Derry's Junior Minister, Martina Anderson, sang the praises of her home city at a business and cultural event at Stormont on Tuesday and commended the determination of the City of Culture team for their committment to success.
Derry's City of Culture team were guests of honour at the Assembly's Business Trust, an event held in the Long Gallery which was well attended by the heads of business, cultural and arts sectors across the north.
Speaking at the event Ms Anderson commended the Culture Company's determination and commitment despite the recent attacks they have suffered and stated that no group or individual will hamper Derry's resolve.
"The Culture Company has ambitious plans for my home city of Derry throughout 2013," she said. "Their commitment to the transformation of the city is very deep, and this is evident both in the new regeneration plan – One City, One Plan, One Voice – and the successful bid for City of Culture status.
"During our cultural year we will have the opportunity to showcase what we have to offer both culturally and in tourism. Derry’s sons and daughters have left a lasting mark on the world stage and during 2013 the world will hear a new story from our city and of this island about our young talent, our thriving creative arts sector, our growing digital sector – the story of our new outlook and our new optimism.
"It is important that the industry knows of the potential benefits and I am very pleased that the Culture Company is planning a series of events like this one to promote engagement with this important sector because it is widely accepted that the arts contribute to the economy in a number of ways."
"Already 2013 is shaping up to be a year to remember. So many acclaimed cultural institutions are getting involved, including theatres and top international names from the worlds of music, dance, film and the visual arts. We will have the Turner Prize in Art, three new Field Day plays, a massive Sons and Daughters event featuring our far-flung stars and their many friends.
"Businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector will be able to benefit from this programme of events Six new hotels are planned for the city for 2013 – while another three at least are going to extend. A number of heritage events and projects will also be rolled out during 2013 examining our past in a meaningful and purposeful manner which will benefit both visitor and local communities alike.
"There is an optimism that is palpable in the City. We are intent that our year as City of Culture will have a long legacy, building a cultural economy for our city, and the North, that will thrive and be sustained."
Ms Anderson told the audience that without doubt both the arts and business sectors benefit from close working relationships. She advised the private sector to look closely at the massive opportunities that await growth and investment in the cultural, arts, digital and creative industries in the city. She told business leaders that the people, the skills, the infrastructure and other incentives are here in Derry.
"The city has a fresh vision, and is showing that it is delivering it. I know our city will be able to lead the way. The importance of Derry’s designation as City of Culture – both to the city and indeed the North as a whole must be grasped by those outside the city just like it is being grasped by those of us from the city."