Arts group proposes innovative way to use vacant buildings in the city

Vacant and disused buildings around Galway city should not be allowed to lie empty and idle. Instead they could be transformed into temporary art galleries and exhibition spaces.

This is the view of Average Arts Initiative, an artist-led initiative which is interested in using the growing number of vacant buildings around Galway for the purpose of displaying short-term exhibition spaces.

The idea of using vacant buildings as gallery spaces has been running successfully in America, Australia, and Britain. Projects such as Swing Space in New York, Britain’s the Caretaker Project, and Australia’s Renew Newcastle Project have won acclaim for transforming run down areas into thriving community developments for the arts and the local economy.

Such a project was recently run in Dublin when property developer Garrett Kelleher leased vacant properties in Ranelagh to artists for €1.

“It’s a mutual benefit to artists and the developer, because it helps to pick up an area and the developer will benefit from that when the recession ends,” Mr Kelleher said. “This type of agreement has worked well in Britain and it’s an opportunity in Ireland for some imaginative thinking by city and county councils.”

Average believes Galway is an ideal location to run such a project and that it will be of great benefit to business and artistic interest in the city.

“Galway has always had a healthy relationship between the arts and the commercial sector,” said a spokesperson for Average. “Results from recent surveys show that for every euro invested by the State in the Galway Arts Festival, another €25 was generated in the city. Any investment into the development of new arts ventures in the city will be returned many times over through the renewed interest and life put back into the community.”

Average Arts Initiative is a group of nine recently graduated artists interested in maintaining and furthering their own professional practice while developing a relationship within the Galway arts community.

Its members are Cathal Duane (Galway ), Vivien Pyroth (Germany ), Alma Mcarney (Dublin ), Florence O’Mara (Kerry ), Eimhin Hawes (Clare ), Paul McGuigan (Cavan ), James Ward (Galway ), Conall Cary (America ), Iain McEllan (Mayo )

Average is appealing to businesses, property owners, developers, artists, and artists’ groups to discuss with them ideas for using vacant properties for hosting art exhibitions, along the lines of the Swing Space, Caretaker, and Renew Newcastle projects.

Those interested in contacting Average should email [email protected]

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