Island of Culture 2014 was officially launched on Monday January 6th at the Villa Marina where director Michael Lees told an invited audience: ‘This is the year we tell our story to the world.’
Guests, including the Mayor of Douglas Councillor Carol Malarkey, Island of Culture patron and president of Tynwald, the Hon Clare Christian MLC, chairman of the Arts Council Geoff Corkish MBE MLC and members of the legislature and the Isle of Man Arts Council, along with financial partners and sponsors, heard Mr Lees say that Island of Culture would ‘showcase the Isle of Man as a nation embracing culture and the arts in all its diversity; a people who are challenging and creative, noted for independent thinking, receptive to the new and respectful of the traditional.’
He went on to say that 2014 would be a year to celebrate the Island’s cultural past and future potential. Central to the celebrations would be nurturing young artistic talent. Mr Lees said: ‘Our programme for the year will see the return to their home shores of our youth cultural ambassadors; blues guitarist Davy Knowles, currently working in America, principal trumpet with the London Philharmonia Jason Evans and ballet dancer Lloyd Mayor, now performing with New York’s Martha Graham Dance Company.’
(Lloyd Mayor would be announced later that evening as recipient of the Clive Barnes dance award, one of a number of awards that recognise the work of young actors and dancers in New York City, presented by the Clive Barnes Foundation, named in honour of the late theatre and dance critic.)
Mr Lees also paid tribute to local artist Juan Moore who had designed a set of commemorative stamps ‘which so inspirationally depict the spirit of Island of Culture 2104.’
Isle of Man Post Office chairman Geoff Corkish MLC said Island of Culture would contribute to promoting national identity and serve as a ‘vibrant celebration’ marking the culmination of the Isle of Man Arts Council’s 10-year strategy. 2014 would be an ‘inclusive’ celebration of culture that would not only acknowledge the valuable contribution made by the many groups, organisations and individuals involved in the Island’s cultural life but also create a lasting legacy for the Island’s cultural future. Mr Corkish also praised the work of Juan Moore for creating the stamps that depicted various aspects of Manx culture and were ‘totally Manx’.
Island of Culture patron the Hon Clare Christian MLC congratulated the Arts Council on its work in bringing Island of Culture to fruition and said that her involvement as patron had served to heighten her awareness of the wealth of outstanding artistic talent in the Isle of Man. Observing that the Island of Culture youth ambassadors were, in the main, recognised more by other nations than by the Island community she said she hoped Island of Culture would serve to heighten their recognition locally and encourage other young people to engage in the Island’s artistic life.
In closing she urged the people of the Isle of Man to exercise their creativity and stretch their artistic boundaries in the spirit of Island of Culture 2014’s strap line: ‘Be Inspired. Get Involved.’
The launch also provided the opportunity for Manx language officer Adrian Cain to encourage the audience learn a few words of Manx and for Ballakermeen High School choir Otto, who received standing ovations when they performed last summer in Bayreuth, Bavaria, to entertain guests with three numbers.
The event concluded with Mr Corkish presenting the Hon Clare Christian with a framed set of the commemorative stamps and Mr Lees presenting representatives from Island of Culture financial partners the Empress Hotel, Manx Radio, SES Satellite Limited and Zurich International Life each with a work from the Arts Council’s loan collection for the duration of 2014, a gesture made, said Mr Lees, ‘in recognition of our financial partners’ investment and shared vision in Island of Culture 2014.’
For more information about Island of Culture 2014 visit islandofculture.im or email islandofculture.gov.im