limerick City and County Council is to take over the former Sarsfield Credit Union building to create office space for festival groups.
The building which adjoins the former Belltable Arts Centre, now known as ‘69 O’Connell Street’, has lain idle since the credit union moved to the ‘Stone Jug’ building in Glentworth Street.
But now, the four-storey building is to get a new lease of life, it was revealed at this weeks Sporting and Culture special committee meeting.
Having purchased the building, the council is set to move in shortly, paint and refit it to bring it up to standard, before it opens as a ‘hotdesk’ facility.
Sheila Deegan, Limerick city arts officer, said: “There have been so many festivals taking place over the last number of years, and a lot of these [people] are just looking for a desk”.
It is anticipated that one floor will operate as a ‘shared space’ for small festivals, while one of the upper floors will be home to larger festival office space.
Ms Deegan envisages that more than 15 desks will be available in the set-up.
And she hopes it will give fresh impetus to 69 O’Connell Street, which has only had a transient occupation overall since the Belltable Arts Centre closed last year.
“Any place which has a living infrastructure, as opposed to just an infrastructure, makes the building home. We have seen it in John’s Square: people are living there [in artists apartments opened by the council. The square has become their home,” she said.
Meanwhile, a public consultation is in progress to decide on future uses of 69 O’Connell Street.
Ms Deegan acknowledged that the theatre “landscape has changed” with the opening of the Lime Tree Theatre at Mary Immaculate College.
The public consultation, which will be followed by a report with formal recommendations, will “Inform a new model of a centrally located multi-disciplinary arts and culture hub”, according to documents released to councillors this week.
“We had a World Cafe event where we invited stakeholders to talk about what they think it should feel like, and what it should do in the future. The landscape has changed: we now have the Limetree Theatre which has 510 seats. It has provided a new platform for productions. So what should the Belltable feel like, and what should it be,” Ms Deegan explained.
Since the Belltable Arts Centre was placed in liquidation with debts of over €2m, the building has reopened as a cultural hub in the form of the Limerick Arts Encounter Programme.
This programme ran between September 2013 and last month, with theatre, film, visual art, sonic art and dance and literature.
Chimes cafe has stayed open throughout the problems associated with the Belltable.
Elsewhere, an application is to be made to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is to be made for the development of Culture Night across City and County.
The night of free activities will take place on September 19.