European Capital of Culture 2020: Galway misses out on €1 bn as COVID-19 hits arts extravaganza

Galway, Ireland was designated a 2020 European Capital of Culture.
Galway, Ireland was designated a 2020 European Capital of Culture. Copyright Euronews
By Euronews
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Galway was a European Captial of Culture this year but COVID-19 restrictions meant its visitor numbers were lower than hoped for.


Galway on Ireland's west coast has missed out on around €1 billion in tourism and visitor revenues after the coronavirus pandemic hit its year as a European Capital of Culture.

The outbreak and subsequent government restrictions meant it had to postpone plans for festivals, exhibitions, concerts and workshops.

The programme of events, which had a budget of around €18 million, was later "reimagined", with much of it taking place online or at venues where social distancing could be respected. Organisers say they are on course to deliver 70% of the promised programme. 

"We're delivering what we said we would deliver when we won the bid in 2016 so we are working with all of our local cultural partners," said Marilyn Gaughan-Reddan, head of the Galway 2020 programme.

The city is determined to win back the lost revenue from this year.

"I think all locations on an Irish and on a global level have to fight harder to make our mark to recover the losses from this year and the losses that will be incurred next year as well. Really we'll be in this holding pattern until such time as a vaccine is found," said Kenny Deery, the CEO of Galway's Chamber of Commerce.

"And those locations that invest and that expand and make sure people are protected now are those who will bounce back quicker," he added.

Deery told Euronews that the city had hoped to rake in €1 billion in tourism and visitor revenues in 2020 but that the bulk of that had dried up amid COVID-19.

Druid Theatre CEO Fergal Hynes said the pandemic has had a big impact but they hope to continue their programming. "It's affected everything we do but in turn, we've responded as positively as we can," he said. "We passionately believe that people deserve the right to first-class theatre in their community."

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