A NEW civic and arts centre for Shannon has been sought for years and it looks like it may be on the way.
In a statement last week, The Shannon Venue Ltd said it would be holding a public meeting about plans it has been working on.
“A proposal by The Shannon Venue Ltd to develop a new iconic, debt-free, multifunctional civic and arts centre for Shannon will be outlined at a public forum, which will take place in the Oakwood Arms Hotel, Shannon on Wednesday, September 4 from 7.30pm to 9pm. Shannon residents, civic and arts groups and all interested parties are invited to use this opportunity to share their views, make suggestions or ask questions about the proposed community and not-for-profit venture.”
A one-acre site in Shannon town centre has been secured from Shannon Development for the proposed project, subject to planning permission being granted.
Project team member, Derek Barrett said while a company has been set up to drive the project, there is no plan for it to be a commercial operation.
“Grant Thornton are setting up the company for it and it will be applying for charitable status for it. It’ll be a not-for-profit company, a community venture. It’s for the community by the community.”
He also stressed the new building could be used for a variety of different activities. “It’s not a theatre on its own, it’s a multi functional building, which will have different sized meeting rooms and a rehearsal room that’ll be flexible for different uses. The key thing is for it to be used all year round and the theatre element to be used as much as possible. It’ll be for things like the musical society shows, the drama group, Eclipse stage school, Shannon Gospel Choir concerts and gigs.”
There is a plan for the centre to have a 350-seat theatre, which could be used for larger events, while Mr Barrett said there would also be other rooms for smaller gatherings.
“You’d have a second performance space but that would double as a dance studio or a mini meeting room or concert area. You’d have various multi-functional spaces and that’s the key to it.”
He is anxious that the facility would be able to offer something to a wide range of groups.
“We’ve spoken to the appropriate people, gone to the town and county council. Now we’re at a stage where the site is earmarked for us and we want to invite the public and other groups that would be interested in using it. We’re trying to have a facility for every one of those groups. If they’re looking for a projection facility to show a film, we should be able to do that and if they’re looking for a yoga or pilates class, we’d be able to provide that.”
The group hope the building can be provided debt-free, if there is sufficient support from local business. However, Mr Barrett acknowledged it will be difficult.
“It’s a big ask and we’d be looking at corporate donations. Companies make profits from the town and it’s a way of using their corporate social responsibility remit to help provide something for Shannon. It’s a capital project that’s building something within the town that won’t be lost and ultimately it’s for their employees’ use, their suppliers’ use and their customers’ use.”
He said while there are some public sources of funding, there is much less of it available now than there was a few years ago.
He explained the meeting gives people a chance to give their views. “This is the ideal opportunity for anyone who ever thought about or talked about Shannon’s lack of community facilities or considered that Shannon no longer has a dedicated space for civic, cultural and arts activities, to air and share their views about this exciting new project.
“It’s an open invitation to make a real contribution to a great project. The project team will be on hand after the public meeting to discuss any specific opinions attendees may have.”
Commenting on the project, David Neylon, property executive with Shannon Development said, “Shannon Development is delighted to have been able to assist with this worthwhile endeavour, which will have a positive benefit for the people of Shannon by providing a home for the arts, culture and many other community activities. We wish the Shannon Venue Ltd every success with the project.”
People who attend will also have a chance to speak to the project team after the meeting about anything they want to raise.
The Shannon Venue Ltd hope to be in a position to apply for planning permission in the first few months of 2014.