There’s no denying the government’s rather lackluster attempts at funding the arts in recent years, but this could be a turning point, and one we’re all for. Yesterday, Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, launched Arts programme ‘Space To Create’, with €9 million in funding going towards providing 60 additional art spaces to Dublin city.

Thanks to the Give Us The Night movement, there has been more conversation than ever before about the lack of quality, multi-functioning and affordable art spaces across the country. For a capital city, and in comparison to our European counterparts, Dublin has seen a massive decline in it’s cultural offering which is directly linked to the lack of affordable art spaces in recent years.

The knock on effect of this is difficult to quantify, but what we do know is that it actively prevents artists from contributing to the cultural landscape, and has been a road block to helping artists have a secure means of living. Ireland is famous for our culture, despite not having had the amount of support required, so developing the arts will no doubt add to the rich tapestry of creativity already here.

This new funding scheme will offer €9 million to a programme called ‘Space To Create‘ which will see approximately 60 new spaces developed in the North side of the city. The funding comes through the Department of Arts and Culture, Dublin City Council and a private philanthropist who appears to have motivated the government into acting on this programme. Thank you Mr/Ms Philanthropist!

On RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland, Dublin City Council Arts Officer, Ray Yeates, discussed the mystery doner:

“They are wishing to remain private but it has been a major gamechanger to be approached by a donor and it has triggered this programme to a large degree, which we had been slowly, patiently putting together over years. And now it is coalescing into a major programme.”

DCC will identify the buildings and spaces which can be refurbished to a turnkey condition for the various artists in need of space. In a city with a lot of vacant properties, this is much welcomed progress.

“I am strongly aware of the pressures that artists and creatives have faced in finding suitable workspaces, especially here in our capital city. From consultations between my Department, local authorities and relevant bodies, I am aware of the challenges faced in the Arts sector and in particular the increasing demand and shortages of Artist workspaces. That is why I am so pleased that my Department is assisting Dublin City Council to increase the availability of artist workspaces and support artists by providing an affordable and suitable working environment.” Minister Catherine Martin.

New sites have been located for these spaces, including an old restaurant and townhouse which will be refurbished. Each space will hopefully be offered for an affordable cost of less than €200 per month. 14 artists have been identified to go into the first studios this year, the first of which will be operated from Artane Place.

So, the big question, who can avail of these spaces? Anyone from performers, writers, visual artists and composers to those seeking rehearsal spaces can apply via an open call, which will be available to all members of the public to apply. This is just a start for the government, and they plan to continue to fund new arts ventures in the coming years.

The arts, as our readers know, are fundamental to who we are, and allow us to form communities and communicate in creative ways. By their very nature they are inclusionary and non-discriminatory, which can only be a good thing. We look forward to seeing what comes from this.

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