Hun­dreds turn out for Cre­ative Hub open­ing

Wexford People - - NEWS - By MARIA PEP­PER

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.

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