City council candidate Joe Loughnane has expressed his support for a call by Theatre 57 for a council owned building to be used as a hub for rehearsing and developing arts projects.
Theatre 57 is a collective of over 60 independent theatre artists making work in Galway city and county founded last summer.
The group advocates for sustainability in the arts and investment in local infrastructure to support the artistic community.
At an event hosted by Theatre 57 as part of Galway Theatre Festival a number of guest speakers talked about creating cultural hubs and how they can support the arts in a community.
Elizabeth Whyte from Wexford Arts Centre talked about how old retail spaces had been converted into venues for visual artists, writers, and an opera festival.
The public facing aspect of the space and the way in which they are designed for people to walk through make them ideal for drawing people in she said.
Mick Smyth from Mayo Arts Squad discussed community arts projects, creating spaces where local painters and sculptors could pass on their skills to others, as well as working with the HSE in psychiatric wards.
While Dr Pat Collins told the room about Institute for X in Aarhus in Denmark. An independent and not-for-profit culture association arising from citizen initiatives.
Joe Loughnane said that there is plenty of support in Galway for initiatives supporting the arts in this manner, and suggested that Nuns Island is a likely location for setting up creative and cultural spaces.
“There should be a stipulation in all new developments in the city for a certain percentage of the space being dedicated to cultural infrastructure.”
NUIG is undertaking a €200 million redevelopment of Nuns Island to create a new cultural and residential quarter in the dilapidated industrial district.
While the project is still in its very early stages, it’s expected that the massive redevelopment of the area will have a strong element of supporting the arts.
Loughnane, who is the People Before Profit candidate for the city’s central ward, said that as the upcoming European Capital of Culture, Galway must do more to support the arts and the artistic community.
“They are struggling to get by and need financial support. They need a shared space with other community groups to develop their work.”
He said that if elected to the city council his focus would be on quickly sourcing a council owned building for Theatre 57 and other arts groups to use.
According to The Arts Matter report released by the Joint Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht recently found that Arts Council funding in Ireland is still 10% lower than its peak before the recession in 2007.
The Committee recommended that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to double funding for culture and the arts by the end of 2024 in line with a promise he made in November 2017.