Galway’s bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2020 represents an opportunity for us to come together as a community – to reflect on the uniqueness of our Galway culture and the richness, vitality and diversity of our shared European culture.
More excitingly, this bid represents an opportunity for us to collectively re-imagine and work together to create a better, more vibrant and creative Galway of the future.
This bid is about and involves all of us. It’s about the way we work, play, laugh, sing, create, learn and write. It is about who we are as people, what we do and what we value. It is about the type of Galway we want to be in the future. Over the past two months people have been gathering at ‘Speak Outs ‘and public meetings all over the city and county to share their inspiring ideas, visions, projects and initiatives.
What has unfolded at these meet-ups has been truly inspiring to witness and be part of. Rarely, are we presented with such an opportunity to collectively come together to openly discuss who we are as a people and what is unique or special about the way we live our lives. The Speak Outs and ideas have been almost exclusively positive, with a focus on transformation, hope and the possibility of what could be.
As the weeks have progressed, it has become more and more obvious that there is an appetite in Galway to do something really special.
Every session and Speak Out brings a renewed vigour to the belief that Galway is starting out on the path of something very significant and, regardless of whether we are awarded the title of European Capital of Culture, this process will lead to something truly transformational for our city and county.
The magic of what is happening around the county is spectacular in its simplicity and profound in its possibility. The process is bringing people together from disparate and disconnected groups, backgrounds and organisations under a common goal or ambition of making Galway the European Capital of Culture.
The message that Galway is sending out to Europe is that we are starting now! We are starting now and when it comes to the decision being made later this year this process will be so alive and so energetic that something special is going to happen in this county regardless of the decision that is made.
The approach and philosophy that is driving Galway’s bid is one that is wildly inclusive and participatory. Over the past three weeks alone, over 380 people have signed up to get involved in the Galway 2020 team.
This group of people came together on Wednesday to form self-organising groups that will work together on organising events, initiating projects and promoting Galway’s bid to become the European Capital of Culture.
The first of these many team meet-ups will take place in the new Galway 2020 community hub which is located in the Cornstore on Middle Street. The new community hub will become the central meeting point and home for the collective dreaming, brainstorming, planning and creating that will take place over the coming months.
Over the coming weeks and months, we are encouraging as many groups, organisations and individuals in Galway to actively get involved in the bid. The Galway 2020 team have created a new online platform that will enable people from all over Galway to upload, organise and promote their own events, projects and initiatives.
The new platform will also enable people who are interested in getting involved in interesting projects or events to sign-up and help make them a reality.
The message we are sending out to everyone, in everything we do is that this bid belongs to each and every one of us. This bid is as much about food, sport, language and innovation as it is about visual art, music or dance.
Challenges and opportunities
One of the greatest challenges for a county that is perched on the geographical periphery of Europe is to constantly remind ourselves of the European dimension to this project.
How can Galway in its own unique way celebrate our shared European heritage and culture? How can we show our European neighbours a better way or a new model?
How can we use our creativity to challenge, highlight and transform the biggest European issues of our time?
As an island nation, we are disconnected physically from our European family and in many ways a similar non-physical disconnect has developed between the people of our city and county.
How can Galway’s bid to become the European Capital of Culture become a uniting force not only for Europe but for the county of Galway itself?
In the coming weeks the Galway 2020 team will be launching a campaign to encourage people to self-organise and create their own Galway 2020 events throughout the county.
We are hoping to kick start a tidal wave of projects and events in Galway which will become living and breathing examples of the ideals of Galway’s new story.
The Galway 2020 project team are looking for projects and events which are bold, collaborative, inclusive, open, European and outward looking.
Together we can make this special. Together we can make this happen.
To sign-up to learn more, stay in touch or get involved, register at galway2020.ie and let your mind and heart run free.