30 Jun 2022

Joining forces to establish a centre for the arts in Clonmel

Clonmel Arts Partnership

Joining forces to establish a centre for the arts in Clonmel

Helena Tobin, Director South Tipperary Arts Centre, Cliona Maher, Artistic Director, Junction Arts Festival, and Roísín Maher, Artistic Director Finding a Voice have announced a new artistic partners

Three organisations in Clonmel have joined forces to establish the town as a centre for the arts.
South Tipperary Arts Centre, Clonmel Junction Arts Festival and Finding a Voice are working together as the Clonmel Arts Partnership.
Together they are growing audiences for the arts in Clonmel as well as collaborating on programmes.
The Arts Partnership see an opportunity for the arts to become part of the identity of Clonmel town. Arts-based placemaking stimulates local economies and leads to increased innovation, cultural diversity, and civic engagement.
“We want Clonmel to be known for the arts, and to show how transformative a really strong arts programme can be for a town. Offering exciting and interesting events for those living in and visiting the town, as well as supporting artists in the region, will enhance Clonmel and make it a great place to live, work and visit,” says Helena Tobin, Director of South Tipperary Arts Centre.
South Tipperary Arts Centre are using a previously vacant premises in the Kickham Barracks for artist residencies. It will be opened as a venue for performances this autumn, adding a much-needed space for performative arts in Clonmel. The space will host live music performances, theatre shows, and dance events.
Clonmel town has a high commercial vacancy rate at 18% – this is the highest in Tipperary. The normal vacancy target in Europe is 5% and ground floor retail vacancy levels are not supposed to ever go above 11%.
Clonmel Junction Arts Festival is using Market Place this year with a venue for a community theatre show in the old supermarket, to house the box office, and to have artists working on site in a workshop space, artist studio and pop-up cinema during the ten-day festival.
“Market Place has been mostly vacant since 2016. It’s a huge site in the middle of the town in private ownership. We want to breathe life into the area, to bring people back into the empty shop units and to spark conversations on how we can solve this vacancy problem in our town,” says Cliona Maher, Artistic Director of Clonmel Junction Arts Festival.
“This type of meanwhile use is common practice across Europe, where it is seen as an essential policy tool to tackle the issue of vacant buildings,” she said.
“Not only is it great for placemaking, there is great potential for tourism. Tourists will be looking for things to do in a town as well as cultural tourists travelling specifically to see an exhibition, festival, or a gig. We want to put Clonmel on the cultural map,” adds Roísín Maher, Artistic Director of Finding a Voice.
“Finding a Voice is the only festival of its kind in Europe. We programme female only composers to celebrate International Women’s Day each year. We see huge potential to nurture and grow an international audience that will return to Clonmel year on year,” she said.
In 2019 Fáilte Ireland reported that 84% of overseas visitors to Ireland are looking for interesting history and culture. In Clonmel there are year-round festival offerings with Finding a Voice festival happening each March, Clonmel Junction Arts Festival in July, Clonmel Busking Festival in August, and Apple fest in September.
South Tipperary Arts Centre has a year-round programme of exhibitions by Irish and international artists.
Clonmel is also home to the Museum of Hidden History.
Clonmel Arts Partnership see an opportunity to bring tourists to the area to experience great arts and culture.
Having received Arts Council Capacity Building support, Clonmel Arts Partnership are working with a consultant and mentor to develop audiences for the arts in Clonmel. The project will look at existing audiences for the arts in Clonmel and build on those recruiting new audiences through collaborative marketing.
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