The Arts Council and local government are commissioning an independent strategic review of the network of venues and arts centres.

The review will focus on the infrastructure of arts centres and venues around Ireland, that is, professionally-managed arts buildings open to the public throughout the year. This is the first time such a review has been undertaken since the establishment of the first arts centre (Project Arts Centre in Dublin) in 1966. Since the ‘90s, three capital building programmes (CDIS, Access I and Access II) led to the building of a national network of largely local authority-owned venues.
The County and City Management Association (CCMA) and the Arts Council signed an agreement in 2016 called A Framework for Collaboration 2016-2025. The agreement outlines the shared priorities of both organisations in the arts: this review is identified as a shared priority.
The intention is to develop a co-ordinated, spatially-informed strategy to support and develop the built infrastructure for the arts. The review will provide both the Arts Council and Local Government with an evidence-based study upon which to build policy rationale behind how and why arts centres are developed, supported and financed into the future. The review is intended to look at the built arts infrastructure from a range of perspectives such as spatial planning, governance, programming, public engagement and artist support. A consultation phase will be incorporated into this study and all stakeholders will have the opportunity to participate.

Orlaith McBride, Director of the Arts Council said, “This is a significant piece of work with our local authority partners, with whom we have been working to support and develop the arts in Ireland for many years. Arts centres and venues are vital hubs both for public engagement and for artists, for the production and presentation of work. The review will be looking at arts centres’ role in arts provision, the opportunities and challenges in both providing for and generating arts experiences for the communities they serve.”

Anna Marie Delaney, Chief Executive of Offaly County Council and Chair of the Economic, Enterprise, Community and Culture Committee in the CCMA remarked that “It is timely that local government reflects on this work together with the Arts Council in identifying the impact of arts centres nationally and importantly understand how we should both support them into the future. We share a conviction that by working together we can be more effective, a public ethos that has the citizen at its core and a mutual respect for the distinct but overlapping remits and mission of both organisations. It is our stated intention to optimise our shared investment in the arts at local and regional level and ensure we are applying resources in the most equitable and efficient way possible.”

The tender for this independent review is currently being advertised on the etenders website. Tenders are being sought from suitably qualified individual service providers or from consortia / partnerships of service providers. The closing date is 1 November 2017.