A LOCAL councillor is calling on the brewery site to be developed as a centre for the arts and many of the city’s leading arts organisations are supporting this vision.
Councillor Malcolm Noonan said that the site could play a significant role in strengthening Kilkenny’s reputation for the creative arts and pointed out that the space could be used for further development of a theatre space to compliment the Watergate for instance.
“But first we need a vision for theatre in Kilkenny, with all of the stakeholders involved, Barnstorm, Watergate, Devious etc. In times of dwindling resources, our resilience will be through collaboration. Furthermore, the development of the commercial creative arts, led by Cartoon Saloon and Crafts Council of Ireland should be considered. We have an incredible diversity of makers, artists and creative practioners,” he said.
General Manager of Barnstorm Theatre Company, Vincent Dempsey said that the company strongly supports the inclusion of an arts facility as party of the redevelopment of the Brewery site.
Ger Cody of The Watergate Theatre said that as a board or body they had not put anything forward but added that if an arts centre was to be developed that he would love to be a part of it. “If we were able to use the Brewery car park then would be no end to the uses we could find for it. At the moment we have no space for a gallery, coffee dock or proper storage because of confined space which means that there is no room for manoeurve,” he said.
Councillor Noonan also said that a third level institute in collaboration with a National Arts College would also nurture this flourishing industry in the city. “I would also like to see much passive and active recreational facilities as possible on the site. Our so called minority sports; inline skating, skateboarding, boxing all need to be facilitated and this could be done on an interim basis allowing our economic circumstances to build up for capital investment in the area. I also see a strong role for the existing industrial buildings on the site. I do not believe that they should be demolished. They have an intrinsic cultural and architectural value as industrial heritage. Perhaps the site too offers an opportunity to resolve the thirty year debate on where to locate a skate park for Kilkenny,” he said.
“Finally I think that there should be a strong social housing dimension to the development of the site. We need to keep our city centre vibrant and having people living in the city centre is a good way of achieving that objective as well as it being a good quality of life option for families,” he said.
“The brewery site offers a unique opportunity to the people of Kilkenny and to us as a Planning Authority to develop a sustainable quarter of the city; one that is reflective and respectful of the city’s heritage but is also future proofed to allow the city to thrive for decades to come, to serve future generations and to act as an exemplar of low carbon, passive technology. It is possible that development on the site could contribute energy to other parts of the city. Also given the fact that the site was purchased for such a small sum, we should not be driven by intensive retail or commercial development.”
A spokesman for Kilkenny County Council was unavailable for comment.