THE contribution of Glór to Ennis’ community, businesses and rate payers has been estimated at €850,000 a year. The centre’s director, Gemma Carcaterra, has described local authority funding for its continued operation as “essential”.
At a recent meeting of Ennis Town Council, Ms Carcaterra stated the venue’s “biggest challenge is managing limited resources whilst continuing to offer value for money to the people of Ennis and Clare”.
Glór’s annual turnover is €1.25 million, and funding is received from Clare County Council, Ennis Town Council and the Arts Council. According to Ms Carcaterra, “Glór couldn’t operate without investment,” adding she is aware of the need to minimise reliance on funding.
Glór employs 33 people between full and part-time staff, while reductions in costs have been achieved through “mutual agreement with staff”. She stated it is “imperative” that current staff levels continue.
Ms Carcaterra commented, “Glór could not function without them and their dedication”.
Emphasising the centre’s importance locally, she outlined that since opening in October 2001, 600,000 people have gone through Glór’s doors. She described this figure as “quite phenomenal”.
She stated, “I know that championing the arts in these economic times is quite challenging but the arts provide business and contributes to the economy. It enhances Ireland’s reputation and drives tourism. It forges communities and creates and sense of identity. The arts promotes fun learning and creates citizens. It increases quality of life for all and longevity in older people. The arts are a necessity not a luxury, the arts are an asset, not an overhead.”
Figures for 2011 show 35,000 people enjoyed over 255 events at the venue; 5,000 people attended music events, 6,000 theatre shows and Glór has communicated 41,513 times with the public through a variety of ways including facebook, twitter and flyers. 9,150 schoolchildren, teachers and parents have visited the venue and there have been 18 seasonal workshops.
Ms Carcaterra expects 2012’s figures will exceed last year’s. She added it is the “ultimate aim to grow and flourish in the coming years”.
She stated Glór is part of the arts, “It enhances society, generates growth and tourism, enriches our lives and provides employment within the local community”. She also pointed to its work with 54 community groups, partnership with festivals and its tailored community and charity rate.
Ms Carcaterra told the meeting that since taking up the post of director a year ago, she has been working with the board to stream line and adapt to the current economic reality.
In 12 months, Glór has achieved its targets including the implementation of a three-year business plan, operations plan, financial strategy, financial forecasting and programming strategy.
Among future plans is the possibility of expanding its partnership with Café Noir to cater for conferencing and pre-theatre dinners.
Councillor Brian Meaney queried the current financial situation of Glór, asking if there was any outstanding debt. He praised the work that has been done, however, he went on, “The reality is we are facing an extremely difficult budget.” He was informed there are no liabilities outstanding, with town manager Ger Dollard stating “we are not starting out with historic debt, there are no legacy issues”.
Mayor of Ennis Councillor Peter Considine, a member of the board of directors of Glór, complimented Ms Carcaterra saying that the centre is “vibrant and alive”.
Councillor Frankie Neylon raised concerns that the expansion of Café Noir could lead to a loss for local businesses. Ms Carcaterra responded that Glór will endeavour to work with organisations in the town to ensure a spread of pre-theatre events. Councillor Johnny Flynn stated the new coach parking could benefit Glór. He suggested a community garden could be a way of encouraging more people to use the facility.