This week Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy and Minister for Tourism,Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D., announced details of a €9 million Capital Works programme called Space to Create.
This initiative will develop sixty artist workspaces in the Capital with funding support of €3 million coming from for the Dept. of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, €3 million from Dublin City Council and €3 million from philanthropic donation (who wishes to remain anonymous at this time).
Space To Create sees Dublin City Council (DCC) identify buildings which can be refurbished to
create new artist workspaces. The shortage of workspaces is particularly acute in Dublin and Space to Create will see artists provided with turnkey workspaces and/or opportunities to use performance, gallery space and flexible office spaces.
DCC is collaborating with Xestra Asset Management, owners of the site, to develop artist
workspaces at Artane Place in Dublin 5. In 2022, 14 artists, many of whom live or work locally in
Artane, were awarded spaces following two rounds of shortlisting and interviews through an
open call process.
This is a unique scheme where Dublin City Council and the Department support the capital refurbishment of buildings in Artane Place and DCC will then lease and manage the buildings to provide artists’ studios, helping many of the professional artists involved to be able to live, work, and create their art in their local area at significantly reduced rent.
The artists involved cover a range of art forms from visual arts, performance, literature, design
and dance. The first artists, Ella Clarke and Alan Mongey, will be moving into their new
workspaces in the coming weeks, while the remaining 12 artists will be in place by December 2024.
Ella Clarke commented at the launch;
“this new studio is five minutes from my home in Artane and will transform my practice as a dancer, teacher and choreographer. As well as giving me time back, the quality and size of the space will be an inspiration and a step change in my career.”
The former Filmbase building at 2 Curved Street Temple Bar, where today’s announcement was
made, is already home to six arts organisations and will take on additional tenants after essential
refurbishment and upgrading. In addition to Filmbase and Artane Place, DCC is working to open
up further unused sites. These include the Council owned 8 and 9 Merchants Quay which will
also undergo a refurb to provide 21 artists workspaces and the former Eden restaurant in Temple
Bar which will accommodate six artists, while a vacant site on Bridgefoot Street will house twenty
new temporary units for artists. More than half of the spaces will be in use before the end of
2024 and the remainder in early 2025.
Speaking at the launch of Space to Create Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy, commented: “Artists are
central to what makes Dublin unique. Dublin City Council have been aware for some time of the
deficit in Artists Workspaces due to the closure of many studios and performance spaces in
recent years. Through the Artists Workspaces Committee, a comprehensive long term plan has
been set out to try and address the shortfall. First through the Development Plan and the
provision that 5% of all new developments in Dublin will be allocated to creative/cultural and
community use and through engagement with developers to look at sustainable spaces for the
And through schemes like this where buildings are revived and refurbished to become low cost
opportunities for artists to work in the City. Dublin City Council knows that much more remains to
be done but hopes today will be seen as a good start and a statement of intent to be sure that
our City remains enriched by working artists and a platform for their imagination.”
Also at the launch, Minister Martin commented: “I am strongly aware of the pressures that artists
and creatives have faced in finding suitable workspaces, especially here in our capital city.
From consultations between my Department, local authorities and relevant bodies, I am aware
of the challenges faced in the Arts sector and in particular the increasing demand and shortages
of Artist workspaces. That is why I am so pleased that my Department is assisting Dublin City
Council to increase the availability of artist workspaces and support artists by providing an
affordable and suitable working environment.
Much of our cultural infrastructure is initiated by our local authorities and they have been a
crucial resource in the delivery of arts and culture interventions over many decades. Their
collaboration and commitment in supporting a vibrant and accessible arts sector and their
response to the needs within communities is fully recognised and appreciated by the
Government. My Department will continue to liaise with Dublin City Council and other local
authorities on further options to meet demands for artist workspaces, building further on today’s
Antoine Xavier, CEO of Xestra Asset Management, added: “A vibrant arts and cultural scene is
key to the success of a capital city and the lives of those living there. Xestra has spent
considerable time and resources over the past few years in upgrading the facilities at Artane
Place and this initiative with Dublin City Council is another example of our commitment to a
diverse, active centre serving the needs of the community. We are very much looking forward to
welcoming all 14 artists to their workspaces.”
The funding is in line with the Government’s commitment under The Programme for Government
“to increase the provision of affordable workspaces for artists and creative practitioners and
ensure the timely delivery of arts and culture capital investment commitments such as our
national cultural institutions, as outlined in Project Ireland 2040”.
Photos by Julien Behal