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Tullamore Community Arts Centre - Looking Forward

Published: 10th January 2014

At their last meeting of 2013, the board of Tullamore Community Arts Centre extended their deep appreciation to everyone who has continued to work so hard towards paving the way for the new Arts Centre.

Chairman Des Doyle remarked, “From board members to Council staff, business people, volunteers, fundraisers, artists and anyone who attended a fundraising event during the year, we would like to say a sincere and heartfelt thank you.”

It was a busy year for the project as it entered into its construction tender phase, continued with fundraising and began Foundation 13, the new annual arts event in Tullamore which will raise awareness and anticipation of the type of activity the Centre will generate when it is open.

“The children of Tullamore breaking the Guinness Book of Record for the largest coin mosaic in the world, was one of my highlights,” continued Des. “74,274 coins were collected by children in primary schools all over Tullamore raising €3,750 for the project; the collective and mammoth effort that went into it was so exciting to see and they should all be very proud.”

“When I took on the Chairmanship of this project, I didn’t really appreciate how long these things can take, and perhaps, no more than anyone else, expected the building to be half way up by now. But I have learnt a lot from the process, the many layers and level of detail, transparency and meticulousness that is required is enormous. In that regard, our colleagues in Offaly Council, who perhaps most understand these processes, have been extremely attentive. We have just come through the public tender process and are now awaiting final approval and direction from the Department of Arts, who are the biggest financial contributors to this project.”

While all might seem quiet on the street, behind the scenes the cogs turn steadily. Des explained that the board continue work and rework the business plan to ensure that the right financial supports are there for when the doors open. There are legal and financial requirements to progress, for instance the Board recently achieved Charitable Status for the company and are now working with Revenue on our VAT status. There are ongoing negotiations on finding the right levels of corporate support for the Centre and of course the fundraising team is poised for the final push, once we move closer to the construction phase.

Later in the year will see Foundation 14 return to Tullamore. The hugely successful Foundation 13 (or F13 as it became abbreviated) was set up by Offaly County Arts Office as a way of laying the artistic foundations for the Centre in 2013. Sinead O’Reilly remarked that, “We invited Brendan Fox to curate a visual trail around Tullamore by local, emerging and established artists as a platform for new and innovative ideas and art works and we were delighted with the response the project had around the town and the goodwill that it generated.” Rather than focusing on two dimensional or traditional wall hung work, Foundation 13 encompassed video, sculpture, installation, multimedia and performance, light and sound and occupied multiple empty commercial spaces around the town offering the public a window into an alternative use of shared public space. Foundation 14 will hold the same principles but with a new programme of public engagement showcasing new visual art, theatre, alternative cinema events and collaborative based art projects, bringing another exciting programme to the town.

Brendan Fox who created Foundation 13 said at its opening event last year, “While a new Arts Centre for Tullamore is exciting and very welcome, we should remind ourselves that this project is not just about bricks and mortar, but about people and ideas. The arts should question, transform and challenge and a thriving artistic scene in a town is about enriching its vibrant cultural and intellectual life.”

So while we wait for the building that will provide a much needed focus on for the arts in Tullamore, culturally and artistically, there is much we can and should be getting on with.

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