THE BELLTABLE Arts Centre have appointed a new artistic director, Gerry Barnes, who officially took up his new role this Wednesday.
Barnes, originally from Dublin but associated with Cork for more than 20 years, was artistic director of the Cork Opera House for many years, and founded the Cork Theatre Company.
He told the Limerick Leader this week that he was “very honoured to be offered the position” and was delighted to get a “warm Limerick welcome” as he met with the staff of the arts centre this week.
First, he took time to recognise the work of Joanne Beirne, who finished up as artistic director in March after three successful years in the venue, and who decided at the end of her contract to pursue other projects.
“I would like to congratulate Joanne Beirne on a very lively programme, I think she has animated the place very well with a great spread of work. I worked with her in Cork and around the country, so I wish her well,” said Mr Barnes.
“My own approach is going to be very much that of an empiricist, I am going to go and observe and analyse - I want to listen. There is an artistic community and an audience in Limerick and I am sure also that the major stakeholders in Limerick City Council, Department of Arts and tourism bodies will all have a vision that I want to absorb first of all, which is very important,” he explained.
Barnes moved to Cork in 1979, establishing a reputation as a key administrator as well as playwright, director and producer and joins the Belltable at an interesting time, after the completion of the renovation of the venue, giving him an opportunity to stamp his own personality on the venue.
“I am going to take a look at what is on the ground, because Limerick is an incredibly important hub in terms of the work that spins around the country, and I think it has a very fertile arts tradition,” he said.
“I think it is very exciting for everyone in the Belltable and the audience that it has had a makeover. The community groups are the anchor upon which the whole thing will be built. It is a challenge, but it is a good time to start,” he added.