Weekly round-up: 16 May 2011

I’m late this week (or early, depending on your perspective), but exam marking is finished for the year – woo hoo! Lots on the wire over the past few days (and not all Eurovision or Queen-related):

Most intriguing was the news at the weekend that the state is keen to take back Bank of Ireland’s College Green buildings ‘for cultural uses’ on foot of its bailout arrangements with the bank. Apparently the Minister wishes to turn the historic building into a ‘tourist attraction’ of some kind: ‘His plans, which are at a preliminary stage, envisage the conversion of the building into a centre celebrating Dublin’s literary heritage, incorporating an exhibition space and reading rooms as well as a cafe and meeting rooms. Mr Deenihan’s spokeswoman said he was examining a number of venues for a “world literature centre”, but that no decision had been taken yet on a location.’ An interesting proposal — but can or will the government actually stump up for such a large potential development? Such ‘grand gestures’ of the capital kind have been a feature of every government, but it’s the ongoing investment in the arts (and provision of programming, administrative overhead, etc) that’s proven more difficult to source over the years. It will take some delicate negotiation to ensure such a project doesn’t wind up another white elephant, another unsustainable or irrelevant ‘arts centre’, or a further drain on already meagre resources. And frankly, publishing a range of fairly daft public suggestions  in the Irish Times (eh, they’re not knocking it down, folks) — and the short-term memories which appear to have forgotten there WAS an arts centre there until recently! — isn’t quite the discussion this project needs. The prospect exercises me greatly because in my view, this is the most magnificent civic complex in Dublin city centre, and we haven’t a great history of being sympathetic to our architectural heritage.

In further NAMA-related developments, the National Gallery is receiving the gift of a Lavery painting ‘Return from Market’ (cheeky choice!) as a thank-you from the agency for storing works to be resold from Derek Quinlan’s collection. The rest of the collection is supposedly being offered first to the NGI/IMMA/OPW (although their acquisition budgets are tiny, so I’m not sure how this will pan out!) before going to public auction. Note to NAMA: I have a very secure, dry attic, and a Roderic O’Conor would do nicely for our living room wall.

Dublin Dance Festival began on Friday, and continues until May 28th. I’m quite taken with the description of Hiroaki Umeda’s Haptic & Adapting for Distortion (and the graphics remind me of a Peter Kogler exhibition I saw at MUMOK some years ago – most groovous).

Today the National Campaign for the Arts coordinated a series of 40+ ‘meet & greets’ between arts folks and local TDs — Tania Banotti (head of Theatre Forum) was likewise recently profiled in the Irish Times on her involvement with the campaign. It’s great to see ongoing enthusiasm for the campaign — and significant fundraising achieved for their efforts.

Temple Bar Gallery & Studios recently launched its new website — very snazzy — and I’m looking forward to attending their symposium on Visual Arts Audiences on Wednesday.

The Irish Architecture Foundation has launched Architecture Tours Ireland, offering five new ongoing public tours: ‘Dublin Docklands’,’Georgian Dublin’, ‘Temple Bar’, ‘The Living City’, ‘Children’s Activity Tour’. Hopefully they’ll find great success with this initiative; with so much fascinating architectural history condensed in the city centre, it seems a natural fit!

Good news that imprisoned Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei was finally allowed a family visit, although his situation still looks far from encouraging — the amount of public pressure and denouncement of his detention has been quite astonishing, and the Chinese government’s lack of response even more so.

The Contemporary Music Centre will be staging its last new music salon until the fall — the final performance on 25 May sounds intriguing:  ‘a music theatre piece based on the diaries and poetry of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Bill Manhire’.

I received a link today to a new blog focused on studio visits throughout Ireland — From the studio of… — sounds like a great idea, and a promising theme — I’ve got ya bookmarked!

Loughlin Deegan will be leaving the helm of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival to take up the juicy post of Director of the Lir, the new national academy for the performing arts envisaged as the RADA of Ireland.

Gemma Tipton in today’s Irish Times wrote on grassroots/artist-led initiatives in a time of recession (a subject of one of last year’s MA theses, and another this year as well) — in related news the collectively-run space The Complex avoided eviction in the ill-starred Smithfield development this week thanks to the intervention of Minister Deenihan, as reported in Le Cool.

And finally… big congrats to Jessica Fuller, who’s currently upgrading her MA with us — she was the driving force behind the first project to be awarded funding under the National Music Education Programme — known as ‘Music Generation‘ (sponsored by U2 and the Ireland Funds and managed by Music Network), the most important scheme funding music education in the country. Three years of development are now ahead for the Sligo Music Education Programme (SMEP) in partnership with Music Generation — looking forward to great things ahead!

I’m off this weekend to visit Cork, avoid the Queen and check out new stuff at the Glucksman, Triskel and Lismore Castle Arts — may not be back with another update until next week, so behave yourselves in the meantime.