Hundreds turn out for Creative Hub opening
A large and enthusiastic crowd attended the official opening of a new Creative Hub at the Bullring Mall where Wexford County Council is providing subsidised spaces for artists, musicians and writers all under one roof in the centre of town.
An air of celebration filled the extensive building stretching from Mallin Street to North Main Street as Council officials and politicians mingled with painters, photographers, potters and poets at the well-attended public event.
Art Officer Liz Burns explained to the assembled gathering that the idea for the initiative came from consultations conducted as part of the County Wexford Arts Plan with artists highlighting the need for a space in which to work and connect with others.
Welcoming all the artists, she said: ‘I am really excited to see how this space is going to evolve in the coming years’.
The mall is is being leased for three years by the local authority which is paying the cost of lighting, heating and maintenance. Artists are renting various-sized units for amounts between €100 and about €350 a month.
County Council CEO Tom Enright said the project wouldn’t have happened without the the support of the mall owners Eamonn and Mary Buttle who first opened the space to artists as a successful experiment during last year’s Opera Festival.
Mr. Enright said Elizabeth Whyte and her team at Wexford Arts Centre would be managing the space on behalf of the Council in an arrangement which would bring additional income to the centre as well as helping with the operation of the building.
He thanked everyone who contributed to the opening of the Creative Hub including the Arts Officer Liz Burns and Director of Services John Carley and Deputy CEO Tony Larkin and his team who looked after leasing and compliance regulations.
‘We hope it will become an even more vibrant place in the town, serving the creative community and acting as a focal point for local people and visitors to enjoy’, said the CEO.
‘We in the Council will be here to support you and help you grow and develop your business’, he added.
The Mayor of Wexford, Cllr. Tony Dempsey said he felt ‘extremely privileged’ to be officiating at the opening.
‘Anything to do with art feeds our soul’, he said, complimenting ‘everyone who has been associated with the imagination that produced this Creative Hub’, said the Mayor.
‘Too often, art is not seen as having economic value. Today proves it can have an economic value’.
Mayor Dempsey, a former vocational school principal, said there is an emphasis today on STEM, the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths and to that he would like to add the arts, turning it into STEAM.
‘I find it inspiring to be here. I’m delighted to be part of a County Council that knows there is a value to art’, he said, adding that Eamonn Buttle has shown confidence in the artistic community of Wexford.
Quoting Thomas Merton, the Mayor said: ‘Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time’.
‘Today, we have found ourselves. We are all artists and we can all be artistic in our own way’, he said.
Elizabeth Whyte described it was an honour for the Arts Centre to be involved in this great project, supporting artists in the community and said there was a great demand for the studio spaces in the Creative Hub.
‘It takes courage to look into the unknown, to take a leap and just say -let’s go with it’, she said.
Elizabeth complimented Liz Burns ‘who is quick to turn ideas into action’ and thanked her own team of Pauline Martin, Pip Firman, Kelly Roche and Jackie Kilgannon.
The audience were treated to performances by a number of musicians including students on the FDYS Youth Music Programme which has a studio in the Bullring hub.
Liz Burns, Arts Officer, Wexford Co Council; Ciara Enright; John Carley; Eamonn Buttle, mall owner; Tony Dempsey, Mayor of Wexford; Tom Enright, CE, Wexford Co Council; Tony Larkin; Michael Carty; Brendan Howlin TD; Cllr George Lawlor; and Elizabeth Whyte, Wexford Arts Centre.
Kerrie Whelan, singer Laura Doyle, who performed at the event, Maria Brennan and Siobhan McMahon.
Artists Olivia O’Dwyer and Declan Cody at the opening.