69 O’Connell Street to be re-launched as an arts and culture centre

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A. 69 O'Connell Stby Aoife McLoughlin

LIMERICK’S well known theatre space and building at 69 O’Connell Street will be re-launched in the New Year as a new arts and culture centre.

Formally known as the Belltable Arts Centre, 69 O’Connell Street has been recommended by a steering committee for Limerick City and County Council, to be relaunched as an arts and culture centre.

The centre will cater for new theatre, art house cinema, contemporary music, literature, poetry and visual arts, based on feedback from the public

The former Sarsfield Credit Union which is beside the theatre space  will also be made available as a resource space for arts organisations and small festivals once refurbishment has been completed.

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Sheila Deegan, Arts Officer, Limerick City and County Council said; “Public consultation took place earlier this year to identify the best approach to developing and sustaining a vibrant arts organisation in 69 O’Connell Street that functions as a centrally located multi-disciplinary arts and culture venue and which enriches and enhances the existing arts provision within Limerick.”

She added; “The development of a new municipal arts resource like this will play a key role in facilitating, supporting and enabling Limerick artists in all art forms to develop their practice and create new work. It also allows for the creation and development of small scale, edgy and risk-taking work and will provide the citizens of Limerick with the opportunity to engage with all works of art and an opportunity to experience new and emerging arts practice.”

Since the local authority acquired the building last year, a partnership initiative has existed between the Lime Tree Theatre, The Limerick Arts Office and The Arts Council under the name of The Limerick Arts Encounter Programme.

This arts programme was awarded an Arts Council grant towards the cost of presenting a range of arts events until March 2014 including theatre, cinema, visual art, music, dance and comedy. This was extended for a further year, to March 2015 on the successful completion of the Limerick Arts Encounter programme.

Louise Donlon, Manager of the Lime Tree Theatre, said the Limerick Arts Encounter Programme has been very successful with a high level of engagement by artists and audiences across Limerick.

She added; “I look forward to working with the Arts Office of Limerick City and County to help put in place a coherent plan for the support and nurturing of the arts within the various venues throughout Limerick.”

Sheila Deegan, Arts Officer, Limerick City and County Council said the next steps are to put in place are plans for the recruitment of a Creative Director to run the new arts centre.

The new Limerick Arts and Culture Centre Ltd will be an independent company with a board of directors and funding will be negotiated between the local authority and the Arts Council to programme events. The building will remain wholly owned by Limerick City and County Council.

It is expected that the Centre will open in early 2015 once refurbishment works are complete.

The re-launch of the centre will provide a legacy from Limerick, National City of Culture 2014 and benefit the city’s thriving small festival, cultural and arts community.