SOME 46,000 people have passed through the doors of the Lime Tree Theatre in its first year of operation.
It is testament to Louise Donlon and her team that such staggering figures have been hit in the 510 seater theatre, located in Mary Immaculate College, over the past 12 months, but it also shows that a thirst for theatre still exists in Limerick.
The Lime Tree marked its first birthday with a celebration last Wednesday week by welcoming patrons and friends, but also used the occasion to launch the new Limerick Arts Encounter programme, which it is has played a pivotal role in formulating.
Essentially, sizeable funds that had been earmarked for the now defunct Belltable have instead been dispersed directly to arts groups in Limerick, using the Lime Tree as the administrative focus.
A collaboration between the arts office in the city council and the theatre, the programme, which will run until March, will see Arts Council funding - backed by City Council funds - given directly to groups, practitioners and artists to present their work in venues around the city.
The development, arising from the ashes of the Belltable, is “an important development in arts provision for audiences and artists”, according to city arts officer Sheila Deegan.
The programme of events will encompass theatre, film, visual art and literature. Venues include the arts centre at 69 O’Connell Street, the Lime Tree, the Victoria Snooker Club, the Savoy Hotel, Dr John’s and the Blind Pig, and Dance Limerick - St John’s Church - previously home to Daghdha.
Ms Donlon says it will “give a kick start to the whole sector in the city” and a city box office is now open at 69 O’Connell Street, and at the Lime Tree. The programme has already started in earnest and it is now up to audiences to respond to it, as they clearly have to the Lime Tree, which boasts its own packed schedule for the rest of this year.
See www.limetreetheatre.ie for more details.