An Taibhdhearc could soon be taking on the role of the phoenix rising from the ashes as a funding life-line deal has been struck between the theatre’s board of management and the Galway City Council.
It has been revealed this week that the city council has agreed in principle to match funding of €300,000 already promised to the theatre by Roinn na Gaeltachta, however the funding is conditional on the committment by An Taibhdhearc to move to a purpose-built Irish cultural centre which is expected to be constructed on a site at Lower Merchants Road in the near future.
The theatre building in Middle Street was ravaged by a fire three years ago and plans to refubish it have since been met by a number of hurdles. However acting city manager Joe O’Neill told the council’s cultural policy committee meeting on Monday that the council has agreed to provide €50,000 a year for six years starting in 2011 to help towards the refurbishment costs.
Mr O’Neill explained that he had recently met with representatives of the board of An Taibhdhearc seeking clarification on certain issues and that they had no objection to moving to a new purpose-built centre if it contained a theatre suitable to their needs. The board also confirmed willingness to comply with the conditions stipulated by Roinn na Gaeltachta, board members are confident of raising the remaining balance of money required to fund the refurbishment works, and that fund raising is already under way. The board also required that the new Taibhdhearc would be considered as a resource for the city and be used as frequently as possible.
“One of the conditions stipulated by Roinn na Gaeltachta is that the grant of €300,000 be matched by an equivalent contribution from Galway City Council. A new purpose built centre may be developed in Merchants Road, but this could take a number of years, and An Taibhdhearc has already been closed for almost three years.
“In light of the clarifications received, and having regard to the city council’s financial position, and to the council’s commitment to the development of the Irish language in the city, I submit that the cultural policy group recommend that the council agree in principal to providing a sum of €50,000 per annum for six years, commencing in 2011, and having regard to the committment by An Taibhdhearc to move to a purpose built centre if one is provided,” Mr O’Neill said.
Chairperson of the special cultural policy committee Cllr Padraig Conneely, welcomed the decision by the council to provide the funding for the refurbishment of the “city’s only Irish speaking theatre”.
“Cultural heritage is important to the city and An Taibhdhearc has been a shinning light in a historical content for over 80 years as a national Irish theatre,” he said.
The matter is due to go before the full meeting of the council for approval next Monday.