Construction work in progress on Offaly Arts Centre

Ger Scully

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Ger Scully

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editor@tullamoretribune.ie

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Construction work is in progress on the arts centre in Tullamore

CONSTRUCTION work is in progress on the long awaited Tullamore Community Arts Centre at the former Kilroy's department store on High St.

A new complex is being built to the rear of the old store which can be seen from the Bridge Centre car park.

No date has been fixed for the completion of the works or the opening of the centre but it is understood it will be operational sometime next year.

Arts and live entertainment has come to a standstill due to Covid-19 restrictions but it is hoped that the pandemic will be under control by early or mid 2021.

Construction work on the Arts Centre follows years of lobbying and campaigning by by the Community Arts Centre board and the more recently formed Tullamore Community Arts Centre Action Group.

Welcoming the commencement of work on the centre earlier this year, a statement from the action group said: “That the physical foundations of this Arts Centre are being built on more than two decades of community foundations should not go unnoticed.  As we celebrate the commencement of the capital project, we must also look to the future success of the centre, and the vital next phase of work that needs to begin.”

It added: “What is being built will be a precious asset and valuable piece of hard infrastructure. It is essential that we now also build a shared sense of how we realise our ambition for this centre.  The value of any asset can only be realised if we can fully leverage its potential. As we build the hard infrastructure it is therefore essential that we begin to develop the operating capacity of the arts centre.  Some people might refer to this as the soft infrastructure but it is no less important and, in practical terms, this operational focus needs to deliver the governance, the vision and the ambition, the programme mix and the building of key relationships with community, funding, marketing, cultural and education and training partners.”

“The building of this soft infrastructure will ultimately determine the return on the investment we have all made over the past 20 years.  This is a complex multi-stakeholder business and it needs the kind of business planning that can help a start-up to stand out in the marketplace.  These investment decisions therefore need to benefit from a similar level of expertise, planning and project management as the physical project which is now underway.  If we are far-sighted enough and we can get it right, this centre of creativity may even play a role in supporting Tullamore and Offaly to achieve the just transition sought from the move to a low-carbon economy.”

The Group added that due to the work of all involved, the town and county is now being given an opportunity to create a unique and vibrant arts centre that allows access to the arts of the highest calibre, to celebrate and grow the artistic, cultural and creative capacities of this community and to enhance the civic and economic well-being of the Midlands.

“This opportunity needs to be planned for. We in the Action Group for Tullamore Community Arts Centre will seek to be a supportive and energising force for this phase and look forward to engaging with Offaly Co. Council, the board and all community stakeholders in the coming months,” they pointed out.