Several thousand people gathered in Eyre Square in Galway this evening for the launch of the city's Capital of Culture programme.
The year-long event will get under way next February and organisers are hopeful they can build on efforts to date, to enhance the offering in the coming months.
The 164-page Cultural Programme was given to those in attendance at the conclusion of this evening’s event. It contains further detail on many of the proposals outlined in the 2016 bid book, which secured the European designation for the city.
Some of the planned shows have been scaled back due to funding issues but the programme also contains a number of new cultural events that will be staged over a 12 month period.
A total of €25 million in State funding is being given to Galway 2020. The company set up to oversee the Capital of Culture is hoping it can generate an additional €15 million in private sector sponsorship and "in kind" supports, to add to the cultural programme.
The Chair of Galway 2020 Arthur Lappin said he was confident that this target could be met in the coming months, saying detailed discussions were underway with around 50 firms.
Mr Lappin conceded that the original momentum behind the project had waned in the time since Galway was selected as European Capital of Culture but he said he believed this evening's launch would bring people fully behind the celebration.
The 45-minute ceremony concluded with local musician Anna Mullarkey performing a specially composed piece of music, while acrobatic performers rose high above the city's heart in a dazzling display, that concluded in a riot of colour.
A number of 2020's cultural partners remain concerned about funding and communication issues in relation to the projects they are working on.
There is agreement among all those involved that improving structures and enhancing the overall programme will add to the city’s artistic reputation and build the potential for legacy plans.
The Cultural Programme will see the Druid Theatre company travelling around County Galway throughout next year, performing a series of one act plays in multiple towns and villages.
The company pulled its planned "Middle Island" 2020 production last year, due to funding shortfalls.
Today, its artistic director, Garry Hynes said that had been a difficult decision, which was taken in light of financial prudence.
She said Druid "didn’t have the money we thought we would have" from the Capital of Culture budget and so the project was cancelled.
However Ms Hynes said decisions of this nature were par for the course when it came to planning theatrical projects. She said the Galway Tour project was now the company’s focus.
This evening, the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, said she was satisfied with the governance and operation of Galway 2020.
Details of all the planned events will be sent to every home in Galway city and county in the coming weeks.
The opening ceremony for the event will be staged on Saturday, 8 February next.