Westside has the potential to become a major artistic hub for Galway city, one which can provide much needed facilities for local youth and communities, and such a hub is vital as Galway needs to develop and support the next generation of artistic makers and leaders.
This is the view of Labour city councillor Billy Cameron, who is calling on the chief executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, to re-examine the possibility of internationally acclaimed artistic company Macnas, moving from its current base in the Fisheries Field, to Westside.
In 2008, the council earmarked and allocated a 1.4 acre site, in the Westside of the city, to Macnas. The site is situated to the rear of Dunnes Stores and the Westside Enterprise Centre. However the move never materialised, with the allocation of an Access II grant of €470,000, being cited as "not being sufficient to make the change".
However, with Galway's nomination as European Capital of Culture 2020, and the recent launch of Everybody Matters: A Cultural Sustainability Strategy Framework For Galway 2016-2025, Cllr Cameron argues that an opportunity now exists to support both the next generation of artists and cultural creators, as well as areas in need of greater levels of amenities.
"Legacy will be a key focus of 2020, what will be left behind. Legacy will also be central to and at the heart of the new cultural strategy," he said. "To put it in another way, this is about developing the next generation of artistic makers and leaders in Galway - the people who will replace the leaders that emerged over the last 20 to 40 years.”
Cllr Cameron says a means of addressing this is the provision of "adequate premises" for the city's artistic and cultural organisations, who, he says, lack such facilities. “Cultural investment and investment in the arts in general, not only in Galway, but nationally, has not kept pace with need," he said. "There has been inadequate and significant under-investment, especially since the economic recession.”
He also argues that Westside - specifically the above mentioned 1.4 acre site - would be an ideal location for development as a major cultural hub in the city.
“The Westside site has the potential to provide a cultural hub which would seek to serve the future leaders," he said. "It is incumbent on us as a city to provide improved facilities for our younger citizens. Many young people's organisations need improved facilities, including, but not exclusively, organisations like Macnas, Baboro, Brannar, etc. Such a hub catering for a combined mix of arts organisations specialising with youth based the Westside would seek to serve and address the needs of the next wave.”