a proposal for acts. I’m not sure they will attract 10,000 people in year one. And who are the 10,000? Where are they coming from? For too long, we’ve been spending each other’s money we need to bring new money to town”.
But Metropolitan councillor, MIchael Sheahan (FG) said the council “will have to speculate to accumulate. I know this is something my own children would go to and would bring their friends to town for”.
Referring to the late Dolores O’Riordan he said, “A great artist who has just passed would have approved of this – lets push the boat out”.
It was agreed that councillors would tease out the details in workshops before deciding whether to bring the proposal to full council for funding.
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