Culture can’t compete with capitalism – Sherlock

10 July 2024
  • Labour to host public meeting on saving and growing artists’ spaces and venues in the Gallery at the Complex at 7pm this evening

Labour Party Arts spokesperson Marie Sherlock said the time has come for an urgent and comprehensive response to securing and growing creative spaces to make and places to show in Dublin and across the country.

Speaking ahead of a public meeting, Senator Sherlock said:

“Over the past 20 years, we have seen a hollowing out of many arts spaces and venues here in the capital and right across the country. We’ve counted at least 52 artist spaces and venues that have closed over this period. These losses have struck a serious blow to the cultural fabric and energy of our city.

“The reality is that artists’ studios and venues don’t stand a chance when competing against commercial interests. We need to change that.

“A number of new and exciting places have also emerged over the years and we need to ensure that we support them to survive and to thrive.image001.gif

“In all our conversations with artists over recent years, it is very clear that we need both local government and central Government to step up. We have developed a series of proposals which we will be discussing with artists and artists organisations tonight.

We believe the following has to be a crucial part of an overall response to growing creative and performance space:

  1. Map and match artist’s demand with the supply of empty space and establish a new Cultural Infrastructure company for Dublin and in other main urban areas.
  2. Provide €25m in funding to local authorities to purchase buildings for arts spaces through a major expansion of the Space to Create scheme.
  3. Introduce low-cost State backed cultural mortgages so artist organisations can purchase buildings outright.
  4. Introduce a new funding stream for the leasing of buildings for artist studios or performance spaces.
  5. Introduce Cultural Conservation Orders on buildings to protect against change of use for existing cultural commercial operations.
  6. Introduce a Culture/Social First policy for use of vacant public buildings that lie unused or are intended for disposal.
  7. Provide support for the establishment of artist co-operatives.

“These changes have to come along with serious investment into additional performance space and the opening up of closed theatre space.

“By way of response to the artist studio issue, Dublin City Council unveiled a €9m “Space to Create”  fund last year with the promise to create 60 artists spaces, funded in equal part by central Government, DCC and philanthropy and this year the Government announced €6m in funding to be spread across a number of other local authorities.

“While welcome, it’s but a drop in the ocean when we consider the needs of those working in the sector.

“The findings of the 2020 Dublin City Council commissioned  report on “Artist Workplace Findings” found that 41% of the city’s artists were actively seeking secure workspaces and the 2021 Dublin City Cultural infrastructure audit found that of the 2,500 artists in the city, there were no more than 392 and 137 shared artistic spaces. The scale of what needs to be done is enormous.

“When we imagine our capital cities, we imagine vibrant, thriving artistic communities. Let’s convert this vision into action now.”

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