Birr Theatre & Arts Centre.
A LOCAL councillor has called on the County Council to treat Birr and Tullamore Art Centres equally when it comes to funding time.
Cllr John Clendennen told Monday's meeting of the Council that Offaly is big enough to host two vibrant Art Centres and they shouldn't feel in competition with one another. Cllr Peter Ormond agreed.
The two councillors welcomed the fact the Council Executive recently agreed to raise the local authority's grant of money to Birr Theatre & Arts Centre from €38,000 to €45,000.
"We felt €38,000 was too little and more was needed," commented Cllr Ormond.
Cllr Clendennen said he welcomed the rise but he would have preferred €50,000.
Cllr Ormond also welcomed the operational funding of €100,000 for the new Arts Centre in Tullamore. It's planned to open Tullamore's new Arts Centre during 2022. "Every new Arts Centre needs funding to survive in its infancy," said Cllr Ormond, "and it is important that we provide this money to get the centre up and running and into a trading position to draw down grants from other sources. We also acknowledge the contribution of Birr Theatre and Arts Centre and we hope that in the coming years, we will have two top class arts centres providing quality entertainment to our communities."
Cllr Ormond was keen to stress that the funding is not pitting one against the other but rather assisting both centres at different stages of their development.
Cllr Clendennen was keen to stress this as well. "We are very aware that there must be parity between the two centres going forward. What we don't want to see is them pitted against each other, in a competitive state, something which will benefit nobody."
Cllr Danny Owens agreed. He said the county is big enough to contain two vibrant Arts Centres. He added that the Tullamore Centre will not have a parochial, Tullamore-focussed bias but will be much more open and expansive in its thinking. He said the Tullamore Centre has massive support locally and a lot of people are strongly looking forward to seeing the long-mooted project coming to fruition in 2022.
Cllr Clendennen pointed out that Birr Theatre and Arts Centre, like many Arts Centres during the Pandemic, is under severe pressure to make ends meet. He added that the Arts are very important to many people.
Tullamore Arts Centre will be located in the former Kilroy's building on High Street. It is a building with a lot of character, which will make it a suitable for the location of an arts centre. Construction work has been ongoing over the last couple of years.
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