An Post is examining the potential for developing its property off William Street - recently used as an exhibition venue by the Galway International Arts Festival - as an arts space for the city.
Fine Gael Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton received confirmation from An Post management, following engagement with the TD, the Galway City Council, and the Arts Festival, that it is giving consideration to developing part of the vacant site as a cultural space.
The site will become a gallery again in November as it will house an exhibition as part of the TULCA Festival of Visual Arts. The use of the site follows an agreement between Dep Naughton and An Post.
Calls for a dedicated city gallery/arts space arose in the summer following the success of the Galway International Arts Festival's flagship exhibition, In The Flesh, which was housed in the unused site at the rear of the An Post building, located on Eglinton Street but accessed off William Street.
'It is imperative this space not be lost to commercial development. The city needs a dedicated visual arts space. We have no gallery space suitable for large-scale exhibitions'
In August, FG city councillor Clodagh Higgins, with the support of her party colleagues councillors Frank Fahy and Eddie Hoare, submitted a motion to the city council calling on An Post to "transform part of the GPO into a public arts space". Similar calls were also made by Arts Festival artistic director Paul Fahy; FG Galway West TDs Hildegarde Naughton and Minister Sean Kyne; Fianna Fáil arts spokesperson Niamh Smyth; Galway theatre collective Theatre57; and People Before Profit's Joe Loughnane.
The site has also been viewed by the Minister for Communications, Richard Bruton; the Minister for Culture, Josepha Madigan; and city council CEO, Brendan McGrath.
Dep Naughton said An Post's willingness to explore the site becoming a gallery/arts space represents "a unique opportunity". The site is owned by An Post, and fears had been expressed that the company was going to put it on the open market. "It is imperative this space not be lost to commercial development," she said. "It must remain in public ownership for the benefit of our community."
Dep Naughton said despite Galway's European Capital of Culture status, and its informal status as 'the artistic capital of Ireland', it remains without "basic infrastructure to match our coveted reputation in that regard". She added: “The city needs a dedicated visual arts space. We have no gallery space suitable for large-scale exhibitions.”
The TD also said such a facility had the potential to be self-financing as well as providing a "creative space for the entire arts community in Galway". She pledged her "determination" to continue to work to ensure "this opportunity does not pass us by, and that this vision becomes reality".