Ireland & its arts centres

Civic Theatre Tallaght

Civic Theatre Tallaght

In today’s Irish Times, a very interesting article on the expansion of arts centres during the last decade, many funded under the Cultural Developments Incentive Scheme:

If the physical landscape of Ireland will never be the same after the building boom of the so-called Celtic Tiger years, with all its modern apartment blocks and endless motorways, then neither will the cultural landscape, which has also been transformed by the country’s now-lamented economic prosperity. Nowhere has this been more evident than in infrastructural developments for the arts; the appearance of theatres, galleries and arts centres in the most surprising sites across the country: in satellite suburbs and small towns, from Coolock to Doolin to Naul.

Written by Sara Keating, the article contains interviews with then-minister Michael D Higgins, and directors of arts centres including Dunamaise Arts Centre (Portlaoise), An Grianán Theatre (Letterkenny), Civic Theatre (Tallaght). According to Higgins, fears that the newly built centres would become white elephants haven’t borne out… however it is also true that it hasn’t been an easy ride for them all: witness the recent woes of the Riverbank Arts Centre. Such places are unbelievably important to their communities as spaces for art and performance, and one can only hope they will continue to flourish with community and government support.

Now, if only something could be done about the disgrace that is the Bank of Ireland Arts Centre in Dublin…!

2 thoughts on “Ireland & its arts centres

  1. Andrew Hetherington says:

    Hi Emily,

    I really enjoy your blog and in this instance, I have to defend Bank of Ireland. Yes, like other arts centres around the country commercial pressures have had an impact on the Bank of Ireland Arts Centre and ultimately its regrettable closure.

    It should be noted that Bank of Ireland have continued many other aspects of their arts and cultural commitments which can be seen on their website.

    The Bank’s commitment to Arts and Culture includes Regional Art Exhibitions, which present museum quality exhibitions in arts centres annually around the country. They have also made substantial gifts from their collection to the state which are currently on show at IMMA. You can see more details here.

    In addition to these, the development of Bank of Ireland’s corporate collection over recent years has resulted in substantial purchases of artwork from many Irish artists. A large proportion of this budget is dedicated to artists based in regional locations.

    I think it should also be noted that within a couple of hundred meters radius of the Bank of Ireland Arts Centre there are many other venues, studios and galleries that provide equivalent resources for the Dublin arts and cultural scene. Rather than brand the closure of the Bank of Ireland Arts Centre as a ‘disgrace’, I would commend Bank of Ireland on an arts and cultural investment strategy which has seen some of its focus shift to regional locations.

    Looking forward to discussing further!

    Andrew Hetherington – Project Director, Business to Arts and MA Alumni!

  2. Emily MFG says:

    Thanks for your response Andrew. While BOI’s commitment to the arts is laudable (and certainly I’ve worked with their visual arts branch in the past and agree with your points), I remain firm in my view that what’s happened to the arts centre is a disgrace.

    There actually aren’t very many venues of a comparable size and acoustic quality, in a prime city centre location, able to host smaller-sized classical concerts, especially during the evening hours. Certainly we’re well behind other European cities of comparable size in that respect, although the redevelopment of the NCH will add more opportunity.

    I’ve attended many concerts at the Arts Centre over the years, and the fact that this lovely space, in one of the most important architectural complexes in the city, is going to be turned into a wax museum (!!) frankly turns my stomach 😦

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