Marketa Dowling speaking at the relauch with Louise Donlon, Brendan Lane and Deputy Mayor Gerald Mitchell
THE relaunch last week of the Belltable venue in the city centre is another step forward in terms of the positive development of Limerick’s cultural fabric. As we prepare for the final stage of the Limerick 2020 bid, this development is particularly meaningful.
This small, intimate venue has punched above its weight over the past few decades and, despite a momentary hiccup, continues to act as a venue close to the hearts of many across the city and county.
Marketa Dowling has taken on the role of programme manager at this exciting time in the venue’s history.
In her previous role as general manager and producer at Fishamble, Dowling took this iconic company through difficult times in terms of cultural funding and audience development.
Her swansong, in some senses, was the remarkable achievement in picking up an Olivier award for the production of Silent.
Speaking to Dowling you get a strong sense that she is a dedicated team player. The collaboration seen at Fishamble that resulted in the Olivier award is testament to that.
Dowling says she is “humbled and privileged” to be taking on the role of programme manager at the Belltable.
She arrives into her new role with a vision to continue to develop the venue as a leading advocate of local and national art practitioners but also as a space that can attract many leading international artists to Limerick.
Most exciting is her plans to develop what she calls ‘Belltable: Connect’, an initiative that will see the former Sarsfield Credit Union Building acting a centre for artistic collaboration and mentorship for local artists.
Dowling is deeply keen to develop a cultural space that allows artists to learn from, feed from and guide each other in their cultural practice.
The Belltable will become a dynamic space not just for live performances and exhibitions but a space that aims to become the cultural hub of our city centre.
It is proven that clustering creative minds in one space allows the creative process to thrive. Dowling is a strong believer in the value of the artistic community and is clearly committed to facilitating the Limerick arts community in an open, energetic and collaborative space.
Dowling will be supported well by the new board of the Belltable.
The coming together of our various cultural practitioners over the past few years should also make her role that bit easier.
There is a great sense that people want culture in its various forms to thrive in this city.
As the Belltable looks towards what should prove to be a very dynamic period of rebirth it is crucial that audiences now give it a chance.
Whilst funding conversations are often had in terms of Arts Council or local authority funding, what is often overlooked is the vital role committed audiences play in sustaining our cultural venues and community.
If Limerick 2014 showed anything is showed there is an audience out there. Now it is time for that audience to support and encourage the Belltable in its new guise.
Riverfest re-embraces Shannon
I WAS delighted to see this year’s Riverfest festival finally taking the welcome move in re-embracing the river. For a period, it seemed we had forgotten the whole concept of the festival, the clue being in the title.
Limerick is a city that has struggled down through the years to successfully take our urban festivals to the next level. This year’s Riverfest will once again face the river with a series of events including Riverfestival village in Arthur’s Quay Park and performances by wakeboard and jetski champions.
It is also fantastic to see the popular BBQ competition moving to Honan’s Quay with a host of other entertainment around the boardwalk.
Now of course what weather we get this year is in the lap of the gods. The memories of Granny’s visit in 2014 make you think that should the clouds hold off this year’s Riverfest has the potential to be the best ever.
I applaud those who made the decision to re-embrace the Shannon and look forward to our city looking radiant as we welcome the thousands who will visit over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Welcome to Pan-Am visitors
A BIG welcome to Limerick to the many guests we have attending the Pan Am Irish Spring Reunion.
Our guests arrived on Tuesday and were greeted with a civic reception at City Hall.
Our visitors are former pilots, engineers, administration staff, ground handlers and air hostesses who worked with Pan Am down through the years.
Their packed schedule will include guided tours of the Foynes Flying Boat Museum and other visits to venues across Limerick city.
A gala dinner with special guests will take place at the Strand Hotel on Thursday night.
Foynes was the first European Airport to which Pan Am began operating commercial transatlantic services on July 9, 1939 under the command of Captain Harold Gray.
The ‘Yankee Clipper’ was the airline’s first Boeing B314 NC18603 allocated to the Atlantic division.
It’s great to see that historic link still celebrated and I wish all the guests a happy stay in Limerick.