Galway 2020 ends contract with creative team, temporarily lays off staff in response to Covid-19

Galway's European capital of culture project has cut its contract with its creative director team and is laying off staff in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Galway 2020 ends contract with creative team, temporarily lays off staff in response to Covid-19
Galway 2020 spokesperson: “As part of the enforced contraction of our programme we are implementing a three-week temporary layoff programme for all but a skeleton staff, effective from today”

Galway's European capital of culture project has cut its contract with its creative director team and is laying off staff in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Significant contraction” of its budget means it will continue to run with “skeleton staff”, the project has announced.

The decision to part company with its creative team, British arts management company Artichoke and creative director Helen Marriage, was confirmed in a statement on Tuesday April 7.

Artichoke had been appointed to lead Galway 2020, and to raise funds for the project, after the resignation of its first creative director, Chris Baldwin, in May 2018.

A final decision on the overall Galway 2020 programme has not yet been taken,but the project says it is consulting with its stakeholders - the European Commission, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Galway City Council, Galway County Council, sponsors and cultural partners.

Galway 2020 chairman Arthur Lappin confirmed that the contract with Artichoke has a severance clause which has been served, so there will be no further financial commitment.

In a statement, Galway 2020 said the COVID-19 pandemic, “has left no aspect of our lives untouched” and that, “across the world, communities are doing what is necessary to slow the virus and save lives.

“The necessary restrictions put in place in relation to gatherings, social distancing and national and international travel have implications on how organisations can work and means that Galway 2020 must consider the future of our programme.

“As part of the enforced contraction of our programme we are implementing a three-week temporary layoff programme for all but a skeleton staff, effective from today."

“We have also made the very difficult decision to bring to an end our contract with Artichoke.

"We are very disappointed to have had to make these decisions,” it said, paying tribute to all staff and, “in particular to creative director Helen Marriage and the team at Artichoke”.

Mr Lappin said the Galway 2020 board was “mindful of the mission which has underpinned Galway2020 from its inception - to mount a programme that will celebrate the creativity for which Galway is renowned, to engage with communities throughout the city and the county... and to lay the foundations for a sustainable legacy for cultural workers and communities long into the future”.

“Circumstances arising from the coronavirus emergency pose us significant new challenges, financial and temporal, which will inevitably give rise to undesired and painful alterations to our plans."

“We will exercise our responsibilities in a conscientious and effective manner within the resources and constraints imposed on us,” he said.

The Galway 2020 board would continue to consult with stakeholders in the coming weeks “to make longer-term decisions in light of funding and timing constraints and will make a further public statement upon completion of that work," he said.

Galway 2020 had to cancel its outdoor opening ceremony in February due to Storm Ciara, and had embarked on its “Imbolc” or Spring programme when the Covid-19 pandemic forced early closures and some cancellations.

The Finnish artist Kari Kola mounted his illumination of Connemara online, after the official installation was cancelled.

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