Artists submit plans for dockland gallery

The Cube, as envisaged by artists who have submitted plans for a gallery at the docklands site.

The Cube, as envisaged by artists who have submitted plans for a gallery at the docklands site.

A proposal for a major municipal gallery has the potential to become “a world class centre of excellence in the visual arts”, a boost for the Galway economy, and a way of revitalising the docklands area of the city.

Artists Aideen Barry and Jim Ricks, cultural practitioner Martina Finn, and planning consultant James O’Donnell, have this week submitted to the Galway City Council an ambitious plan to turn the former site of the massive oil tanks in the docks into a municipal gallery space for Galway city.

The quartet hope the gallery will be included as part of the Galway City Development Plan 2011- 2017 and believe such a structure is necessary for the future of the arts in the city and Galway’s economy.

Finn, Barry, Ricks, and O’Donnell surveyed the Galway arts community regarding what it would like to see in the city and the “top most requested facility was a purpose build municipal gallery space”, especially as Galway currently has “no purpose build space to cater for the needs of the visual arts”.

In their detailed submission, the quartet acknowledge there is the Galway Arts Centre, the 126 Gallery, etc, in the city, but point out that these spaces are too small to house large scale exhibitions and installations.

“We do not have the ability to attract large and ambitious shows to Galway,” the artists say.

They also point out that the Draft City Development Plan “recognises that there remains a deficit of culture and arts infrastructure in the city” and commits to supporting the development of a municipal arts gallery.

As a result Finn, Barry, Ricks, and O’Donnell are proposing the municipal gallery be located in the docks. However they acknowledge that such a venture is not likely to take place in the short to medium term, so they are also proposing a temporary art hall on the docks to “pave the way for the creation of a more permanent Municipal Gallery space when the next Celtic Tiger occurs”.

“This will fill an immediate need for space, draw attention to that area’s development potential, and make clear the importance of this type of space in Galway,” said Mr Ricks.

This proposed temporary structure, entitled The Cube, “will be a ground breaking venture for Galway,” according to the quartet, which will revitalise the Docklands, “injecting activity into redundant sites and bringing much needed foot-fall to the area” and employment. Also because it is a temporary project, it can be “disassembled with ease, in the same way it can be reassembled elsewhere”.

Finn, Barry, Ricks, and O’Donnell say The Cube can be “fully operational” in time for the Volvo 2012 return and celebrations, at a cost of €950,000. Funding can be sought from The Arts Council and through its stakeholders.

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