Galway artists unveil ambitious proposal for major new arts centre

Bird’s eye view of the proposed new arts centre.

Bird’s eye view of the proposed new arts centre.

Galway could become the location for one of Ireland’s major contemporary visual arts centres, one which would have the power to attract major international exhibitions, if a new proposal receives political and financial support in the city.

The proposed centre, Féach, is the brainchild of a group of Galway artists who have prepared a detailed proposal which they hope to present to a meeting of the Galway City Council in the near future.

They also believe that the building, running, and existence of Féach would also be a major boost to the Galway economy and provide employment for a number of sectors.

The Féach Steering Committee, who are behind the ambitious proposal, is made up of the artists Aideen Barry, Denise McDonagh, Jim Ricks, and Vicky Smith, along with architect Ben Rilot, as well as Martina Finn and Melissa Hopkins.

According to the group, Féach could become “an iconic new Galway attraction and a true landmark for the return of the Volvo Ocean Race in 2012 and beyond”.

The details on Féach have been put together in a document entitled Féach Look, Consider, Examine.

It is proposed to locate Féach in a “redundant part of the docklands area” for a period of five to 10 years. It will be the location for major art exhibitions and installations and exhibitions and events for the Galway Arts Festival and TULCA. The FSC also believes it can attract “memorable shows and international attention to the Galway area”.

The document says Féach must be accessible by foot, car, and public transport ,and that it is planned to feature an outdoor space for sculpture exhibitions and have a civic space and café.

The FSC argues that locating the centre within the docklands area will make use of the vacant sites and “bring interest, activity, and focus” to the docklands until it is “permanently developed”.

They also argue that it would enhance Galway’s reputation “as a ‘must see’ destination in the world”; and meet objectives for a purpose built facility for visual art in Galway city, highlighted in the Galway City Development Board Strategy 2002-2012 and the Galway City Development Plan 2011- 2017.

The FSC also feels the centre will “will bring business and tourism to the area” and be an important boost for the Galway economy.

“Féach will provide a space for germination in the visual arts: Instigating invention, fostering ideas and attracting international investment by creating a space to be experienced,” the document reads. “Féach will attract large national audiences but more importantly international audiences, the knock on affect of which will be seen in local employment, and national investment.”

The document points out that Féach can support economic development through the direct temporary employment by awarding the construction contract to a local firm.

More permanent and fixed employment could be provided through contracts awarded for roles in the curatorial and education team, the in house technicians, the cleaning and catering staff, and front of house staff.

Indirect employment could be created for businesses that will become dependant on Féach or which will benefit from its existence, such as hotels, restaurants, graphic design companies, etc.

Féach could cost c€1 million to build and could be ready in two years time if the political and financial support for the project exists. The proposers say that start up funds could be sourced from Enterprise Ireland, Galway City Enterprise, the Department of the Arts, the Galway City Council, The National Lottery, Fáilte Ireland, the EU’s Culture 2007-13, and The Arts Council.

Private funding would also be needed and the proposers are inviting companies to lend their support to the project and those interested are asked to contact Victoria Smith on 085 - 1667876 to receive a sponsorship package.

Those behind Féach are also concerned that it play a role in the wider community, and they are committed to work with gallery visitors and specific audience groups such as families, disabled people, young people, older people, early years groups, schools, and universities in a variety of areas.

They also believe there is a real need for such a centre in Galway, pointing out that there is

“no dedicated, purpose built space to cater for the needs of the visual arts sector in Galway city or county...Without adequate infrastructural provision, Galway is severely disadvantaged in its remit as Capital of Culture,” and “is severely limited in its capacity to participate in the national and international arena.”

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